Extraordinary demands are placed upon the singing and acting voice, well above those of routine voice use. The performer requires a high level of vocal flexibility and agility, the ability to execute rapid maneuvers such as arpeggios, the flexibility to produce a stage shout or whisper, coupled with a clear and resonant tonal quality.
The vocal artist demands fine coordination of considerable range of airflows and air pressures, sensitivity to small maneuvers and considerable endurance. Just as an athlete is at greater risk for knee or shoulder injury, so too the performer is at greater risk of vocal injury simply because of those demands.
At the Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center, we are dedicated to helping performers attain success in their career and joy from their art.
Our Well-Voice Program for Vocal Artists is designed for baseline check-ups to help prevent vocal injury, and to keep those inevitable small problems from turning into major, career-threatening voice disorders. Bring your vocal coach or singing teacher with you when you come visit us. Or if you prefer, we'll give you some suggestions of outstanding coaches and teachers in the metropolitan area.
Common causes of vocal problems of performers
- Testing the limits of your voice by requiring it to accommodate the demands of performance as well as other strenuous voice use (perhaps a part-time job, for example) and social voice use, perhaps together with less than desirable health habits (smoking, drinking).
- Focusing upon the singing voice and ignoring the speaking voice (including carrying over speech-based habitual excessive tension of the oral articulators into the singing voice).
- Professional vocal demands; unstable sleeping and eating patterns, dry air of airplanes and hotel rooms, dusty concert halls, smoke-filled performance venues, risk of fatigue, and gastric reflux.
- Hypersensitivity to even the most minor ailments such as a head cold or allergies.
- Trying to meet the vocal demands associated with a specific role - perhaps one that is too vocally "heavy" for a voice -- combined with problems in technique.
- Technical weaknesses - bad habits that need to be unlearned.
Good vocal management for performers
- Reducing the quantity of singing; more use of instrumental arrangements, featuring other members of the group.
- Using monitor speakers facing the stage.
- Marking rehearsals when feeling vocally fatigued.
- Discussing your vocal needs with the sound technician.
- Avoiding use of chest voice at high pitch levels, in general.
- Resting the voice on performance days.
- Resting the voice between sets or scenes.
- Arranging the music to suit your voice; change keys if necessary.
- Pacing your practicing.
- Warming up the voice. (See our suggestions for Vocal Warm Ups PDF)
- Studying with a singing teacher.
- Don't ignore persistent voice problems, even small ones. Discuss them with your singing teacher or voice coach. Consider having your vocal folds assessed by a laryngologist who further specializes in performance voice.