I’ve been sick, moving from one house to another, and gigging a lot lately. I apologize for letting last week week go by without a newsletter.
This past Saturday, I completely lost my voice at a gig. I have rehearsal on Wednesday and another gig on Friday, so I need to get my voice back ASAP!
So this week:
How do you get your voice back when you’ve lost it due to overuse?
(Not injury – that’s a whole different topic I’m not qualified to deal with.)
First of all, let me say that under normal circumstances, you shouldn’t lose your voice even when you do a long gig. In fact, the week before, I did a four-hour gig and two two-hour gigs with no problem. If anything, my voice was more “on” after all that singing.
But last week, I got sick, and due to the cold I lost my mid-range voice. In order to produce any mid-range notes at all, I had to muscle through them using bad technique. That strain meant that by the end of a full-night gig, my voice was completely gone.
So here’s what I recommend, and what I’m doing to get my voice back:
1) Vocal rest. This means no talking, no whispering, no laughing. No use of the vocal cords whatsoever.
Communicate using notes or charades or whatever you can make up… but not whispering.
I just gave myself about 22 hours of vocal rest between two teaching days, and it made a significant difference. I probably still need to do another period or two of rest before my voice is totally back, but given that I had literally no voice at 3am on Sunday morning, that’s not bad.
Here’s a better success story, though: One of my students once had a persistent issue with her voice after a cold. She had lost part of her range for about three weeks. One single 8-hour period of vocal rest resolved the issue. Give it a try and be strict – it really works.
Your vocal cords, like other muscles, repair themselves better when you are resting. And if you’re sick, like I am, of course you have to get healthy, too. And there’s no medicine better than sleep.
3) Small, easy, connected vocal exercises.
When you’re done with vocal rest and ready to start singing again, start small. This doesn’t mean start breathy. It means start with low volume, low effort exercises. Find the clear edge of your vocal cords again by using edgy exercises like Meow and a buzzy, resonant Hmmm. Slide around your range on “ee.” But keep it small the first day or two until you feel your voice coming back. Don’t push it, and you’ll be back to normal faster than if you do push through.
(c) 2011 Adrienne Osborn