April is here and Spring is in the air, which means warmer weather and blossoming allergies. The word allergies is feared among those of the singing community, and for good reasons. Unlike sickness, which will eventually be resolved, allergies are much harder to predict. But when the unpredictable strikes, it is your job as a singer to be able to sing through these allergies. There are a few things, however, that the singer must remember while trying to combat allergy season. The first of these is that, not only in allergy season but also in everyday singing, success should not be based on how the final product sounds, but rather how it feels. This is mostly because you cannot actually hear what you sound like, you can get a general idea and give yourself feedback on pitch but when it comes to volume and quality of tone, it sounds much different to the singer than it sounds to the audience. So, making sure that it feels like it does in your lessons and when you practiced it in full health will ensure that you’re doing all you possibly can.
Another thing to remember is just like any other performance, the singer should prepare the same way, allergies or not. This includes warming up, getting adequate sleep and staying hydrated. Warming up is important anytime you’re singing, but especially when you are not feeling in tip top shape. This is because it allows you to roam the limits of your voice and see how far you can safely and comfortably sing in each direction, plus it also stretches your voice so you’re ready to sing. Keeping hydrated and getting enough sleep is something you should always be conscious about, and though it doesn’t necessarily help with allergies, you want to start at the healthiest place possible to properly sing through allergies.
So now that you have a place to start, here’s how you can start getting rid of those itchy eyes, coughing and runny noses. There are a few different methods to use. A popular solution among singer’s is a “neti-pot”. This works by actually pouring a saline solution through you’re sinus cavity and literally draining it. Sounds unpleasant but, a lot of singer’s swear by this method. Another less invasive method is over the counter allergy medicines, but a word of caution while using these products remember to drink more water than usual because these medicine are notorious for dehydrated the users. An over the counter product that works well are “fisherman friends”, which are a type of throat drops. The good things about these are that they don’t coat your throat or dry you out. You can use a number of other products and really the only way to know if they work for you to to try them out.
If you have unusually strong allergies or allergies year round, you might consider visiting an ENT doctor (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor). They are specialists in this area and they can help you with long term allergies and give you more permanent solutions. If you decide you are going to be a serious singer, you should consider a relationship with an ENT doctor because they can help with many vocal problems should they arise, of course I hope that isn’t the case.
If you are a more advanced singer and knowledgable in the area of vocal resonance cavity’s than you can also work on directing the resonance to the mouth and back of the throat instead of in the nasal cavity to help mask the effects of nasal congestion. Make sure though while doing this, you are not straining to do this, because that can cause more hurt and than and lead to bad habits when you allergies finally subdue. So just remember to stop and give yourself feedback (making sure your larynx isn’t rising, or that you don’t have tongue tension, ect.)
Allergies are a part of life, yet they shouldn’t mean the end of your singing for the season, especially since they come at a time of high traffic of auditions and shows. Using these tips and keeping yourself in good health besides the inevitable, will help you sing through the seasons. So next time you find yourself in a panic because your allergies are on the rise just remember these tips and combat those nasty afflictions. Good Luck and Happy Singing!