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i think i overdid it this time - what do i need to change in the future?

superlargeamoebasuperlargeamoeba Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 28
edited August 2012 in Vocal Health and Wellness
hey folks, here's my little story concerning the past weekend: I played a show last Saturday and now my voice is (still) all hoarse and doesn't connect at certain spots. I think I got some sort of a cold as well as my nose is a bit blocked. The days before the show I returned from vacation in spain and I already felt like the hotel's air conditioning had affected my voice. We had two 4 - 5 hour rehearsals on Thursday and Friday prior to the show. I warmed up before these rehearsals, but not enough, I guess. Another problem is that I tend to oversing because the rest of the band is very loud. On Saturday, my voice already felt tired and didn't connect very well. I tried to recover all day long, drank hot water with honey, spoke normally but not too much, warmed up along with the stage 2 audio portion (the stage i am currently on) and around midnight, we played the show. It wasn't bad even though my voice did break once, something that had never happened to me. On the show's video I could be seen quite tensed from time to time clenching my fist. Before, during and after the show, I didn't experience any pain in my throat but the next morning I woke up (I had slept with my windows wide open, but it wasn't that cold) I was hoarse and my speaking voice was very crackly. Any tips on what I need to change in the future (regarding my technique, not my equipment :P) in order to avoid something like that or is it just a accumulation of the things not to do? I thought that with the things I've learned so far I might be able to sing with a cold and rehearse for 4-5 hours. When my voice is tired, is rest the only cure even if there's a show that needs to be done? And is vocal fry some sort of vocal therapy (I remember Brett Manning saying this..)Any help is very welcomed! Thank you!


  • superlargeamoebasuperlargeamoeba Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 28
    over_use of air  as well maybe :D?
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,357


    I think you may have blown out your upper midrange.  I hate when that happens, but most likely your voice will come back if you let it rehabilitate.  You'll probably have to avoid belting those notes that are disfunctional now. 

    You have to learn to recognize that feeling and avoid overblowing your cords in the first place.  That's the best cure; prevention.  Those long, loud rehearsals didn't do your voice any favors.  You need a better monitoring solution than trying to sing over amplified super loud instrumentals.

    Not to worry your voice WILL come back if you give it a little rest and take better care of it... not like the beating you just gave it... ;^)  the travel conditions didn't help much, either.

    Here's to a swift recovery!



  • superlargeamoebasuperlargeamoeba Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 28
    Thank you very much, Bob. How can I avoid overblowing the cords? More support and the use of glottal compression? I am still on Stage 2 but I have been doing it for quite a while so I think I am ready to move on to Stage 3...
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,357


    If you think about it, most of the time we blast our vocal chords we are aware of it while it is happening.  Sometimes we're just having too much fun, but our voice is still working at the time. You might feel that old, familiar tickle... that's a sign that you're about to lose the ability to sing.  Other times we just dry out the cords too much, or irritate them.  Usually by the time we start to lose a note or two, it's too late.  We then step backwards in our progress, and have to rehabilitate.  When it's illness-related, we often have to wait to get well, and then our cords lag behind that process for a couple of weeks if we have been irritating them trying to sing while the cords are swollen.

    The cords are very thin and fragile, once we abuse them and get them irritated.  It's easier to maintain the resiliency than to rehabilitate them once we rile them up.

    When we do damage our cords temporarily, it does happen very quickly, and hopefully we stop what we were doing to irritate them immediately.  To continue trying to hit difficult notes during a gig while we are losing our voice only prolongs our time before recovery. 

    We may be able to hit notes above our range of loss, but all of the "money" notes seem to fall by the wayside and we are left with the "hole" in our range.

    Ultimately, learning the subtleties of glottal compression will help you to prevent abusive overblowing of the cords.  It's learning to belt and wail with much less forceful airflow.  You still need good monitoring and a cooperative stage volume in order to still hear yourself and not attempt to scream your way into being heard.  You can't outscream a wall of Marshalls. 

    Your voice will come back, but you'll have to give it some time to recover. If it doesn't start to revive in a while, or if it hurts at all, go get it checked out by a physician.

    My best to you.


  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278
    In-ear monitors will help as well.  they can be expensive, but well worth the investment.  You can hear yourself clearly, and don't need to over sing.  One question,  did you say you rehearsed for 4-5 hours, and then did a show?  How long was the show?  the voice just like any other muscle will get tired over time.  Ken has 30yrs of experience singing at a high intensity level, he has built the technique and stamina to do it.  when i'm on the road, i will do a 30min warm up early in the day, and then a 1-3hr show.  Keeping hydrated, getting as much sleep as possible, and not over doing it help to keep my voice in performance mode night after night.  I have never missed a show, and sound the same night after night.  
  • superlargeamoebasuperlargeamoeba Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 28
    Thank you guys for your input! Nah I rehearsed 4-5 hours the two days before the day we played the show, the show was just 1 h long.

    I'll try to remember the things you've told me next time. Generally, I think my main problem is that I am belting all the time, singing everything in chest 'cause even though I can do Ken's exercises without any problems I haven't develped some sort of reliable mix yet. I have a powerful head voice but no mix because I still find it very hard to let go in order to sing higher. I feel like my voice loses quality when I sing higher and, this is probably the most important point, at this point it is impossible for me to find the mix placement right away, let alone the fact that it is even harder to apply it to actual singing.

    So is it a bad thing to belt all the time? Freddy Mercury did it right, except the clear head voice parts but I haven't heard anything from him that sounded like a mix but to me its all belted chest. And I know that he had developed nodes before he died but he was too afraid to have a surgery...
  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278
    As far as belting goes, you do need to pace yourself.  If you run your car engine at its max speed, it wears out faster!lol.  Ken has made a career out of belting for the past 30yrs, and still sounds great.  Yes it can be done, but needs to be done properly.  Ken does encourage us to work that chest voice, and stretch it safely as far as possible, then pass into the head voice.  If it is done properly it should sound like one strong voice, like a chest tone, all the way up.  It would be helpful to hear a demo of your singing, to give you any specific advice.  

    As far as nodes go, they can be caused by numerous factors, not just vocal abuse.  Dehydration, acid reflux can all contribute to them.  Vocal overuse is a definite cause, its the body's way of protecting itself.  Guitar players have calluses, singers can have nodes.  You can even develop them from improper speaking technique.  It is hard to say if Freddie had them because of belting, or if other factors were contributing.

    i would strongly suggest investing in the in-ear monitors.  You can get the wireless pack, and receiver for around 400-500$.  The ears can be just as expensive, i us real basic, cheap ones, and they work just fine.  Plus the band sounds like a CD!
  • voodoovoodoo Pro Posts: 250
    I believe that Ken would say to do the exercises lightly over the next few days to help overcome a cold or mild hoarseness, but as Bob noted if your condition or illness is more serious you need to shut it down for a bit until you're feeling good vocally again.  And if it's not coming back after a few weeks go see the ENT.

    One other thing you mentioned that I have experienced is going between different places with big swings in humidity, temperatures, allergens, etc.  If you are sensitive to environment changes (like me) you need to try (as best as possible) to keep those things consistent or close to what you're used to.  Of course many times you can't!  But figure out what it is that bothers you and how (low humidity causes your throat to get dry, certain areas/pollens causing nasal drip) and be preventative in fighting it before it starts to mess with you (humidifier for dry air, allergy meds for pollen, etc.). 
  • superlargeamoebasuperlargeamoeba Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 28
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