Singing in Sacramento’s Spring

Never have I been more thankful for my teachers and technique, than in Sacramento’s glorious spring.   A layer of gold pollen covers cars, the trees are blooming and colorful flower petals float back in forth in the light valley breeze.  Everywhere I look, there’s flowers, poppies, roses, lavender, dandelions, mustard and wild weeds.  It’s beautiful here and it’s beauty has been a muse to many an artist beit  painter or composer.

What does it mean for a singer with notorious hay fever?  It can be quite scary so having a good understanding of what’s happening and why,the typical physiological response and a plan of action, is so important. 

I do my best to head it off early but sometimes still miss the mark.  My toolbox contains:

  • Singulair
  • Flonase
  • Allegra
  • Atrovent
  • Benadryl
  • Neti pot
  • Water
  • Water

And I’m gonna have to add something to help me cope with the eczema which has decided to torment me this season.

It’s a well known and ongoing issue which is why understanding the physiological response to allergens is so important for singers.   The natural inclination is to become tense and press- but don’t!  Just don’t!

Relax, fall back. retreat, do some easy ooohs and gentle well placed eeees – resist the temptation to panic and consider your antihistamines and environment.  Listen to the people around you.  So many of the workers in my office have raspy sounding voices at the moment and my best buddy told me she couldn’t even sing the hymns in church on Sunday.  So I know it’s related to the environment and to rely on my understanding of my instrument and careful technique.

To make matters worse, my skin gets involved and retaliates and gets all protesty to the point where I start wondering if I have fleas (no- I use advantage on my pets).

See above formula…

There are a few things I’ve done to make it easier performance wise as well:

  • Lowered my repertoire
  • Became good at changing keys depending on the scenario or on the condition of my instrument
  • Learn to trust my technique – go low for the high notes, high for the low notes, never press, sing the vowels and be patient.   When the pollen’s crazy it takes a little longer to warm up, and more awareness to keep the support.

As soon as we bust 100 degrees it gets better.   But look at these guys, is it any wonder??

They’re like little assholes, standing poised to ruin your spring performances.

When you feel their affects, proceed with caution, go back to the gentle basics of good singing technique and if that’s not enough:

  • After two weeks of insurmountable symptoms, see your doctor
  • Hit the Benadryl when you have to.  Though it knocks me out, nothing calms the stymptoms better
  • Rest when you need to, wait for that 100 degree day, adjusting the pitch of your repertoire (still practicing good technique) and
  • resist the temptation to look up various online diagnosis
  • Resist the temptation to scratch your skin off
  • When the resistance to scratching your skin off is insurmountable hit the Benadryl.
  • Water
  • Ricola
  • Water

If you can afford an allergist and can handle the shots that may eliminate the whole ordeal, and local bee honey is supposed to help as well.  But if not be patient, summers coming!

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