Singer Life: Remedies & Fixer Uppers
Nothing can ever replace good technique & habit when it comes to singing, that’s for sure. But if you’re a singer yourself, there are some times you are hit by the getting-sick-right-before-a-performance curse. Suddenly, weeks of preparation are dilapidated by a sore/itchy/dry/ throat just days before! Before you jump off a building (I have thought about it during those desperate, dark times), there are some remedies that can somehow relieve common throat problems.
After years of performing (and getting sick just before I do), I have been well-acquainted with quick fixes such as Pei Pa Koa, salabat or kalamansi juice. Not to mention the quintessential “Don’t drink cold water ha, it’s bad for your throat!”
These old-school practices may work for other people, but my body chemistry is quite divergent & responds differently. For one, Pei Pa Koa & salabat – along with citrus drinks such as pure kalamansi juice/lemon water – irritate my throat & lead to more itchiness. A nightmare I had to learn the hard way. Coldest of cold water? No effect on me at all. I could eat ice cream & still be fine, although I wouldn’t recommend other singers to do the same. And Strepsils or Fisherman’s Friend aren’t really my thing, either (they taste horrible). So if your vocal chords & body work like mine, or if you’re simply looking for other alternatives, here are some tried and tested (for me, anyway) fixer-uppers for singers.
CL Pito-Pito Health Drink (Photo from: alibaba.com)
- CL Pito-Pito Family Health Drink – Surprisingly, my yaya introduced this to me back when tells me she had the flu & totally lost her voice. After a swig direct from the bottle, she was able to talk a few hours after! I was quite hesitant since it seemed so ghetto, but after losing my voice before gala night opening (!!!), I was very desperate. Along with vocal rest (no talking the entire day) & a couple of straight shots of CL Pito-Pito, I was able to sing again (post-vocal warm ups of course). The formula is a kind of a pleasant burning sensation without irritating the throat. You may down this with warm water or take it straight up. Available in herbal stores & local markets.
Warm water + green tea + honey
- Green Tea & Honey – Warm tea is a singer’s friend. I usually go for the natural green tea variant & I avoid the overly-citrus kind such as orange or lemon. Just make sure your tea is sans caffeine. Adding honey (all-natural only) makes it taste better as well as adds a little moisture to the throat. A word of caution, however – take in moderate amounts! Too much warm water, honey or tea can do the total opposite & dry out your throat. Available at any grocery or health stores.
Traditional Medicinals Thraot Coat tea
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat Tea – If you’re not into basic bitch tea, this is the baddest bitch of them all! I am in love with TM’s specified teas of all kinds. Their tea is organic, caffeine-free & has all things good for your throat. Upon the first sip, it feels like vocal repose. It suddenly feels slippery, relaxed & like there’s more air coming in when you breathe. The added lemon echinacea (just the right amount of citrus) is a bonus since it helps your immune system. And this tastes super good thanks to the liquorice! So much win. You can buy this at any Healthy Options store.
Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks
- Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Natural Drink – The benefits of apple cider vinegar have long been endorsed to aid in diabetes & other diseases. It benefits singers too! An old recipe is to mix apple cider vinegar with water, but luckily for our convenience, they already have ready-mixed drinks which we can just chug down. I find that this tastes very strong, so I prefer chilling it before consuming. Usually, I drink it in 2-3 parts – not the entire bottle in one sitting. Quite helpful in “detangling” an otherwise rough or “asleep” voice just before you sing. Also available at Healthy Options.
- Difflam – The only lozenge I trust is Difflam! It’s like the father of all lozenges without aggravating an already-worn out throat, but strong enough to give me the therapy I need. I end up taking this when I feel that my throat is already inflamed, sore or painful. I like the momentary numbing feeling & it slowly ebbs away to reveal a relaxed & soothed throat. There’s a eucalyptus & lemon flavour which are stronger in taste, but I take the regular (green) kind to be safe. Available over the counter in all drugstores.
- Scarf – I never understood the significance of wearing a scarf (and the occasional hoodie) until I started doing professional theatre. My older, more experienced colleagues would explain that exposing your throat to cold temperatures (air-conditioned rooms, nighttime drafts) dries out the moisture in your chords. Even if I’m indoors or if I look kind of stupid walking around in one (in Iloilo especially), I make it a point to keep my neck warm. As leg warmers & sweatpants are to dancers, scarves & hoodies are to singers. Remember, we’re athletes in a way, too.
Remember to try these out in moderation & find what works for you! Liters of water & daily vocal exercises are the surefire way to keep your voice healthy, but we can cheat when it’s a matter of (performance) life or death. After all, we didn’t choose the singer lyf, the singer lyf chose us.