Singing when unwell

Singing when unwell can be challenging, but there are ways to minimize strain and still perform effectively. Here are four tips to help you manage:

1. Stay Hydrated

  • Drink Water: Keep your vocal cords well-lubricated by drinking plenty of water. Aim for room temperature or warm water, as cold water can constrict your vocal cords.
  • Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol: These can dehydrate you and irritate your throat.
  • Steam Inhalation: Inhale steam from hot water to soothe and hydrate your vocal cords. You can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil for added relief.

2. Warm Up Gently

  • Gentle Warm-Ups: Do gentle vocal exercises to warm up your voice. Start with humming or lip trills to get your vocal cords moving without too much strain.
  • Avoid High Notes: Refrain from singing high or loud notes during your warm-up. Focus on the comfortable part of your range to avoid further irritation.

3. Modify Your Technique

  • Sing Softer: Reduce the volume to avoid putting too much pressure on your vocal cords. Use a microphone to help project your voice if needed.
  • Focus on Breath Support: Use proper diaphragmatic breathing to support your voice and reduce strain on your throat.
  • Articulation and Diction: Enunciate clearly to ensure your words are understood without having to push your voice.

4. Rest and Listen to Your Body

  • Vocal Rest: Limit speaking and singing outside of necessary performances to give your voice a chance to heal.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your voice feels. If you experience pain or significant discomfort, it’s best to rest entirely and seek medical advice if necessary.
  • Avoid Whispering: Whispering can strain your voice more than speaking softly, so try to speak in a normal, quiet tone instead.

Taking these precautions can help you preserve your voice and reduce the risk of further damage when you’re not feeling your best.

Seeing Miss Saigon at the Sydney Opera House

Hi it’s Mary from Singing Strong. I had a lovely excursion to Sydney a couple of weekends ago for my daughter’s 22nd birthday. We had the most wonderful time in Sydney I haven’t been there for, I’m trying to think, it’s been over 20 years, so I’m starting to give away my age a little bit here, but that’s okay.  We went to Sydney and we got to walk around circular Quay. We walked around the Opera House and walked around to Sydney Harbor Bridge. This was amazing. I always love to watch the fireworks on New Years Eve from Sydney, so it was lovely to actually walk around there. We also went to Bondi Beach. My daughter is a Bondi Rescue fan and we went there and had a look at all of the area of Bondi Beach. We also went to Manly on the Sunday which was the most beautiful weather but incredibly busy, Sydney is just exploding with people, but it was really lovely, we had a great day.

We went to the Opera House on the Saturday night to see Miss Saigon. Miss Saigon has been around since the 1980s, but I had never seen it for whatever reason I didn’t manage to get to see it. It’s composed by the same people who composed Les Miserables. It is very different but musically as exciting as Les Miserable. If you haven’t seen Miss Saigon I would highly recommend it. Now it was very confronting I have to say, but the music was amazing. The young girl who played the role of Kim is literally 18 years old and has been plucked out of the obscurity and she was just incredible.  The thing that I really valued and got so much enjoyment from even though it’s an incredibly sad story was the calibre of the singing and I have to say well done Opera Australia for putting this on. The singing was just world class, and I can say that honestly because I have been to a few different places around the world. The technicians are to be congratulated on the sound quality, there was so much going on in this show but it was just fantastic. The singing was incredible.

Now I know a lot of people are not so much music theatre fans and prefer contemporary pop music and that sort of thing and there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s some great singing.  I’m going to be talking about that in the future, how pop singing is just amazing, but this night, I don’t know whether it was just the thrill of being at the Opera House. It was such high quality singing, so well-rehearsed,  such strong powerful in control voices that could sing a huge dynamic range who were singing, this incredibly low music and then she has this beautiful high soprano coming through on some of the songs, it was just amazing.  The show is coming to an end in Sydney, but it’s coming to Melbourne so if you are a person who lives in Victoria and you haven’t seen it I would highly recommended it.  It is not for children, it’s like I said incredibly confronting. We just need to be careful with what we are exposing our children to. If you haven’t seen Miss Saigon you must go.  I’m not going to do any spoilers, not going to tell you that the actual show itself because there’s some incredible things that happened on the stage that just flew my mind.

Well done to the production team and everyone who was involved. I’ve seen a lot of shows in the last 12 months now that we’re out of covid. I’m trying to go and see everything and I have to say out of all the shows that I’ve seen recently that is like number one at the top, can’t get any better, at the moment I to find a show that is a higher level vocally. It just blew my mind. if you are in Victoria and have an opportunity it starts on 29th October. It’s not that far away, please go and see it, you will absolutely love it. As I said it is very confronting, very sad, but just an amazing show. Please go and see it. You can watch it online, but I just don’t think you get the same experience.  There’s something about live theatre that you get a totally different experience.

