“Mom, I think I’ve lost my voice.”
Those are the words I heard from my son last spring two days before the high school musical was due to open. He had the lead role of Billy Flynn in Chicago and he was in a panic. After many performances over the years, he had never lost his voice – and he was looking for me to make it better.
When your child is sick, he wants mom to make him feel better. And usually, you know what to do: fluids, rest, Advil; a hug, kind words. And usually you have time to spare – “stay home from school,” you say – just rest, no worries!
The only problem was – I didn’t know how to make it better – and he couldn’t stay home – the show was in two days! I started with my “go-to”: hydrate. I pumped him with water and herbal tea – told him to rest and went straight to the drug store. The fact is I was in quite a panic myself!
Once at the store, I filled my shopping basket with everything that might help. I spared no expense. It was only later, after calming down a bit and looking at articles on the internet, that I learned what you should do when you are at risk for losing your voice.
Of course, your singer should always work to preserve his voice and not overwork it. But, if you do find yourself playing nursemaid to your singer, here are the most helpful remedies I’ve found:
- Steam: You can use the old-fashioned boiling pot of water for breathing throat-soothing steam, but I recommend buying a personal steam inhaler. I found the Vicks brand personal steam inhaler for about $30 at my drugstore – but do not use the medicine included with the unit – straight steam is all you need. Because it is so compact and easy to use, my son took it to college and continues to use it to sooth and hydrate his voice.
- Honey in herbal tea: The honey coats the throat and the warmth of the tea also soothes. I had some Greek honey that my neighbor shared with me and it helped to heal his voice quickly! I have no facts to back up it’s healing properties – but my son loved sipping the tea with the Greek honey in it!
- Slippery Elm: It was only after consulting the internet that I realized eucalyptus and menthol, the two main ingredients in most throat lozenges, are drying and should be avoided by singers. Instead, Slippery Elm lozenges (found at health food stores) made from birch trees – are recommended by professional singers.
- Hydrate: My “go to” – hydration – is the absolute best solution for struggling voices. But you must drink lots of water every day, on a regular basis – don’t wait until a performance to hydrate! My son had two days to catch up with his hydration and drank 16 ounces between each act during his performance. It was overkill, and he had to visit the bathroom frequently – but it worked for him. The best part is that he is now serious about drinking enough fluids every day!
So if you find yourself in the position I was in – tell your singer to hydrate, and hit the drug and health stores for these four proven ingredients! Need help remembering these tips?
I’ve created an acronym of sorts to make it easier to remember: S-H-E Hydrates – no matter your child’s gender – S (Steam) H (Honey in tea) E (Slippery Elm Lozenges) and hydration! Say it again: SHE HYDRATES!
Are you a singer? What are some tips that work for you when you want to nurse a tired voice?
**Editor’s Note: Since writing this article, I’ve published several articles about vocal health by experts.
Singers, Know Your Instrument
Make Your Music: Vocal Health
FREE eBook: Complete Guide to Your Vocal Health