I have a show to sing at this Tuesday. Yesterday, my voice started getting funny; I did not pay attention and kept on practicing. When I woke up this morning, my throat hurt and my voice…well, I can’t sing. It is so bad and sounds so hoarse. I am very worried. I have had green tea, coffee and someone told me to put a clove in my mouth. Please advise me…
Sorry to hear that you are losing your voice.
The reason you sound hoarse is because your vocal folds are swollen and cannot meet or vibrate properly.
It makes very little difference what you drink or eat as none of this actually touches your vocal folds as it goes down into your stomach. It matters more what is absorbed into your blood stream.
In other words, keep up your fluid intake and avoid alcohol.
Please steam twice a day: boiling water in a bowl, towel over the head, inhale through the mouth for 15-20 mins twice a day.
A hot shower is an alternative; this way the vocal folds are lubricated directly.
You MUST put yourself on immediate voice rest for a couple of days. Try not to speak or sing at all.
Once you have done this, try to siren throughout your range. Say ‘SING’ and in that position, with a slightly open mouth and relaxed jaw, try to siren from the bottom of your range to the top of your range.
Frankly, if you cannot do this by Tuesday, you should cancel your show or find a singer to cover you.
If you have quite heavy vocalizing to do in your show and attempt to do this when you have very little voice, this could cause vocal injury and is best avoided.
In this situation professional singers who have a very important concert, with a huge audience they would let down, sometimes visit their laryngologist and get some cortisone – not a great idea if it can be avoided.
If this is very important and your voice does not improve after voice rest and steaming, visit your GP and obtain a referral to a laryngologist who deals with singers specifically.
Re. cloves: they have a mildly antiseptic quality and can lessen a toothache. However, they will not help very much with your swollen vocal folds.
Just a note on technique: I am assuming from what you are telling me that this is an issue you do not normally struggle with.
However, there is the possibility that poor technique has been a contributor.
I suggest that, once your voice is fully recovered, you go to a good vocal coach to check you are using your voice with correct technique and support.
Until then, rest, steam and don’t talk or sing. Good luck!