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I’ve Been A Bad Boy with My Voice

Leaving your voice to guess work only increases your stress.

Dear Leontine,

Harsh singing and bad technique has led me to a hoarse voice with lots of throat pain. I decided to go on a vocal rest. Now I’m scared, because just singing softly and talking makes my voice hurt. I love singing so much and if I lose that I don’t know what I’d do. Should I stay on vocal rest? How can I improve my technique? Will my vocal chords ever heal?


Dear Justin,

First of all, do not panic: you will not lose your voice forever. These problems have a solution.

Secondly, do not leave it to guess work; this will only increase your stress levels and leave you in a state of not knowing how to tackle it.

You must go to your Doctor and get a referral to a good laryngologist (who deals with SINGERS) as soon as you can.

They will put a little camera on the end of a very thin tube down your nose and have a good look at the state your vocal folds and surrounds.

Once they establish what is going on, you can deal with the problem with the help of professionals.

They might discover that the folds are just a bit swollen and reddened and that you need speech therapy or a good vocal coach to re-learn good technique and give you some training in basic vocal hygiene.

If there are signs of acid reflux, which is often the case with loss of voice, you will be given some anti-acid medication and asked to elevate your mattress so that acid from your stomach cannot travel back up the esophagus as you sleep, bathing the folds in acid.

If you do have nodules or some sort of pathology, then it really depends on how advanced it is.

If it is terribly advanced, then you may need a small operation –these work very well and are quite safe in good hands.

If it is just the onset of nodules then changing your technique will shrink them until they eventually go away altogether.

I have worked with people who had onset nodules and after a few months their vocal folds were clean and white and healthy.

There is one final possibility. If you are trying to save your voice and are speaking in a breathy tone, in ‘falsetto’, then this is like sitting under your folds with a hair dryer.

The folds will not be adducting properly and will dehydrate.

I suggest that you steam twice a day with a towel over your head inhaling the steam of clean boiled water.

If your folds are not exercised and dry, speaking and singing will ache.

If you start practicing, try to use as much ‘head-voice’ as possible so the folds stretch out nicely and get some flexibility back.

Your sound should be clear—no rasping or croaking and no air while you are rehabilitating.

When the voice has become lazy, singing can indeed ‘hurt’.

Only a laryngologist can establish the exact cause.

A good vocal coach with experience can have a damn good guess, but there is nothing like a camera!

Good luck and let me know how it goes.


Leontine Hass
Director, The Advanced Performers Studio

Questions for Leontine Hass can be sent to the VoiceCouncil editor: editor@voicecouncil.com

  • Jmill0773

    Thank you again! Its me Justin, and I was initially afraid to ask my mom, but she was very receptive to going to a laryngologist, and I'm so relieved. But I'm going to have to wait, but when I go I will definitely write how it goes! Again, thank you so much
    Have a great day!

  • Justin Huxley

    Hi Justin,

    I sing in two bands, that practice twice a week and have gigs regularly on the weekends, we play mostly rock and practices and shows usually run about 4 hours each. My voice takes quite a toll each week, and I do not have budget for a vocal coach each week. Here is what I have done to alleviate some of my Hoarseness during the week.

    1) I drink plenty of water regularly, before, during and after practices, shows etc.

    2) I always make sure I warm up before a show and warm down after a show or practice. The warming down part really helps out a lot because it puts my voice in a relaxed state before I go to sleep. Just imagine going for a run for 5miles, and then jumping right into bed and going to sleep.

    3) If my voice is overly hoarse on any day, I will usually drink plenty of water that day, and breathe a light steam through my steamer. I try to make sure it’s not too hot though. I also do a light humming in my head voice throughout the day just because it feels good on my voice. Seems the more relaxed I am the better my voice feels, so try and relax as much as possible.

    Anyhow, Just some advice I wanted to pass on..