Thoughts From Torb…
Singers are entirely too blasé about being hoarse after pushing their voice too hard. If incidences of hoarseness occur within a six-month period of each other, several things will begin to happen.
First, healing time will be slower with each occurrence. As the tissues continue to be repeatedly taxed, it will take them longer and longer to rebound back to normal; until eventually they don’t.
Second, an artist’s vulnerability to physical stress will increase over time. So, not only will it take longer to heal, but the vocal chords will become more and more susceptible to damage over time.
Third, vocal chords will begin to stiffen and show signs of premature aging. We hear age in someone’s voice due to the stiffening of the vocal structure. Over the phone, it’s often hard to tell if someone is 25 or 45 years old. But most of us can tell if someone is over 65. This is because we can hear the stiffening of the vocal structure and the excess air that passes between the chords that generally starts to happen with age. Singers, however, frequently expedite this process by stiffening their vocal chords through abuse at a much younger age. A voice that has aged prematurely changes a person’s whole persona, making them seem older--even if you’re looking right at them. Conversely, if an artist uses the correct exercises to maintain pliability of the vocal chords, they can have a younger sounding voice than the age of the rest of their body.
Fourth, after the stiffening, a localised warping of the structure will start to occur. When this happens, major parts of range are lost. This is called a vocal nodule. Once warping has occurred on one side of the vocal chords it will irritate the opposite side and damage will begin to take place there as well. Over time, nodules will stiffen and may even spur new ones.
An artist’s vulnerability to physical stress will increase over time. So, not only will it take longer to heal, but the vocal chords will become more and more susceptible to damage over time.
Of course, the very worst-case scenario of repeated occurrence of hoarseness is a vocal hematoma, a sudden bleed on the vocal chords that makes it impossible to sing altogether. This catastrophic event can only be corrected surgically. Surprisingly, this is a fairly common occurrence in hard-working singers.
The good news is that all of this can be completely, 100% avoided with proper vocal training focused on the parameters of your specific voice. If you are experiencing bouts of hoarseness, know that not only is it avoidable, but it can be easily eradicated from ever happening again.