29 Apr Vocal Troubles – Grunting

Vocal Trouble - Grunting - how it affects your voice long-termI recently was having vocal troubles and found myself with only about 50% of my standard vocal capacity at the end of the work week (which for me is Sunday evening). I didn’t understand what was the problem. I was getting enough sleep. I was singing with the same technique that has served me for years. I didn’t have allergies nor bronchitis nor a cough. But after the end of a string of 5-6 nights of straight singing through 3-5 hour gigs, I was experiencing difficulty, especially in my higher register, as I tried to get through the last couple masses Sunday night.

When I went in for my next voice lesson (which I consider my vocal “tune-up”), I discussed with my teacher my difficulty and frustration. She had me perform several exercises to check the clarity of my chords and everything sounded fine. I assured her that nothing had really changed in my routine, and this was the truth for the most part. She recommended bring some allergy meds, because apparently they were particularly bad this season and it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility that I was developing allergies. Though I doubted it was the case, I was willing to try whatever she recommended since I’d never had this problem before and I’ve been a professional singer for several years.

At the end of my lesson I let her know I had to hurry out to get to my appointment with a personal trainer. Then she stopped me.
“So you’re weight lifting?” she asked.
“Yes, but I’ve been weight lifting for a couple months,” I replied.
“Are you grunting when you lift?” she asked.
“Why, yes I am! I’ve started heavy-lifting recently, and I do find myself grunting a lot!”
“I bet that is 90% of your problem!” she said. “Exhale on exertion and I bet your vocal troubles will cease. Never grunt”

She was right! Within a week of taking this new advice my vocal stamina was back up to snuff! I was so relieved!

So I cannot emphasize to you enough how important it is that you see a voice teacher. I don’t know that I would have figured that out on my own, and certainly not as quickly (or cheaply! only one lesson!). We need an experienced teacher to listen and give feedback, not only in our singing, but in other activities of our lives that can negatively affect our voices.

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