Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Thoughts For Voices in the COVID-19 Crisis

The birds are back - we will be soon!
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Canceled gigs, tours, presentations and recording sessions... counting toilet paper rolls, chicken breasts and cans of tuna, not to mention getting an illness that has heavy coughing and compromised breathing as main symptoms. Around the globe, everyone in the world is facing physical, emotional and financial stress from this pandemic, including those who depend on their voices and voice work. The worst part of it is the feeling of helplessness that leads to hopelessness. 

BUT if we take a closer, deeper look around, and brainstorm possibilities, there are things we can do to help ourselves and others not only get safely through this global pandemic but come out better for the battle. I'm going to share some thoughts and hopefully turn a light or two on for you in whatever your unique situation is.

OK, FIRST THE BAD NEWS

We need to understand and acknowledge the reality to successfully do something about it. The truth is that we are universally experiencing a dangerous pandemic... a new world-wide flu that is wreaking havoc with physical health and economic systems and can no longer be ignored. The pathogen is called the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The disease it causes is called COVID19. 

There are valid reasons why public events are canceling, cities, states, and whole countries are locking down, schools are closing and lessons (including mine) are going online only. The recommended practice of 'social distancing' and the resulting gig economy cancellations are devastating to scores of businesses including the entertainment and public speaking industries. It's also true that most people can get this virus, get over it without medical intervention and come out just fine. So...

WHY IS THIS FLU SUCH A CRISIS?

  • It's super contagious.
This particular virus is extremely contagious because it's so new the human race has not developed any immunity to it. Young, healthy people, including children, may carry the virus with no symptoms at all. You could be carrying it with no symptoms, unknowingly passing it around to others, including people most likely to get the sickest. But even young people are sometimes being hospitalized with it. This isn't the time to rebel and join friends for spring break, possibly coming in contact with and transporting this back to your families.
  • Those who do get diagnosed with COVID-19 disease will be asked to quarantine themselves. 
Talk about cabin fever! You can't even grocery shop; you have to rely on people bringing food to your doorstep.
  • The biggest reason: It can overwhelm our health care system
A March 20th article from NPR estimates that 20% of COVID-19 patients end up in the hospital, 10 times that of the common flu. Though difficult to figure out right now because most cases are mild and go unreported, many experts estimate the death rate from this virus could also be 10 times that of the common flu, with a higher mortality rate for those over 60 and those with underlying health issues. As this virus spreads like wildfire there will be increasing numbers of people requiring hospitalization, stretching doctors, health care staff, beds and ventilators way past capacity. When health care workers are exposed (and they are lacking enough protective gear right now), they will need to self-quarantine, further exacerbating the shortage of medical help. 

Now for some good news:

THIS CRISIS WILL END!

As in the poem classical vocalist Katherine Jenkins shared on Instagram that was written by her sister Laura, '...soon just like other crisis before, this will all be a distant memory'. However, it may last as much as a year or more, so we need to accept our new reality of pandemic plus job losses and figure out what each of us must do until we see this in the rearview. 

I have been earnestly and prayerfully searching for what I can offer at a time like this. Three suggestions have come to mind:

1. STAY ALIVE AND BECOME STRONGER

Don't just barely make it out alive... use this challenge to become even healthier! 
  • Shelter in place when the local authorities call for it. This could keep numbers of hospitalizations at a manageable level, saving a bed or a ventilator for a time of your or someone else's desperate need.
  • If you DO get sick with this flu...
    • try to minimize hard coughing as much as possible. Try to 'pull' your coughs to lessen the stress on your vocal cords
    • if you need to be intubated on a ventilator, tell your anesthesiologist or doctor that you are a professional singer (or speaker) and to please use extra care inserting the tube.
    • I have some vocal recovery information at this blogpost, including some exercises to help you get your voice back from any illness.
  • Raise the bar on all your health practices including physical exercise; research some new ones (online yoga, dance, deep breathing, healthy cooking classes), stop smoking, adopt better eating habits (paleo anyone?), drink more water, walk outside (even if just on the balcony), get more quality sleep. I'm trying a phone app for binaural beat therapy to get to sleep because my brain is on overdrive right now!
  • Adopt protective habits:
    • Wash your hands for 20 seconds. Stop touching your face. Stay 6 feet away from sick people. Avoid crowds and don't fly unless you absolutely have to.
    • Bring alcohol wipes to any studio or gig you do.
    • When you can get back in the public, interacting with others (including fans), use the forearm bump instead of a handshake, or better yet, just wave and smile. 
  • Guard your mind. Watch your time surfing the internet... lots of bad news and false stories abound. No, there are no dolphins in the canals of Venice, but there ARE wild animals venturing more boldly into city streets. Look for helpful, positive stories to balance what you need to know to deal with the real situation.
  • Take time to be still. Pray, meditate, breathe and be in the present. 
  • Ask for help when you need it. Give help when you can... it's the fastest way out of your own fearful mindset!
2. CREATE AND TRAIN

