Sadly I've noticed a growing number of vocal cautionary tales. Stories seem to be abounding of recording artists who've sustained serious vocal injury from singing with bad technique onstage. Here is a short list of artists who recently had such severity of vocal strain and damage they had to cancel important shows and/or tours:
- Papa Roach ... lead singer Shaddix had to have a vocal nodule surgically removed
- Thompson Square ... singer Keifer Thompson was ordered to go on vocal rest for two weeks. The duo is back on stage now.
- Frank Ocean ... is reported to suffer from a vocal cord tear.
- Nathan Sykes from "The Wanted" ... had to have surgery and vocal coaching (he's back onstage now but was close to losing his ability to ever sing again).
- John Mayer ... his vocal cords are still healing; he had to have botox injected into them at one point.
Vocal damage is avoidable!Though several of the above performers are now back onstage, their career-threatening vocal injuries could have been avoided if an intuitive vocal coach had been able to see their vocal technique slipping (or missing!) and get it corrected in time. There truly are singing and speaking techniques you can learn and choices you can make to enable you to sing as long a show or tour as you need to without injuring your voice - even if you sing heavy metal rock!
Here is my practical advice for working singers and speakers:
- Learn what you can do to protect your working voice and do it!
- If you are touring or doing shows regularly, touch base with your vocal coach from time to time. It will save you money, and sheer career panic, in the long run. Most pro coaches offer Skype and phone vocal lessons and warmups; if you find yourself in trouble, contact your coach and schedule a lesson from the road.