How to Avoid a Vocal Injury

Adelle is one of my favorite singers. Her success is not the result of fancy productions, glitzy marketing, or trendy youth culture, but is simply the result of great singing and an amazing ability to communicate emotion through her songs.

I was saddened but not shocked to hear that she had injured her voice and had to undergo surgery. Her technique isn’t bad, but at times she sings with a very heavy chest mix, which can be unsustainable with the kind of touring schedule she is on. Having worked with many singers who have sustained vocal injuries of various kinds, I would like to take this time to explain how vocal injuries occur and how to avoid them. Below is a very brief summary of the process. For the full story, you can watch my video series called Singing Basics.

A vocalist who injures their voice generally sings with too much air pressure, on a high larynx, which causes tension in the outer muscles.The result that their vocal cords get inflamed, and they experience a loss of range and power because their vocal cords can no loger resist the air properly. If the singer responds by using more pressure and tension, eventually their vocal cords may give up completely.

Fortunately, this can easily be avoided. Rest your voice as soon as you feel the vocal cords beginning to swell up or inflame: your voice will feel tingly or scratchy all of a sudden. If you need to clear your voice from singing, you should stop. Drink enough water, and start learning about the underlying causes: a high larynx, excess air pressure, and strain in the outer muscles.

-John Scott