WINTER’s Coming!?! How to manage seasonal vocal strain

Winter is coming, eek! How to manage seasonal vocal strain?

Seasonal Vocal Strain - getting ready for autumn!
Seasonal Vocal Strain – getting ready for autumn!

Managing seasonal vocal strain is probably the issue I deal with MOST. Both as an opera singer & singer-songwriter in my own performances, and as vocal coach / technician for men, women and children. Autumn is literally upon us, even though the weather is still pretty good. This makes for a marked change in the vocal situation of all singers, and it can be a real pain in the butt. Or, pain in the throat, to be more accurate.

Seasonal vocal strain is something that you feel in the pipes as a thinness in your delivery or sometimes even scratchiness and dry throat. This happens to me every seasonal change, and even with a switch from hot/dry to wet/cool within one season. For sure, the amount of sleep you get and your diet influence the severity of your symptoms! If you suffer from allergies, you won’t be free from strife, as you know, once spring/summer are gone. There are irritants all around, from the toxins within many new homes, to other chemicals in our clothing, food, laundry detergent and so on. If you are sensitive, you need to be careful with your environment! Once you’ve taken care of that, here are a few other tips to help you with seasonal vocal strain:

  1. Get enough sleep – this is priority numero uno. Without sufficient rest you can’t weather any kind of immune strain, and your vocal situation will show it first: your endurance, power, range, and emotional delivery will all suffer. I can’t stress how important this is!
  2. Drink enough water – I hate to sound like a broken record, but you gotta lube up the pipes. Three litres a day is a minimum for singers. Your larynx and supporting vocal mechanism will thank you with a smoother delivery, greater power and endurance, fewer vocal hiccups and less overall grating.
  3. Wear a scarf / keep you throat warm – this is not just a Pavarotti trend. It has a physiological root: the type of viruses / bacteria that like to nest in your throat area need a somewhat cooler temperature than other bugs elsewhere in the body. I’m not a doc, so my interpretation of this factoid may sound simple, but this resonates absolutely true with my experience. When I’m feeling sensitive, or even when I simply can’t sleep enough because of jet lag or my kids are sick, I wear a high turtle neck, vest that zips up high, or scarf all the time, even to sleep. In the winter, I always have my chest and neck covered by a turtle neck sweater.
  4. Be cautious of germs – back-to-school season is accompanied by a plethora of new germs to threaten your pipes! You don’t need to be super anal, but just cautious about keeping your hands clean and out of your facial orifices. Find something to do in the car other than pick your nose! Don’t ever stick your finger tips in your eyes. If you need to scratch your eyes, use a tissue to cover up your fingers.

I hope this helps! Thanks for reading, and come back to check out my next post!

Kind regards, Rosanna D’Agnillo