April 2011 | Vocal Bliss

April 2011

Can I Sing with a Cold? 

By Fabio Ramesha Nani

“Can I sing with a cold? Or a cough?” So many students have asked me this question! The answer is…no…and yes.

​If you have a performance and you have a bad cold, with your sinuses completely clogged, or you’re coughing and you sound like your voice is two octaves lower than usual, then it’s probably not a good idea to sing.

​However, you can always practice and do your warm-ups, as long as you do it in the right way. My teacher would never let me skip a singing lesson because of a cold or cough. She actually insisted that it’s a great opportunity, because in order to sound even decent you have to make an extra effort to use your vocal technique properly. If you don’t, you’ll probably hear only guttural noises but no sound.

​I think she had a very good point. Of course, you have to accept the fact that your voice will not sound great. So don’t try to “fix it” by pushing it out, because you’ll only make things worse.

​For example, sometimes it’s hard to hold the pitch when you have a cold or a cough. The reason is that the extra mucus may block the sound. So, again, don’t try to fight it by pushing the voice to its right pitch. It’ll just make it tired and hoarse. The bad pitch could also be cause by your ears being plugged, which is often the case with this kind of condition.

So, when you have a cold or a cough: 

  • Choose warm-ups that are short and quick, like the 5 Note Exercise. (I wouldn’t focus on long tones).
  • Focus on keeping your throat muscles supple and relaxed. Don’t try to fix them in a certain position, keep them “flowy” and flexible, ready to adjust to any new situation. At the same time, focus on enunciating your vowel really well, in order to produce a sound that’s as full as possible.
  • Drink lots of water, in order to loosen the mucus and make singing easier
  • Don’t practice for long periods at a time. Better to do several short sessions spread throughout the day.
  • Be nice and patient with your vocal cords. Yours it’s a lifetime relationship and it will last that long only if you treat them right.

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Questions? 

Feel free to contact me about any singing-related issue or doubt that you might have. I will do my best to help you  find a solution for it.

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