Monday, May 16, 2011

Allergies Get the Best of Us!

Ah, spring!  What a lovely time of year!  Unfortunately as we watch nature in bloom with flowers and budding trees, many of us are blossoming with sneezing, wheezing, and watery eyes from our allergies!  This can interfere with our singing in many ways.  Our breathing is affected, we sound like we have a cold, and we are tired.  When not taken care of, often our allergies bloom into colds.  You can avoid all of this by following the Healthy Singing Tips in my blog Healthy Singing and a Healthy You (April 2011)! 

Specific things you can do to take care of your allergies are:

- Use a saline nose spray in the morning and evening
- Avoid being outside first thing in the morning
- Take a shower before bedtime to wash away any allergens on your hair and skin throughout the day so that you are not sleeping with the irritants
- Make sure that you are taking any medication for allergies that have been suggested by your doctor
- Drink lots of water
-Sing a little bit everyday.  Gentle warm-ups such as humming and staccati note patterns can often
  help you break through any allergy mucus
- Sing early in the day and it will help your speaking voice too as you will think about your breath support

How do these tips help you with your singing and managing your allergies?  Do you have any ideas to share that help you to sing in the allergy season?

Next up: How saying physically fit improves your singing voice.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To Sing or Not to Sing?

To Sing or Not to Sing?

At this time of year, we often get sick despite our best efforts.  Should you try to sing while under the weather or is it best to keep quiet?  It all depends on the illness, how your body feels, and the exact circumstances.  It is always wise to test it out to decide.  Sometimes it might not feel great to talk, but when we sing a little, it feels okay and actually helps our speaking voice to feel better.

If you think it might be okay but are not sure, try the following things to help you decide:

  • Hum a little bit in all parts of your range.  Start with one and two note patterns and then try humming over a series of pitches.  How does it feel?
  • Sigh or siren sound through your entire range.  Can you slide easily through the whole range?
  • Do a few 5 note descending scales on your most comfortable vowel.  Try it on ‘ee’ if you feel like you cannot sing through the flem or ‘gunk’ in your throat.
  • Sing a series of staccato notes (short pitches) on ‘ha’ as if laughing.
  • If it doesn’t hurt, do your normal series of warm-ups.
  • Re-check yourself. Still okay?  Then sing a song that is very settled in your voice.
  • If it still feels good, continue practicing or consider performing.

** Trust your instincts.  If it does not feel good to sing, DON’T SING!  Proceed with caution and stay in tune with your body’s signals.  When in doubt, get the opinion of your voice teacher.  If you have a performance and it can be rescheduled, do so.

  • At the end of practicing, warm-down with sighs and hums.
  • Get enough sleep and drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.  Use saline nose spray and a humidifier. 
Your illness may actually be caused by allergies.  Did you find this helpful or do you have anything to add about singing when slightly under the weather?

Stay tuned for tips on how to keep singing with allergies.

Healthy Voice and a Healthy You!

Healthy Voice and a Healthy You
As a singer, your body is your instrument, so it is important to take care of yourself.  In the winter months, many people work hard to not get sick and need to learn when and when not to sing.  Your voice is a delicate instrument you use everyday – take care of it and it takes care of you by allowing you to do what YOU want as a singer and artist.
Proper hygiene is only one of the ways to make sure you can sing well throughout the year. Here is a list of things to remember about your vocal health:
10 Things to Remember 
1.        Hygiene
-          Regularly wash your hands and minimize touching your face
2.       Hydration
-          Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day
-          Avoid or minimize caffeine, it dries you out!
3.       Rest
-          Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night!
4.       Avoid Unnecessary Medication
-          Decongestants, Cold Medications, Inhalers are drying agents.
Avoid them unless absolutely necessary- Use Nasal Saline Spray!
5.       Stay Physically Fit
-          Exercise often (3-5 times weekly)
-          Walking, swimming, running, yoga, and pilates are all excellent for singing!
6.       Sing Well
-          Good posture, breath support, correct range and appropriate repertoire
7.       Speak Well
-          Support your speech as you would your singing
-          Avoid talking too much
-          Don’t yell or talk over loud noise!
8.       Moderation of Singing and Speaking
-          Try not to talk too fast, too slow, too high or too low in pitch
9.       Don’t sing if you are ill!! Test yourself.  (See next article)
10.   Make time for a little relaxation and de-stressing time!
**  Above all take care of yourself and pay attention to your body signals!  If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it!

What do you do when you are not feeling 100% and need to sing?