Going in to work sick does not make you a hero. It means you are slowing your recovery and possibly getting your co-workers sick as well. The problem is I've been broke, I've never had paid sick days for any job I've had, sometimes I don't have a sub, and sometimes I have a one nighter. I am a singer. Whether it is my support job or a gig, I usually have to work when I am sick.
My students, who only get one absence a semester, often struggle with the decision to come to class when they are sick. With two kids and a million gigs it is hard to say what I prefer: come in to our tiny studio and breathe all over me or stay home and be just that much less prepared for their mid-term or final. It is a question I can not answer for them. Ultimately they have to decide how sick they are.
What I will not let them tell me is that they can't sing because they are sick. As I spelled out above, in the real world, that reasoning is not always one of the options. When we get into conversations about singing while sick inevitably I am asked "how do I sing safely while I am sick?" I am always a little taken aback because my answer seems so obvious to me: EXACTLY THE SAME WAY YOU SING WHEN YOU ARE HEALTHY.
Every person and every sickness causes different symptoms. If I have any sort of inability to phonate due to swelling then I do my best not to sing or talk, but if I just have a runny nose or sniffles, or aches then I sing like I always sing! With relaxed tongue, jaw, and neck muscles, full support from my breath, and forward placement.
Which brings me to last night. We had our regular, monthly gig at The Anaheim Packing District and I am sick, sick, sick. I spent most of the day in bed. Several of the employees have become friendly and in the course of normal conversation they asked "How are you?" and my answer was "pretty sick so don't touch me." Each one responded "you don't sound sick at all!" And I said "thanks, I'm gonna go sit down. Make sure you wash your hands."
If you use different technique when you are sick then you should probably re-evaluate how you sing when you are healthy.
Since the age of sixteen my adventures in music have taken me all over the country. After years of bouncing around I've made Orange County my home. Here are my stories.