There's a condition in every singer's life when the scare sets in... it's called "Laryngitis". You feel it coming on... the dreaded bug that causes your vocal cords to swell...you lose your voice... then you get "well" but when you try to sing it's like you can't get it back! AAAAHHHH!!!! What can you do???
Here is my experience with successfully getting the voice back from laryngitis:
First... some things to do while your larynx is red and inflamed:
- Voice rest (partial or complete)is very wise. When you must speak, don't whisper, which will cause more dehydration of your vocal cords. Instead, use clear bell-like tones. Better yet, write what you want to say on a pad. Silence is golden.
- Use a humidifier. If you use a warm one, you can put it right up to your face. If you use a cold air one, you must be careful NOT to aim it at your face or sleep with the door closed (think about how leaving a window open with cold night air would leave you sounding).
- Drink copious amounts of water and watery drinks such as hot herbal teas like sage, ginger & lemon tea, the Master Tonic, lemon-honey-ceyenne pepper-in-water, dilute pineapple juice.
- For a bad cough, try homemade honey & onion cough syrup. The last time I came down with viral laryngitis with terrible dry hacking cough, my mother reminded me of this from my childhood. It worked better to quell the coughing fits than anything else I tried! Caution: don't make it with honey for very young children. Use sugar instead.
- Slowly and carefully do some vocal exercises to pump the interstitial fluid out of the tissues. [NOTE: Look at the bottom of this post for a free download of vocal recovery exercises I've added to this updated post. You are most welcome:)]
- Some of the exercises you'll find helpful: Lip trills, bubbles, siren sounds, easy scales... start in the middle of your range and work outward. Slowly expand, but DO NOT stretch your range where it hurts! As the swelling goes down, the voice comes back, and more vigorous vocalizing and stretching can be used to build back the strength and flexibility of the instrument. Be careful to avoid over-lifting the larynx for high notes.
- When healing after a bad case of laryngitis, it's common to become "guarded" when using the recently wounded voice. Tension invariably and counterproductively builds as a singer tries to protect the cords. This is why it might be a good idea for you to see a trusted vocal coach in person, because you probably don't even realize the tension you could be holding in neck, shoulders, jaw, etc. Of course, if the laryngitis is not from a virus but from mis-use of your voice, a vocal coach is definitely the right way to go.
- When you first begin vocalizing after healing, you might find yourself with a feeling of light hoarseness I call "the helium effect". In my experience, AS LONG AS YOU ARE NOT APPLYING TOO MUCH PRESSURE AT YOUR THROAT, this effect goes away after about 3 or 4 days. It's important that this effect not be because you are applying incorrect breath pressure or having your throat channel tight or constricted. NOTE: this "helium effect" is not a feeling of throat strain. It's just that you temporarily lose a bit of your low end.
- To help you balance breath support and breath control, and to help you open your throat, I recommend "wall work". Stand with your back to the wall, head and heel against the wall. Keeping your chin flexibly level and putting your hands up about chest level so they aren't ribcage anchors, sing an easy song. Squeeze your butt for power so as to cause your chest to expand.
Would you like to have some vocal exercises to help you recover your voice? Get this download: