Repairing and Preventing Vocal Damage

Vocal damageMany singers are classically trained, but contemporary genres like Jazz, Blues and R&B cannot be sung in true classical tone.

Contemporary audiences have an expectation regarding how a contemporary song should be delivered and so, from a pedagogical point of view, there is an almost mechanical approach to teaching vocal technique in these styles.

Many adult students present  to me with existing vocal problems or (potentially) tired or hoarse voices. Elements particularly requiring attention include ease of phonation, both thick and thin fold application and simultaneous onset of tone.

Many different factors might have contributed to their vocal damage, such as incorrect vocal technique, postural alignment, drying vocal folds, vocal injury, colds or flu, and many other reasons. At times the methodology previously used in teaching these singers has not been adjusted to address the individual’s needs. Once again there is no ‘one size fits all’ method of teaching singing!

Repairing Damaged Voices.

It is hard work being a good singer. It takes practice and effort; and a budding singer needs to work diligently at developing good vocal technique.

Added to this the the conditions in which singers can find themselves, in rooms with insufficient amplification, poor ventilation and air-conditioning mean working singers are subject to vocal damage if not trained to protect themselves from these elements.

A working singer can be required to sing for 3- 4 hours in these conditions at times as the only singer in a band. Even restaurant gigs, while seemingly romantic easy gigs, are very hard on a singer who needs to carry the responsibility for the whole evening, singing a variety of contemporary styles.

Performance must be consistent and energetic for the duration of the gig, and it is the vocalist’s job to inspire the audience to get up on the dance floor if required by the venue.

Vocal Health Diagnosis.

Before a programme of exercises can be developed to repair or prevent further vocal damage, a preliminary diagnosis of vocal problems or vocal damage will be made. (If necessary, a referral will be made to a specialist voice clinic.)

Afterwards a programme of exercises may be developed to prevent further recurrence, and obtain sustainable vocal health. This relates to all styles of music, but certainly more prevalent in those singers working with heavy bands such as rock or heavy metal sounds, once again working in clubs in poorly ventilated atmosphere, drying the vocal folds and creating potentially damaging inflammation.

At the time of assessment it is determined what action can be taken for potential students suffering vocal distress. It is often recommended that these singers need to seek the attention of a Speech Pathologist or Medical Specialist, before commencing lessons, and Ms. Gillett will work in conjunction with these experts.

Learn more about Pedagogy (the Science of Singing Technique) or Vocal Health.