You know those hours you wish you had more of every day? They're here - use them!
  • Create material! Write songs, scripts, books!
  • Create more ability! Study your craft, research, explore, experiment, go deeper, take some online training so that at the end of this crisis, you're better than ever at what you do. 
  • Do something you've never done - learn to play piano, guitar, study music theory, sing harmony (or lead!), public speaking. There are tons of free and paid courses online. Read more books!
  • Work on your artistic definition. What is in your heart to sing or speak? Who do you want for your audience? What are you missing in your body of work?
  • Study music business, marketing and promotion. Gain skills that will help you move your career forward like a rocket when this crisis is over. Create a detailed plan for launching a new project or tour.
  • Large groups of people are asked NOT to gather during this crisis, so this will impact live audience concerts as well as writers' nights and speaking events. Connect with your fans in other ways. Do online shows with virtual tip jars. Try out Patreon or use Buy Me A Coffee for small one time donations
  • Do some internet infrastructure work (website updates, social networking, etc). 
  • Find creative ways to make financial ends meet. 
    • Some mortgage lenders are now pausing payments for as much as 12 months and freezing foreclosures and evictions. We're globally all in the same boat... so don't hesitate to ask for payment grace. 
    • Be willing to look for at least a temporary new type of job. While most businesses are being crushed, the food industry including delivery and local grocery stores, health care, wellness and home fitness industries, online education, remote work
3. BE USEFUL 
  • Check in with family and friends. Social distancing doesn't have to create emotional distancing! 
  • Be useful to your fanbase. How can you make their world a little better? They love what you do. Love them back with something special that is a one-way-street gift to them. A free online concert. A personal message or live video event to support and encourage them for what THEY are going through. 

HOW CAN I HELP YOU?

To protect us all, I will only offer online lessons until this crisis passes. If you can't afford lessons right now, I will be giving plenty of free information out in this blog and podcast so people can still train. Please stay in touch and tell me what you need! One thing I'm considering is a video about centering, opening and breathing to help anyone who is having emotional or respiratory distress. Let me know in the comments if you'd like that... or any other subject you'd like for me to cover.

MY LESSONS: If you can and would like to, there are some silver linings to doing online lessons with me:
  • You can't catch a virus through the internet (except a computer one:)
  • You don't have to deal with traffic to get here. 
  • You can take the lesson on any device anywhere you get internet (smartphone, tablet, laptop, computer) - in the parking lot, a green room, your bathroom, your motel room, your car.
  • You can take a lesson even when you're sick! Or still in your pajamas!
  • If you wonder how online lessons work, read/listen to an article I did on it...  https://blog.
  • judyrodman.com/2017/02/online-vocal-lessons-pros-and-cons.html

FINAL THOUGHTS:

  • NOW IS THE TIME to adopt proactive and protective practices so we can avoid contracting this dangerous flu and spreading it to others. Remember... it doesn't just matter to you, it matters to everyone you come in contact with. 
  • LOOK FORWARD: There WILL be an end to the crisis. It may not be til next year that a vaccine and/or effective antivirus drug gets developed. But audiences will gather again. People will shake hands again. Right now we don't need to panic... we just need to prepare. Prevention is better than cure.
  • STAY CONNECTED! Call & check up on family and friends, text, email, message, chat face to face online. Look for fact-based sources of information to make wises choices as things progress. We are all better together.
Be well... Be kind... Stay positive!💗  Judy

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4 Comments :

  • At March 26, 2020 at 2:16 PM , Anonymous Denise Wakeman said...

    This is an excellent resource, Judy. I particularly like #2 - Create and Train. Yes! I'm sharing it with my followers. Thank you.

     
  • At March 26, 2020 at 11:37 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Denise... thank you so much for the encouragement, and the sharing!! Means the world that you take the time to do this.

     
  • At April 4, 2020 at 11:03 PM , Anonymous Ron Calabrese said...

    Hi Judy. All your advice is valuable and true. My company manufactures control products for the milk, food, and pharmaceutical industry and is considered essential, so we’re staying open. We’re taking every possible precaution for our work force including taking everyone’s temperature multiple times a day. If any employee comes down with the virus, I’ll have to close the place until all remaining employees are tested and prove negative for the virus.

    Personally, it’s been emotionally troubling to no longer attend mass and, of course, not cantor on Sundays. All the parishes in Illinois have canceled Easter services, so my voice will certainly get an unrequested rest during Holy Week. Being an engineer, I’ve been calculating the death to positive test ratio every day and its been holding at 0.012 or 1.2% for over a week. This compares with South Korea and as more tests are taken, we hope the ratio falls below 1%.

    My wife, who is used to being taken out for dinner multiple times a week, has reacquainted herself with our beautiful kitchen, and been forced to cook for the ever hungry Italian! She hasn’t been desperate enough to allow me to cook. Evidently, there are some things more dangerous than the virus!


    Hi Judy. All your advice is valuable and true. My company manufactures control products for the milk, food, and pharmaceutical industry and is considered essential, so we’re staying open. We’re taking every possible precaution for our work force including taking everyone’s temperature multiple times a day. If any employee comes down with the virus, I’ll have to close the place until all remaining employees are tested and prove negative for the virus.

    Personally, it’s been emotionally troubling to no longer attend mass and, of course, not cantor on Sundays. All the parishes in Illinois have canceled Easter services, so my voice will certainly get an unrequested rest during Holy Week. Being an engineer, I’ve been calculating the death to positive test ratio every day and its been holding at 0.012 or 1.2% for over a week. This compares with South Korea and as more tests are taken, we hope the ratio falls below 1%.

    My wife, who is used to being taken out for dinner multiple times a week, has reacquainted herself with our beautiful kitchen, and been forced to cook for the ever hungry Italian! She hasn’t been desperate enough to allow me to cook. Evidently, there are some things more dangerous than the virus!

     
  • At April 4, 2020 at 11:19 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Ron... Thank you for being the ray of sunshine that you are! And thanks for that information about how you and your company are doing with this crisis. Yes, looks like your voice gets a bit of a break, but of course, that doesn't mean you stop singing! With a voice like yours, your singing will be a balm for the soul of anyone listening. So sing while your wife cooks! Joy all around...

     

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