I’ve heard it too many times: “I’ve had this cold/flu/sore throat/bronchitis and I can’t come in for a lesson because I haven’t been practicing.” What’s really terrible is that this particular winter in the Metro Detroit area has been brutal for influenza and all of its related maladies; there’s been at least 2 stories of people dying from influenza last week. Yikes!
But the truth is, unless you are consigned to constant bed rest or intensive treatments, there’s no reason you can’t sit on the sidelines as a musician when your voice isn’t at its best. There are lots of ways to bridge the gap in practicing:
- Listen. Put on your practice tracks, the dulcet sounds of your singing idols, or whatever you have on hand that will enhance your musicianship by osmosis.
- Memorize. Even if you have to copy down the words in longhand and read them to yourself 17 times, it’s worth doing when you’re not up to vocalizing. It will save you a lot of work down the road once you’ve recovered.
- Study. Mark scores, review notes, unravel tricky diction, tap through the rhythms, even hum along where you can.
- Muse. Don’t forget your artist self – keep yourself inspired and your inner child geeked. It may be hard to soothe your spirit if you’re failing to soothe your sore throat, but if you try to keep your muse alive by watching videos, listening to music or writing in a journal, it will help to keep in touch with your fun-loving inner artist while your physical self is convalescing.
- Self-care. Follow prescribed treatments to the letter and eat as healthy as you can. Drink all the fluids you can. Take vitamins. Don’t overdo talking, and if you have a cough that’s way out of control, seek help so that you’re not damaging your vocal folds. Get rest. If you visit an ENT or any kind of doctor, make sure they know you’re a singer, so that they understand what’s at stake for you. It’s the equivalent of an instrumentalist doing the constant maintenance that is required of any delicate machine – wiping down strings, swabbing the horn, scanning for leaky key pads. Your voice is the most delicate music-making machine of all; take care of it.