Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Crying Affects the Voice

Tis the season to sometimes... cry.

Tears can be
...happy (people getting engaged, finding out they have booked that gig or won that award, finding out the sickness is curable, hearing just the right song at just the right time, singing an emotionally relevant song to yourself, or just crying from sudden realization of gratitude and happiness)
...or sad (so many reasons... and tears help with unblocking pent up feelings and emotions that need to be expressed for well-being).

But if you have an impending singing or speaking gig... be careful. It's important to know how crying affects the voice:
  1. It swells the vocal cords. Swollen vocal cords do not work very effectively, period.
  2. Sinuses also swell. This gives the typical nasal sound, like when you have a cold or sinus infection. 
  3. All kinds of vocal problems present... including limited range, impared vocal control and tone quality.
  4. It can lead to vocal damage. If even an infant crys too hard or long, the vocal cords can start to be injured. Long enough, it can turn into the beginning of nodes.
  5. It can take time for the cord swelling to go down. A lengthy period of crying, such as in mourning or from depressions, can cause rather chronic swelling that needs time to shrink. Voice rest is imperitive, not to mention physical rest and psychological peace.
So go on... if you need to, cry. But try not to push your voice too hard or too long. Cry it out, talk it out, and then give yourself time to rest and heal. DO NOT sing hard with recently cryed-out, swollen vocal cords. Be kind to your voice; you are responsible for its well-being. Don't ask or expect it to perform well when it's swollen.

Blessings to all.. may the peace and love of this holiday season lead only to happy tears.

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  • At January 3, 2012 at 12:37 PM , Anonymous Randy U. said...

    I like your advice. Very practical and useful. Thanks.

  • At January 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Thank you Randy, for the feedback! May I always post useful information for you and all my readers.

  • At June 25, 2013 at 3:55 AM , Blogger Melody Joy said...

    i don't think crying is really going to mess someones voice up.. unless they cry daily.
    it does hurt the lymph nodes a bit... the muscles around the jaw sometimes...
    (that hard to swallow feeling you get when you intensely cry)

    And yelling can cause pollyps...
    There's already enough things in life that can cause vocal damage... why
    add YET ANOTHER to the plate.


    enough already

  • At September 12, 2013 at 9:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I cried all afternoon and evening (joyful crying, I might add) about a month ago and my singing voice is still gone! When I try to sing, it feels like I am jutting out my jaw and feels tight in my neck and throat. I can't sing any high notes at all and as I try to sing a scale the pitch goes flat and won't go any higher. My speaking voice is, also, somewhat hoarse.
    Have I ruined my voice? Please advise.

  • At September 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Hey there...
    You know, the crying episode affects on your voice should be long gone by now. I would speculate that you somehow have developed a bad vocal technique habit or two, maybe to try and compensate, and need to turn that around. If I were you I'd check in with an E.N.T. doc to rule out any organic vocal cord dysfunction or damage, and also with an intuitive vocal coach to watch you sing, assess your technique and do some retraining. Even one lesson could help you. Caution: Do not play around with chronic hoarseness. Get it checked out. Let me know how you're doing...

  • At August 12, 2014 at 1:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    how bad is silent crying...? lots of tears but no phonation... I'm assuming it's still a swelling issue just going on the puffiness of eyes and the stuffiness of nose. I really suck at not crying.

  • At August 12, 2014 at 11:08 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Well you're right... it's still a swelling issue and will affect your voice. HAHA... you must really feel the music; not a bad thing. If you have to sing, though, you might try distancing yourself like out-of-body thinking. You can reattach after your vocal performance is over:)


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