I find it amusing when people talk fervently about whether some food or drink is good or bad for the voice. If they ask me, I usually tell them it’s probably not too big a deal. When I eat it or drink it, it goes down to my stomach and not past my vocal folds. I’m less inclined to make a fuss about what I should or shouldn’t eat or drink for the sake of my voice and more inclined to take care of my voice by getting rest, staying hydrated, and using good vocal technique. I figure that good vocal health has more to do with the health of the body than with a few bites or sips of something. But what does that have to do with garlic? I’m glad you asked.
Shenandoah Christian Music Camp in Virginia just finished its fourteenth annual camp. I taught classes and directed choirs at music camp every year except one since it began, so I have thirteen years of data to draw from when making these observations. Although I have tried to get rest, stay hydrated, and use good vocal technique every year during the nine teaching- and singing-filled days of camp, I experienced significant vocal fatigue and sometimes a cold EVERY YEAR for twelve years.
Until this year.
Here are the possible differences this year compared to previous years. I tried to pray about it more ahead of time. The weather was cooler than usual, so we didn’t use the air conditioning as often at night. I took a few pills every day—zinc, cayenne pepper, and garlic oil—and every night I swallowed a whole clove of fresh garlic cut up into pill-sized pieces.
If my voice was fatigued and hoarse by the end of the week all the other years, it surely should have been fatigued this year because I taught an extra class and therefore had fewer vocal breaks throughout each day. But that was not the case. My voice felt tired and weak by Thursday, but on Friday it was somewhat stronger. On Saturday it was stronger yet, and on Sunday, it felt great. If you’ve been to Virginia music camp, you know the Sunday morning congregational singing in that old gym is wonderful. Well, for the first time in twelve years of music camp, I was able to sing with my full, natural, stress-free voice on Sunday morning.
To say that I’m excited about this development is an understatement, but to say that I know why it happened is an overstatement. Was it the garlic, the prayer, or the weather? Maybe it was some of all three. Or something else. I don’t know. But I know for sure that I will be reaching for garlic in the future just in case.
Have any of you tried this?