• Ruth

The Dreaded Lurgy


Every day I leap out of bed singing and dancing to record whatever wonderful job comes my way.

Until bam! I wake up with a throat that feels like it’s full of jam with a sprinkling of barbed wire. The dreaded lurgy (no, not that one,) has hit.

The Head Cold…AAAAAAAARGH!

If I were in most other professions I would manage to get on with my work but I suddenly no longer have dulcet tones. I sound as if i had got up in the night and sleep-smoked 40 cigarettes.

Today I am supposed to be doing some pick ups for an audiobook, beginning narration on the fifth book in a fantasy series and doing a few episodes of dubbing for 'Boonie Squad' a fast paced animation by Fantawild.

If I attempted any of these today, all my clients would wonder is ‘Why has she got back-from-the-dead Les Dawson to fill in for her?’

Seriously though, it is an occupational hazard and one not easily dealt with. Of course prevention is best but if you have school age kids then it’s fairly inevitable that cute artwork and hand crafted pots aren’t all they are going to bring home.

I am fortunate that I only usually get a couple of colds a year but they can be very detrimental especially when I have tight deadlines. But I also find that generally, clients are very understanding when their VO has turned into a frog (vocally that is. I don’t suppose they would be that understanding if their VO actually turned into a frog. Or perhaps they would? Who knows?)

I have only heard of a couple of occasions anecdotally from other VOs where clients have desperately insisted that the talent continue, despite them having no voice or sounding like Vera Duckworth with a hangover.

In terms of advice: For clients I would advocate your continued patience…the job WILL get done eventually. And it’s far better to wait and have your VO restored to health than push them to try and do it when they are not at their best.

For VOs…the only real answer is to rest your voice. And DON’T be tempted to do those auditions just because you have now have a wonderful huskiness that wasn’t present pre-virus! It might bag you a job initially but then when you come to actually record the job, you may be back to normal voice and simply be unable to recreate that sexy tone…only leading to disappointment for all and a big Family Fortunes style UHUH! against your name for future work.

I remember attending a talk by the amazing laryngologist, Dr Reena Gupta at the conference VO Atlanta in 2019 where she showed us slides of vocal chords and how easy it is to damage them. Protecting them is crucial to a long and dynamic career in voice work. She recommended that VOs go and see a laryngologist BEFORE they have problems so they can have a better idea of what is best for their voice and what approach to take to best protect it. On this side of the pond we also have the wonderful Nic Redman (vocal coach, VO and vocal health expert) who runs vocal retreats (still planning to go to one eventually!) and is a great source of advice on all things voice.

Prevention really IS better than cure. Of course there are countless remedies to help ease symptoms (ginger is my go to) and keeping warm and hydrated will help speed the process of recovery up…but ultimately REST. I know this is a hard concept for many in the VO community (the old ‘I’ll just pop to the studio’ at 1am is well known to most of us) but giving those vocal cords a breather will be definitely be more beneficial in the long run.

And resting means you can spend some time on the all important promotional/business side of work, doing mail outs, sharing that new demo and yes, of course….writing that blog.

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