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Things you MUST avoid for long-term vocal health

bentkbentk Posts: 712Pro, 2.0 PRO
Hi all!

KTVA is all about maintaining good vocal health, whilst going through the massive improvements when working the program. Certain things are a big NO, and you just have to avoid them. The worst thing that comes to mind is simple over-singing. Too much volume, too much air, and eventually end up being a little hoarse, or very hoarse. Over time this will become an even larger issue, and will result in damage.

After my exercises and singing, i can usually feel that i have worked out. And i might have a feeling in my throat. It doesn't really hurt, but i can feel that certain areas around my throat were used. Is it bad that you feel something in your throat? It's difficult to describe. I'd like to clarify that i do not over-sing, and i never become hoarse anymore from singing. Those days are long gone, thanks KTVA! The only thing i can imagine, is that it might be from the times that i kind of 'pinch' the top notes more. And i am then talking about the highest notes. Because of singing an 'ih' too high, or just adding that extra little to make sure you hit the note. On those notes, i can feel a little more throat muscle creep in, but not much. Overal, everything is fine, open throat technique. That, for sure is my basis technique.

One more thing: i can keep singing for a long time these days, without losing range or anything. Tired i can become, but it's not like my voice exponentially deteriorates during singing sessions!

So another question is: would something like i am experiencing now and then (the aforementioned) be detrimental to my vocal health over time? For now, i am only improving my vocals, and things are really going the way i want now. That is absolutely amazing. I would just like to make sure. If you need a little more info, i can provide that.

Then finally, what are the most common problems that cause voices to deteriorate over time? Many singers have that issue, including famous ones.

Some ramblings in this post, but i think you get the message.

All the best,

Ben

Comments

  • videoacevideoace Posts: 815Pro, 2.0 PRO
    I usually wait about a half hour after my warm ups to start my singing for the day. That way the muscles get to relax without losing my warmed up feeling.

    Glottal compression probably saved my voice from a rough road. I wish that it was introduced earlier in the program because I just stumbled on it by accident, and can't imagine how I would have done my scales without it.

    Another cool thing that I finally get is resetting the throat using the yawning technique. I never quite understood what Ken meant until now, and doing this seems to keep my uvula from feeling fatigued.

    So in seven short months, I feel like I've learned and accomplished a lot without tearing up my voice, and hope to keep things going smoothly.

    Peace, Tony
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 738Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    I have agree with you on allot of your observations Ben.
    Tony, I too wish that this would have been available a couple of decades ago... but the next best time to start something good is right now (or a year or so ago :wink: )

    Since Glottal and Hyper-Glottal Compression were introduced I am getting pretty consistent with rarely exceeding 88-90 Db when I sing (distorted or clean)... and yes, I am nerdy enough to check for that (Occasionally).
    If I have actual real-world figures, I can actually track if I am overdoing it... not just guess... that way I can self-correct as real time and not let potential over-doing it damage my hard-won gains.

    I also occasionally monitor my voice on a real-time note meter called "sing scope" to see if I am hitting at least C5 in chest, and the sine-wave shape of my scales to see if they are symmetrical up and down. Again, empirical data allows me to self-correct on the spot.

    Lastly, I also randomly spot-check myself with a small mirror to ensure I am keeping my throat open.

    Your vocal cords are a muscle system, so when you work them out, it is not unreasonable to feel some pleasant new muscle tone/tautness, just not soreness.

    I would also add to cut back on coffee and alcohol, and really start seriously paying attention to hydrating yourself. I live in a very arid climate, so it is doubly important for me, as I would dry out like a sea-sponge if I neglected water intake for too long. I also try to guzzle water between each song to try to keep hydration levels where they they should be.

    When I feel any kind of cold coming on, I start taking Echinacea + Zinc + D + C + garlic right away (with every meal), and so far, I haven't really been sick since starting the program. Note: My throat was always the first thing to kick out on me, not so in over a year.

    Also, I'm sure you all do this now, but I practice to the piano-only scales, as I realized that I was getting lazy singing along with Ken, and when I listened to it back I was horrified. Once I started doing it to piano-only, and can focus my ear on the pitch and cadence properly, I've become allot tighter.

    Also training consistency plays a major role in your success. (Hello Captain Obvious :smiley: )
    Currently with my evening routine, I alternate between developing Chest and Head each day, giving myself 1-2 days off a week. On rehearsal/performance nights I only do the Volume 2 workout which lasts somewhere between 20-30 minutes, which incidentally is the time it takes to get to the rehearsal hall.

    That's all I can think of right now, but I hope this keeps going!
  • bentkbentk Posts: 712Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited February 6
    Thanks for the informative response!

