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Very concerned about my voice (help/advice?)

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Hi, first time poster here. I have been having some concerns with my voice over the past week, and I really don't have anywhere else to turn. I'm a 20 year old male vocalist in a metal band. We also play some hardcore, so I do a good amount of screaming as well. I've been performing for a couple of years now, and I've never had any vocal issues or concerns until now. I play one or two sets a weekend (half or hour each). I practice at least a little almost everyday.

Last week, I was practicing with the band as usual. I had been messing around with some new vocal sounds as of late. I really had no idea what I was doing (which I realize was my first mistake)... I guess I was just getting bored with my usual schtick and wanted to try something new. Last week, all of the sudden in the middle of singing... this migraine started to come over me. I knew this was because what I was doing was incorrect, and bad for me. Not enough oxygen getting to my brain, etc... so I stopped singing immediately. I'm not the most trained vocalist in the world, but I have enough formal training to know when I'm doing something bad for me.

So a couple days later, I come back in to work with the band again. I begin to warm up, and notice something isn't all there. There's no pain or anything... my voice just sounded shallow and hoarse at some points. So we begin to play, and I just sound straight up bad. My voice felt so weak, and forget about screaming. I would reach back for a scream, and there was literally nothing there. So, once again... I stop almost immediately. I also notice that my throat feels tight, and possibly a little swollen. I felt a slight discomfort, but nothing too bad at all.

I took maybe 3 or 4 days off... I try again today. Same story. My chest voice sounds weak... I struggle going from my chest voice into my falsetto... and of course my scream is non-existent. Everything sounds weaker and more shallow. So, I tell a bandmate what's been going on, and he takes a look at my throat with a flashlight. He said the back of my throat just looks a bit "roughed up" and maybe little swollen.

It doesn't hurt when I talk... it doesn't even hurt much when I try to warm up or sing. It just feels tight, weak, and my voice sounds strained/hoarse.

Obviously, having never experienced any vocal trouble... I am very concerned. If my voice is at all permanently damaged, I will be absolutely devastated. Does this sound like something that just requires some rest and time off? Or, do you think this is something I should see a doctor about? Has anyone ever experienced anything similar?


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Do have it checked... but don't be alarmed. It takes a LOT to really harm the voice... but to be sure, you were giving it a pounding and it needs to rest. Then you need to look into warm ups and building your strength and endurance with training over vocalize and some good technique.

If your bored with the same old "schtick', then what better opportunity then o get serious about training and really see what you can do with real training content, techniques, warming up, strength building, etc...

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Heed well the advice of Felipe and Robert.

And learn from my mistakes, too. For, a few years ago, I had tried something that my voice was not meant to do. And I gave myself partial laryngitis. Twice. Because I don't think I know everything and assumed that I did something wrong the first time and tried it again, injuring myself, again.

Each time, it took almost two weeks of rest and not speaking any more than necessary for work. And I would re-calibrate with light, falsetto-ish descending sirens at very low volume.

Then, the final thing, which has helped prevent further injury; resolved not to do that thing again. Ever. Amen.

You may not have created permanent injury but you have this chance to prevent further injury by being careful with what you do. And that could include getting some lessons, per Robert. And going to a doctor, per Felipe. I didn't go to a doctor. I knew what I did when my injury happened. And if I had gone to a doctor, he would have said, "don't do that, again. Why were you doing that, in the first place?" My only fair response would have been, "Because I am an idiot."

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someone looking in your throat with a flashlight will see NOTHING useful.

This could be anything from a pulled muscle (yes, the teensy little guys that pull& stretch& close your vocal cords can get sprained like any other), to a weakened nerve, to a small hemorrhage (broken blood vessel) on one cord, or a dozen other things.

All sound scarier than they are for the long run, but in the short run (next few weeks) it is imperative that you sing/talk very little and lightly, and get to the best throat doctor you can afford. You might gradually recover without medical help/rehab, but there is a huge risk of making things worse by learning subtle compensations in your technique, so that you limp through summer gigs but face a much bigger set of problems (aka career crisis) later on.

If you are in North America, please visit the national voice referral database to find a singer-friendly clinic.


Everyone else - bookmark that page!

best regards & please take good care,

TMV's voice/speech therapist.

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