How to Know if You’ve Gone Too Far
If there’s one question I hear all the time, it’s ‘how do I know if I’ve done something damaging to my voice?’ which always makes me think of something someone once told me about child rearing. “It only takes one time to touch a hot stove before they know better.”
Unfortunately I wasn’t that bright in my younger years as a singer. So let’s take that analogy a bit further.
These are the tell tale signs that you’re taking your voice down a dangerous road. (If you have medical concerns about your voice please see a highly recommended ear, nose and throat physician/ENT/Otolaryngologist.)
Pain is our body’s way of saying, ‘hey, knock that off!’ It is NOT a signal that you just had an intense performance. It means you are requiring things of your voice that will damage it.
Singing should not be painful, even if you’re a rock star. A qualified vocal coach trained in vocal repair can help remove the pain without sacrificing your ‘signature sound’.
Ever scream at a huge sporting event and find your throat is sore the next day? Probably no shocker. Yet we seem surprised when the same thing happens after singing.
Hoarseness is another red flag that tells us your voice is not in balance and is being utilized incorrectly. Hoarseness can also be a symptom of vocal cord polyps, granulomas (a growth caused by acid reflux and accompanied by ear and throat pain) and other medical conditions.
Loss of Voice
This is another way your voice protects itself from damage, it says ‘I’ve had enough, thank you.’
We’ve all had times when we’ve had an adrenaline packed performance and required more of our voices than we should, but if you are losing your voice for any length of time after you sing you are heading down a road that could lead to nodes, cysts and surgery (oh my).
Almost every voice that is out of balance will have weak or unreliable ‘sections’ and notes that can be in the same general area. But if you find that you have specific notes in your range that are consistently weak (‘honking’) or missing (‘airy’) all of the time take it seriously. This is a classic sign that you’ve damaged your voice.
Nodes or cysts are like blisters on the vocal cords. Wherever they develop the cords have trouble coming together. Once the problem is diagnosed and fixed either with vocal repair training and/or medical intervention, those notes will most likely return.
Why Voices Get Damaged
There are many incredibly talented people who misuse their voices, many times unknowingly. And many times they can get by without audible damage for a long time. But misusing the voice leads to a shorter life for your voice at best, and the loss of your voice at the other end.
A good ENT or Otolaryngologist who has worked a lot with singers will suggest working with a qualified vocal coach to reduce strain, prevent further damage and/or repair any damage that does not require surgery.
If you’d like to find out what’s causing your voice pain or strain check out our Vocal Repair Clinic. We’ll help answer your specific questions, give you some helpful tips and help stop the pain.