Posted on | November 1, 2015 | No Comments
Ok, so I have been sick with a lung infection for a week and coughing everyday – making me sad, my vocal folds sad, basically my lungs and trachea and vocal folds and throat are all bit sad at the moment.
Why is coughing so bad for singers?
Coughing, clearing your throat, sneezing, vomiting – they all irritate the vocal folds. Coughing, clearing your throat and sneezing all create a large force of air rushing past your vocal folds at a high speed and your vocal folds “clap together” or vibrate very strongly – check it out on youtube here. Coughing is vocal fold violence! Vomiting can result in stomach acid coming up the oesophagus and irritating the vocal folds leading to further irritation.
OK – a disclaimer – I am not a doctor. Check with your doctor first – especially about medications and for your individual situation.
So, how do you avoid coughing when you need to cough to get the sputum / mucous out of your chest when you are ill? These ideas have worked for my students and I:
1. You are probably going to have to cough. Just saying. I live in the real world, I hate coughing, I avoid coughing, but I do it, you do it, it happens. You need to move that mucous out go the lungs somehow. Accept it, then move on to cough reduction mode!
2. When you feel the need to cough or clear your throat have a sip of water. It can often take away the urge to cough which is important if the cough is a dry irritating one that you just need to try and stop. Also, tea with honey, or lemon and honey in boring water sipped slowly can sooth the throat and slow the cough reflex.
3. Thin the mucous. If the mucous is thinner it easier for it to cough up / be reabsorbed back into the body with minimal coughing.
- Drinking fluids helps thin the mucous / sputum (sputum is mucous that is in your lungs).
- Steam helps thin the mucous – steamy showers, humidifiers (keep them clean) and I love my personal steam inhaler. A bowl filled with boiling water and a towel over the head is great too (Thanks Grandma! She used to do this for me when I was little and sick and it works a treat).
- Medication like Bisolven tablets contain bromhexine which thins, loosens and clears mucous in the lungs. I find these help reduce coughing. (Check with your doctor!)
4. I usually don’t take decongestants or cough suppressants which dry the mucous out because we need the mucous coating on our vocal folds to function as singers, however, at night time a decongestant or cough suppressant which avoids night time post nasal drip and that awful dry sore morning throat can be just the thing (Postnasal drip – mucous drains from the back of the nose down the throat and into the …. stomach or lungs? Whatever – it is disgusting, right?). Be aware, though, that often these can last for up to 24 hours and you will feel better, but your vocal folds might be dry dry dry and singing on them may irritate them further. Again – check with your doctor! I never sing with a decongestant in my body.
Ok, so I hope that helps to you address any coughing problems. Feel free to send me your helpful tips.
Posted on | October 28, 2015 | No Comments
I normally am pretty cheery and happy when I talk about my work, but today I am sad. After three days of a chesty cough and problems breathing (I don’t DO coughing!) I came home today from the doctor’s with a verdict of bronchitis. OK. I knew I was feeling unwell, fevers etc. But coughing drives me NUTS! With each cough I imagine my vocal folds going redder and getting more inflamed. I have to take more time off work. This makes me sad, because I love my work. I don’t want to infect my students, and I am certainly NOT coughing through a singing lesson. Very bad form! It means I have to reschedule many many lessons and cancel others. It inconveniences me, and my students who may have auditions or performances coming up in the near future. It interrupts our learning. Many times students come to lessons unwell and in no condition for a lesson. Sometimes they are exhausted from performance schedules / work / studies / exams. Sometimes they are sick, recovering from being sick or on the cusp of being sick. Unfortunately infectious diseases are infectious and airborne. I catch them – and this year has been remarkably plentiful in terms of both student illnesses and my own illness. The other nasty side effect is being self employed I miss out on income. What to do?
I need to stop being upset about being sick and look at recovery. Here are my steps to vocal health:
1. REST. Get enough sleep. If your body is sick it needs to recover.
2. FLUIDS. LOTS of water, herbal teas (non drying!). I love the Vocal Five Teas because the seed which comes with the beautiful organic teas (Sterculia Lychnophora) is great for reducing inflammation (Chinese medicine) but check with your doctor if in any doubt. Try to avoid menthol based teas and try chamomile, liquorice, ginger, lemon and my favourite, jasmine tea. Hot water with lemon and honey and bits of fresh garlic is another favourite of mine. But beautiful filtered water and lots of it is the best!
3. VOCALISATION – rest but not COMPLETE vocal rest. Unless your doctor or an ENT suggests this (usually after surgery – or if you have laryngitis where the larynx is inflamed), some resonant voice exercises may be useful in the healing process following inflammation. (LeBourgne, W, Rosenberg, M. 2014. The Vocal Athlete. Plural Publishing: San Diego. p116.). What are resonant voice exercises? Try some semi-occluded vowel exercises, such as making sounds through a straw, bubbling the straw into water, small quiet glides on ee or oo. Check out this article from The Voice Council which included Ingo Titze’s now famous straw exercise YouTube video.
