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Am I Losing My Upper Range?

Am I Losing My Upper Range?

Hi Doctor Jahn,

I’m a 40 year-old male and, after a hiatus, I’ve just returned to singing in bars and clubs. My upper vocal range has decreased and I experience a tight feeling in my throat. I also feel and hear a grinding on certain vowel sounds (A’s and I’s) the day after a gig or a particularly high-energy rehearsal. I’d like to get back to my old unencumbered singing self—can you help?


Dear Alan,

Your history contains important clues as to where your problem lies and how to correct things. You have been away from singing for a while (months or years?), and have returned to a high-energy and vocally taxing profession. I suspect that your technique may need a tune-up! You are asking your voice to perform as it did when you were younger and singing regularly. A good teacher should be able to give you exercises to get your larynx back into shape. Trying to produce a voice with inadequate support or technical reserve means you are using more muscle tension in the laryngeal area to produce less voice. This accounts for the tight feeling you are experiencing.

By muscling the voice, rather than supporting it properly, you are increasing the trauma to the vocal folds which may result in some swelling. This swelling, in turn, would account for your difficulty with the high notes. If your “high notes” are in high chest, rather than head voice, the friction and trauma is even greater. And finally, a ‘high-energy rehearsal’ to me means a loud rehearsal charged with emotion. It is unlikely that, in the heat of the moment, you are monitoring the physical sensations involved in vocal production. It is therefore likely that you overusing and straining.

By way of treatment: see a good teacher to get you back on track. Drink plenty of water. Scrupulously monitor your voice during singing and, until you get your old voice back, perhaps adjust your repertoire to a less strenuous level.

– Anthony F. Jahn, MD

Note: this discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice which you should obtain from your own physician.

  • johnscott

    Great Advice, Anthony.

    Often times, singers coming back into their careers after a long break experience a loss of range. I attribute the stress on the vocal folds to tension in the jaw and neck, which causes constriction around the larynx. You might consider lightening your tone and working on mobility in your body as you work back into your vocal routine.

    John Scott


  • bullseye101

    I am experience the same problem. I went to ENT and he found that my right vocal cord was not functioning. He recommended injections of botox. What are your feeling about that?
    Best regards,


  • Rgpgospel

    I am having the same problem and don't know what to do. I don't really sing a lot since I resigned from music director for ab out 6 months and Ifeel everything he does I would devistated if one of my vocals wasn't functioning

  • Sixpence

    Please help- I have suddenly lost about a half of my vocal range – all at the upper end. When I try it sounds terrible, like instead of hitting the higher note, I bounce back down to a low, flat note. I am really worried. My GP tells me to wait for it to get better, but this is really weird. It doesn’t sound hoarse at the top of the range, its like everything just closes. Any ideas welcome.

  • siti

    I lay off frm singin twice within 3 yrs due to my 2 pregnancies as per advice frm my gynae..i stopped singing with immediate effect once i found out i was pregnant..i realised that i lost a part of my high range n i no longer can reach to my normal high range as previously..im quite sadden by dat fact coz im reali hopin to get it bk again..i had a hard time singing nw coz theres quite alot of adjustment i needed to do to my repertoires..is there any good safe way dat i cn hv my pitch bk to normal?