Why Even Professional Singers Lose Their Voices

ANSWERS TO MOST OF THE QUESTIONS THAT HAVE ARE EXCITING TO US, we are all used to searching online. In this series of articles, we ask just such questions – burning, unexpected or common – to professionals in a variety of fields. 

Returning from a concert of your favorite band without a voice or hoarse due to a seasonal cold is just an annoying trifle for most of us. But for professional artists, any problem with the voice is a serious blow and a possible threat to a career; this year Adele canceled concerts for this very reason , leaving two hundred thousand fans disappointed and even angry. Stars – both Russian and foreign – insure their votes for millions of dollars. How is it that the vocal cords let down experienced singers who seem to be fluent in them? Why does the voice sometimes disappear, how to avoid it and what to do if the moment is missed? We asked specialists to answer these questions.     

A beautiful voice is 90% dependent on inner calmness and only 10 % on vocal technique. If the vocal cords are working properly, then anyone can learn to master the voice, although this takes time. But even a trained person can find it difficult to cope with anxiety. During stress, the larynx rises, the voice ceases to obey, begins to break down. There are techniques that allow you to overcome this condition, and special exercises teach you even to shout correctly without harming your voice. If a person is diligently engaged in vocals, but cannot sing, it is likely that he still has some unworked psychological clamps. In this case, you need to find the root of the problems that do not allow you to relax.    

Singers cut their voices for the same reason. With psychological stress, a spasm of the vocal cords occurs. In general, if at least something is spasmodic in the body, there is no complete relaxation – the voice will no longer be amplified, it becomes quieter. The person is worried, strains the vocal cords more strongly, tries to strengthen the weakened voice – and breaks it. This does not mean that you cannot, for example, sing very loudly. You can significantly develop your range, take very high and very low sounds to form a working area, determine the tonality. The working area is the timbre by which the musician is judged. But in order to determine it, you still need to know vocal techniques, do exercises and understand how the voice works.

Unfortunately, even when working with a professional, there is a risk of learning to sing “wrong”. Still, it’s worth finding a proven vocal teacher. People who have natural inclinations often do not know about the scale of their abilities, and the teacher, using different methods, will be able to instill in a person the correct mechanical sensations; this will help you maximize your own voice and your own timbre.

You can restore the lost sound if you work with a phonopedist, a specialist who helps restore the voice after operations and other injuries. In the case of knots or scars, special phonophysical exercises will have to be given more time than with a loss of muscle tone. For the second option, special phonetic techniques are suitable, for example, singing while inhaling and exhaling. At the same time, the necessary muscles are massaged with air pressure, and the ligaments gradually come to a healthy state. 

To understand why the voice is lost, you need to know how the vocal folds work – they are more often called the vocal cords, but in reality they are composed mainly of muscles and are covered with mucous membranes. Sound occurs when, due to the flow of exhaled air, two folds begin to vibrate. On inhalation, they disperse and let air in, and if we talk or sing, they close tightly, and the voice is heard well and clearly. Problems arise as soon as something prevents the folds from coming together correctly.  

Like any muscle, the vocal folds are triggered by a nerve impulse. Therefore, it is very important that the nervous system as a whole is in order. Prolonged loads without proper rest (which vocalists often sin) and even a change in climate can deprive the ligaments of tone, and weakness will not allow them to completely close; then a gap is formed between them, because of which the voice sounds unclean, there is hoarseness or tone changes. The same happens when we are sick, only now the voice is harmed by the symptoms of laryngitis : the larynx becomes inflamed, redness and swelling appear.  

There are also mechanical obstacles, such as “singing nodules” – accumulations of cells that grow on the ligaments due to severe vocal stress or untreated inflammation. Most often they appear in singers, but in general they are found in everyone who has to use a lot of voice. Such formations do not degenerate into anything and are not dangerous if they do not belong to polyps or viral papillomas . But the nodules prevent the ligaments from connecting and spoil the sound, which especially interferes with the artists, so they are removed. After the micro-operation, the edge of the fold becomes even again – the problem goes away, and it remains only once or twice a year to check whether everything is in order.   

We can still talk about mechanical impact when we break our voice because of a sharp, with all our might, scream. The cry does not have to be long, but the overstrain that occurs at this moment in the vocal muscles can lead to inflammation or even hemorrhage. The latter, by the way, is the most dangerous – after it, a scar may remain on the folds, and the muscles will lose their elasticity. Accordingly, the sound quality will also change. In this case, it is necessary to perform an operation, but it is difficult to predict how the rehabilitation will take place. Sometimes the vocalists can no longer continue their careers, but it happens that the hemorrhage was eliminated in time and everything goes without consequences.

If you are hoarse, the main thing is to ensure yourself complete voice peace, that is, stop talking until you recover. If you do not follow the restriction, it will take longer and more painful to get out of this state. You can (and should) keep in touch only with pen and paper or text messages. If a person has lost his voice, in no case should he switch to a whisper, as this will increase muscle tension and aggravate the main problem. Reading books and listening to music is also forbidden, because during these processes, the ligaments continue to vibrate imperceptibly for us. Especially with professional musicians.

You need to understand that rehabilitation takes different times for everyone. If you follow the prescribed regimen, you can get in shape faster. On average, a ban on voice loads and drug treatment lasts about a month. The patient receives anti-inflammatory and antihistamines in tablets, and also calcium in injections – it helps to restore the condition of the vocal cords. Local remedies, which are injected directly into the larynx, can also be used.

Voice problems can also be prevented. Prevention for any person comes down to simple rules of a healthy lifestyle: you should evenly distribute the load and not go to work with your head, do not neglect full sleep, deal with the consequences of stress and try not to get sick. And also do not be lazy to maintain the “hygiene” of the voice: rinsing, rinsing, inhalation after consultation with a specialist and, if necessary, will make life a little more pleasant.

local_offerevent_note August 17, 2021

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