“Every single thing you do with your voice is a choice, not a default.”
Someone said this the other day, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out where I heard it. When I figure it out, I’ll update this and give her credit.
As singers, we have to make to choices that are healthy. Because if we don’t, we can cause damage which could be easy to recover from or could cause major problems.
Nearly 2 weeks ago, I was heading downtown and, as I approached the on-ramp to the freeway, there was an accident ahead and all traffic was moving from the right to the center lane. I put on my signal, like a person does, and started to move over. The person in the SUV in the center lane would not let me over. And a car was coming in from my right from the cross street, and I very nearly got hit by both of them. In my new car.
I screamed. I screamed loud and I screamed hard.
Fortunately, my car and I were both all right, and once I got onto the freeway, I realized that … my throat hurt. It felt squeezed and pressured, and just … not good. I had a wedding to sing the next day, I had Mass to cantor the next evening, and Choir Mass at the Cathedral was starting up on Sunday. Was I going to be all right?
The wedding went well (there wasn’t a lot to sing). Cantoring was a bit rough – I had a lot of phlegm, and my stamina wasn’t great. Choir Mass was okay. I just sang when there were parts on the hymns, and I sang the anthem, and then I shut up for the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t put myself on full vocal rest, because I had teaching to do that week and a couple of rehearsals, but I wasn’t able to get on top of the practicing I needed to do for the concert I’m doing in December.
I was fine by the time church choir rehearsal rolled around on Thursday. The ache lasted that long. I’m still taking it easy – I’ve started practicing again, but judiciously.
I could’ve given myself a vocal fold hemorrhage (example below).
I could have done some serious and long-lasting damage. Fortunately, it just seems to have been a strain. I think I strained the muscles around my larynx rather than the vocal folds themselves, because the discomfort felt external.
Screaming is not my default. It was a choice, and it was a really bad choice.
What choices are you making when you use your voice? Are all of them wise choices?
One thought on “Make a healthy choice to use your voice”
Boy, have I been there and done that! I remember it like it was yesterday, but it was December of 1992, in Washington Circle near GWU. I was on my way to opera rehearsal at the Kennedy Center (Don Pasquale), and somebody didn’t yield to traffic in the circle (me) like they’re supposed to, and not only almost ran into me, but also had the audacity to honk at me! I screamed, loud and long, and soon realized I had pretty much trashed my voice for that evening’s rehearsal. Fortunately it was a staging rehearsal, and where I stood was more important than how I sang. But the Supreme Court Christmas Party was the next day, so for my first time Caroling with the Chief Justice, I had only a ghost of my usual voice. Then there was Thursday evening choir rehearsal at the Shrine. Since then, though I have occasionally lost my cool in traffic situations, I have been successful at not losing my voice!