Singing Voice Health: Knowing When to Seek Help
Being tired after a long singing rehearsal or after a series of rehearsals is normal. But a problem may be brewing if your voice isn’t returning to normal and you’re having trouble singing.
If your voice feels tired, notes that used to be clear are now fuzzy, you’re experiencing a loss of range, or your voice doesn’t feel normal even after a good warm-up, you may want to problem-solve for about two weeks before you head to the doctor.
First, go back to the basics. Even seasoned singers need to check in with the basics of technique:
Review your breathing exercises.
Practice speaking exercises to review the coordination of breathing while speaking.
Check your posture.
Practice in front of a mirror to see what you’re doing physically.
Review exercises that work on the different registers of your voice.
Practice singing softly.
Going back to the basics may help you realize that you were pushing, not breathing properly, singing with tension, or abusing your speaking voice.
You also want to think through any changes that you’ve made in your routine. Changing detergent may cause your allergies to flare up; sleeping with your windows open may cause your voice to be dry and scratchy in the morning; drinking too much alcohol, smoking, changing your diet, or changing medications can adversely affect the voice. Any of these kinds of changes can cause temporary problems with the voice.
If reviewing the basics for a couple of weeks doesn’t help and you haven’t changed anything in your routine, go see a doctor. Visit a laryngologist or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) who is used to working with singers. These doctors can look down your throat with a tiny high-speed camera and watch your vocal cords in motion.
They can tell you the root of the problem and how to resolve it. They can also give you advice on whether you should cancel or just take it easy during the performance. You need to cancel if it hurts to sing, you get progressively more hoarse as you sing, or you can barely make any sound.