Now besides the obvious of eating a variety of foods, fruits, vegetables, proteins of various sorts, and dairy, it’s also important to drink lots of water and get lots of rest, and to limit the amount of bad things that you put into your body. All drugs: including caffeine, alcohol, unnecessary prescription medications, processed sugars from candy, soda, fruit drinks, not fruit juice which is pressed liquid from fruit, but drinks that have sugar added. You want to stay away from all of those. Of course it’s difficult to absolutely cut all of them out because when you go out with your friends you might have a glass of wine, when you go out with your kids to a birthday party you might have only soda to drink. In those cases go ahead and enjoy, but definitely limit those things. Those are “sometime foods, not everyday foods” like we tell our kids.
Now something that is very important is to keep your hands clean. I’m constantly washing my hands. I’m not obsessive compulsive, but definitely I wash my hands a lot. When I was a music teacher in Los Angeles I had 100 children in a choir, and I saw 7 classes of 25 children every day. So over the week, I saw thousands of children and I didn’t get sick because I wash my hands. And when I can’t get to a sink like when I’m traveling or when I was in between classes, I would take some white vinegar, spritz my hands, rub them together and then take a Wet-Nap and wipe off the dirt. The difference between using soap and water and anti-bacterial solutions or vinegar in this case, is that you have the running water to rinse the dirt off. If you just use the anti-bacterial solutions or vinegar, you leave clean dirt on your hands and that’s not as effective. You’ve got to get the dirt off. I prefer vinegar to the alcohol based products because alcohol dries your skin out and if you can get your hands clean without that, why not do that?
This morning I was feeling a little bit sick. I felt a little tickle in the back of my throat. First thing I took a pill that’s got a mix of Golden Seal, Echinacea and Cayenne pepper. Awesome. And it’s gone. Like I don’t, I’m not going to get sick. I took one yesterday morning because I felt the tickle, I felt it again today, and I’ll probably take another one tonight being that I had taken one today. Probably I should have took one last night, but I forgot. Golden Seal and Echinacea works wonders for me, and then I found the tablet that also has the pepper, you know like when you have spicy food from like China or India, you know, they have lots and lots and lots of spice in their food and your nose just runs. You’re enjoying the food but like you have to keep tissue with you to blotch your nose because it’s just, it’s running. And so Cayenne pepper is good for helping to loosen that as well. But you definitely don’t want the cold to start so taking preventative measures: washing your hands, if you feel a tickle taking the Golden Seal Echinacea, but that necessarily work for everyone so you’ll need to talk to your pharmacist or your health professional if you have any adverse reactions to something like that. Mucus is our way of carrying germs and things out of our body. So go ahead and blow your nose and get it all out, cough it all up, but try not to clear your throat because when you clear your throat you’re, you’re slamming your vocal folds together and that’s not good because then your vocal folds say, oh no I need help, help, help, and then your body produces more mucus. The better thing to do is to swallow, let it pass through, drink water and let it flush out the other end instead of coming up this way. Another thing is to drink warm tea with honey. Now this isn’t going to cure your cold, it’s just going to coat your throat so that your vocal folds don’t feel like they need to have more protection because the honey will coat everything very nicely. And you don’t want to put too much lemon because that will strip the mucus, but you do want some lemon because of the vitamin C and it will cut excess mucus if you don’t have too much. I would recommend against using antihistamines for the same reason I spoke of regarding lemon that antihistamines dry up mucus membranes. But you need the, you need some mucus for your vocal folds to vibrate. And if you use antihistamine, that’s going to suck that all up and you’re going to have dry spots and it’s not going to function properly.
So if you allow yourself to get sick, what you have to do is hydrate. Drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink as much water as you can to flush the germs out of your system. You might want to add some fresh squeezed orange juice to the water, you don’t want to drink straight orange juice because that causes more mucus because it strips away, the citrus strips away your natural mucus and then your body produces more mucus to compensate. But watered down, you know like just a squeeze of lemon or orange in your water is a nice, you get the vitamin C, you get the nice flavor, but you don’t have the dehydrating effect of the citrus. Or you can add cranberry which helps to clean your system as well, or even celery if you would like something a little spicier. Now, if you feel that your throat is sore, you might want to use a saltwater concoction. Pour some salt in some warm water and not so much that salt collects in the glass, just enough so that the water, the salt is suspended within the water and then gargle with that. That will help to strip some of the mucus. Also if you inhale steam (get a pot of water, put a towel over your head, inhale the steam), that will help to loosen the congestion in your nose and in your throat, and then drinking lots of water will help to push it down through your system.
Now, if you’re sick and you have to perform that same day, it’s very important that you warm up so slowly. Just, just super, super slow. Don’t worry about the music, don’t worry about the pitches, don’t worry about the tempo, rhythm, don’t worry about anything. Just start off with a 🎶humming🎶 Just a low hum. 🎶humming🎶 Wherever your voice goes, that’s where you let it go. 🎶humming🎶 Then you can start going into the 10 minute routine to build your bottom, to build your top, to build your middle. I would do the buzz for maybe a half hour. Then I would add the syllables and do that for another half hour. Then maybe for another hour I would slowly buzz some of the songs that I have to do for the show. Not the hardest songs, but definitely the easier songs that have the smallest range. Buzz through those, get that sensation going, and then maybe just before the show start buzzing the harder songs with the longest, with the widest range, with the fastest tempos, or and the slowest tempos because those are very difficult to do as well if you’re sick because your lung capacity is taxed. So slowly warm up throughout the whole day. If you end up warming up 8 hours before a show, by the time your show comes you’re going to be confident that you can sing through the cold. Now, if you have a chest cold, take your butt to bed and call it a day. But if it’s just in your head you can always work through that. But a chest cold you have to just rest and drink lots of fluids and get better. So don’t ever let a cold fall down into your chest. If it gets here, go and get in bed because if it gets in here you’re out of luck. There’s nothing you can do because breath is life, life is music. So if you don’t have the life, you don’t have the music. I hope you found some of these tips on being a healthy singer helpful.
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