The winter months are rolling in and you probably are grabbing your favorite scarf, gloves, and winter coat. We know how to prepare for the winter when it comes around but it’s still easy to get sick when that frigid air rolls in. If you are a singer and have performances, recitals and auditions coming up this can be so frustrating! Here are some tips and products you can use to help prepare and keep your voice and body healthy for the winter months.
Use a humidifier
During the winter months I love using my humidifier. I can’t live without it! The winter months can leave your skin and vocal chords feeling dry so adding humidity to the air helps you get the moisture you need to keep hydrated. You can get a decent one from your local pharmacy for around $40. Cool mist humidifiers are less likely to breed bacteria, but be sure to clean your humidifier on a regular basis whether it creates a cool mist or a warm steam.
Manage stress with Meditation.
The holidays can be very stressful not just for adults but kids too! We all have so much going on, getting to appointments, preparing for recitals and family coming over. It’s good to take 10 minutes in the day and go to a quiet room and focus in on deep belly breathing. Helping our bodies to better manage stress will put us in a healthier state of body and mind. As singers our body is our instrument so keeping relaxed is essential to making our instrument work properly and with ease. Tension in the neck and shoulder muscles can wreak havoc on your voice so do your best to let go of the stress!
Brush up on your technique and warm-up!
Using proper technique and completing your daily warm-ups are essential to keeping your voice healthy. Get with a great teacher who can help guide you in the right direction and point out any harmful vocal habits you might have gotten into. Even if you have been singing for years it’s always great to be reminded. When my students come to me saying their voice doesn’t feel so great I ask lots of questions. Are you talking loud in social situations? Hollering at school games? Not using proper breath support? Getting enough sleep? You’d be surprised what little things can wreak havoc on the voice! So get with someone who can help you use proper technique regardless of what you sing! Your teacher can also help put together a warmup customized for you.
Load up on vegetables, fruits and immune boosting foods.
During these winter months it’s so easy to want to reach for comfort foods full of sugar and dairy, but everyone around you is catching a cold or getting some weird virus and you have to arm your body with the proper nutrition to defend itself. Leafy greens, garlic, broccoli, almonds, ginger, spinach and citrus fruits are some of the examples of foods that will help put your body in an alkaline state and ready to fight any potential colds. Be careful with the citrus fruits as they can cause acid reflux in many people which can be harmful to your vocal health! High water content fruits are spectacular for the voice. Watermelon is my go to when I need that extra hydration from my food.
Fresh Ginger, lemon and raw honey
Ok, so sometimes even though you tried so many things you still get that little tickle in your throat and that hint of congestion and you can feel sickness coming on. It can seriously be frustrating, especially when you have a performance only 3 days away. You go to the doctor and get some meds just in case but you want to help your body along as much as you can. As soon as I get that little sore throat feeling I juice some fresh ginger & lemon and throw in some raw honey. Heat it up and it makes a fabulous spicy tea. When I was on a winter tour in Alaska a few years ago (yes Alaska!!) I drank this hot concoction every day and it really helped.
Essential oils are fantastic! Peppermint and lavender are my go to oils during the winter. I put the oils in a diffuser which is available on amazon for around $30. The peppermint oil aids in clearing up sinuses and the lavender oil helps relax me. Be sure to do a little research and make sure you are purchasing the highest quality oils, like most things in life you get what you pay for! Oils can also be worn in a diffuser necklace when you’re on the go or mixed with Epsom salt and thrown into a nice hot bath. Ah so relaxing!
Sleep, sleep and more sleep. Let’s face it you need rest. Your body needs to repair itself from all of this practicing and running around. Go to sleep! Your voice will thank me.
Drink lots of water, herbal tea and good old chicken soup.
So if it does get to that point where you are all stuffed up and sick, drink lots of water (which you should be doing even before you get sick), herbal tea and chicken soup will help clear you up. I love throat coat tea & even gargle with it sometimes.
Courtesy of Vickie N. – Vickie has been training vocalists and pianists for the past 9 years and loves sharing her passion for music and the stage with artists of all ages and levels. As a vocalist and piano accompanist, she has helped prep her students for performances on Amateur Night at the Apollo, Broadway, venues around NYC, and TV Talent show auditions, including one of her students from Team Adam on The Voice.
Vickie was crowned the CBS Star Search Grand Champion in 2004 by receiving five stars from judges Naomi Judd, Ben Stein, Ahmet Zappa and MC Lyte in the vocal category. Vickie was teaching music at the Mark Twain Junior high school during her appearance on CBS and returned home to a classroom of proud students. Vickie was signed to a development deal with Sony Records and recorded five songs with the label. During the 2nd season of Star Search, A&M records released “Like no other” which was executive produced by Ron Fair.
After her win on CBS, she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops Orchestra under the direction of the late Skitch Henderson as well as opened for such acts as Reba McIntyre, Deborah Cox and Ashford & Simpson. Last year she was chosen to represent the test pilot for the CW TV show The Next a music competition where Vickie was able to be mentored by the legendary Gloria Estefan. Vickie has toured China, Germany, Japan and the US and is currently working on her second album as well as training, grooming and writing for up and coming artists.
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