• Sophie Smith

5 signs you need to rest your voice


A collage of women singing

Vocalists! Listen up, technique is super important. Your voice is your instrument, and unlike other instruments, we have to take more care of ours because it’s part of us. If your guitar gets damaged, it can be fixed or replaced, but the process is a lot more complicated with vocals.


Depending on damage, you may need to have vocal rest, completely change your technique or have surgery. But we want to avoid any of these, hence this guide.


The most important thing to consider when you’re singing is how it feels. How does it feel? If your voice feels or sounds different, it’s normally a good indicator that something is wrong. The top things to look out for are:




Lianne La Havas recording in 2021
Image: Twitter @liannelahavas

Hoarseness


There are a lot of different reasons your voice could sound hoarse. It could be over singing (singing too much), poor technique, illness or even damage. It’s hard to diagnose just from hearing hoarseness, but it’s a good sign that something is wrong. Try to limit your vocal use if this is the case.





Tightness

When you’re singing, sound should feel like it’s being released or escaping. If your throat feels tight, that’s a big sign that something is wrong. Instead of using your diaphragm, you might be singing from your throat. Or it could be a sign of swelling.



Pain

One of the biggest lessons I learned from vocal coaching was to rely on the feeling of singing. If you feel any pain, that is a big sign to stop whatever you’re doing and seek medical help. Singing should never feel painful, and just like physical injuries, you may need rest. You wouldn’t carry on playing football if your leg was injured.


Adele performing at NRJ awards 2021
Image: Twitter @adele

Vocal Fatigue


If after singing for a short amount of time, your voice is fatigued and croaky, it could be a sign of poor technique. If you have been overusing your voice, you may need to just have some vocal rest. Just like your body, if you’ve been running for hours on end, it will tire and you will need to rest. Treat your voice with the same respect as your body.







The Urge To Cough/ Tickling Of The Throat

This is a given, but if you feel you need to cough when singing, it could be because you’ve recently eaten and have some food still in your throat, but it could also mean that there is a vocal problem. It may be a technique issue, but could also be a vocal health issue. To avoid this, keep hydrated - especially after eating - and have a break.



You can change some of these problems by yourself, but it's always important to get professional advice. When in doubt, vocal rest can only be a positive. However, we're not medical professionals, so please contact your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.


If you're looking for some medical tips, you can follow Vocal Pathologist Sarah K Brown on Tik Tok: