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Could vocal fatigue come from oversinging despite good technique?

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Lucca
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Hello forum :),

I´ve got a question about vocal fatigue.

First my situation:

I started to train seriously with my TVS material about 3 weeks ago and before that I was mostly doing semi-occluded phonations up and down my range, twang excercises (nyyyeht and stuff) and the occasional G4 for about a year.

So my voice is fairly new to all these A4s and C5s I can comfortably sing now (oh, and I also only started singing for the first time in my life 3 years ago; I am 20 now).

I did a rough estimation of a todays singing session and I sang about 1h 20 mins (with little breaks inbetween) with about 30x A4, 40x G4 and 20x F4 in the main choruses of the songs and probably a few more in the melodys.

Before that I did about 15 mins of warm up and about 5 mins with extra sirens going from G2 to C5.

I think my technique is okay but I am not sure. I modifiy my vowels, I sing light/medium mass and I use my breath support.

So this is how most of my sessions go: Everything is fine up to a point, maybe after 1 hour, then my voice feels kind of tired. It is completly expanded and I can reach my notes with ease but they just dont have the same good feeling ringing sensation from before. It feels like it is used and needs rest. So naturally I just rest for the rest of the day.

The next day my voice feels completly fresh again.

Now my question is: Could it be that my voice is just to weak at the moment for such long periods of singing?

I am planning to see a local vocal coach to have him help me with any singing tension I might have left but I also wanted to hear your thougths.

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part of good singing is building up stamina and endurance ......like any athletic endeavor. depending on what you are singing and how you are singing it you are going to experience fatigue until the body becomes accustomed to the greater demands you are placing on it. and that's the entire body..not just the vocal folds...

it's a warmup going into a workout.......and some songs are more demanding than others....but as you practice more and more (exercises and singing) you will begin to adapt.

remember you are asking muscles to work in ways they are not used to......

so yes, getting tired and some aching is absolutely normal....... it's pain or blatant discomfort that tells you something is wrong.

listen to your body...if you think a day off is needed by all means take a day.

don't fear your voice...it can take a lot of the right kind of work.

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I think the question would be better phrased as "can you oversing even with good technique", and the answer is yes, you can. Even if you did everything super-perfect, if you vocalize long enough you will get tired (we are humans). You are doing exactly what you need, if you notice that its starting to decline, stop, rest, next day it should be fine.

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@all, excellent answers! Makes so much sense, thank you. :)

@Felipe, thanks for finetuning my question. Absolut correct, thats what I meant!

@VIDEOHERE, thanks for reminding me not to fear my voice.

I am always a little bit on the "chicken" side with my voice. But I just love singing so much! Best invention of life ever!

I guess I gotta listen to my body and sometimes go slow and sometimes hard. :)

While for endurance purposes it is obviously helpful to sing long strechtes of time, wouldn´t it then be possible to break the singing session up in parts with longer breaks inbetween challenging songs and thus have an overall longer time to sing with a fresh(er) voice?

I think I might just try that.

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Yes but I think it is more commonly due to something like dehydration, or poor technique, or lack of taking short breaks throughout, or lack of nutrients/calories, or lack of warm up--some kind of cause like that, than most people think. To always blame it on oversinging is a bit of a cop-out sometimes especially if you're only getting tired after a few songs.

And all of those variables I mentioned - you will almost always be flawed in them, so you can never truly rule one out. Just because your technique sounds great doesn't mean it's healthy and sustainable. Just because you had 8 cups of water today doesn't mean you're hydrated enough for long periods of singing. Etc.

Nevertheless listen to your when your body tells you need rest, regardless of the cause of it. For instance if you realize that you're fatiguing because you were using poor technique, don't just fix the technique - rest, then fix it when you return to singing.

And what Felipe says is also true. Even if you do everything as perfect as possible, oversinging is still a thing and it will tear you down eventually.

So taking lots of breaks is a great way to get more practice or performance time in without fatigue.