Well done everyone at Opera Australia, I loved it.

What makes a good, great, awesome singer?

I recently held a performance workshop with my singing students. In the video below I talk about what we discussed when it comes to being a good, great or awesome singer. The list we came up with is just the beginning, I am sure you can think of lots of things that would go into each category.  This is to get you thinking about what makes the difference between something that is okay, to something that you go home talking about to everyone you meet.

This is a performance of Adele from 12 years ago. Simple but powerful!

Watch what happens just after the 1 minute mark. Adele is human, just like all of us.

2023 – The year of live performances

After the last 3 years of the pandemic, performers are certainly making up for lost time and touring madly.  Just in the last month in Australia we have had Elton John, Billy Joel, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles and the list goes on ……
This week in Melbourne Rod Stewart is performing and later in the month Pentatonix is here also.  We are certainly spoilt for choice.
Have you been to a  live performance recently? If not, make it a goal to go and see someone live in person. There is nothing like being in a crowd at a live performance. Go and check out what’s on in your local community. You might be surprised!

A blast from the past. 
Belinda Jo Carlisle is an American singer. She gained fame as the lead vocalist of the Go-Go’s, the most successful all-female rock band of all time. Belinda will be performing in November in Australia and tickets are still available.  Have fun singing along to this classic song.

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Would you sing on The Voice?

The Voice begins on Monday 25th April

Who won The Voice in 2021? Have you listened to her music recently? Yes it was a girl who won – Bella Taylor Smith. A beautiful and talented singer who was able to win a singing competition in the midst of a global pandemic. But did it guarantee her success? It depends on what you classify as success. She won $100,000 and a recording contract. Has she gone on to do great things with her music. She might think so. Is her name well known? Probably if you watched the Voice, but outside that circle, I don’t think so. What about the winner in 2020? He is a more well known name: Chris Sebastian. What about his music career? Do you think it is much different because of the Voice? Maybe a little bit, but he hasn’t become a household name like his brother.

Singing competitions can be a lot of fun, or a lot of stress. They can give you opportunities to perform in front of an audience and develop your stage craft. You can win money and maybe get a music contract. My concern with a show like the Voice is that it focuses more on the back story of the singers and the judges are given a lot of focus. If you check how long the singers actually sing for, it may be a little over a minute.  How can you truly gauge the skill of the singer in that amount of time?  Does it guarantee success, wealth and the opportunity to tour the world and perform – for the very few, yes.

I think singing competitions are worthwhile, if you treat them as an opportunity for you to improve as a singer and musician. Focus on how you can take this opportunity as a way to grow as a musician. But don’t go into these thinking it will bring fame and fortune. That will only come with hard work, constant, consistent practice and persistence.  Make sure you watch The Voice, even if only for one episode. Appreciate the courage it takes for these singers to get on stage in front of a nation wide audience and then enjoy the singing.

Practice, Practice, Practice

It has been a very busy week for me this week, as along with everything I usually do in a week, I am also preparing for an audition.  I haven’t done one of these in a long time, and although it is a little stressful, it is wonderful that things are starting to get back to normal so that shows can once again be staged.
Usually I like to be well prepared for auditions, but for some reason, this one has crept up on me. In an audition they usually ask you to perform something from the show, and then a section of a song that is similar in style to the show you are auditioning for.

I chose to sing the beginning of The worst pies in London from Sweeny Todd. Now Sondheim, the composer composes very challenging music.  You can watch a performance by the amazing Patti Lupone here.

The challenge here was the words. It is so fast and there is no time to think, they have to be known.
So how do you go about learning something like this in 4 days?  Well you practice really hard.

Some of the things I have done to learn the piece include: Listening to the recording at least 50 times, probably more. Chunking it up. Learn the first phrase, add the next and so on. I broke it up also into two sections, the first one has lots of fast phrases, the second section is more legato and you have a little more time to think. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I go through the lyrics for about 15 minutes, then probably sing through the song about 10 times.

Whenever I had a spare moment during the day, I would play the music on my phone. I would spend time in front of the music score looking for clues about how to sing the piece accurately, revise lyrics, rhythm and melody. I spent about an hour each day doing this.  After a couple of days I would start to attempt to put some moves with the music to be able to perform the song, not just sing it. Then go over and over and over it until I feel confident I can sing it accurately. I was even going through it in my head while swimming my morning laps at the pool.

In total I guess I have spent approximately 3 hours a day rehearsing.
This gives you a bit of a clue as to how much practice is required to learn a 90 second piece of a song.

If you would like to have individual singing lessons with me, please click on this link to register your details.

