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turn back the clock on damage?

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Hi. I've been thinking a lot lately about my voice and how much I miss it. It's along sad sad story involving heavy drinking, smoking and singing(often at he same time) in loud piano bars until the wee small hours of the morning...And screaming over crowds while bartending in New Orleans...To be clear, I can speak and still sing--Belt mostly. I thank god for the teacher who taught me years ago that "bel canto can belto". My voice is still "hit the back of house"powerful" but for the last 6-7 years, it has been missing about two octaves on the top. I'm 39. Conservatory trained. I know the most logical thing to do would to be first, see an ent to get a scope of the damage and also adopt a regiem of vocal excercise. I guess I know it all, lol. Still, I'm wondering about others experience with this...And also the possibilities of reversal. I realise my upper register will probably never again sound like "crystal" as it was often described--If that were possible, Julie Andrews would have done it... But I really would like to get my upper register back.

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  • 2 months later...

Good news is that I've seen some severely abused voices. I mean I had a collegue who haded bowed vocal chords that was told that she would never sing again. I've known many that had severe damage including nodules due to poor or no technique more than anything else. But smoking drinking, shouting in a loud bar, etc. are also contribuotrs. Good news is that when they got good training and practiced it properly the voice eventually was not only healed but better than ever because for the first time in their life they were consistently practicing good technique which can do wonders. With good technique you can sing 300 nights in a row with no vocal damage whatsoever. Singing with good technique can actually speed up the healing process. It's not singing or speaking that aggravate vocal damage its specific poor vocal practices such as glottal strokes, invoking the throat, pushing on the voice due to lack of sufficient support, etc. If it hurts or feels straining, Stop. If you have a good technical background go back to basics, clean up your technique, and maybe go back to a good teacher to get you back on track with any bad habits. Good technique isn't just singing with good technique, its speaking properly, (I've knows singers who damaged their voices because they often glottal stroked when excited in a conversation), not shouting over loud music in a club, taking care of your health in general, etc. are all part of good technique. A serious singer should treat their voice the same as a violinist takes care of his prized Stradovarious. I consider someone smoking or shouting not the actions a truly trained singer would engage in. Anyway yea, the voice can definitely come back but only with consistent disciplined use of great technique and taking care of ones vocal health. Well worth it though if singing is your life.

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I couldn't agree more heartily.

Ballet dancers "take class" (maintain skill & basic technique with a teacher) every morning throughout their career. I see lots of experienced singers who benefit from that kind of review, unfortunately I usually see them only when things are really going wrong. Much better to stay vigilant, on one's own or with guidance, to prevent usage-related problems.

BTW I've rehabilitated singers with bowed (aging, saggy) folds & the career is NOT necessarily over! I hope this colleague is in the category of those you know who've recovered.

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