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Is it possible to overtrain using this technique?

niconico Posts: 30Enrolled

Hey everyone,

after a 1 month break over the Holidays, I started back stage 2 with full force. Since then I've been exercising regularly.  But in the last 2 or 3 weeks I doubled practice time and averaged about 10 to 12 hours of each week and last week I did't have a rest day at all.

Last Friday my voice wasn't up to par as I just couldn't belt out the highest notes with the usual brightness - it always came out very hoarse. My lower and mid registers were fine, but the hoarseness was always there when it came to stretch the upper mid voice. It always happened in the 3rd vowel modifications ("look" for the AA and AHs...) but never in the 2nd vowel mod ("loft" for AA and AHs or "eight" for EE). For the next three days, I rested my voice and did not exercise at all. My throat felt kinda soar, but not soar like a throat infection. It was more like I strained my throat muscles, and whenever I did my "look" vowel mod, I felt a little soar.

I think I now know what I was doing wrong: I believe I was raising my larynx inadvertently. Yesterday I exercised back again and I noticed that I had no hoarseness. After my workout I sang a few songs and I noticed that the highest notes were sometimes harder to sing. I remember Ken saying something about raised larynx being bad. So I the redid those songs and forced myself to flatten the tongue and keep my throat open and I could hit those high notes again!

So, back to my question: If I use proper technique, is it possible to overtrain and damage the voice?

I'm curious about what you guys think...

Nic

Best Answer

  • KokonuhtKokonuht Posts: 658Member, Moderator, Enrolled
    Accepted Answer
    If it's proper technique, it still may be possible to damage the voice with distortion that is. However proper technique minimizes the damage from distortion and makes it safe. Other than that, I don't think it's possible to damage the voice with proper technique. You might think you have proper technique but sometimes we don't realize it ourselves!

    I think the main problem here is support? The larynx rises on its own as well when you lack support. With support, usually the larynx stays down. Remember to keep the yawning feeling for open throat and keep the tongue down!

Answers

  • niconico Posts: 30Enrolled
    Thanks Kokonuhtz,
    yeah you're right, I sometimes slip up on the technique. My tongue usually stays down, but sometimes I don't press down on my diaphragm like I should and I sometimes forget to open the back of the throat as in yawning. For me, to get to the third vowel mod I really have to yawn pretty big and then push down on the diaphragm.  That being said, I am really overdue for my 10 min webcam with Ken, lol!
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 11,102Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    edited February 2012

    Nico,

    I think that usually when we lose a little range and can't quite hit the higher notes that at other times we can, it's more often than not our vocal chords themselves that may be a little swollen rather than a throat muscle problem.  When our chords get a little irritated or dry, they lose their resilience, and just won't stretch and spring back like they can when we're at our vocal best.  This seems to affect a loss in the upper midrange the most for me.

    It's kind of a balancing act... On the one hand, we want to try to stretch our midrange without going into head. But if we aren't careful and sensitive to knowing just how far to reach before stretching becomes straining... ouch!  There's a setback and we have to rehabilitate.  One step forward, two steps back....

    I think that there is more risk of overstressing when we have had a layoff like the one you took in December.  We come back and hit it hard, and next thing you know...  OOPS!

    I think maybe we all need to regulate ourselves when we are stretching or coming back cold from a vocal vacation.  Like a runner, we should do careful stretching, careful warmups.  Ken says when doing the exercises multiple times, start off lightly before coming back and hitting harder.  When you do hit harder, don't hit, go easy on the consonants, lightly on the breath with Glottal Compression.  If you think you may be overdoing it, you probably already have.

    Bob

  • reessereesse Posts: 159Enrolled
    hey! I highly doubt it, I agree that with PROPER technique its almost impossible. Unless you have a throat disorder or something. But Ken does these warm ups and practices for like 8 hours a day sometimes he says and hes totallly ok.
  • niconico Posts: 30Enrolled
    Thanks guys,
    Bob and Kokonuhtz I've been incorporating your suggestions in my practices and it seem to help quite a bit this week! I've made consistently sure that my technique is spot on and doubling up the lip rolls and tongue exercises if I feel I need to warmup more before belting. Also, I reviewed alot of Ken's videos on vowel modifications from vol.1. I feel I'm better able to reach those highest notes in the chest voice stretching exercise in vol. 2 and I also improved a bit in some songs I wish to learn to sing. Isn't it cool that using this technique perfectly allows us to sing bright and loud for hours on end? Yesterday I practiced for 2 straight hours and later on I sang songs for another 2 hours at least!
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 11,102Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro

    Nico,

    Great feedback.  As Ken says in the videos, we all have to find our own notes in the scales where it is time for each of us to do the modifications.  The clues are when it starts to get tight or tense, it's time to bring in the safety valves and go to the next vowel modification. That helps us to relax into that new tonal ampitheater for a few notes until it is time to either go to the next higher modification or back down to the next lower one on the way down.  When we forget to incorporate the modifications, that is one place where we do overstress our voices and temporarily trash out a portion of our range.

    Bob

  • andersanders Posts: 77Enrolled
    I think it is possible to over sing even if you have a perfect technique. That said, to really work your voice opposite to just lazy singing should be no problem at all. Working out should be tough and if you are in perfect shape working out for hours given reasonable breaks should give no problems. Just listen to your voice and embrace it.
    Sometimes it is dead easy while other times it may be harder than hard. Perhaps you have a cold or an allergy.
    I really think that we need to stretch and work especially the chest as hard as we can.
    Remember though that putting in lots of hours is not an end in it self.
    Unfocused practice hurts. Minutes of focused practice is worth more than unfocused bludgeon for hours.
    Just look out for hoarseness, rasp and wobbling passagios and you should be fine.
    And remember we often think that we are superman and push our voices to hard, at least I do. My advice is to avoid that. I am trying so should you.
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 11,102Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    edited March 2012

    Anders,

    This is a great comment... "Minutes of focused practice is worth more than unfocused bludgeon for hours."

    I really find this to be true.  Sometimes I just have a few minutes to practice and test my voice out before it is time to head out to the gig.  A few minutes of surgical testing and proving can give me a preview of what my night is going to be like and how to approach warming up at the gig.  I've also been guilty of indulging in the hours of bludgeoning... Ouch!

    Bob

  • niconico Posts: 30Enrolled
    Anders,

    I totally agree that a great practice session involves being focused and working hard - but not TOO hard - to stretch the chest. I really needed those two things to help me get through the problems I had to get rid of the "speedbump" I had in the passagio. I don't know why, but after I did the chest stretching exercises in vol.2 my passagio finally improved drastically and my speedbump was gone. And yeah, things like hoarseness, rasp and wobbling passagios are definately signs to pickup on, since they're happening for a reason: it's the way the voice tells you you're doing something wrong!
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