Monday 13 February 2017
Dealing with a cold on the road
Getting a bad cold at any time is horrible - we've all been there.
But what do you do if you need to sing (or talk) when you have a cold?
Well for me, warm ups are the thing - and rest - and fluids.
To warm up, I start early in the day just humming - and gradually expanding through my range - doing 5 minutes every hour or so - very gently so that someone 3 or 4 feet away from me could barely hear me. I then progress to Lip Trills - the traditional singer Tommy Makem who found fame with the Clancy Brothers, always swore by these - he would do 15 minutes of lip trills before every gig .... There are lots of examples of how to do a lip trill on You Tube - This is one of the better ones I've found. From Cari Cole who is a Nashville vocal coach - I probably should prepare one of these videos some time myself, but .I wouldn't look nearly as pretty as her lol
Coping with colds and jet lag when you're performing is not easy. It's not always possible to get the rest and quiet time that's needed to recover. Most singers carry a virtual pharmacopeia with them but in recent years I have stopped doing this as I've found it made me feel even worse, anticipating feeling bad. However some sage sweets or honey and lemon to make a soothing drink can be picked up most places. Throat sweets are usually very sickly and sticky so they can make matters worse, unless your throat is very sore and raspy in which case that sweet stickiness can be very soothing.
If the cold is a bad chesty one then you will probably need to change the key of songs to sing a bit lower but if there are other members of the band get them to shoulder a bit more of the singing. Tom has been great on tours where I've had a problem, doing a few extra songs to let me rest.
I hope that helps. Just keep warm and watch your voice - it's a great indicator of how your whole body is doing.
Do you have any great cold cures? I'd love to hear about them. Stay well this Winter.