I actually got the idea of putting this up last Saturday around 10pm when a friend chatted me from Akwa ibom state, she had an issue: Her voice was badly cracked and she needed to sing in church on Sunday morning at their Church’s live stream service, she asked what she could do to get her voice back in shape overnight. It was so bad the lady could barely talk. It got me thinking because this is actually an everyday challenge a lot of Music ministers Face, perhaps from shouting during prayers, family or personal issues etc..
The thing is, a lot of singers are killing their voices because of poor technique, bad habits, and ignorance among other things. Below are simples ways that happens:
- SINGING OUT OF RANGE
Singing high is in vogue. Almost every singer desires to be the guy/lady belting out extremely high notes, making the audience scream in delight. We often forget that every individual’s range is different and trying to sing high notes that are not in your range just puts a lot of strain on your vocal folds causing them to “crack.”
What happened to maximizing your vocal range?
What happened to developing your vocal uniqueness?
Wanna really damage your voice? Keep singing beyond your range.
2. USING THE WRONG VOCAL REGISTERS
Each vocal register is designed to produce a certain range of notes, hence, using your modal (chest) register for example, to produce notes that should be sung with the head register puts A LOT of strain on your voice and is one of the major causes of vocal damage.
Female singers are more susceptible to this as they often shout in an attempt to sing a high note using their modal register. This is like trying to break through the decking of a storey building in order to get to an upper floor rather than using the stairs
3. AVOIDING WATER
If you are one of those singers that only remember to drink water in the middle of rehearsal when the pitch is high, gather here let’s take a selfie ☺.
Ladies; warm or room temperature water is the best lubricant your voice needs in order to function smoothly. Each time you go without water for hours at a time, you set up your voice for failure.
Think of your vocal folds as an engine, and water as the oil it needs to function effectively.
You do not have to wait till you are thirsty before you drink. Your body is already dehydrated by the time it gets to that.
Drink water throughout the day.
Be intentional about it.
For a country like Nigeria, you know it is almost impossible to avoid your anger fuse being short-circuited on a regular.
You will be tempted to shout a lot of times.
Don’t do it.
I repeat: Do Not Do It!
Except you really, really need to.
Look for ways asides shouting to deal with situations that get on your nerves, for your voice’s sake.
PS: If you work around/with heavy machinery or loud noises that require you to speak very loudly often and for extended periods, you may need to find other ways of non-verbal communication (or change jobs) if you really want to preserve your voice.
5. CLEARING YOUR THROAT
Ask someone to sing and chances are, the first thing they will do is clear their throat. This is done with the intention of clearing up phlegm. What they do not realize is that this is injurious to the vocal folds and also counter productive.
Clearing the throat is like forcefully jamming the vocal folds together, which is definitely not helpful.
Secondly, have you noticed that the more you clear your throat, the more phlegm is produced? Which makes you clear your throat some more, and the cycle just continues.
A solution would be to do a swallowing motion when tempted to clear your throat. You could also drink water.
6. AVOIDING WARM UPS
A lot of singers and choirs skip warm ups before singing sessions and then wonder why their voices crack often, and why they have difficulty accessing all the notes in their range.
No pro athlete starts a workout session without first warming up. A good warm up prepares your voice for whatever vocal task you will undertake. The greater the singing task, the more time you should invest into proper warming up.
7. SINGING LOUD FOR EXTENDED PERIODS
The vocal folds are muscles and they experience fatigue when used loudly for extended periods. Every good piece of music has loud and soft passages which should be observed because asides from adding beauty to the music, it allows the voice last longer.
Also on this; it is not proper for singers to sing alongside a band that is playing loudly if they are not using microphones. This is because in an effort to hear themselves, the singers tend to sing way more loudly than they should. When this goes on for a while, vocal fatigue sets in.
So, if the singers have to rehearse with a band, then the band must keep volumes to the barest minimum, or microphones should be provided for the singers.