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it's very much like working out in the gym.....

you start with light weights and build up....

you can also work up to supersets...which are sets of repetitions with very little rest between sets.

some songs are like supersets......

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Something that I've been thinking though. Technique is a skill, which helps to optimize the energy that the muscles use.

There are people who shout all day with wrong technique, so ENDURANCE is another thing.

I can sing like one hour straight, with the only pauses being instrumental parts ( 1 or 2 minutes ), when other singers can sing 2 or 3 hours. Why? Does that mean that I have bad technique? I don't think mine is that bad.

BUT, and this is important, I've been training only for some months and I started with a very breathy voice, and the songs I sing are originally sung by guys who've been training for 10+ years. Jorn Lande, Roy Khan, Fabio Lione.. with very demanding G4-D5 belts.

Now I am not saying that I SOUND like them, not at all haha, but the effort I do, and the energy I use is pretty much my max, to keep the sounds as chesty as possible.

Now, our voices work pretty much like lifting weights I think. If you can do 20 reps of 10kg in one hand, and I can only do 8 reps of 10kg in one hand, then... it is what it is. It just means my muscles are not as developed as yours.

If Roy Khan sings his songs super belty, then to go through the same set I'd have to shed some weight and go a bit lighter.

Or ( if I could sound as chesty on my higher range ) I could sing the songs just as heavy as him, but I should have to shorten the length of the set.

This is assuming that I have the same energy efficiency level as him, which is not true, but all this is hypothetical so.. The point is that even if I had, my muscles are not as developed.

Also remember that some people has genetic tendency to have strong muscles that tire fast, or not as strong muscles that endure long periods of activity... fast fibers, slower responding fibers.

I have no idea how the vocal muscles work in that aspect. How are the red and white fibers distributed or something like that, but it would be so cool to know, haha.

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Awesome post, Xam. And I agree, good technique is about optiimal use of the voice and good technique will increase endurance partially by guarding against the abuse of the voice, as well as the training effect I have mentioned from time to time. The human is a mammal and all animals, mammal and otherwise, are geared toward efficient use of energy.

And the other parts, too. Physiologies can be different from one person to the next. Bravo.

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just keep one thing in mind.......the muscle development thing is just one component. you still have the breath management and the accuracy in resonating for your particular voice.

these singers can be working at their max as well when they sing. a lot of it has to do with you and what sound ideals you have.

if you want to sing powerfully and chesty and aggressive but you cannot now, if you stay with it and keep challenging yourself, you will achieve it. guaranteed.

only you can instigate growth whether it's range, power, or whatever. the voice will plateau and you will need to work past that.

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That's totally true Bob. I've experienced it before with ballet. I am a ballet dancer, and for the level of effort I have today, if I'd tried what I do today when I started 5-6 years ago, I would have died, haha.

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no one is going to tell you this, but you are going to eventually (we all do) run into a song(s)/artist(s) that you really like and want to sing so badly, but you are simply, currently almost completely incapable.

you literally cannot sing the song (and you've been at this a while, been in bands, sang other songs higher or longer, or whatever) and you have to decide.....

what am i currently lacking to do justice to a song like this...range, stamina, breath management, tessitura? all of it?

are you willing to suck at singing it week after week, month after month, until it starts to become "available" to you?

i think of a lot of beginners try to side step the "i suck right now" interim stage, and think they will just get it better in a week or so...yes, some songs will fall into place sooner, but others will remain out of reach for quite some time.

you have to get comfortable with "sucking at it for the time being."

and here's another thing, some songs will remain a challenge and not get easier..they seem to never get easier..and you have to sing them knowing they won't.

a lot to think about...lol!!!! but it's the truth.

there are some songs i sing in public, knowing full well this is going to test my vocal ability but i love to sing, so i sing them as best i can ...sometimes they're okay, other times you just know it was near perfect...then you average it out.......lol!!!!!!

you have to commit to a lifetime of trying to get better for the rest of your life.....

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Adding onto post #11, pain tolerance is a factor - which singers with compromised technique are more willing to suck it up and go through the strain over and over just to get the show or song done. Btw this is NOT a good thing, at least not for training and getting better as a singer.

Just because you can sing three hours doesn't necessarily mean you have great technique...you could just be, as Xamedhi is saying, just stronger...but part of this strength may not be actual physical strength, but rather, mental strength to keep going. In which case you may be really hurting yourself and don't know it.

Plus even if it really is muscle strength carrying you through, the straining it out approach only buys you as much time as your muscles can handle - whereas proper technique multiples that amount by reducing the amount of effort to begin with.

A great example: the two lead singers in my band - one of them is a total "push it, persevere" guy and the other girl is a total "take it easy, rest" type. Yet the girl is the one that really has the seemingly infinite stamina at shows.

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That's also true, Owen. The mental side of endurance plays an important role in this. Some people may just try to get over the tickles or pain just to get the good sounds and the show done, which is very dangerous.

Other people, like me, with a high pain threshold may not feel any damage until it has advanced more. It happens to me all the time in ballet also; I can have tendonitis and a heavily contractured cuadriceps, but I won't notice until I can't walk because the knee just went bonkers because of the tension.

So people who is like this should train 3 times more in self awareness and their perception of muscles and tension.

Lucky for me, when my vocal muscles get tired, I can immediately hear it in the brightness of my sound, so when my mass lightens I know it's time to stop.

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Having worked with other singers on bands, and currently doing so, Im yet to see one of these "stronger" people who just blast it out end a show without getting hoarse/airy. Sometimes even singing stuff that is simple. Some are luckier and dont develop problems due to it, and I am one of these (sang for a long time without any clue of how to use my voice), does not mean its smart or that you are building anything for that matter.

Whatever you are "enduring" you should not have to.

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Lucca... the quick answer is , heck yes! Even if you have good techniques, if the workouts you are doing involve contentious contractions of the twanger, larynx dampening and working vowels that emphasize vocalis musculature, you most certainly can get fatigued and consider that to be a good thing... it means your working the intrinsic musculature. Although, always remain cautious, you can go too far.

The next question I have for you is... I looked up your order and it was in May of 2012?! You have a version of "The Four Pillars of Singing" that is very outdated. Im happy to hear that you feel it has helped you, but frankly, that is probably version 2.0, or 2.5... that predates my development of the training work flows, the training routines, acoustic modes (... sorting our the vowels and their properties and benefits much more clearly) and about 25 new lectures and 100% new demonstration videos... frankly, Pillars 3.5 (soon to be moving to 4.0 in the coming months), is completely a different product. I would like for you to have the new updated content... Yes, I understand that means making a small investment to get the update, but I truly wish that you had the new update material. If you click here, you can see the new update specifications. http://www.thevocaliststudiostore.com/THE-FOUR-PILLARS-OF-SINGING--Upgrade-For-Existing-Clients_p_56.html

If you click here, you can see the Table of Contents... compare this TOC , to what you have and you will see how much work I have been doing to grow and update TVS pedagogy. http://tinyurl.com/4PillarsTableofContents

(Ok team... Im not just trying to sell something here... I'm trying to help Lucca, and this is one of the best ways I know how.. make sure he has the latest content, which includes training routines, better demonstrations, acoustic modes, etc...).

Lucca, I think I remember you... Why don't you send me a private email and I will work with you on a special deal to help you out... and remember, if you have questions about whats going on, DO ask these guys about it on this forum, there are a lot of smart "cats" here... but don't neglect coming to me as well... after all, nobody understand what your actually training, better then me and thats an important point to help you.

Lastly, I am a bit concerned about your decision to go to a local voice coach... its possible they will not have any understanding of your TVS techniques and sadly, too often, other voice coaches tend to disregard other programs and ideas they don't understand. I really don't want you to get in front of a "hack" that knows less then the guys on this forum... and create a real problem. Why would you not reach out to me to help you?

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@Robert,

the reason you might remember me could be that just a month or so ago I wrote you an email asking about the new contents and shortly after that I wrote you a short message that I did buy the update to 3.5 because I wanted to start my training more seriously (I am now a college student with a bit more freedom and time than at the fulltime internship I did in 2012). :)

I really like the new demonstration and its a pleasure to train alongside the video.

Will make sure to also send you a question in the future if something comes up.

The reason for me to go local is 1. space: I dont have room to train really. At my parents home I can sing all I want but at my own place in another city there is now way without disturbing the neighbors. I even train into a pillow, haha. Just imagine doing The Stanley in a pillow, yeah its weird, but at the moment it is a workable solution. 2. I can split my membership cost for my choir with my vocal lessons cost. The guy is also my choir teacher and is really nice. From my first lesson his teaching seems compatible with my TVS training. I will make sure to train right with him. :)

But in the future for sure I will do some lessons with you! I am always working on improving my training conditions but at the moment I have no idea where I could do skype training.

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Adding onto post #11, pain tolerance is a factor - which singers with compromised technique are more willing to suck it up and go through the strain over and over just to get the show or song done. Btw this is NOT a good thing, at least not for training and getting better as a singer.

Just because you can sing three hours doesn't necessarily mean you have great technique...you could just be, as Xamedhi is saying, just stronger...but part of this strength may not be actual physical strength, but rather, mental strength to keep going. In which case you may be really hurting yourself and don't know it.

Plus even if it really is muscle strength carrying you through, the straining it out approach only buys you as much time as your muscles can handle - whereas proper technique multiples that amount by reducing the amount of effort to begin with.

A great example: the two lead singers in my band - one of them is a total "push it, persevere" guy and the other girl is a total "take it easy, rest" type. Yet the girl is the one that really has the seemingly infinite stamina at shows.

i'm sorry owen, but any singer that is singing with pain or managing pain when they sing is in my opinion a moron. there should be any "pain" when you sing.

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Okay Luca, no problems. I do think you should NOT train into a pillow however. That seems a little weird. You got to find a place for you can practice in privacy without any disruptions or strange distractions like that. Finding a great place to practice is your sanctuary in the song Porten. Look forward in from you.

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The pillow was actually a tip I got from one of Phils Videos called something like "No Room to Train? Try this" or something.

I just got together with some dudes to form a band so we will have a rehearsing space sooner or later. Then I will really train how its meant to be. :)

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... Lucca, I meant to say you should NOT train into a pillow... but I understand where Phil is coming from. Finding good practice space is a big problem for our students, its a real issue. I would of recommended that you get a PA or Karaoke system and train with headphones if you can, before you bury your face in a pillow... that seems too extreme to me. Before you sing into a pillow, I would look into many other options first.... I once had a student that trained inside a large cardboard box... that would even be better then a pillow, but both ideas are just ... honestly , not really helpful.

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i'm sorry owen, but any singer that is singing with pain or managing pain when they sing is in my opinion a moron. there should be any "pain" when you sing.

I guess pain is the wrong word. I should rephrase that to "strain tolerance". But they are really not different things. What we feel as immediate pain while singing is just a severe form of strain and what we feel as strain will eventually become painful if repeated long enough. Like I know you do now, I used to believe that strain is okay, only pain is bad. That if it's strain but it doesn't feel painful, it's okay. I don't believe this anymore.

Because you see, managing a little strain in the moment eventually becomes a game of managing pain over time. The more you strain, the earlier you feel the pain, that's all it is. IME strain is the primary cause of all pain and fatigue we get as singers... The singers who can seem to sing forever, do not strain the wrong muscles at all - on top of this they are taking care of the non-technique side of vocal health and that buys them even more time, but technique is a big part of it.

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