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Can you always tell when you're doing damage to your voice?

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miss pk
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I ask this question because i used to get hoarse very easily when i would sing for just a short time and could tell i was definitely irritating my vocal folds. Nowadays, because of improved technique, i don't get hoarse much, if at all, even after singing for several hours. Now i know for a fact, i still have a long way to go in terms of perfecting good singing technique, but i just want to make sure that in the meantime i'm not causing any damage to my folds. so my question is - does this absence of hoarseness mean that i am NOT doing damage to my voice anymore, or could i still be irritating my voice "silently" (no symptoms) without realizing it? I notice that when i sing, i still have a lot of uncontrolled external muscle movement in my throat/larynx area (my larynx can rise pretty high, but not under my control - controlling it is an on-going struggle).

Also, is hoarseness/soreness the primary signal that you're doing damage to your voice? or are there other signs?

thanks!

Just realized i put this in the wrong section... sorry!

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As your voice coach... your at the point where you are worrying way too much about this. I would like to see you practice, keep your voice lifted as we have trained and begin to sing with confidence and volume.

Hoarsness may be ok, nothing to worry about... soreness would not be ok...

But I believe you are past this now, agreed?

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hi robert: you're absolutely right. i guess i'm still slightly obsessed with "controlling" the larynx because the first learning system i tried was "singing success" which really emphasizes that. after taking lessons with you, i don't have pain/hoarseness anymore, but i still obsess over the darn thing - although that obsession is fading (slowly).... ;)

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Really guys? Soreness is ok, but horseness is not ok? Actually I meant how I wrote it... but this is semantics... Im thinking Hoarseness is just a little fatigue, perhaps from practicing, etc... soreness I equate with flirting with pain or risking damage.

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Horseness is when you lose your voice, or when it becomes really small, a big change of quality. what usually triggers it is an inappropriate adduction combined with an excess airflow. after a while the cords might get cramped in a certain position and don't wanna close anymore.

It can be a serious problem if prolonged over a period. Now if you feel a little uneven or a little soar, I'd be way less alarmed. Id just rest a little or do some exercises and it would probably fade fast :P

Out of what I have experienced, nearly everyone that I know that had serious vocal problems, also suffered from horseness. I personally have never been horse before, however I have felt soar :P

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Roberta Peters once said in an interview that is you can't speak or feel sore after a lesson, it is a sign you need to think about changing what you are doing. Never mind whose fault it is, you are doing something harmful.

So keep it in mind.

I agree.

Sometimes in the course of learning we make certain errors - usually a sip of water and 5 minutes of silence should take care of it. If not, you are on the wrong track.

If you ignore it and it persists, you are heading for trouble. The throat is not going to forgive you forever.

Best

RP

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm a new member of The Modern Vocalist Community and I am also a voice specialist. In my professional opinion, while you're speaking or singing you should not be experiencing any pain or hoarsness. Either one of those definitions are suggesting that you are excessively using your vocal box.

In my findings and developments of "Vocal Science" techniques, I advocate that the vocal box should be released from any pressure and the voice should be restructured and rechannelled to a completely different set of muscles. The facial muscles (sinus cavities) will receive the sound and will significantly amplify the sound, provided though that the sound placed into the set of the facial muscles will be secure and supported by the abdominal muscles, where the lower abdomen will secure the height of the sound flowing above the body and the upper diaphragm will secure the width of the sound and the fullness of its body. Thus the vocal box will be released and the facial and abdominal muscles will be working in full conjunction and coordination with each other minimizing to the absolute minimum the use of the throat, larynx and the vocal cords.

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Vocal box? Released from any pressure? Voice should be restructured and rechannelled to a set of muscles? Facial muscles (sinus cavities)? Significantly amplify? Placed into the facial muscles? Secured and supported by the abdominal muscles? Lower abdomen will secure the height of the sound flowing above the body? Upper diaphragm will secure the width of the sound? And the fullness of its body? Minimizing the use of the throat, larynx and vocal folds?

What do these words mean?

