There is no doubt that Covid 19 impacts on singing lessons for covid recoverers. I have direct experience with some of my own pupils. Obviously, simply to sing with them would not an irresponsible approach as a full, innovative biological understanding is needed. What have I done? I have turned to exercises and research by a leading USA chiropractor who has years of experience working with all sorts of conditions, but, of most relevance, is dysphagia.
What have Singing Lessons for Covid Sufferers revealed?
Unsurprisingly there are four really obvious areas:
(1) The singers breath control is nowhere near what it used to be. Extended phrases are a real challenge.
(2) The extensive coughing has led to tensions in the throat.
(3) The voice sounds more breathy or hoarse.
(4) High notes are much less accessible.
Why should Covid Recoverers not just Sing?
All singers know that uninformed singing lessons can lead to vocal nodules. Vocal cord nodules can be the result of straining or the lack of attention to tension within the larynx area. Informed singing lessons from expert singing teachers leave the larynx in a free state and focus more on the breath and support than the larynx itself. Even Julie Andrews and Elton John have been the victims of vocal nodules. The new tensions for the post-covid singing lessons need addressing with full understanding. What’s the instinct for many singers, particularly my professional singers who really need to get back to gigs to earn their money? To drive themselves, to push, to make things work.
Post-Covid Singing Lessons and Breath
Firstly, breath is obviously a crucial aspect of singing lessons that until the pandemic most of us took for granted. Before you can even consider breathing, pilates inspired rib and chest exercises are crucial. These engage the intercostal muscles by stretching them. What mistakes have I seen? People trying to push their breathing is as damaging as pushing the larynx. Quality singing lessons focus on elasticity of the whole body. I employ a range of exercises to help return the elasticity to the intercostal muscles and all areas of the body involved in breathing and these are all taken from chiropractors and are thus medically informed. That being said, gradually building up daily walks is a simple and excellent way to help also.
Post-Covid Singing Lessons and the Throat
It is not rocket-science to realise that excessive coughing is going to damage the throat and will impact on the larynx. There is not enough research to know whether that will lead to an increase in vocal nodules yet, but I have a theory that there will undoubtedly be an increase. Immediate action to rectify this is a good idea. Again, we are looking for flexibility in the muscles and to remove all rigid tension. My professional singing pupils and giggers are so keen to get back to work, for obvious reasons.
Again, working with a chiropractor who specialises in dysphagia (throat and swallowing disfunction), I have been employing a range of pilates style tongue stretches and neck stretches. These focus on a number of different muscles in turn. I have found the stretches to have a superb result within each lesson. I have also found that they help my own singing and tone, encouraging my larynx to be flexible, by throat to be loose and my natural resonance to release.
Posture for Long-Covid Singing Lessons
A further aspect of this is ‘posture’, but it’s only recently that I’ve fully understood posture. I have previously perceived it as standing tall without a curve or slump in the spine. For singing lessons, it is a lot more than that. It includes:
where your weight is focused in your foot (for which I turn to a traditional Chinese concept),
how soft your knees are,
how your coccyx area moves and its flexibility,
the tension in your navel area,
the position of the shoulders,
how the ribs move,
the alignment of the neck,
the position of the chin,
how the lower jaw is held
and the length of the spine.
Vocal Exercises for Covid Recovery Singing Lessons
Obviously, it’s a continuation of the themes thus far, singing lessons must evolve around flexibility and freedom of the voice. Scales and belting are far from the answer. Free the tongue with rolls is just the beginning in professional singing lessons.
Post-Covid Singing Lessons
If you have suffered from Covid 19, definitely select your singing teacher for your singing lessons very carefully. Don’t go to someone who simply suggests that singing is good for Covid as there is so much more to understand. If you would like a holistic approach that understands your body, that works with your body and helps you heal without damage to the larynx, then visit:
Dr Robin Harrison, lessons online or face-to-face (Teesside, UK)