10 Vocal Myths and Tips for the Working Singer During Cold and Flu Season

Jenee Halstead
5 min readDec 26, 2017

The cold and flu season is upon us, which can be an increasingly stressful time for singers, especially for those who make a bulk of their living around the holidays. While we all want to reach for our favorite remedies to help us get through the gig, here are ten myth busters to keep you singing for many seasons to come. Because the long game is the only game in town! Also, when in doubt, always refer to an ear, nose, and throat doctor for any vocal concerns.

Myth #1: Taking products such as Sudafed or DayQuil will help improve your singing voice when you are sick and get you through that tough week of rehearsals and performance.

Fact: Products with a nasal decongestant (either pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine) may temporarily improve symptoms, but they are drying and can lead to vocal injury. The vocal folds need to be well hydrated and irrigated in order to sing easily and effortlessly. It is recommended to use these sparingly or to refrain from using them at all.

Myth #2: A question I often get from singers is: “Is it dangerous for my voice to sing with a common cold? I sound terrible”.

Fact: While it is not ideal to sing when you are sick, sometimes it cannot be avoided. The common cold can create inflammation in the vocal folds, limit the pitch range or mobility, lower your pitch, and can even leave you sounding gravely or dull. If you have had symptoms for more than two weeks make sure to consult an ear, nose, and throat doctor. Be mindful while warming up and try not to overdo it. Make sure you are well hydrated, try to avoid throat clearing, and speak at a quiet level or not at all when you are off stage.

Myth #3: Numbing my voice before singing will help get me through the performance.

Fact: The drug phenol, which is found in most numbing sprays, is a local anaesthetic and can block pain receptors and nerve endings. While most of these sprays don’t work or only work momentarily, blocking any pain receptors and sensory feedback is actually quite dangerous. Singers are much like olympic athletes: they put a heavy demand on the body. Due to this demand, we need heightened awareness and sensory feedback from our body to keep us aware of what we need to take care of our…

Jenee Halstead

singer, songwriter, holistic voice coach, energy healer, and licorice connoisseur.