The cold winter weather is a huge problem for us singers. We’re always worried about catching a cold or getting sick.
The transition between the heated rooms inside and the cold outdoors can easily affect your singing voice.
However, there are 6 easy ways to keep you vocally healthy:
1. Don’t leave the house without your scarf
Wearing a scarf or a thermal windproof mask helps you reduce the amount of skin exposed to direct cold air.
Cover your mouth, breathe through your nose which filters out allergens, viruses, and germs. And don’t forget to wear your gloves and keep your hands warm.
2. Stay hydrated
Central heating drops humidity and sucks the moisture out of the room. Even your skin becomes drier.
Dehydration not only happens in summer, and it leaves the vocal cords more exposed to irritation.
Drink plenty of fluids, mainly room temperature water, and herbal infusing tea to soothe the voice.
You shouldn’t wait until you are thirsty, by then it’s already too late!
3. Use a humidifier
You can add drops of organic essential oils like Eucalyptus or Lavender to reduce any swelling around the vocal cords.
You can also use steaming water to warm-up or simply inhale it as a natural remedy.
4. Vocal Rest
If it hurts, simply don’t sing!
Try to get enough sleep, and relax.
If you push through singing while having a sore throat, with repetition, it can cause nodule or serious damage.
If you have a gig or a recording that you cannot miss, never skip your warm-up exercises and focus a lot on your good vocal technique, avoiding any strain or tension.
This is where your voice teacher guides you.
Remember that you sing and speak from the same instrument:
- Talk less
- Do not speak loudly
- Do not whisper
- Consider it a “vocal nap”!
5. Balance your diet
Control what you eat, and avoid food that increases phlegm and acid reflux such as dairy products, chocolate, caffeine, fried, spicy and fast food.
Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and smoking (or vaping) which dry out the cords.
Develop healthy eating habits to boost your immunity and help you heal faster.
6. Medication as your last option
Take your anti-inflammatory weapons: multivitamins (Zinc and Vitamin C), and sugar-free lozenges.
I avoid using OTC decongestants; they usually dry the voice. Throat sprays might make you feel better, but they do not solve the problem around the cords.
Our vocal cords are super delicate.
The recovery rate depends on the severity of illness and how experienced you are as a singer.
I hope these tips will help you beat the cold and stay healthy this winter.
Enjoy the winter season!
Featured image copyright Finnish metal opera singer Tarja Turunen from her second solo album “My Winter Storm”