    I do drink coffee, but usually not more than 2 a day. Sometimes 1, sometimes even none.
    I don't drink a lot of alcohol. I usually reserve that for a good whisky or whine which i can then moderately drink. Weeks can go by without a drink, it's not an issue with me. But i will also say again that simple hydration is so important. Especially when you talk a lot, and of course sing a lot.

    The feeling i tried to describe, that can occur in some of my throat muscles, is not really pleasant, as in: Wow what a nice sensation! like a back-rub or something. But it's not painful too. And it's not always there, or in the same degree. Nor does it put any limits on my singing. I will refer to my original post for @highmtn about this. I wonder if this could still be detrimental over a long period of time. However, with KTVA i keep improving every aspect of singing. One more thing, i think, but am not sure, the affected muscles are relatively larger ones in the throat, or, but not limited to, the muscles around my larynx. And no, i don't jam my larynx constantly when i sing!

    There is good advice already here, and i encourage you all to join in for more.

    And of course, glottal compression. That is simply amazing. When you really know to use it properly, it will change everything. For me it also delivers a nicer tone. I think i got a handle on it pretty fast, but it took way longer to 'master' and really get the best from it. Not claiming to be a master at it or anything!

    @Furious_Phil Did you by chance experiment with the amount of coffee your drink? Or have you removed it completely from your diet?

    All the best,

    Ben
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 738Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Hey Ben,

    I have dropped down to 1 a day at work, and usually nothing on the weekends.
    I don't think I ever had more than 2 a day, but being in a very arid climate (and 1 kilometer higher in elevation than I was raised in), it had a more pronounced effect on me than when I lived at sea level by the Atlantic
  • bentkbentk Posts: 712Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Thanks! @Furious_Phil

    I think i do OK with the coffee. 1-2 a day on average. I drink plenty of water, eat very healthy and exercise a lot.
    So i am never really concerned with that.

    I notice another thing whilst monitoring myself to add to the 'throat sensation' i previously described.
    It seems that, especially when you lean more into the sound, that the area around the larynx is always activated (some muscles there). would this be correct? I am able to divert a lot of the 'tension' with support/glottal compression. However, there is always something going on there.

    All the best,

    Ben
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 738Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited February 8
    You will always have "Some" tension... Ken always says that it isn't the lack of tension, rather the safe management of tension.
    Pain is always wrong, managed tension is fine.
    If that makes sense?
  • bentkbentk Posts: 712Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Yeah totally make sense. I get that!

    It's more that i would like open discussion on it and hear experience/thoughts.
    I have a very good foundation now, but i want to tweak everything to an optimum as far as possible. More growth will come over time. But little tweaks like i have been doing have helped me tremendously with diversion of tension and stamina, for example.

    So pinpointing certain things is just a way of confirming if those said things are normal.

    Thanks for keep coming back to this thread, i appreciate it!
  • bentkbentk Posts: 712Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited March 4
    Another thing i noticed, which doesn't seem to be bad, but am interested to hear about from you guys, is the movement of the larynx. Now not so much up and down, but the general 'looseness' of it. When i am in full mid voice (let's say G4 and up for now), i notice that the larynx is more tense and less free, although it is not like i am pinching my throat. It's as if it's a natural response. To test this, move about your larynx a bit during your chest stretching scales. I am interested to hear more about this.

    All the best,

    Ben
  • bentkbentk Posts: 712Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited March 4
    @hightmn So sorry to triple post here, but i have been experimenting some and would love some thoughts/input. This is the topic to do just that.

    When i practice every day, and do quite some singing (especially the most difficult songs i do) i tend to eventually feel (a day or two after) that the area around my larynx is a little sore. My range is still there and i am by no means hoarse. My voice is not lower or anything the next day (like you can have from shouting the day before etc.). I have to state the climate has been dry these couple of weeks here, and freezing temperatures. Although i am fairly certain that this slight sore feeling i described is a results from a lot of exercising and intensive singing.

    Something i want to add: Sometimes during bridging exercises, i can also feel some stress in the aforementioned area on the head-voice portion of the scale. There is enough support and a bright tone etc.

    I am interested what you have to say. Is there a chance i am over-doing something, yet not becoming hoarse? Or do those muscles around the larynx have to learn to cope a little?

    All the best,

    Ben
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 12,530Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    What you are saying sounds to me like you are working hard and you feel like you have worked hard after you work hard. It is normal to feel like you have worked hard after you work hard.

    If you go to the gym and work hard, you will probably feel like you worked hard at the gym the next day or two. Because you did. A few days later, if you rest, you no longer feel like you worked hard the previous day.

