Talk O’ Tuesdays! #5 – Singing When Sick

Talk O’ Tuesdays!

Singing When Sick: “When Do You Cancel?” vs. “The Show Must Go On!”

There are actually times you can sing when you are sick, and sometimes it’s good to go to lessons when you are so you can learn from your teacher what you can do to still sing healthfully. It also depends on what you are sick with and what your symptoms are. If you have a sore throat and it hurts to swallow, or your lymph nodes are swollen, maybe singing isn’t a good idea. Obviously if you are stuck in bed sick, throwing up, and/or you’re contagious, stay home! Your teachers don’t want to catch it! We really can’t afford to get sick and become unable to teach.

If you have a stuffy nose, have allergies, or post-nasal drip, or a small cough or tickle in your throat, you can still sing! Sometimes, oddly enough, you may sing better with a stuffy nose since you can’t sing in your nose. Singing for your teacher while sick will also help the both of you assess how your voice works.  Swelling of the cords occurs when we have been battling post nasal drip and excessive coughing and the natural tendency is to squeeze our throat when singing in the attempt to create the same sort of vocal tones we naturally have when we are healthy.  Any good instructor can help you navigate these rough times with your technique to overcome the illness and ultimately find a way to as healthy a phonation you can find while on the mend.  If they can’t, then you must find another teacher that can.  Some times, it is the technique we adopt when we are ill that helps us figure out how to master our technique when we are well.  Just remember this tasty morsel: We are only 100% 1% of the time!  Think about what that means…if we were healthy 100% of the time, we would all be song birds and never need to figure out how to sing…it would just come naturally.  99% of the time, we have some sort of ailment or element of our surroundings affecting how we are singing, so it takes a good solid understanding of our technique (which we MUST rely on when we are sick) to learn how to sing the rest of the time!  Chew on that one for a while!  🙂

Another question is what type of medicine should you take when you’re sick. Obviously if you are sick enough to need to go to the doctor and get a prescription, do what the doctor says. Some of us only go to the doctor when it’s absolutely necessary and try over the counter medicine and herbal remedies first. We try to stay away from decongestants and menthol cough drops as they both are drying to our vocal folds and throat. What ever you take to help you feel better, make sure you drinking enough water to reduce dehydration. More information on this subject can be found here on our other website “” where we answered a question about having a sore throat.

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Obed & Megan

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