Friday, 29 July 2011

Top Ten Tips & Cures for a Lost Singing Voice

So you've scored a really great gig and you''re getting more and more excited about it as D-day draws near.  Then it happens...  You wake up one morning and realise that your singing voice has gone AWOL!  It could be down to a cold or cough... or you spent too much time in a smoky atmosphere... or you've been out the night before shouting over loud music... or you were shouting at your favourite sports team during the match...  or you've been overworking and not getting enough sleep... or ... well, to be honest it doesn't matter what the cause was.  All you want to know is how to fix it.  Below are the top tips from various sources for the best ways to get rid of that "frog" fast.

In no particular order:

A steam treatment can break up nasal congestion.  You inhale the steam while holding your face over a bowl of hot water whilst covering your head with a towel.  Probably needs to be done every couple of hours if the problem is severe.  Most people seem to think plain steam is best but variations include adding herbs and essences such as eucalyptus, peppermint, sage, thyme, chamomile, rosemary, pine, oregano and juniper.

2  Nasal Saline Irrigation

Cleaning out the sinuses with salt water is an old remedy to alleviate congestion.  A saline solution (using distilled water) is poured or sprayed into the nostril and then flows through the sinuses, cleaning out bacteria and allergens.

3  Pastilles and Potions

There are many types of throat pastilles and mixtures available over the counter at the pharmacy.

  Fisherman's Friend, Vocalzone and various other throat sweets/pastilles can be bought easily from most stores.

  Glycerin linctus, pure glycerin and manuka honey all have their fans.

4  Medicines

Personally, I wouldn't recommend using any medicines unless prescribed by your doctor as the voice is such a delicate instrument.  However, some swear by using cough mixture to thin the mucous as a temporary cure.  But make sure to use the gentler children's version!  Gargling with soluble aspirin has also been mentioned.

5  Drinks

My personal favourite for a voice that's playing hard to get is a hot drink made with boiled water, honey, lemon juice, fresh grated ginger and a tot of rum (optional). For me, it's the ginger that does it - the hotter the better - and it seems to chase away any colds that may be hovering about too.

Other suggestions are:  Gargling with hot water with honey and cider vinegar; gargling warm salt water; drinking fresh pineapple juice; drinking hot and cold drinks alternately every half hour (apparently this works like a hot/cold compress does on the body); drinking lots and lots of water!

6  Herbs and Spices

Recommended herbs for the voice are freshly-grated ginger, sage, turmeric.  These can all be used in solutions for gargling.

7  Vocal Exercises

Consider how you are warming up.  Make sure that the warm ups you do are not only exercising the larynx, but also warming up your voice when you bring chest resonance into play.  Your voice resonating and vibrating in your chest will work to dislodge some of the mucus before you start singing.  Lip trills are good.  Also short sharp notes sung using the diaphragm - sounds like laughing and is a lot of fun!

8  Rest

Sometimes though what the voice really needs is some good old R&R.  Try not to speak much and definitely don't shout or raise your voice.  Fresh air and exercise could also help to kick any lurking bugs and make sure to get plenty of sleep.

9  Voice Specialists

If all else fails, it might be time to call in the specialists.  I'm sure there are many qualified practitions out there but it's always best with this sort of thing to get recommendations.
10 Miscellaneous
Not so sure about some of these but if you're desperate they might be worth a shot:

  • Avoiding diary products - thought to create excess mucus
  • Taking lots of Vitamin C
  • Eating crisps (yes, someone seriously recommends this!)

And finally...

Prevention is better than cure

Drink lots of water, eat healthy to make sure you get all your vitamins and minerals, get plenty of sleep, wash your hands often to avoid bugs and viruses, avoid too much alcohol or caffeine. For dry air due to arid climates or indoor heating, use a hot steam vaporizer. Avoid stress and emotional upset before shows or recording. If you are taking an airplane,  wrap a scarf around your mouth to protect your voice from dry air. Also, try a sleep collar or scarf to keep your  throat warm.  But of course, all this is much easier said than done.  :-)  Good luck!

Special thanks to Tamsin Collison for many of the ideas in this article.


  1. thanks for all your help my throat has been croaky for a long time cant seem to get my high notes or very low ones

    1. Thanks for your comment. Hope some of these tips do the trick for you. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the info.. But my problem is, everytime I tried taking high notes.. It results into coughing. What can I do..?

    1. You're welcome. If you have a persistent cough that isn't solved by throat pastilles/lozenges, then the best thing to do is to go and see a doctor. Good luck!

  3. How can I sing better?

    1. You can find some tips here


Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate the feedback. :-)