My hand waving moment...
Before I say diddlysquat, I am not a doctor, pharmacist or a medical practitioner. I am a public speaker and my son, a baritone. The experiences and opinions expressed here are only my own and my son’s. If you even have the most minuscule concerns regarding injesting anything from an organic banana to a root beer to a Vocalzone, consult your family physician beforehand. It’s just plain sense, people.
A Tool for the Box
Some time ago, we published a piece on a Public Address Announcer’s Toolkit. The article dug into all the various pieces and parts an announcer could use at a job site. Everything from tape to potato chips got mentioned. The article received a lot of positive response with quite a few offering up their own ideas of what belonged in an announcer’s toolbox. You can press the button to the right to check out the original article.
Among the responses, a gent eschewed items like potato chips, substituting this product I’d never heard of in my life: Vocalzone. He swore by the product. He told me that when his voice was getting a little worn during a long day of announcing that he would pop a Vocalzone pastille in his mouth and, all would be well with the world. Interesting.
Good folks, Good Products
Well, like all things in the world around us, time went by. A couple of months back, I was doing research for publicaddressannouncer.org when I came across a photo of a box of Vocalzone on Google.
I went on their website and started sifting around. The first thing that caught my attention, as I knew nothing about them, was that they’d been around for over a hundred years. There’d been a whole history behind their pastille business which began in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. …fascinating… They wrote a terrific section on their whole history.
Click on the Red Box of Vocalzone to peruse their website.
The entire site is clean and easy to navigate. They’ve got themselves a bunch products going including guitar picks, which my son liked. They have nice blog with a variety of posts making the place sort of fun to be on. There’s a section whereby they get into the business of “Why Vocalzone”. I think they do a pretty good job of addressing a lot of basic questions on their products. This includes brief write-ups on Vocalzone and various career types. My opinion is they’ve done a bang-up job on this particular thing. I like it.
What raised my eyebrows is they’ve got folks like Tom Jones and Dionne Warwick using it. When you consider this caliber of professionals, maybe there’s a bit of merit to the products. These folks built a life on their voices so, they are certainly less likely to put anything in their mouth that would threaten their abilities.
After piddling and procrastinating about it, I decided to reach out. Pretty quickly, a nice fellow named Alvin got back to me and, with no hesitation, offered to send me out some samples to try out then write up a review. What a brilliant experience out of the gate! Pleasant and responsive are great customer service characteristics.
I peeked at their team for just a moment. The look like a fun hard-working bunch. They are a small team making things happen.
So, they’re plopped somewhere in the UK. Looks like way south near the English Channel probably staring at France every day. Certainly far enough away that I will not stroll by on foot from California. Took a bit of boat, plane, truck and probably parachute to get here but a nice little box arrived with a Vocalzone label on it about a week later. The box, in pristine shape, survived U.S. Customs apparently. Excited, I got out my utility knife and cut the beast open right away.
Inside, I found 3 tea bags and 3 boxes of Vocalzone pastilles. When I saw the tea, I thought to myself, “…tea…very English…” However, I’d used Throat-Coat tea in the past when I had a cranky throat so, might as well see if this stuff from Vocalzone has any merit as well.
...by the dawn's early light...
My son is a Julliard candidate, baritone, and National Anthem singer. He is 15 with a 4.7 GPA and a mountain of accomplishment. He was coming up on his Level 8 test for his Certificate of Merit for the Music Teachers Association of California and got sick. Good grief. He could not sing. He could not practice. The really bad news was his throat remained sore longer than he was actually overall ill. Finally, his voice teacher/coach put him on 72 hours vocal rest. Talk about stress. The test was under a week away.
To give some perspective of this test, he had to sing five pieces (3 in foreign languages), perform a rigorous sight-singing test in 32nd notes and take an hour long theory test based on data studied in an 80-page book. Anybody familiar with the higher levels of this exam are well-aware of the high-pressure rigorous nature of these tests.
72 hours went by just like that. His voice still mildly sore and gunky with mucous. His mom and I did not want to use much medication on him at this point in the hopes that his body would now recover itself. Regardless, he still had to sing in two days.
So, I pulled out the box of Honey and Lemon Vocalzone pastilles and told him to give them a try. They were not medication but, might clear your throat so you could start practicing again. He tried one. He returned later informing me of his lack of fondness for the taste but, let me know that it wasn’t like sucking on mud either. He could tolerate it. I laughed. After using a couple of them, he indicated he got used to the taste and it really wasn’t all that bad.
More importantly, he let me know he could suddenly push through a piece of music. His voice had not regained itself completely via Vocalzone but, the pastilles made a noticeable difference. He believed he could return to practicing.
So, every several hours he popped one in his mouth. He tried all the flavors and determined they were not candy and not to be enjoyed but, leveraged like a tool. He consumed Vocalzone pastilles all the way up to his test.
The result? He aced the exam. From this, the MTAC invited him to an honors recital in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I’m confident a box of Vocalzone will be in his jacket pocket.
