Well, it’s that time to get your scarves out of storage and cradle a hot, steaming mug of your favorite tea and wonder how you’re going to get through this winter without succumbing to colds or the flu: A worthy concern for singers. 


By Lisa Popeil


Musicians can have a stuffy nose, laryngitis and a fever and still can play their instrument pretty well.  Singers, as we know all too well, are reliant on a number of small, sensitive organs subject to every virus that wafts by.


Before I share some tips which may help get your through unscathed, keep in mind that’s it’s best to corral your worry.  The only thing worth worrying about is your vocal folds, the tiny flaps in your voice-box which vibrate to make sound.  This means that you shouldn’t over-worry about your nose, your tongue and your chest. 



As singers, we have a tendency to worry about everything because we’re so at the mercy of invisible forces impacting our ability to do our job.  Simply focusing your worry down to one thing: your vocal folds will help you protect them and will hopefully steer you away from amorphous dread.  Another way to say this is: you can’t hurt your nose, so don’t worry too much about it.


Did you know that keeping your feet warm can help you not overproduce mucus?  Ick alert:  your nose produces about of quart of mucus every day under normal conditions.  When you’re out in the cold, your nasal blood vessels dilate to warm the air making your nose red and runny.  Not all of that goop will be coming out of the front into a soft tissue.


You’ll have lots more going down the back of your throat, creating a fertile ground for possible infection.  So keep your tootsies and every other part of you warm to keep your nose from creating a gallon of the good stuff each day.


Skip desserts this holiday.  Sugar begins a cascade of hormonal effects which result in lowered immunity.  For example, a 12-ounce can of soda can, witch has a whopping 8 tablespoons of sugar in it, will lower your white blood cells’ ability to fight germs for up to 5 hours. Interestingly, eating starches don’t seem to have this effect.


Limit the booze. One drink (one beer, 5 ounces of wine or one ounce of the hard stuff) doesn’t seem to affect the immune system but 3 or more drinks really impacts your ability to stay healthy. 


So enjoy your families, friends and your music this winter and help your immune system help you!


Photo top: Amy Grant performing a Christmas Program.

Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is a top LA voice coach.  Check out her book ‘Sing Anything-Mastering Vocal Styles’ at www.singanything.com and info on lessons and products at www.popeil.com