COUGH HACK COUGH (Voice actors with sore throats; what’s the remedy?)

One of the most satisfying moments in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera is the moment when Carlotta, the pain-in-the-neck diva and leading soprano, has her voice sabotaged halfway through the opera house’s El Muto, coughing and sputtering onstage in embarrassment. It’s quite the moment and you can’t help but laugh…

…until it happens to you. Not the ‘being sabotaged’ part, but the coughing and sputtering part at least. That’s what happened a week or so ago when I blew my voice out during a gig (I’m talking real gigs here, not Fiverr gigs. I don’t do that anymore!). As a person who loves to talk a lot, a sore throat is really devastating. As a voice actor, even more so.

A sore throat as interpreted by a chiking mime

So there I was, about a week ago, almost unable to talk. Of course, I still have to talk for my marketing job, so I wasn’t really getting better on my own. See, I have a day job, but many voice actors don’t. Days off from sore throats can mean lots of paid work lost, so fast recovery is paramount.

So I had to look at how I was going to recover. First step: how do other voice actors and vocalists recover from a sore throat? Successful Singing gives advice like Vitamin C and discourages traditional remedies like tea.  Their number 1 remedy? Rest.

Meanwhile, I also shot a tweet to some voice actors I know and just asked. Legendary voice actor Nicole Oliver replied with her best advice: “Rest. Warm fluids, but rest is really what you need to do.”

So there you have it, folks. Rest your voice, drink lots of water. Before you know it you’ll be back up and behind the mic.


Sam Swicegood is an author, speaker, blogger, and podcaster from Cincinnati, OH. He is the author of fantasy and science-fiction literature, including The Wizards on Walnut Street and No Place.

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