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.

How do I sing high notes?

Singing high notes requires a combination of proper technique, practice, and understanding your vocal range.

Here are five essential steps to help you sing higher:

  1. Warm-up and Vocal Exercises: Before attempting to sing high notes, it’s crucial to warm up your voice. Start with gentle humming or lip trills to loosen up your vocal cords. Then, do vocal exercises that focus on expanding your vocal range gradually. These exercises could include scales, arpeggios, and sirens. Consistent practice of these exercises will help strengthen your voice and increase your ability to hit higher notes.
  2. Proper Breathing Technique: Proper breathing is essential for singing high notes effectively. Practice diaphragmatic breathing, where you breathe deeply from your diaphragm rather than shallowly from your chest. Engage your abdominal muscles to support your breath, allowing for better control and power when reaching for higher pitches. Learning to control your breath flow is key to sustaining high notes without strain.
  3. Relaxation and Posture: Tension in your body can hinder your ability to sing high notes comfortably. Maintain good posture by standing or sitting up straight, with your shoulders relaxed and your chest open. Tension in your neck, jaw, or throat can restrict airflow and make it harder to reach higher pitches. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and gentle stretches to release tension before singing.
  4. Head Voice and Mixed Voice: Understanding the different registers of your voice is crucial for singing high notes. Your head voice is the lighter, higher register of your voice, while your chest voice is lower and fuller. Work on transitioning smoothly between these registers to achieve a balanced and connected sound in your high notes. Developing a mixed voice, which combines elements of both head and chest voice, can help you maintain a strong and controlled sound throughout your vocal range.
  5. Consistent Practice and Patience: Like any skill, singing high notes takes time and dedication to master. Practice regularly, but be patient with yourself as you work on expanding your vocal range and improving your technique. Record yourself singing to track your progress and identify areas for improvement. Seek feedback from a vocal coach or experienced singer who can provide guidance and help you develop a healthy and sustainable approach to singing high notes. Remember to listen to your body and avoid pushing your voice beyond its limits to prevent strain or injury. With consistent practice and proper technique, you can gradually increase your ability to sing high notes with confidence and ease.


How can seagulls help you sing high notes?

I had been working with a student the other week who was having a real struggle with accessing their upper register.  There was a lot of straining and tightness going on which was preventing them from singing the higher notes.  I suggested they try making the noise like the seagull from Finding Nemo, and hey presto! they could suddenly access those high notes.
I think if someone walked past my voice studio some days they would think we were crazy. However it may take a different way of thinking to help solve a problem.
If you are having difficulty with high notes, why not give it a try?

check out these high notes!

What to sing?

Exhalation on a hiss

This breathing exercise is to help develop better breath control for good, well supported singing. Make sure the body is relaxed, the shoulders down, and you are breathing low in the body. Take a good breath and then hiss for as long as you can. Aim to keep the air flow steady, don’t let it shudder, and have a feeling of the air escaping slowly, don’t let the breath go all at once. Keep a steady, firm exhalation. Take a low breath, start the timer and see how long you can exhale for on a steady hiss. Do this regularly and keep a record of your time. See how much you can improve over a month.


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Breathing to sing

Happy New Year! I am posting singing exercises for you to get back into singing if you have had a break over the holidays. This week I will be focusing on breathing exercises. The first exercise is about keeping a steady exhalation for as long as you can. Practice this daily for a week to see how much you can improve.

Breathing exercise one: How long can you hiss out for?

It’s nearly Christmas

Last night I had the pleasure of conducting one of my school choirs at an end of year Christmas celebration.

We were able to have it outside and it was a lovely evening.
It was wonderful for the choir to finally have the joy of performing for their families. They are an awesome bunch of children.  We rehearse on a Wednesday morning at school (7.50am starts are very challenging, especially in the middle of winter!), but all throughout the last two years, they have stayed committed to rehearsals and the promise of performances in the future.  They attended online rehearsals during lockdown, and they have risen to a very high standard, with a large repertoire of songs learnt. It was so good to have a parent come up to me after the event to thank me for the work I had done with the children, and she said how much she enjoyed the singing at home. We also found out last night that the choir achieved first place at the Latrobe Valley Eisteddfod. This was done as an online performance, and one quite rushed to put together, as they were only all able to sing together the day the video was due to be submitted. It is amazing to think what we can achieve, even when faced with so many obstacles. So as we start the Christmas season, make sure you sing, that if possible, go to music events and especially make time to catch up with family and friends, and maybe sing some Christmas songs!

Time to enjoy some carol singing. Here is a sing a long version of Silent Night.

Here is new Christmas song from Ed Sheeran and Elton John. Enjoy!

Are you missing someone at Christmas?

Music can be a real comfort in times of loss, sorrow and hardship. As we enter the Christmas season, there will be many of us grieving the loss of loved ones.  A couple of years ago, Jon Schmidt from the piano guys lost his precious daughter, Annie. He came across this song, which gave him much comfort at such a difficult time. May it also give comfort to you. Be sure to check out other piano guys videos. They make some wonderful videos, with beautiful music.

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.

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Singers need to have confidence.

What is the true meaning of confidence?

Confidence means feeling sure of yourself and your abilities — not in an arrogant way, but in a realistic, secure way. Confidence isn’t about feeling superior to others. It’s a quiet inner knowledge that you’re capable. Confident people: … know they can rely on their skills and strengths to handle whatever comes up.

When people are listening to music or watching a performance, the experience is that the listener is focused on the singer first. That means that the instrumentalists are more in the background.

That means, if we are singing solo, the pressure is on us to perform well.

Singers must remember lyrics and work with an instrument that we don’t always have control of. We don’t get the feedback like you do when you are playing an instrument external to our body.

It is harder for us to sing higher; we have to be in great shape, feeling well. If you want a higher note on a piano, you simply push the key.

The singer is the one who must connect with the audience. We are the ones telling the story.

That is stressful, as it can be difficult to make that connection, especially when we don’t feel fully confident in ourselves.

Confidence is about making sure we are as prepared as we can be before going on stage.

If you are worried about aspects of your singing and don’t have true confidence both technically and expressively, there can be the concern about failure.

True confidence comes with mastering your instrument technically. This means feeling good about what you want to sing on a regular basis, whatever that is.

When the singer makes a mistake, it is noticed. Of course, we will always experience mistakes on stage, it is part of life. No one is perfect. But we need to have the confidence to be on stage, present our songs, and be confident, so that when we have those moments, we can shake it off and keep going.

Confidence is knowing you have the flexibility and versatility to sing what you want to sing.

You need to know your songs well. You don’t want to be struggling to remember lyrics, or not knowing what the melody line is. You need to memorize your songs, so that you don’t have to worry about reading them.

Mental confidence comes from doing something a lot, so much that you have prepared yourself and don’t even have to think about it.  You can’t be worrying about whether the note will be there.

You also must give yourself permission to fail, and you also need to give the audience permission to not like you. Remember that you won’t please everyone. Not everyone will like you.  And you must let go.

There will be some in the audience who will love you, and you need to sing for those people.  Remember its not about you, its about your audience and how you are there to connect with them.  Don’t worry about yourself, connect with the lyrics, the emotion and what you are trying to share.


I hope you have experienced the joy of connecting with a singer and being touched by the song they are singing. You are in the moment with them. If there is a wrong note, so be it. They just let it go and keep sharing. That is what is important.

That is what great singing is about. Online Singing Lessons