How Do I Sing if I Have a Cold?

Dear Leontine,

How do you sing if you have a cold??

Best regards,


Dear Amy,

Poor you! This is always a tricky one if you are a professional singer.

I suggest you steam twice a day – place a towel around a boil of freshly boiled water and over your head. Inhale through the mouth for 15-20mins.

Ideally, you would not sing of course.

That being said, some colds go to your vocal folds and cause them to thicken; others mostly affect your nose and ‘throat’ but not the voice itself.

If your folds are very swollen, you will have a reduced range, find vocalising difficult and, as they are thicker than normal, you will probably have a better lower range than normal.

The secret is to stretch the folds out by vocalising in ‘thin folds’. This means humming and gliding between notes.

Voices love to glide. On an ‘NG’ or a ‘siren’ sound, sing to the top of your working range and back down again several times.

If your voice gets worse as you do this, you ought to stop. If you find the voice improving, then keep stretching it and warming it up.

Try to avoid heavy vocalising such as belting. Use your ‘legit’ sound as much as possible.

At times when our voices do not work the way they should, don’t forget that a truthful connection to the text can mean everything to your audience.

Good luck!