It’s that wonderful time of year again, when sunshine beckons flowers and people alike to come revel in its warmth. The air is fresh, colors come alive; the whole world seems to be filled with song. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the time of year when allergies start to peak, the flu continues to run rampant through schools and offices alike, and the desire to frolic in the heady springtime weather often results in a sobering cold the next morning.
As singers, our bodies are our instruments. This is, of course, a point of great envy for those bassists and tuba players who have spent the better part of their lives lugging around heavy and cumbersome instruments. However, what seems to be the epitome of convenience suddenly becomes the heaviest burden when our physical health is compromised, and along with it, our voices’ abilities to function. How can we prepare ourselves to get through this tricky, albeit lovely, time of year?
- WATER! Hydration is the key to keeping anyone healthy, but it is especially important for singers. Not only do we need to be properly hydrated to keep our instruments in good shape, but drinking lots of water also helps the body to cleanse itself of pollutants and infections.
- BUNDLE UP! 50 degrees may feel warm in comparison to the frigid temperatures that we have all been suffering through over the past few months, but the spring temperatures only feel balmy by comparison. Wear jackets and close-toed shoes, and don’t pack up your scarves just yet.
- HEALTHY DIET! I’m all for a delicious ice cream cone now and again, but be sure to fill your daily diet with healthy foods that will give your body the energy and nutrients it needs to maintain a strong immune system.
- SLEEP! With longer days and the school year winding down, many of us sacrifice precious sleep for evenings out on the town or cramming to finish projects. The majority of people need at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to be fully rested; getting less than that amount on a regular basis can lead to long term exhaustion and illness.
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! It is smarter than you think. If you feel tired, crave certain (healthy) foods, thirsty, etc., make every effort to give your body what it is asking for. If you are practicing and you start to feel like you are straining to get your sound out, take a break. You may be developing something unpleasant, and it is better to let your body and voice rest a bit than to sing on swollen folds and damage your instrument.
- MEDICATION - If you do get sick, or have persistent and debilitating allergies, see your doctor about proper medication. Make a point of stressing to them that you are a singer and need to have medication that will not dry out your vocal folds/nasal passages. Drink lots of water while on the medications to help flush out the issues and fight dehydration. Many people, including myself, find that alternative methods such as breathing in steam or using a Neti Pot can be helpful in preventing and treating these issues.
“Then came the lovely spring with a rush of blossoms and music
Flooding the earth with flowers, and the air with melodies vernal.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Eileen Cooper, Voice Instructor at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts