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Active & Passive Vocal Recovery

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Very under-discussed topic of vocal technique. Obviously total vocal rest and maybe some light tension-relieving exercises is the best way to recover. But as we strive to improve our vocal technique there is always a chance of over-working or pushing oneself too far especially during live performances.

What are some tips/tricks that have helped you survive vocally and recover quickly? This includes exercises (physical and vocal), certain foods & drinks, anything goes. Now I'm not advocating relying on such things all the time, but surely some ways of recovery are very effective in remedying the swollen, damaged, or fatigued vocal cords. This may seem like a strange topic but I feel it is crucial that good active and passive vocal recovery is implemented in one's technique especially due to the amount of over-training many eager singers tend to do.

Some things that have helped me:

Warm tea w/ organic honey

Lozenges (I like Ricola Natural Herb it doesn't over-numb your throat) which you can buy at at Walmart

Warm water gargling with a hint of salt (salt is a natural anti-septic)

Humidifier (don't have one yet but my old teacher had it and it was great).

Shoulder rolls and neck rolls to relieve tension

Light-jogging (running helps depending on level of fitness... if you pass out it would be counterproductive lol)

Very soft (and connected) ng or nn humming is a great warm-up and recovery technique.

Titze's singing through straw is AMAZING and is effective voice theraphy.


Bonus tip (Rachsing) - STOP WHEN YOU GET FUSTRATED. Prevent vocal damage before it happens.

Will add more if I can think of any. Please feel free to share your vocal recovery tips/hints/techniques because I am absolutely sure it will help many users on the forum. Especially me :lol: I look forward to your responses.

Thanks in advance

- JayMC

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@D.Starr since we technically "are" our instrument sometimes the most random things can help vocally. Ie: light jogging really helps me sing better and recover quicker :lol:

Light aerobics gets the blood circulating better and can get some better extrinsic anchoring going on as the support muscles "wake up" a little bit more.

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Thanks for the replies guys! It's funny because you can tell just by who "prepares" the most how much they care about performances. One of my old teachers used to sleep with her humidifier in the room as does Mariah Carey.

For the people saying "just drink water" "learn good technique" I totally agree but clearly you guys are missing out on something lets call it the "x-factor" the "want FACTOR" that every truly great singer has. No offence to you guys who just drink water... I guess that just means your technique is far superior to the singers who run the extra mile... even better than Mariah Carey :lol:

@Vocalist Dad dairy is an in-between for most singers, I personally have had dairy all my life so it doesn't affect me much but for some singers dairy is a serious nono. Warm tea = WIN.

Some extra info about lozenges:

"Vocalzone Throat Pastilles were created for the Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso in the early 1900's by Mr William Lloyd F.R.C.S., a famous Ear Nose and Throat specialist at the London Hospital. The Great Caruso was performing at Covent Garden and was struggling with a tired voice when Mr Lloyd answered his call for help. Caruso was so impressed with the result that he retained Mr Lloyd who became his travelling companion whenever he was touring."

Wait Caruso used lozenges? He didn't just drink water and have great techinique? lol!

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I don't get why people swear by honey. Ok bacteria can't grow on it, so what?

Nothing touches the cords so by what means are these any help? Honey doesn't coat the cords and neither will milk.

As for lozenges I only see them helping by numbing the nerves, but the cords are mucous membrane.

I used to drink a cup of tea every morning and think "Wow my vocals cords feel so much better". Then came the thought, but no liquids touch my cords. Maybe it's just a placebo effect. A feel good, a pick me up.

I started inhaling steam, resting for 30 minutes afterwards and then some vocal exercises, early to bed. My voice ran smooth for months.

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It's true D.Starr that a lot of these things don't actually "coat'" the throat. But some of this old-school stuff really works... try drinking a small spoon of olive oil. Does it coat that throat? Idk... When you wake up the next morning does your throat feel brand new? YES. I forgot which singer does this but many have been doing this for years.

Inhaling steam is awesome!! It is very clear that many singers underestimate the recovery/relaxation process especially those who believe that once you learn technique its "ALL GOOD." To even LEARN that technique one strives for you're going to fall down more than once, maybe hurt yourself, this is WHY recovery/relaxation techniques exist.

Think about all the singers who have ran into vocal troubles on the forum... mostly from over-training, some of them are VERY GOOD singers, even for them vocal recovery is necessary at certain times. I look forward to some more replies on the active and passive vocal recovery process.

Btw Titze's straw technique is wonderful, I honestly think I'm going to carry half a straw everywhere I go.

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jay, sometimes i think you're doing all of these posts to write a book.

(if you do, you'll have a lot of contributors..lol!!!)

i'll add a few besides:

pay attention to how you speak! avoid loud and excessive talking! screaming, if done correctly, is actually better than loud talking.

puff up the area below the folds with air...hard to explain...sort of what happens when you go to blow up a balloon. then wimper like a crying puppy. this is very soothing.

hum, hum every chance you get throughout the day. go for a tickle in the nose and forehead.

talk to your vocal folds!....tell them when you're through using them and tell them it's time to calm down and relax...believe me they listen!!

prep them in the morning! as soon as you get up, before you say a word just hum, or do a few lip bubbles to wake them up.

don't punch the vocal folds! never push air powerfully against them....(even if the sound of the singer leads you to think that's what's happening)...apply the pressure, lay the pressure up against them.

support the total voice - that means while you sing and while you talk

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Vocalist Dad dairy is an in-between for most singers, I personally have had dairy all my life so it doesn't affect me much but for some singers dairy is a serious nono. Warm tea = WIN.

