It’s that time of the year in wintery Melbourne, Australia.

In this months article, I’m going to give you tips and hints on how to sing when you have a cold, the flu or just not feeling right. Let me give you a couple of facts firstly about being sick.

98% of the ailments, colds and flu’s eg, you should be able to sing through.  I’ll tell you a fact about myself and this is different from everyone of course. I’ve been singing since I was 6, I have only had 11 days off from singing and that has been because I had laryngitis, I had an infection of my larynx, so I had NO voice. When this happened, I went straight to the doctor and got penicillin antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and a penicillin shot in the backside and had my voice back within 3 to 4 days.

Now, I’m going to give you hints on how to sing and get through a show, song, performance or gig if you are sick, no not with laryngitis.

  1. Properly and always WARM UP your voice and assess how much voice you have to use- safely, both in true voice and falsetto that’s the most important fact and information you need. Assess how much voice you have because you need to decide on what you’re going to do with the song or songs that you’re about to sing. Now, if you haven’t got a lot of voice, you may want to do some of the things that I’m about to tell you.
  2. Change the key of the songs or the whole set if you possibly can. Obviously, if you’re singing in a theatre production, your not going to be able to do this in a theatre production because the show will be in concert pitch and they are not going change the key of the whole show just because you have an ailment. If you are in a theatre production and you cannot sing the high notes in true chest voice you are going to have to sing them in falsetto.

But if you’re in a band or you have a karaoke track, you might be able to change the key of it. So, instead of singing the song in the original key, bring it down as far as you need to so that you can sing the whole song or get through the whole performance in the lower key with less strain on your voice. Most people that are listening are not going to notice that you brought the song down a semitone or a two.

  1. Change the melody of the song. If you’ve got a high note, phrase or chorus, change the melody of it. Sing a lower note within the same key. There is an art in doing this but once you know how to do you can rearrange any song or melody to suit your voice to make it easier to sing.
  2. If you’re really sick and you can’t change the key of the song, you should try to stick to the root note of the melody, meaning the root note or lowest note that you started on, you should try to stay on that all the way through. Meaning you’re not singing melodically, moving or jumping around vocally. This is not an option that I would always go for because you’re going to sound a little monotonous and boring but if you’re up on stage and you feel that your voice is fatiguing badly, disappearing and you just need to survive and get through the song, this is a good technique.
  3. Just pick different songs or change your song selection. Don’t sing the high song, change the songs and sing a lower song is a very good and easy option.

Again, if you’re up on stage and you aren’t able to change the key of the song, sing the high notes in falsetto instead of singing then in true voice.  If your voice is starting to crack and you’re losing it, sing it in falsetto, it sounds similar but not exactly the same but at least you got away with getting through the song performance in the same key.

So here are some helpful hints and please use these if you are sick to make you sound the best when you’re up on stage.

Happy singing

Peter Vox