Health & Positive Attitude

Singers think about and discuss their health all the time. Negative thoughts, real illnesses and “perceived” illnesses can undermine progress in lessons and excellence in performance. The following ideas were introduced in the APSU Vocal Pedagogy class – TK guest lecturer.


Have a Cold? You can probably still sing.  If you “sound” odd, record yourself and notice the “normal” singing. With a cold, the ears and nose stop up and your “tone” doesn’t seem right, but it still may be. If you DO sound different, even in recording, DON’T SING.

Have Laryngitis? DON’T SING.  It is too strenuous on your voice.

Have a fever or chills? DON’T SING.  Your body being weak means you might support differently or incorrectly to overcompensate.  Again, too strenuous on your voice.

Have a monthly period? Remember, the cords may be thicker and will operate differently.

IN ALL of the above cases, do not over-sing.  No strenuous singing. Test your voice carefully each time. Hum to begin warm ups and take your time. Try singing at 9 a .m. Stop and try again at 11 a.m. Go easy on yourself. Listen carefully to what your body, your voice is telling you.

NOTE: If you are a “trooper” and are frustrated about being too sick to perform or practice, listen to recordings/YouTube, read the poetry, read any poetry, read about the lives of your composers, fantasize about your character, practice gestures in the mirror, practice moods (I have a list of 115), study diction, write out the texts, write out rich and colorful stories about your characters BEFORE and AFTER the actual piece you are singing, read about professional singers and the advice they have to offer.  All of these activities enrich your singing and should be considered real practice.

TK REMEDIES & PREVENTATIVES  (before, during, & after being ill)

Before: I take 6 alfalfa tablets a day ($4 at Wal-Mart for a big bottle). I never have to blow my nose, I rarely have any phlegm, I am rarely sick.

During: Take more alfalfa to dry out everything. Each of you must find the optimal number, so you are not TOO dry either. Zinc, Echinacea, Garlic are good, too. Japanese plant oil  – a couple of drops under you nose really opens up your sinuses. (It is very strong, don’t get it in your eyes!)  Also put a bit on your tongue or upper chest. Other oils – Japanese oil of peppermint, Tea Tree oil.  Put some drops in a pan of boiling water, cover your head with a towel and lean over the pan. Breathe in the steam (with oils) and let your sinuses open up.  You will really have to blow your nose a lot during and after this treatment.

Put a pinch of salt in a bit of boiling water. (Test this mixture, starting with very little salt) After it cools, put some in a nose dropper, lean you head back and squirt a few drops in your nose down the BACK side of your throat.  Gargle salt water, but it doesn’t work as well at getting that mixture down the back of your throat. This will help prevent drainage down your throat, especially at night when you can’t naturally get it off the cords.

After: Continue with the oils some, continue with alfalfa tablets.

I order my alfalfa from Shaklee – more expensive.

Also good are: zinc tablets, vitamin C, “Defend and Resist” (echinacea, black elderberry, larch tree, zinc), Garlic complex (garlic, spearmint, rosemary)

Before, during and after

Positive Attitude: My students hear me say this all the time. It really works.  Why bother to think negative thoughts? – What a waste.  You are all actors and actresses. If you are having a bad day, “act,” “think,” “will” yourself into a positive place and stay there. Who is your favorite singing character?  Susanna?  Cherubino?  Nemorino or Adina? Figaro in “Barber?”  Sarastro?   Nacht und Träume?  Extase?   Go, Lovey Rose?   Se tu m’ami?   All of these “characters” have positive attitudes for much of their existence.  Climb into that place and stay there. It will do you good.

Random acts of kindness:

These help your positive attitude. Try it. You will feel better after reaching out to someone else.

Take a “field trip” to TK’s office and read all the signs on the walls. (A visiting voice teacher, who used my office one summer, wrote me the next fall thanking me, and said she had taken all signs down, xeroxed them and put them back up.  I guess something spoke to her!) I have collected so many positive, unique, interesting, quirky, fun, zany, worthwhile sayings and ideas over the years. Benefit from them.

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