Why do I cough or clear my throat after singing? Your vocal folds (vocal cords) have been agitated so to protect themselves they make phlegm;
The vocal folds are covered in a mucus membrane.
The vocals do this for several different reasons:
- The food that you have eaten; for example, spicy food or dairy does this. A good idea is to keeping a food diary to see if there is a pattern.
- Drinks like coffee, tea and alcohol dry out the vocals.
- It’s first thing in the morning, so the voice is just waking up, often we have a little phlegm then. This is normal and should go quickly as you warm up.
- You are trying to sing on a cold or a sore throat.
- Air conditioning can do this too as well as central heating.
- Incorrect singing technique.
Incorrect singing technique
This is the big one and puzzles the student when I point out that the technique is at fault. The student often replies with something like “but I have been singing like this all my life without any problems, why have I only just got a problem?”
The answer is that your voice has always been strong enough to deal with it. You may have just had a cold or sore throat and carried on singing. This would have agitated the vocals but also – if this goes on for a couple of months – will start to change your singing technique.
It will be subtle, but after several colds or sore throats it all builds up and before you know it you have learned bad habits.
The voice never lies how good is your singing technique?
I tell my students that when they have a cold or a tickly cough that this is the time you can see just how good your singing technique is. Even the slightest bit of bad technique and you will start to cough. With an excellent singing technique, you would not do this.
A big part of great singing technique is good self-awareness. This would tell you if you were about to push and make yourself cough.
What can I do about it?
The Ideal answer here is that you should really find yourself a good vocal coach as this kind of problem will not be solved with a download course. You could have just the slightest misunderstanding of your voice which a vocal coach could pin point for you in one lesson or a more in-depth problem that will take time.
If the singing technique that you have is all you have ever known, then it will feel natural and correct to you even if it’s not. A couple of singing lessons with a good vocal coach will at least put you on the right track of knowing if there is a problem with your technique or not; You can then decide if it’s something that you want to work on or not.
A couple of vocal techniques to help you
Starting with vocal fry will help you to identify if you are pushing your voice or not; If you push you will lose the vocal fry connection. Then slide up and down through your range with it. The vocal fry will help you to recognise a balanced voice. If you’ve not done vocal fry before it can be a little tiring on the voice to start with so take it slowly.
Another good one is the whiny puppy NG slide. Thing whiny puppy as you slide down over a comfortable range. Then slowly increase the range and also move into vowels.
Ultimately Give a vocal coach a call and invest a little in that amazing voice of yours.