By Stephanie Ciccarelli
October 23, 2008
I've asked a couple of very helpful voice over coaches to share how they get through yucky voice conditions including their preferred methods of going from sickness to health during cold season.
Graciously sharing two different perspectives gained from years of experience and practical application, take heed to what Bettye Zoller and Debbie Munro have to say and get yourself on the path to feeling better, for you and for the good of your voice over career!
Remedies for hoarse (damaged vocal folds) voice:
1. You have hurt the vocal folds, tiny and delicate string-like tissues in the voice box or larnyx which create vocal sound when they rub together pushed by breath. When you shout or talk to much for too long, the vocal folds can become rough, red, almost like a chapped hand ffrom winter winds, and can swell. In extreme vocal abuse cases, the folds develop nodules which are like a "corn" on the toe. If these harden, they are called "nodes." They often must be surgically removed. COMPLETE VOCAL REST is mandatory with hoarseness (at least, talk as little as possible until gently 'trying out' the voice to see if it's recovering somewhat. Drink lots of water. No alcohol (it's drying).
2. Wrap your mouth opening with scarf when in winter winds. Harsh bitter-cold wind rushing down your throat onto your warm and moist vocal folds often can cause hoarseness!
3. See your physician and try to "nip colds short in the first day or two" before they accellerate into something worse. Some doctors have sprays for the nose and throat that are wonderful too.
4. Sleep with a humidifier pumpting moist air into your bedroom. You need not use the "smelly menthol substance" in it unless you like that and it does open up the nasal passages when you have a serious congestion. It's also great for your face! We all need more hydration in our hot, closed-up houses in the wintertime!
5. Elevate your head when you sleep. You'll have less problem with drainage from the nose dripping down onto the vocal folds and causing irritation.
Get well soon!
Getting Rid of Colds
I learned this the hard way.
I booked an animation (my first in fact) and my character had a catch phrase "Simply Sensational". The first six months were fine, then it seemed that EVERY month (I was committed to travel each month for 2 days of recording) I got a cold just before my session and had a SNEGAL (How they spell that one I'm not sure) in my throat and had to do multiple takes. It was then that I discovered that staying healthy was number one so here is what I did to make sure, and I have been sick only once in 7 years since that situation: (knock on wood):
1. Covered my head when I went out in the cold. I took very good care of my health...especially in my hot tub. I would even wear ear muffs LOL (good old Canadian winters).
2. Washed my hands ALL THE TIME.
3. Avoided my kids (touching and sharing) when they were sick.
4. Prevenative herbs such as Cold FX (something different in the states). I find these work and I take them whenever those around me are sick.
5. I avoid all medications except if I have a cold and I'm congested and I have to do a spot I learned a trick in my early animation career: take two Advil Cold and Sinus with a cup of black coffee Â½ hour prior to your session. Clears you up enough to get through it.
6. I drink warm water when I'm in a session with a cold... it feels soothing and helps me get through the session.
7. I find also a spray bottle of water is helpful.
8. Exercise regularily (I think this is one of the main reasons I don't get sick anymore) Colds try to come but never seem to surface.... lucky me... even while those around me are all sick. It's been amazing.
9. Be so busy you have no time to relax therefore you're never sick (another of my innocent remedies... perhaps not recommended to be that busy).
10. Tablespoon of olive oil is also heaven to your vocal instrument during a session.
11. DON'T AUDITION WHEN SICK... you won't be able to pull it off if you get the job and the cold is gone.
12. I will voice when I'm sick (depending on how I feel about it) as you can mask a cold on a short script. Nothing long format. Nothing is worth damaging your vocal instrument over.
13. I know of a video game where several of the men voicing BLEW THEIR THROATS. This can happen. Remember if you take on a character that is hard on your chest or throat, can you do this character over 16 pages of script? PROTECT YOUR INSTRUMENT.
14. If you TRULY can't sleep you aren't any good for your session anyway, I swear by Nyquil night time. It puts me out everytime allowing me to sleep in peace for at least 6 hours. HEAVEN.
15. Echinacea tea etc. Herbal teas are great.
16. Avoid milky substances, sugars etc. Lots of clear liquids and tons of water.
17. Green Granny Smith Apples are a voicers best friend. Too congested? Try a bite of the apple. Too dry, try a bite of the apple, too wet etc. It's a unique thing!
We don't get sick pay.... we are our product, our salesman, our accountant, our producer and more so we have no other choice but to stay healthy. Mind over matter! ALWAYS!
Hope that helps,
All my best
Let's beat these colds! Share your remedies below :)
One of my favorite products that has helped me immensely this allergy season is Zyrtec. I take one tablet in the morning and I am able to do voiceovers without fear of sneezing or being clogged and stuffed up. Everyone knows how much I believe in Green Tea, but I have recently found that lemon and hot water are also very good for soothing your vocal cords. The lemon actually opens your nasal passages.
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