No Singing Allowed!

With so many viruses, colds, flu and other winter nasties, we see our fair amount of lost voices and hoarseness during the cold months here at EVC. As we approach the Spring, some are in recovery mode, others are gearing up for a summer with Hayfever! Here Louisa talks about the main types of vocal rest and how and when to use them.

I appreciate the title of this one is a bit strange, considering I teach people to sing! But let me explain … the subject of voice rest is often discussed as a measure to protect our voices, but what do we actually mean by this? And at what point is it advisable to ‘rest’? As a singer myself, I completely understand the frustration of not being able to use my voice, whether this is caused by illness or a self-imposed ban! However, I also understand this is an essential part of looking after my instrument to protect it from any damage.

There are two main types of voice rest ‘absolute’ and ‘relative’.

‘Absolute’ is complete silence - you write down everything you want to say (or the tech savvy amongst you may like to look at an app called ‘Text to Speech’, where you type what you want to say and the phone speaks for you!!). This is advised in the more extreme cases - post surgery or a really nasty virus, for example. If you’re thinking “well that’s ok, I’ll whisper” NOPE! This is actually worse as it tires out the voice even more than speaking normally!

‘Relative’ vocal rest is the most commonly used and what I am going to focus on most in this post. This is mainly used to rest your voice, relative to the amount you are using it. Below are three instances when and how you might use ‘relative’ vocal rest;

  1. If, like me you’re working in a profession that requires you to use your voice all of the time (this isn’t restricted to singers: teachers, fitness instructors, lawyers, politicians, any job that requires public speaking or talking lots requires extensive use of the voice). I sings most days, so I take some time each week; 1-2 days (depending on how heavy my schedule has been) where I don’t sing at all. In weeks where I’ve overdone it, this will also include periods of deliberate quiet. For me, this is all part of the process of looking after my vocal health

  2. If you are training and therefore still developing your voice, it is also advisable to give your voice some ‘down time’. This is similar to my approach above - practising every second day is an easy routine to work into your training schedule.

  3. During and after an aggressive infection that has caused voice loss, it is advisable to use relative vocal rest as a preventative measure to future, more serious damage. In this example, it could include a longer period of ‘relative’ vocal rest to give your voice an opportunity to heal.

Listening to what your body is telling you in all of the above is important - if you have unusual levels of tension, frequent episodes of voice loss and/or are experiencing regular vocal fatigue it is advisable to seriously consider ‘relative’ vocal rest as part of your routine. Here, we would also advise a visit to the GP and in the more serious acute cases, request a referral to your nearest ENT clinic for a medical diagnoses.

In addition to vocal rest, it is also important to regularly check in with your water intake, diet and sleeping patterns - simple adjustments like, drinking more water for example, can have some really positive and lasting affects on your vocal health.

You can read previous posts on taking care of your vocal health by clicking the article title’s below;