    If you continue to go to the gym and work hard, and continue to feel like you really worked hard, for a long period of time, this usually results in muscle growth and increased endurance. You will have felt every week like you worked hard. Because you did. And after a long time, you gain more strength and endurance.

    As long as you keep working on higher range notes, depending on how long you work out, you will feel like you are working out. Only superman does not feel like he has worked out. He bends steel bars in his bare hands and is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and he feels like a newborn babe the next day.

    I go do a four-hour gig, and feel like I worked out the next day. I might do another 4 hour gig on that next day, and on both days I may push it to the limit many times. I do that week after week, and my voice just keeps getting stronger. If I get a little bit reckless and overdo it, I might have to back off for a day or two. Some days are better than others, but overall, they're all good. I probably push my voice harder and longer than you do, because I'm performing, and there's always that showoff factor when there's a live audience. You take more risks, because there may be more rewards from the audience reaction. They like drama, and the risk that you might fail on a big note.

    It's normal to feel like you have worked out. If you are feeling pain, that's different. I feel more soreness from setting up equipment than I do from singing. And "soreness" isn't really a good description for my voice. "Like I worked out" is what it feels like to me when I put in a lot of hours taking my voice to the limit. I just have to remember to not exceed its limits. But if I don't "knock on the door" of my limits, then I don't grow. So safe stretching is good, and stretching will make you feel like you worked out.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 712Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @highmtn

    Thanks again for your response. A very informative post.

    I can relate to what you are saying. I guess i was more concerned with the location of the soreness instead of just simply being a little sore. It is indeed not pain, but can be slightly uncomfortable. However, like i said, it doesn't affect my speaking voice or range and i think it will improve over time. I am not used to singing so much stuff in one go as well.

    During singing (including intense and difficult songs for me) i don't really notice a decline or soreness, that usually comes much later or the next day. If it comes at all that is. It seems that i have built up a serious level of endurance and recovery for sure.

    Simply put, i am just trying to piece together everything for myself to look after my vocal health. I don't want to decline with time. Coming so far with the program leaves you wanting not just more, but it's something you don't want to lose.

    Perhaps some of my posts are a little tiring because of the similar subject matter. If it's any consolation, i deeply appreciate the advice, which absolutely helps me.

    All the best,

    Ben
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 12,530Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    You'll find that the longer you work the program and keep moving forward, lightly stretching your limitations, your voice will slowly but surely keep growing, and amazingly so. You will think you're "done" growing, and then, 6 months later, you will be surprised at something that you never could do before, just appearing in your voice, seemingly out of nowhere. It's a result of all of the time and thought you have put into growing your voice.

    I didn't even start learning to sing with those other programs that didn't work until after I was 50. I'm much older than that now. I gig often, and my voice has grown and grown since starting Ken's program. I have abused it way too much, for a lifetime, but it keeps growing, now that I've learned to sing properly. I've learned to not abuse it from KTVA, and I keep getting surprised as it keeps getting better.

    The worst thing you can do is sing too loud or distort without cleaning up the voice. The best thing you can do is to learn glottal compression and always cut back the air when you catch yourself getting too loud. Your voice will last you a lifetime if you just keep below your uppermost limitations. Those are the things you don't feel when they are happening. You have to teach yourself from the times you overdo it, "what was I doing last night? Oh, yeah, that little scratchy feeling, and I just kept going, instead of cutting back the air..."
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 738Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @highmtn,

    Thank you so much for your candor! I started this adventure just slightly over 50, and had really abused the heck out of my voice before then as well. I am a far sight better than I was before, and occasionally get these unexpected breakthroughs beyond what I figured was my plateau. Just like bodybuilding, I guess there really isn't a defined best age to start?

    Cheers,

    And thanks for the inspiration!

    Phillip
  • bentkbentk Posts: 712Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @highmtn
    @Furious_Phil

    Thanks again for the informative posts. It's inspiring to hear, especially from older and more experienced people. But also, i am very happy for you and all the others that you have gained so much from KTVA after using inferior technique, or even other vocal programs. I think you can imagine how grateful i am to have found and sticked to KTVA at my age of 25 now.

    I got the 4th anniversary badge on the forum, which showed me i COULD have been doing KTVA for 4 years already if i stuck to it from the beginning. However i only started to really dedicate my time to KTVA about 1.5 years ago. Nothing good comes easy and i struggled a lot, but the pay-off is here and increasing by the month.

    I'll say it again, this forum is a goldmine and to this day helps me improving my singing. Thanks guys.

    All the best,

    Ben
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