Losing your voice and how to get it back.

The gig is on tonight; you have been already performing for a few days whilst juggling other things at once. It’s tiring (we’ve been there). Perhaps you have strained your voice, or you haven’t correctly warmed up before using it, or maybe you’ve just as well been a bit careless. Point is, the performance is on tonight and your voice is gone. Scary, yes, particularly if you think about that you are not 100% sure whether you will be ok by the time you are on stage or not. I know the feeling as it is exactly what happened to me during Shakespeare in The Port last April; after a few performances in a row, little rest and loads of other things going on, I just knew my voice was gone, and I had a performance on the very same evening in the open space with no microphones (nor understudies for that matter). Tough. Yet I managed to go on stage that night and deliver (yes, it does sound like a miracle. After all, no other solution was available…..), without sweating to much to get my voice back.

So what to do to have your voice back as soon as possible?

Here’s a list of suggestions that can help you out a lot if you find yourself in the same trouble.

1) A bit basic perhaps, yet this tip goes a long way: talk little as possible. Are you a teacher by day, taking a day off is not an option and work is mandatory? Then pair your students and let them work together on a task. Are you a drama teacher? Then let them work on a ten-minutes play written by them, and use that lesson to let them concentrate on their work, so that you can rest. You will share their work with feedback on the next lesson.

2) Wrap a scarf around your neck, and make sure you avoid any current or air conditioning blasts directly on your neck/shoulders. If you live in Hong Kong and you take buses or MTR to go around town, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

3) DRINK! Nothing cold of course; once again, hot water with ginger and lemon comes in handy. Put lots of Manuka honey in it, and sip it all day long.

4) Gargle. Tea tree oil, once again, works wonders. Dilute it in warm water and keep gargling every two or three hours. It really freshens up your vocal chords.

5) Drink fresh pineapple juice. Did you know? Apparently it is the number one thing opted by opera singers. It sure worked well with me. Cut pieces of pineapple and put them in a juicer; don’t buy the bottled crap from the supermarket: it’s packed with sugar and it’s nasty.

6) Dead wasps. Yes. Seriously. As we live in Hong Kong we know all about herbal teas and Chinese medicine. Perhaps something to try; those who had said it works wonders; and – let’s say it: if you are in that situation, you are ready to do worse than that. Head to a Chinese herbal store, or send a Chinese friend who can speak the language, and ask for 咸竹蜂  (it stands for salty bamboo bee, or something of the sort).

It is a combination of dried dead wasps, ginger and salt. Put everything in boiled water and filter (no, you don’t have to munch on dead insects), sip it after a few minutes when really hot.

It’s miraculous. It works beautifully. How does it taste? No idea, I haven’t tried yet. I can be brave at times, but not that brave and, eventually, my voice recovered. This is a pearl of wisdom that I share with you, who are, for sure, more ballsy than me 😛


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