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I AGREE WITH ROB L. IT'S POSSIBLE YOU CAN BE HORSE (AS IN SPEAKING-VOICE CHANGE) AFTER A NIGHT OF POWER VOCALS, BUT SORENESS (AS IN SORE-THROAT SORENESS/PAIN) IS CAUSE FOR CONCERN. I KNOW IF I SKIP OR RUSH A WARM-UP BECAUSE I HEARD A PASSAGE FROM A SONG DURING THE DAY AND I JUST START SINGING ALONG, I CAN GET HORSE. IF I THOROUGHLY WARM-UP BEFOREHAND, I DON'T GET HORSE AT ALL. ALSO BREATHING TOO MUCH FROM THE MOUTH WILL CAUSE HORSENESS. JUST MY OPINION FOLKS. I'M NOT A VOCAL INSTRUCTOR NOR AN EXPERT. BOB

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Hi

You shouldn't get hoarse (if you want to make a distorted sound to sound hoarse,you can do this in a healthy way) nor sore. It means that if anything hurts or doesn't feel right, you can be pretty sure that it isn't right.

By using the right support and the "gears" in the voice, you'll be able to sing as long as you like, always have enough air for each frase, you can get the power you want, you can reach the notes you want ( by making the right exercises in the right way using the right "gears", read more on www.charlottewolfsberg.dk).

Charlotte

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Residual", as in, any pain "left over" after singing, would hopefully be "temporary". But, pain, soreness, or a hoarse throat is still a sign of something wrong. In rock, blues, industrial, or any hard core genre, you should strive to sing pain free.

There have been times when for a recording, I've pushed the edge for an effect, but I was fully aware that this was a one time thing for "that" recording. Eventually, if I performed that song on a regular basis, I'd temper my performance or pay a price for the abuse.

We are all singers with only one voice. I've owned many guitars, basses, keyboards. They come and go. Our singing voice is the most precious gift we have, so, forgive my passion for wanting all of us to remain healthy for as long as we live.

As you said earlier:

"IF I THOROUGHLY WARM-UP BEFOREHAND, I DON'T GET HORSE AT ALL."

All the best Vid!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Once in a while, hoarseness will occur but if it happens almost all the time after singing (like it did Whitney Houston in the old days), there is something wrong -- usually too much blowing and blasting going on. This makes the cords swell. With this swelling, it makes it hard for them to stretch for pitch, or to control the flow of air. Soreness is not a good sign either.

Both aren't always caused by poor technique, the cause can be acid reflux but the only way to know for sure would be to see a layngologist. That kind of doctor ( a branch of medicine that only deals with the voice) can tell you if it's one, the other, or both.

Other signs would be loss of range and endurance -- songs that used to be easy to sing are now difficult and require a lot more body effort just to reach notes...

If Robert is your vocal coach, listen to what he is telling you. Perhaps because it used to be a problem you are understandably a bit obssesed with it. But I think he's suggesting that you are way past that now. Trust that you are in good hands so there is NO WAY you can hurt yourself if you take lessons on a consistent basis. Practice what he tells you to practice, trust that he knows what's best, and this will be your insurance. Maybe it's time to start having some fun with your voice. If you are coming along as Robert says you are, then perhaps it' really is time. After all, singing is supposed to be fun! BUT PRACTICE!

Read my recent blog post on practice. It might help -- gives a different perspective on it.

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My two cents... Even if you have very good technique it may not be enough if you can't hear yourself... I usually have special earplugs during my rehearsal because without them there is no chance to sing correctly. The rehearsal room is very small (about 20 m2). There are drums, guitar and bass amps so this is not very good environment for vocalist ;) With earplugs I am a little tired. My voice of course too but after short break everything return to normal... Without earplugs I don't sing because I know that I will have problems even on following day... So I think that this is not only bad technique problem.

Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think that we are able to sing how long as we like. It is normal that after a while singing we are physically tired and it has an impact on our singing as well. After one and half hour of singing difficult rock repertoire I need some rest. Maybe this is specific for me... ;)

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If you dont practice and you dont come into the studio to train... then you will not build strength and coordination to sing properly.

I gave you the tools you need to sing beautifully and healthy... you now need to practice and keep with the training. You wont find what your looking for on a forum at this point... your answer will be found by training, singing and getting stronger and more coordinated in the techniques.

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