Well, how about me? Faced with a 19 game Division 1 College softball tournament, I got my sons illness. My voice was going and I needed to speak in three days, non-stop, for 4 straight days at 12-16 hours per day. Oh, brother.
So, of course, Dad’s illness did not let up as easily as his 15-year-old son’s. I faced a disastrous weekend. I glanced over at the red box of Vocalzone on the kitchen counter deciding now was the time.
At first, the pastille gave me the same sense as a Halls medicated lozenge. Miraculously though, my throat cleared just enough for me to hear my regular announcing voice. The Vocalzone made me orally functional.
When I look at them and touch them, they remind me of round licorice pills. The honey ones were yellow if color bothers. I’m a licorice fan so, they appeared fine with me. I was with my son on this however. The taste was that of a flavored medication. Sure it was flavored but, certainly, tasted of medication. My initial thought was not awful, not tasty. That’s just my opinion on the matter. But, and this is a huge but, my voice cleared just enough so, I had confidence I could work.
I figured that games spread about 3 hours each; therefore, I take one pastille per game. Sure enough, I had a good plan. Vocalzone did its job so that I could do mine. By Sunday night when all was said and done, my client could not tell I’d had a voice problem at all!!! I’d even warned them that I might. They told me at the end that they heard nothing but my usual pipes.
Vocalzone kept my voice going. It did NOT make my sore throat worse. It provided only minor relief for which it had promised nothing more. I’m good with it. It did not make me feel loopy like a Halls would have but, Halls is medicated. It did not coat up my throat like a more sugar-based solution does (which would have made my speaking situation a nightmare). FYI. The original does have good old-fashioned sugar; however, sugar and sugar-free products from these folks seem to do the job. They do!
Yes, they don’t taste the best but, they do a good job. Plus, the ingredients are claimed to be natural; although, I read box and confess that I don’t know what the heck I am reading so, I will have to take it on faith. The other thing is the little beasts keep. The dates on my boxes were 2020 and 2021. That’s a long darn time. Awesome! They are lactose and gluten free as well as labeled for vegans. Ok…good qualities too since I know many folks have these characteristics and needs.
The are not hard-candy like. The have a gummy texture to them but, you don’t want to be chewing them. You suck on them until they dissolve. If you follow the instructions on the box, (no surprise) your throat turns out right.
I have to admit. The little buggers work. Side effects appear to be none we could discern but, again, that’s me and my son. We don’t speak for everyone. For speakers and singers, we recommend you keep a box nearby. These are great partners with salt water gargling in our opinion.
A Spot of Tea
Additionally, they have tea in their product line. The teas are herbal and caffeine free. If you are wanting something warm in your throat that will not dry you out like coffee, this doesn’t disappoint.
I am less impressed with the tea having used the pastilles. Don’t misunderstand, the tea is fine and tastes better than the pastilles. Irrespective of flavor, the pastilles do a better job. If you need some hard core help, the pastilles are the ticket.
Further on tea, I found no differentiation factors to use their teas over a product like Throat-Coat. In truth, I would choose Throat-Coat over Vocalzone tea because it feels more effective. Having said that, the Vocalzone pastilles trump Throat-Coat any day, any time.
Vocalzone, as a tea, is enjoyable and doesn’t dry out. This makes it a terrific option for folks working their voice every single day and like to take in something warm. Being caffeine free, you don’t need to concern yourself with jitters and target heart rates. Frankly, their tea is a nice experience for singers and speakers. I had the Red Sage & Fennel the other day and, it was relaxing as I hacked away on my blog. When I finished drinking it, I paid close attention to the status of my throat. Unlike a coffee or black tea, my throat felt moist and comfortable. I could have grabbed a microphone on the spot and been fine.
Gotta love Vocalzone...
Would my son and I say, “Get Vocalzone“? Oh, yes. I would go a step further and, tell the non-speaker/non-singer to use it as well. Why? Well, using it will help you to sound less like an injured-frog at work when you are not feeling so good and your throat and voice are not cooperating. Vocalzone would be amazing for teachers and professors. I, highly, advise these types of professionals consider it.
For singers, broadcasters, announcers and actors, Vocalzone should be on your list and not just for when your throat is under the weather. If you’ve been working hard, your voice is likely worn. Like me, you can feel it get cantankerous. For all I know, there’s little green demons down there working against my program. Regardless, you still have to use your voice, at a pro performance level, for work. Combining Vocalzone with gargling makes for good care. It worked for my son and me. It could work for you, too.
I’ve, now, done it over and over (Gargling and Vocalzone) and can, honestly, confess the pairing is beautiful. I don’t need that loopy feeling from a medicated lozenge when I’m working but, I do require some aid when my throat is sick or worn. Don’t misunderstand. Halls is good, very good but, not what I need when I’m on the mic with a warn or ill voice.
Vocalzone is not perfect but, Vocalzone is highly effective. We recommend all professionals using their voice for a living give Vocalzone a hard look at helping with their on-going vocal care regimen. Here at Public Address Announcer, Vocalzone is, truly, in our vocal zone!