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Vocal Tip: Allergies and Fear

Vocal Tip: Allergies and Fear

Vocal Tip: The fall is just beginning...

And with it- fall allergies. Many of us get that nasty post nasal drip- sending extra gunk onto our vocal chords.  When our vocal folds can't close evenly we experience gravel, or even gaps in our range. What can we do about it? We can clear our throat ( gently please ) ... And drink extra water ( always good), but how can we get rid of it? My Doctor prescribed Flonaise- a nasal spray. I have since learned that all antihistamines can be habit forming. They also often dry you out - the worst thing for a vocalist.
Allergies can be caused by many things but recently I have been learning about the connection between allergies and fear, stress and anxiety.
Fear sends our bodies into " fight or flight" mode. The hypothalamus tells certain systems to shut down to give attention to adrenalin and those extra sharp senses and strength needed for battle. Cortisol levels are boosted in the blood. These reactions are good when we are in a crisis... But when we live in this state because of job and family stresses, lack of sleep etc our immune system begins to suffer. And we gain less and less resistance to our environmental stressors... Like the trees and and plants that bother our sinuses! Sleep and good nutrition will strengthen our immune systems, water will help to flush the antigens away; but changing what is stressing you and changing how we handle it in our minds may be the greatest vocal help  of all. The scriptures tell us to "Take every thought captive," - 2 Corinthians 10:5 When fear or stress comes, how do we deal with it? Let's say I am about to sing at church ( or anywhere) and I am not prepared enough to be totally comfortable. I feel the nerves rising in my belly. ( Yes, preparation is vital, but if you perform a lot, you know, life can be crazy and sometimes you just didn't have the time). I have a choice: Give in to it and get more scared, get a stomach ache, even intestinal cramps and the runs, sweaty palms, the shakes... Let the the thoughts run wild into " what if...." Or I can capture that thought- STOP! I will give my heart to this and trust God to do the rest! If you are anxious about a relationship, or finding a job or losing a job or afraid of poverty or whatever is causing anxiety... Capture those thoughts. Don't agree with the evil accusations they bring with them. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of love and power and a sound mind! Anxiety also raises the acid level in your body messing up your PH balance further depleting your immune system and irritating your vocal folds with acid reflux! If you are a praying vocalist, put your fears and stresses before God. He promises that if we take everything to him through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving that he will give us that peace that transcends understanding! (Philippians 4:6-7) We can even deny our symptoms at times and just not give in to them. Have you ever felt a cold coming on and you said:  "I have no time to be sick right now!" Then when vacation comes you collapse? But if we don't take care of ourselves- body and soul it can catch up to us, So you feel some fall allergies dripping down your throat threatening your next gig? Get some sleep, drink some water and take every thought captive- and with that peace may also come a clear powerful voice!
  1. Christine Arsenault says:

    Julie,

    Thanks for posting. This was outstanding, encouraging & very helpful – esp. since I get that post-nasal drip often (since childhood). I’ve got year-round indoor & outdoor allergies. As a result I often pray about my voice & singing, I always drink plenty of fluids. But need to work at getting the rest I need consistently. Recently I had a surprise solo at worship. We had planned to do this amazingly worshipful song, “Beautiful Lamb of God”, w/ our choir, during communion as the congregation meditated & prayed silently. We didn’t have enough singers who knew the song confidently (due to some out of town or in kids kingdom), so we decided to just use a quartet. Doing it that way, the soprano part is basically a solo because the other parts are mostly singing “ooh’s” in harmony. It’s a lovely song. I just was not expecting the solo, & didn’t even realize that’s what was happening until we were starting it! Before we sang this song I kept praying & asking for God’s help to sing it so that I/we didn’t disrupt people’s meditation & prayer, but rather help it. I did mix up 1/2 of one of the verses, but no one (except other worship leaders) probably noticed. The feedback from people I spoke w/ was very positive. God answered my prayers. & even my mistake didn’t throw me off from what I asked God to do through us during that song. To God be the glory! Thanks again for your advice! Love you!

    • Christine, Thanks for the feedback and I am so happy your solo went well! Prayer is always the first line of defense in every battle! Amen! Ps- I hope you can join me at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain, MA on Nov 3rd , 7pm- I’m competing for Vocalist of the year with Bridging the mUsic!

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