Or is it……………..
Written By Billy DiCrosta 12/12/14
While many people may be thinking “Let it Snow Let it Snow”, as singers we are thinking AHHHHHH my poor voice !! One minute it’s hot and the next its freezing! The cold weather season is always an issue for singers. The lack of humidity in the air ,due to all the dry heating systems in our homes, tend to beat up our poor voices .Add to that all the coughs and colds going around and it is over dramatic central for all of us singers. So many of you have been asking what you can do to stay healthy and take care of your voice during our lovely cold, dry cough and cold season. Well Mr Billy. is here to save the day and as always help keep your voice in tip top shape!!!!!
Billy’s Top 5 Winter Vocal Health Tips
I can never tell singers this enough. Water is our best friend. People are suppose to drink 8 glasses of water a day (8oz’s each) . For singers ,the recommended dose is double that. In general room temperature is better than drinking cold water when you are singing because the cold shocks your system and can tighten up your throat and voice.Your body does not require any other drinks to hydrate it. Stay clear of soda and coffee !!!!Anything with caffeine is going to cause reflux and dehydrate the body, You can drink hot tea with honey and lemon (especially on a cold winter day)
My Top choices are:
Herbal Teas that do not have Caffeine
Herba Mate(can be found in health store) it's an Argentinean Tea like product with many wonderful health benefits and is low in acid .You won't get reflux from it like coffee which in the end will help keep your voice healthy. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s
Throat Coat Herbal Tea(The coaches and I Love this one)
2. Dry air is not our friend!
Although you may like the fact that in the winter your hair doesn’t get frizzy our vocal cords are crying out for the humidity. Radiant and Central heat both dry out our homes humidity. I think all singers should own a humidifier to keep the air and your voice moist. Beware though humidifiers can also get filled with germs . Here are my recommended steps for dealing with the dry germ filled air:
Make sure you have your heating ducks cleaned regularly. Filters get clogged up with all kinds of gunk like dust, pet hair and germs that you do not want to be breathing in.
Use a cool mist humidifier in your bedrooms but make sure you are cleaning it or the same little germs will take it over.
If you don't have a humidifier you can always fill a bowl of water and put it on your radiator or near your forced hot air to push moisture into the air.
A few months ago a wonderful teacher friend of mine recommended I buy a personal steamer. Let me tell you when I don’t feel well, I'm dried out or stuffy this little guy is my best friend!!! The personal steamer I have and love you can get on amazon.com It’s called Mabis Steam Inhaler and retails for about $35.00.
3. Wrap It Up!!!!
Baby its COLD outside! Remember we said our voice likes to be warm and moist . Listen to mom and dad DRESS Warm. Simply wearing warm clothes and a scarf goes a long way in protecting you from getting a cold and keeping your voice safe and sound. I must say I LOVE MY TURTLE NECKS . In the winter they are my voice’s gatekeeper!
4. Stick that nose UP in the Air!
Yes, it may be hard for you to remember but try to breath through that good ol' schnoz! The man upstairs (or whomever you believe in) gave you a nose for a reason . TO BREATH!!!! So many of us often find that we are mouth breathers. Science has proven that breathing through your nose is more beneficial and heres why..
Your nose is like a filtration system. It will catch all the junk in the air and prevent it from getting to your throat and vocal cords.
When you breath through your nose it helps from drying out your throat because your nose moisturizes the air passing through it.
Your nose will also help warm the air before hitting your vocal cords and as we know the warm voice is a happy one.
5. Warm up and Cool Down Fa La La La La!!!
Nothing is worse than singing on a voice that is cold and not warmed up. A cold voice lacks flexibility and vibrancy . Be smart and protect your instrument. On any given day that I have to perform I typically wake up early the in morning, Drink a HUGE glass of WATER and start my vocal warm ups. I typically recommend warming up 3 times the day of a show . If its just a regular day for you I still recommend that you warm up in the morning for a minimum of 10 minutes before going to school , work and wherever else you plan on going.When you warm up your speaking pitch tends to be about a minor 3rd higher .It gives you more flexibility in your speaking for the day and agains helps to prevent vocal fatigue and damage.
But what about cooling down your voice??? Yes that's right Cooling Down! This is equally as important just like any athlete out there we have to warm and up cool down. Singers tend to forget a vey important factor in the game. We are vocal ATHLETES! So when you are finished singing or talking for the day make sure you take a good 5 to 10 minutes and sing some relaxing descending scales and put that poor voice back to its happy resting place .
Happy Holidays to all and to all a Goodnight !
Last but certainly NOT least go sleep my little angels of music! In this crazy busy world we all tend to forget that one of the most important things for our health and happiness is a good nights sleep.
OKAY BUT WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO GET SICK ………
My very dear friend and Ivtom Advisory Board Member ,Dr. Curt Stock Md. has the best clogged up nose protocol and it helped me so much this past year when I got sick.
This is a 3-5 day on 3 day off protocol. For 3 to 5 days do this everyday in this EXACT order:
1. Use Neo Synephrine (phenylephrine) or similar brand nose spray as directed. This is quick acting, but temporary. It will reduce the swelling in the nasal turbinates and allow the nasal rinse to clean better. It can produce a rebound effect so can only be used for 3-5 days at a time.
2.Use a bulb syringe or Neti Pot with Dr. Stock's all natural recipe for saline rinse. You can do this everyday for good nasal hygiene.
3. Follow with a nasal steroid. This is an effective long acting swelling reducer. It will do a better job with clean turbinates.
Rest 3 days and repeat if needed.
Note: You can buy all these products in the pharmacy without a prescription in the US.
If this is not possible in your country, discuss this protocol with your doctor and see if they will allow you to keep the products on hand for when you may need them.
Curt Stock Md. Saline Rinse.
To 1 quart of distilled water add and mix well
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
Some possible additions:
For moisture: 1 tsp glycerine
For crusty thick mucus add 1/2 tsp. of lemon or lime juice (this helps with infection).
By Katelyn Gavagan Piano/Vocal Coach
As a teacher and performer, I have learned the hard way that I am not a super hero if I can sing in every genre of music. If you think of famous artists of today, such as Taylor Swift, you define her genre as ‘pop’. Maybe she could effectively sing a classical aria, but people expect from her music that comes from a pop style. This is a good thing, not a weakness! Sure, if you are asked to sing a classical song but you mostly perform as a jazz artist, I would say it is worth the experience and to go for it. But classical voice and pop voice, although the same instrument, will require very different uses of mix. I felt frustration with this because I have recently joined a funk band as lead singer, while in the month of December I am preparing to sing Handel’s Messiah at a church in my home town. (If you are unfamiliar with the Messiah, it is a classical oratorio, and you have probably heard the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ played during winter or during excitement/relief in television moments.) Every winter I have the opportunity to sing several soprano solos and be a member of this choir. However, while training for the performance, I am finding it difficult to sing classical comfortably, as I have been working on my hard mix for my funk band. But singing is a discovery process, and I am discovering that my ‘true’ voice is in singing funk. Funk music is a jazz/ rock/blues infused genre, and my voice lends itself well to this style. When I sing classical, I must remember to incorporate what is called a ‘light’ mix. I am excited to have found my ‘true’ voice, while being ok with singing in other genres from time to time.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Sing on!