4. Keep up your body stretches. Head, neck, shoulder back and body stretches. I start every lesson with stretches and see no reason to stop stretching because my lungs are playing up!
5. PRACTICE SILENTLY. This really works! Practising using your imagination, imagine you are singing, use all the muscles but make no sound. This avoids excessive vocal use in recovering voices but ensures your muscles and brain are still doing the practice. Research presented by Prof Graham Welch at the Hobart ANATS conference (October 2015) “Singing Futures: Pedagogies, Practices and the Digital Age” indicated that the brain continues to lay down the neural pathways seen during practice almost as strongly when imagining you are practicing. This was shown via MRI scans which clearly demonstrated similar brain activity levels during actual practice and imaginary practice. Great news if you have a performance or audition coming up and the large strikes. Try it – I have used it here in the studio to great success.
So now, I am off for cup of tea, some straw exercises, and some more rest.
Posted on | July 17, 2015 | No Comments
I have had an amazing time in New York. I saw Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, On the Town, Beautiful – The Carol King Story, On the Twentieth Century and An American in Paris. Each musical was absolutely stunning and each had great performers, singing, acting and dancing. More than ever Musical Theatre professionals really MUST be a triple threat. The standard of dance in the productions Mamma Mia, On The Town and An American In Paris was absolutely stunning. On Broadway they really do only have the best!
It was fascinating to listen to the different vocal styles in each production. Singers need to be able to adapt to whatever genre of musical they are performing in, in order to serve the musical style. The singing in Kinky Boots and Mamma Mia was completely different from the singing in An American in Paris and A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder. One sound does NOT fit all, and one singer may be required to produce sounds from belt to legit within a musical, within a song! Classical training just doesn’t work to cover all musical theatre genres and this was completely obvious in this sample of shows.
I was also lucky enough to go to the famous Blue Note Cafe for some wonderful jazz and to Subculture, a fantastic music venue where Jason Robert Brown, his band and two wonderful singers performed both new and old compositions. I must admit, this night was so good, I had trouble sleeping afterwards. Actually, each performance I have attended has left my brain and ears and eyes buzzing so much that getting to sleep has been tricky! But hearing Jason Robert Brown perform his own works (lucky me – my second time) was definitely a trophy in a week full of incredible music performances.
The absolute highlight of my week, however, was my three lessons with Jeanette Lovetri in her Upper West Side home studio. Jeanette is warm and approachable and an affirming teacher and voice pedagogy expert. Her husband Jerry also made me feel welcome, even though my lessons interrupted her break and their private time. I am so grateful that Jeanette agreed to teach me.
I loved my lessons, which I recorded and have listened back to a few times, and made notes, and have been practicing in anticipation of the weekend where I begin the CCM (Contemporary Commercial Music) Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia. Voice teachers from around the world are coming to soak up Jeanette’s knowledge in this ten day, three level course. I am here with my colleague, Jenny Howlett, and am extremely excited about the coming week, and of course, bringing it all back to my studio!
Posted on | June 30, 2015 | No Comments
Just a reminder to all students that I am overseas doing more study in New York and at Shenandoah Conservatory. The studio is now closed and will reopen on 1st August. Any lessons prepaid remain in credit until I return. I look forward to sharing with you all my experiences with teachers in New York, going to as many performances as possible, and my study with Jeanette LoVetri at the Shenandoah Conservatory!
Enjoy your break!
Posted on | June 9, 2015 | No Comments
Following on from the fantastic success o the Performance Preparation Workshop, the Mid Year Student Showcase is on Sunday 21st June at 4pm. The venue is the fabulous Metro Arts Studio, 109 Edward St, Brisbane.
You are invited to attend, support and celebrate a semester of learning, singing and performing.
All students have worked hard at improving their voices, and now they need an audience! Come and use those hands to applaud our student performers.
Tickets may be purchased via Try Booking
Posted on | May 1, 2015 | No Comments
Do you suffer from Performance Anxiety? Do you feel that you are never at the top of your game when you need to perform? Would you like some expert input into your voice and performance skills? Are you too afraid to even try to get up and sing in front of other people? Or do you just need some “polishing up”?
This Workshop will provide you with proven and effective tools to apply to performance preparation to assist you to become bolder and to perform with more confidence. Dale Cox has taught these success skills to students over the last 16 years and students have become regular gig performers, recording artists, musical theatre performers, choir soloists, concert performers both here in Australia and in the UK, USA and Europe. What are you waiting for? Come along and learn from Dale’s extensive experience and research.
