Mindful Mastery Mondays #3

Chalk it up to allergy season or your torrid love affair with cheese, but phlegm/mucus has been the major topic of conversation in the studio this week! Think of mucus as the oil in your vocal machinery… a little bit, kept thin and slick, will protect the moving parts and keep you running like clockwork. In this ideal state, you’re not even aware of the mucus doing its job; you won’t hear or feel it. When you become dehydrated (even minimally) or the immune system is activated, the body’s mucus production goes into overdrive and you become all-too aware of its presence. It becomes viscous (don’t you hate that word?!?) and interferes intermittently with the vibration of the vocal folds. 

And so you are tempted to clear your throat… DON’T! This is an act of aggression against your poor, vulnerable cords which, essentially, grinds them noisily against one another. Ironically, it’s so unkind to the cords that it generally results in the production of even more protective mucus!

So what CAN you do instead? Here’s a fantastic alternative: When you have the urge to clear your throat, exhale forcefully three times (think of a cat coughing up a hairball) and then swallow immediately. The rush of air will generally clear the mucus and the saliva will combat any resulting dryness in the pharynx. If that doesn’t clear the phlegm, then your job is to sing through it, with even greater attention given to your resonance. (For those who study with me, “the beam” would be a choice tool on such an occasion.)

Next Monday… part two of “The Sound of Mucus”. We’ll explore how the way you speak/sing may be to blame for that disruptive phlegm!

Brannon McAllister