Sing like Adele: Easy on me

Today we are going to have a look at a very small section of Adele’s song Easy on me.

We are just going to do the very beginning of the chorus:  Go easy on me baby.

There are a couple of things to look at in this small section of the song.

It’s a great song, and if you haven’t listened to the whole song you can click on this link to listen to it on you tube.

The song is in F major, and this phrase begins with the tonic note, which is the beginning not of the scale -F and then you sing up a fifth, or leap up, which is the fifth note of the scale which is C.

You will find fifth intervals in lots of songs. Intervals are important to practice so that when we sing them, we land accurately on them.

Practice on the sound ng, which is the sound at the end of the word sing. The sound is closed (the tongue and soft palate are together) but you can open your mouth when you sing. This aims the sound into the front of the face.

You want to glissando (slide) up and down.  As you go up, think more like you are landing on the note rather than revving up a hill.



When you are attacking a phrase, especially one that begins with a vowel, there are a number of different ways you can sing it.

  1. Clean onset: the vocal chords come together cleanly with the sound to make a smooth, light and clear sound. To do this, connect the two words go-easy, like one word to keep it smooth.
  2. Aspirate/breathy onset. Air is pushed through the vocal chords to make a breathy, airy sound. Adding a h also makes it even more breathy.
  3. Glottal onset. The vocal chords come together quite hard to make a very strong and hard sound.



A great book for beginning singers

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Vocal Night 20th May 2021

It is with great excitement that I can announce the first Singing Strong Vocal Night for 2021.

It has been a long time since we have been able to hold an in person concert and I am so looking forward to

hearing everyone sing.  I am sure you are too.

The performance will be on Thursday 20th May at 6.30pm at the VRI hall, 18/20 Queens Parade, Traralgon.

This is a casual evening, where students are given the opportunity to perform in front of an audience.

Tea and coffee will be available.

Bookings are essential and tickets are online at TRYBOOKING. Click here to book your tickets.

Singers, family and friends must all book a ticket as there is a limit on the number of people who can attend.

There will be a COVIDsafe plan in place.

The tickets are free, but I would ask if you are able,  please make a small cash donation at the door to assist with covering costs.

I look forward to seeing you soon.


Singing Strong

The Challenges of Performing


I had the joy and honour of singing at three Anzac Day Services on Sunday. It has been a long time since I have sung in front of an audience and it was wonderful to be able to sing for people again. There were good crowds at all the services and I had a lovely response, with many saying how much they enjoyed my singing.  I believe it is such an honour to be able to sing at an Anzac Day ceremony and to be able to sing at three was very special.

The first ceremony was actually held at the local cemetery.  In my town we have quite a beautiful cemetery, with beautiful gardens, a recently renovated band rotunda and a substantial newly built memorial in memory of returned service men and women who are buried at the cemetery. This year was the first year since 1946 that an ANZAC day ceremony was held at the cemetery. This is because the town cenotaph was built after the second world war and the yearly ceremonies are now held there. 


One thing I was able to observe in detail was the bugler at each ceremony. There was a different person at each ceremony and they all had a very different experience performing. One of the buglers was a mature person who had been performing for many years and was very experienced at performing. One was still quite a young person but had played for many Anzac Day ceremonies, even though they were early on in their performing career. The third was a young person, had been playing for a few years, but had not had experience playing to a crowd. It was interesting to note that they had all obviously practiced for the event and they could all play the last post, but they had very different experiences. None of them played it perfectly, but the mature person and the very young person continued on in spite of any little slips they made. 

The person who had never performed for an audience before did get through the performance, however I could see very clearly that they were extremely nervous and tension had built up in their body, and they simply could not get enough air in to support the notes fully.  They are to congratulated on their performance, performing for the first time and in spite of being nervous, they did get through the last post and overall it was played correctly. It was sad to see their response afterwards. I didn't get a chance to speak to them, but if I could have, I would have told them how well they played for a first performance.  


We can be so harsh on ourselves for performances that don't go as well as we would like. Especially when we are first beginning to perform for an audience. As I said previously, none of the performances were perfect, but the people who had performed previously did not worry too much about perfection, shrugged off a missed note and kept playing.  It is so important that we practice performing, getting used to being in the stressful situation of standing in front of an audience and playing or singing. I have been performing for many years now, and although I can still get nervous, I have performed enough times to understand how my body works and I can prepare and be aware of what I am doing, relaxing and breathing well for good breath support. That does not mean my performances are always perfect.  Usually I go off stage thinking about what I can do better, but generally I am pretty happy with what I have done. The audience wants you to do well, and are for the most part very supportive, so we shouldn't be afraid to perform for others. Perfection is hard to achieve, but we are often hard on ourselves when we don't achieve it.

So get out there and perform.  A LOT!