One of these may have happened to you, and it may still happen:
(i) You got an extremely light viral load and had a few days of fever, aches and discomfort but bounced back fairly quickly
(ii) you were knocked on your butt for four to five weeks and are still not back to your full power, singing or otherwise;
(iii) you were hospitalized, ventilated and very seriously ill, yet you survived
If any of these scenarios encapsulate your recent experience with this devastating illness, take heart; you’re not alone. You’re in a group of survivors who, during these trying times, have yet another level of mishegas to deal with (Mishegas: noun, from the Hebrew, meshuga, meaning crazy).
Where do you start the healing process, both physical and emotional? Firstly, you make healing your numero uno priority.
1 Start Working Out Your Lungs Again (at your own pace!!)
As a singer, you know how important your upper respiratory system is linked to your ability to do what you love. Any disease that affects your moneymaker is no joke. The disease may not affect your lung capacity, but it sure will affect your lung function. Powwow with your doctor; start reading up about available healing modalities and deep breathing exercises. Many helpful theories abound: hold breath for five to ten seconds, release and repeat at least five times, walking, elliptical machines, dancing…take it easy at first, but do take it.
2 Make Sure Allergens Don’t Get The Better of You
It’s spring, and we’ve been cooped up, not working as much…I get it. You want to go out, hang out, walk, etc. However, if tree and grass pollen is your nemesis, you have to enjoy the outdoors in moderation if you’re getting over Covid-19…or you may even have to stay in. Check with your doc and see if allergy meds are right for you right now. Yes, they dry you out. Yes, they affect your voice. Yes, during ‘normal’ times we singers are judicious in our antihistamine usage. However, you need your lungs to get back to functioning at maximum capacity so do whatever is recommended.
You also have to take into consideration the allergens in and around your home/apartment. Do you have pets that during ‘normal’ times might make you sneeze/cough a bit? It may be prudent to book them a short vacation at a relative or friend’s place. Remember, this is temporary; I know firsthand how much comfort they bring. However, any stressors on your pulmonary system need to be addressed now. It’s also the time to keep your home spotlessly clean, and I do mean spotless. Put on a mask and dust, vacuum, wash all surfaces and floors weekly, even more often if you have pets that are with you. Hey, remember all that free time you’ve got? Use it wisely!
(A word on air purifiers/humidifiers: If you use them, great. Make sure you’re keeping all filters spotlessly clean. If you’re thinking of getting one simply because you’re scared of catching/recovering from Covid-19, according to pulmonologists at OSU, as of this writing, there hasn’t been any evidence that these devices are useful or helpful.)
3 No Smoking, Please.
I know this is a singer’s community, so hardly anyone smokes (anymore) here…but trust me, we need to have this chat anyway. These last few months have brought about unprecedented stress; consequently, lots of bad habits have found their way onto our list of coping mechanisms. And, as bad habits go, this is one of the worst, so be verrrrry careful inviting this baby back into the fold. Besides being physically addicting, it adheres psychologically as well. Your lungs will be extremely upset with you. And who wants angry lungs? Not me. Oh, and it goes without saying but I’m saying it: no vaping, either, friends. We orally fixated singers will simply have to find other pastimes…CHOCOLATE/BROWNIES/ BAGELS/PIZZA/ICE CREAM…oops, sorry, did I say that with my outside voice?
I cannot stress enough the importance of going inward to help heal outwardly. I’m finding the need to meditate more and more lately, and I listen to my body and soul and just do it. I also find that chanting is an amazing, life-affirming way to sing in a devotional way. I’m not Hindu, or Buddhist, or anything other than a spiritual person who believes God is within and without and basically everywhere, so I’m not averse to exploring any and all forms of chanting.
My favorite, kirtan, is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘narrating’, usually in a call-and-response fashion. The Hindu and Sikh use it, as do other religious/spiritual factions. Usually, kirtan takes place in person, with lots of folks chanting and a leader/small group playing harmoniums, hand drums, and other instruments. It feeds me during this time, so I’ll share it with you. My favorite guy is a guy called Krishna Das. I’ve known of him for half my life, as he held them at the yoga studio I frequented in New York City. If you’d like to see what a kirtan is like, Krishna Das is awesome, and here he is delivering a talk at Google:
So, heal and be happy. Sing. It will be better. Singing makes everything better, right?
Jaime was a Musical Director, coaching voice and performance for Disney and wrote “Working With Your Voice: The Career Guide to Becoming a Professional Singer” (Alfred Publishing). As a session singer, she ‘jingled’ for Coke, Pillsbury, Folgers, Chevrolet, and hundreds more. She’s sung on thousands of live gigs (covers and original music) and toured for years with Leon Russell and Sam Moore. Jaime sang BGVs live and digitally with George Strait, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Webb, Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus, Johnny Mathis, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Willie Nelson and others. She performed off-Broadway in “Search: Paul Clayton”, toured nationally with “Old Jews Telling Jokes” and presently coaches students in voice, performance, beginner guitar/piano, studio singing, songwriting and auditioning in NY, CT, LA, Nashville and virtually. For bookings: www.workingwithyourvoice.com