I thought your question was pertaining to recovery. I agree, he avoids dairy on days of performing.

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After my self-induced injury, vocal rest for two weeks, followed by falsetto descending slides to re-integrate my voice. Then, the resolve to not do the stupid thing again that brought in the injury. Followed by the realization, confirmed by a classical coach that I consulted with, that I am a light tenor.

And I know that's going to get me some heat. Bring it on ....

Result, I have not had a problem ever again since coming to the realizations of mine that are often minimalized and marginalized by others.

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Any thoughts on Lemon juice? An old wives tale I've heard most of my life. My brother used to give himself a squirt of lemon juice before singing. I don't know if it helped with recovery.

Lemon juice would be acidic, which should be uncomfortable for the vocal folds... not that it should touch them at all. Liquids should not be able to touch the vocal folds (unless you're choking?).

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I don't know what it is supposed to do, but Old wives tales get started somewhere. Maybe the bitterness tightens the back of the throat for better resonance. And it could be totally useless. Just something I heard.

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Preparation comes in the form of keeping yourself healthy and technical capability to deliver what you want.

WHEN you have a very solid technique and you run in trouble due to stress or sickness, which does happen to everybody, modern medicine is best suited to deal with the symptons and allow you to perform if you have to do the job and cant cancel it.

During trainning hurting yourself to this point does not happen. Period. Does not take much inteligence to stop as soon as something is not comfortable, use it.

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Rachsing that is such a good point, I think it was mentioned before on this forum. We are afraid of change... stepping into the unknown... in a sense we must lose (bad habits) to win.

Why do a lot of highly intelligent people smoke almost everyday? Other than addiction reasons it is ingrained into their very core...

Similarly a "belty" singer who "pulls-chest" as we like to call it has that behavior ingrained into his body and mind over years and years of training the wrong mechanism. So for someone like that to learn a more correct way of doing things he would have to overcome a great deal of fustration. Which is why some recovery/relaxation techniques are very useful.

It is true that we SHOULD stop when something hurts. However that has little to do with intelligence :lol: It has more to do with ego and willpower.

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what is the frustration rachsing?

but then again there are those who can do a lot with their voice because thay have put the work into building the strength and stamina...guys like ken tamplin can sing for hours on end.

i can say this...if you really sing with a well supported voice, the chances of hurting it are next to nothing.

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a crucial point. However, singers are often influenced by frustration. And they often keep repeating a thing over and over again because of that if they can't get it right. Even though it feels uncomfortable. I've been guilty of doing that many times and I still have to remind myself to stop if I begin to get frustrated.

Amen, twin brother from another mother.

That is why I injured myself, twice. Because, unlike a lot of people, I do NOT think I know everything. So, when I was trying this soi-disant "false vocal fold distortion," I thought I did it wrong the first time. So, I tried again. And injured myself a second time. When I first came to this forum, a number of people were actually trying to sound like Brian Johnson. And I was trying to keep up.

No more.

No matter how many shaming words about me not "doing enough with my voice," I am not going to do that stupid thing again. Nor am I really wanting to have that "FVF distortion," as a general rule.

No matter how many attempts to shame me for accepting that I am a light tenor, I am not going to do what my voice cannot do. Reminds me of the joke. I tell the doctor, "it hurts when I do this" (whatever "this" is.) And the doctor says, "Well, quit doing that."

I stumbled upon an ancient chinese secret. A way to avoid injury is to not do things which cause you injury. I know, that's deep and mystic. But, there it is.

I may have mentioned it before, but to actually address the question in the thread title, rest. No singing. Speaking only when spoken to and being close enough to speak in normal volume (not that easy as I was working on a construction project and I won't bore you with how loud that is.

After two weeks of this, I re-entered singing by nothing but warm-ups. Light, descending, falsetto-ish slides. For about 10 minutes at a whack, on the drive to work. Another 10 minute session on the way home.

Then, again, that ancient chinese secret. Change whatever you did that caused the injury.

And certainly, others would say, you should not have attempted that without a coach. Absolutely valid and true. I was an idiot. Never again. Some things, I learn the hard way. Including the fact that I don't want massive distortion that bad. Which probably makes me "not a rock singer." Oh well, c'est la Vie..

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agreed. i'm currently experiencing a surge of success with my voice training. i believe it's because i have an open dialog going with my voice....i know it sounds ridiculous, but some things are just starting to fall into place and it's primarily due to my mind.

and i want to share my discoveries with all you folks, that's all.

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^ Videohere you're not going crazy my friend. Yesterday I mentally told my vocal folds to 'relax & focus this is easy' through some difficult notes... it worked o.0 Thank you for sharing that tip, before I would just talk to myself at least now I'm talking to something xD

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great! that's because you are learning to get out of the voice's way, and leaving it free and unencumbered.

it took me a long time to get that. but the good news is when you learn to get out of it's way, and you learn to use only the right musculature, it gives you back some control...go figure.

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