Saturday, March 7, 2009

Singers with Sore Throats: Beyond "Normal" Remedies

After numerous long rehearsals for the Brahms Requiem performance, my throat is not doing so well. It dries out especially after we sing Movement VI, which is very vivace and fiercely fortissimo. Not to mention, I have had somewhat of a sore throat this past week, which is causing my voice to crack a bit. What great timing with the concert tonight, and a singing test this coming Thursday in my Music Therapy Skills class.

It is hard to know who to listen to when hydrating by drinking lots and lots of water is recommended by some, and frowned upon by others. Luckily, I know of some unique, and somewhat out of the ordinary techniques that work quite well for throat misfortune...

Lipgloss might sound like a silly remedy for singing difficulties, but it can be truthfully helpful, especially if your mouth dries out easily. When your mouth dries out, your lips dry out. They then stick together, which makes it hard to sing. I find, contrary to popular belief, that all lipglosses are not sticky, and that lipgloss often helps to moisten the lips.

I recommend CoverGirl Wetslicks Amazemint Lipgloss. It's laden with Crest Peppermint Oil, which not only provides a "minty breath sensation," but a solution to respiratory problems. Peppermint oil contains menthol, which numbs your throat when contained in throat lozenges. Menthol in lipgloss, however, provides an aroma that carries up to your nasal passage. This aroma, in turn, makes it easier to breath, and thus easier to sing.

You may wonder where I came up with this crazy idea of using lipgloss to help me out when singing. Well, I'd say I was inspired at her Toronto show on August 27th, 2005, when Tori Amos pulled some lipgloss out of her piano, and told us women in the audience: "Even on stage you need lubrication, girls."

On stage, Tori also drinks what I refer to as "magical lemonade" to rehydrate herself. This soothing and refreshing potion also known as "Duncanade," named after Tori's former chef, Duncan Pickford, is similar to an electrolyte replenisher, and keeps her drooling throughout the show. Here's the recipe:

Start with 2 L. water
2 lemons, chopped, seeded and pithed (1 whole lemon per L. of water)
Blend with 1 1/2 L. water
Strain and discard pulp
Blend that with 10-12 oz. honey that's been blended with 1/2 L. water
Add the remaining 1 L. water
Add ~ 4 pinches of salt (1 pinch for every 1/2 L. water -- more if you sweat a lot)
24 drops of essential lemon oil (6 for every 1/2 L. water)
1/4 t. cinnamon
Strain again

This magical lemonade works wonders for me. The honey in it feels smooth going down your throat, and best of all, provides instant salivation. Duncanade is also extremely tasty -- not too sweet, and not too sour.

Lipgloss and this magical lemonade are just two solutions for singers with sore throats. I recently came across some interesting information on the benefits of pineapple juice for singing -- pretty juicy info, if you ask me! Also, if you're interested in additional guidance, be sure to check out Amber's latest post on natural remedies for sore throats.

Despite how my throat's been feeling, these remedies give me confidence that my performance tonight will go smoothly. I encourage any scratchy-throated singers to try out the lipgloss method, or brew up a batch of Tori's magical lemonade -- I'd love to hear how it benefits you.


  1. wow those are some interesting tips! I recently heard that lots of water was essential and to avoid smoke, alcohol, tea or any very hot beverages before singing. I guess this makes sense...the menthol thing is a great idea! haha like that Tori Amos quote. Hope your performance went well, was really fun and that your throat felt tip top

  2. Thanks, Nicole. Yeah, I've heard those, too -- all good tips. Water should be room temperature so it doesn't shock the vocal cords. Haha, I love the Tori quote, too... somehow she finds a way into many of my posts. ;) My performance is tonight, and I don't have any lemons on hand, but I might have to go out and get some so I can make the magical lemonade! For now I tried this other technique which is to eat a spoonful of honey by itself... it tasted way too sweet, but at least it made my throat feel a bit better!

  3. honey is wonderful, my parents don't have any at home here in Chatham so I'll have to wait until I get back to Windsor to try this, but it sounds delicious. Thanks for the link btw, good luck with your performance tonight!

  4. Dissolve as much salt in a cup of warm water as will dissolve and gargle with the mixture. Repeat every couple of hours.

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