Help Those Pipes!

You must take care of your voice when in the acting field. It is not just something that singers do. You must be vigilant at all times, especially when it is dry during the winter months. If you strain it, you can get laryngitis and miss an important audition for a key role. You are always thinking about your career when you are a thespian and that means ensuring that you have optimal vocal performance. An audition is one thing, but when the production starts you have weeks of constant care. I talk to other actors and get their suggestions. We all worry about the same things. Unless you dance on stage, you don’t have to fear a bum knee or ankle. So, the voice gets all the attention.

When I have a cold, I panic as it can last a week or more. At the first sign of illness, I take over-the-counter medicine per the pharmacist’s instructions. I stop talking and go to bed to rest. I want to pop back to normal in a day or two. The flu is worse and there is little you can do to fight it. Most often, however, I suffer from vocal cord fatigue if I over rehearse. That’s why you get at least one day off in the theater, at least in New York. It is a way to safeguard the cast and prevent problems. No director wants one or more members to be laid up.

What do I like to do when a hoarse throat rears its ugly head? I drink lots of hot tea with lemon and honey. If I can’t sleep, I add a shot of booze. That was my mother’s tip. She also worked in the theater and had many parts in her day. She knows the vocal cord problems that can arise. I add to this perfect solution the idea of not talking. Tell your friends to just text. Let all the voice work stay in the theater. There is nothing more healing than vocal rest. I also want to mention a recent acquisition that has helped me enormously. I bought a small portable air purifier that helps to cleanse the air as I sleep. Pollutants and toxins that can affect your voice are eliminated with consistent usage. People also say humidifiers to add moisture to the air, but that air has to be as pure as it can be first. So, buy both if you wish. Together, you are pre-empting problems. I have told the cast about it and some bring theirs to the dressing room at the theater. If they are waiting to go on stage, they can turn it on and derive the benefits at every break.

Given my various panaceas, for throat issues go for the air purifier. Drink that tea and rest your voice and you will prevail. Don’t go out without a good coat in the winter and wear waterproof boots. Your voice is the instrument of your trade so take care of it.