The Masterclass section is open to both those who want help with Performance Practice and those who wish to have a little polish added to their voice. Each performer will get approximately 15 minutes working with Dale one in one in front of the group. Dale’s expertise combined with her warmth and passion for great singing will leave you wanting to see and hear more. This is an exciting opportunity to work with one of Brisbane’s best Contemporary Voice Teachers and learn from both your experience, and from other singers.
Date: Sunday 7th June
Time: 1.30pm – 4.30pm
Where: Upper Kedron Hall, 78 Cedar Creek Rd, Upper Kedron
- $50 per workshop participant, includes afternoon tea and workshop materials, plus observation of masterclasses
- $75 per masterclass and workshop participant, includes afternoon tea, workshop materials and participation in masterclass with Dale Cox.
Posted on | March 9, 2015 | No Comments
What an amazing start to 2015! The studio is just about full (please contact me to see if I can squeeze you in) and students are all progressing well. I have had some amazing moments this year already. Watching a singer who felt she couldn’t continue after a less than ideal performance try again, sing well and get her confidence back. Seeing Hayley Wilson getting more and more regular gigs (go Hayley!) Starting with new students – one a tiny 9 years old, and one a mature man who has always wanted to give singing a try! Such a diverse group of students! Thank you for brightening my studio each week.
Now, to business. Who have you sung to this week? A parent? A paying audience? A friend. Or just you, and I, here in the studio/
My Grandmother, who I love dearly and who helped raise me, is sick and in hospital. She has dementia, but luckily she still remembers me, if not the details of my life anymore. Her favourite hymn is “Balm in Gilead” and she used to love to watch and listen to Jessye Norman sing this on Sundays if she was lucky enough to catch it on a TV program. So this week, while my mum held the phone up to her ear (she is interstate), I sang for her. She sang along. We both cried. She told me it “gets her right here”. This was the best, most moving and important singing I have done this year. And yes, I have an appointment with my phone this week as well. Because singing gets to the soul, it moves the heart, it speaks when the memory fails. Don’t be afraid to sing for those you love.
Posted on | January 26, 2015 | No Comments
After a wonderful long break in Europe, seeing LOTS of Musical Theatre, I am back and ready for 2015! The studio opens for business on Monday 2nd February and I cannot wait to get back to teaching. The scales have started back in my own voice after such a long holiday I am hoping the muscles will be back in action quickly.
I am very excited about 2015, especially my planned business trip to New York. I intend to see many shows on Broadway and listen to as much live music as possible in my two weeks there. I have already booked in with renowned voice teacher and educator Jeanette loVetri and I am attending the Somatic Voice Pedagogy Course at Shenandoah University for the second two weeks of July.
I have one after noon slot available on both Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday is fully booked, and limited times available on Thursday and Friday and Saturday. Contact me now and lets make 2015 a wonderful musical year!
Posted on | November 20, 2014 | No Comments
Concert tickets are available online for purchase now! Just click here. Please come along and support my fabulous singing students as they perform and demonstrate the skills they have been working on this year. Music repertoire includes country, rock, pop, and musical theatre.
Posted on | November 10, 2014 | No Comments
I am very excited! This week I have booked my ticket to New York. I am going to the Shenandoah Conservatory for the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute in July next year, preceded by a couple of weeks in New York to see some voice teachers in this amazing city and to enjoy the music, theatre and everything New York has to offer.
Yes, I have a Masters in Music Studies from the Queensland Conservatorium, specialisation in Vocal Pedagogy. So why continue studying? Well, as I subscribe to many voice journals I know that it is important to keep up to date, and to seek out the best. Many voice teachers have impacted in my teaching, some in positive ways and some as cautionary tales! I am committed to being a lifelong learner, I love teaching singing and I want to be as good at it as I possibly can be in my lifetime. This is my journey!
Those of you who follow Dale Cox Singing on Facebook know that I love Jeannette Lovetri’s blog, and often repost articles which speak to me. Jeannette runs the course at Shenandoah, and I can’t wait to join the hundreds of teachers she has impacted with her teaching. Two teachers I admire have done her course, Tracey Bourne in Victoria and Melissa Forbes (USQ) in Toowoomba, and I have been wanting to go over for a few years now. The time is now, well, next July!
In other studio news, I welcome some new students, Hattie, Hudson, Tom, Eden and Chloe to the studio. Our end of year concert is on Sunday 7th December at the Metro Arts Studio in Edward st Brisbane – 4.30pm. Registration forms and invitations will be sent out this week. The general public is very welcome to come along and support these learner singers.
I am heading to Europe for December / January (yes, I have a LOT of musical events, theatre etc booked for while I am away) and so the studio is closed from December 7th – February 1st. I reopen on Monday 2nd February. If you plan to start lessons with me next year, please contact me ASAP to secure your place as my timeslots are filling fast.