By Abby Landau, MT-BC, NICU-MT

We’ve all gone through it.  The tickle in the back of the throat, the cough that we can’t kick, and then the dreaded morning when you wake up realizing that you have lost your best tool as a music therapist.  Your voice is gone.  Now what?!?!

Aside from the sheer panic that you still have to facilitate groups without your voice, as music therapists we also need to think about the circumstances that come with singing on damaged vocal chords.  Due to the nature of our jobs we are often tempted to just to push through.  However, this can cause permanent damage to one of the things we therapists hold very dear.  In this blog I will explore some natural remedies to help when the tickle starts to call, and some interventions that you can utilize when your voice decides to go into hiding for a few days.

Natural Remedies:

Every mother on the planet has their own remedies for sore throats, each promising a miraculous come-back.  While I can’t guarantee the results of any of these remedies, sometimes they’re nice to keep in that back pocket when your tricks aren’t working.

  • Gargles and Rinses- These liquid concoctions can be gargled in the back of the throat.  Swallowing may result in some other…more upset-tummy-like-symptoms.  So make sure to spit them out!
    • Warm water, with lots of salt- The salt can help with sterilization of any bacteria found down there
    • Warm water, lemon, honey, turmeric- Tumeric is known for centuries to help reduce swelling, while the honey helps with taste and lubrication of vocal chords
    • Apple Cider Vinegar- ACV has antibacterial properties to help with sterilization
  • Teas- So maybe gargles aren’t for you, or you are looking for something to take with you on the road to your sessions.  Maybe one of these teas might be up your ally.
    • Throat Coat- This can be bought in your local grocery store, and it’s yummy!
    • Tea with Honey and Lemon- To Help with lubrication of the vocal chords, and lemon for taste
    • Hot water, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Honey
  • Another tricks for last minute throat lubrication is sucking on a piece of hard candy

Sore Throat Friendly Interventions:

1)Capo Capo Capo

Sometimes all you need is a few songs in a better key to help begin or finish your session.  Utilize the tools you’ve got!  Capo your songs to a key that is comfortable for your voice.  It may take some time to find the key that works for your lost voice.  Make sure to allot yourself some extra time to find your keys and to warm up your voice!

2) Movements to Recorded Music

We all can use a dance break from now and again.  Utilize movement interventions to recorded music in your sessions.  Your clients may appreciate you doing all of the movements with them, and your voice will thank you! Maybe now is the time to experiment with those scarf or balloon interventions that you haven’t used in a hot minute.

3) Improvisation

If your clients are able, instrument improvisation can be a great no-vocals intervention.  Clients may enjoy the opportunity to spread their wings and play freely.  It may also be a fun idea to introduce a new instrument and allow clients to experiment with the new sound.

In closing… getting sick sucks, but it happens to everyone.  It sucks even more when you are in a helping profession.  Hopefully some of these tips and tricks may help your cold and flu season run a little smoother.  Above all folks, listen to your body!  It knows what it needs. 😊