Vocalists are always at risk of damaging their voices. In many ways, a professional vocalist is like a professional athlete. Athletes must use their bodies for more than just excelling at their sport just like a vocalist must use his or her voice for more purposes than singing. With this kind of use, then, vocalists must be especially careful to protect their voices during every day uses like conversing, cheering, shouting, or even recreational singing.
There are many forms of vocal damage that can occur as a result of voice misuse. Some forms of vocal damage may heal itself within a few days or weeks while more severe damage may require surgery to correct. The most extreme cases of vocal abuse can result in permanent damage. For a professional vocalist, his or her voice is the most valuable thing he or she possesses, therefore, protecting the voice should be done with the same consideration other musicians would give their expensive instruments. For vocalists this often requires more awareness as speaking and singing is often something that can be taken for granted.
Because protecting your voice is so important, there are several singing techniques taught by voice training lessons that can help you, the vocalist, protect your voice from damage in all its forms and ensure you are giving your greatest investment the care it deserves.
1. Shouting and screaming are potentially two of the greatest vocal damagers. It is very common to find yourself in situations that require such actions such as basketball or other sporting events, or concerts; however excessive shouting and screaming can be extremely devastating to your vocal health. Screaming and shouting can cause you to develop vocal nodules or polyps, many of which have to be surgically removed and surgical correction has the potential to cause even greater vocal damage.
2. Speaking in the wrong optimal pitch. Over the past few years, many voice coaches have found their students speaking at the wrong optimal pitch. This can be caused by people singing along to songs that are not on pitch with those pitches that complement their typical range. The student may then also speak in this pitch during the day and reinforce the register. When this pitch does not complement their typical range, vocalists most often find it very difficult to bridge the gap between their registers. The higher registers are not as easily accessible as they have constantly been "practicing" at a certain pitch. Fortunately there is an easy solution to this problem and many vocalists can reverse the damage done by speaking at the wrong optimal pitch by raising their pitch and practicing in that pitch. This will help them more easily reach their higher registers that are more suited to their individual voices.
3. Smoking of any kind is extremely damaging to both the vocal chords and the vocal tract. When you inhale the hot smoke and tobacco can irritate not only the lining of the larynx but can also cause damage as far down as into the lungs. Smoking can make it not only difficult to sing but also difficult to breath. If you want to be a professional vocalist than eliminating smoking habits will ensure the health and safety of your voice.
4. Be careful about singing when you are ill. If you are a singer, you should take extra care about vocalizing when you are sick. Know your vocal limits. Your voice can easily be damaged when you sing if you are ill. Even the most "mild" illness such as the common cold can have great effects on your voice. When you are ill, extra mucous is produced in and around the vocal chords and in the vocal tract. This is also true of in your sinus cavities. This extra mucous greatly changes the acoustics of your vocal tract and changes the resonance of your voice (everyone can relate to the "nasally" sound to a voice when you are sick) Learning your limits and taking it easy when you are vocalizing can ensure that you do not harm your voice while you are sick.
5. Clearing your throat can be one of the most damaging actions you can take. When you clear your throat you are essentially slamming your vocal chords together at the fastest rate in which they can vibrate. This "ramming together" of your vocal chords can cause extreme damage to your vocal chords and can make singing very difficult and painful.
Simple singing techniques found through voice training lessons can help you learn how to protect your voice and prevent potentially irreversible damage from happening to your vocal chords. As a professional singer, your greatest and most valuable asset is your voice and striving to protect it should always be high on your priority list.
You can find singing techniques and tips on how to better care for your voice through voice training lessons.
As a third generation child of music (My grandmother is a proficient organist and pianist, my mother a classically trained vocalist and music educator) I have had the joy of being raised in an environment that fostered musical creativity. This creativity I was able to express both on stage vocally and as a part of musical theater. It has allowed me to participate in my community and challenge myself academically. I have found the quest for vocal improvement to be both enlightening and challenging and take every opportunity I can to further my learning.