Vocal fatigue is one of the most compromising conditions a singer or vocalist can face, and when it comes to recording, anything less than your best performance just won't do. Some describe vocalists and singers as athletes, and you should adopt the same mindset not only in regards to practice and training, but also caring for your voice in order to avoid vocal fatigue.
What is vocal fatigue?
While there's little research or information on what causes vocal fatigue and where it comes from, it’s safe to say that it varies from person to person, but the symptoms remain mostly the same. A few of the most common symptoms are:
- Muscle pain
- Discomfort when singing
- Breaking notes
- Weakness of voice
- Throat pain
Other signs include:
- Weakness or breathiness in your voice
- Complete loss of voice
- Raspy or harsh breathing
- A sore throat or pain (especially around the Adam’s apple)
One of the worst things you can do is ignore vocal fatigue. If you find you have any of these symptoms, or any other symptoms that could disrupt the quality of your vocal recording session, you’ll want to make sure you get better as quickly as possible. Here are a few ways to do just that.
1. Rest is best
The best way to treat vocal fatigue, especially if you may have some type of infection, is resting. Make sure you’re keeping warm and drinking and eating properly.
Avoid really hot or cold conditions, and minimize talking, whispering, shouting, and laughing. Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep during this rest time (as you should anyway). This averages around seven hours per night.
Try to use your vocal chords as little as possible for at least 24 hours. After that time, the difference in your vocal fatigue will be incredibly noticeable, although you may need two or three days for a full recovery.
2. Stay hydrated
Another one of the most important considerations is staying hydrated at all times. This is vital when you’re singing, and even more important if you’re suffering from vocal fatigue.
Drink lots of water and try to avoid sugary and fizzy drinks, along with extremely hot or cold drinks. Stick with water for the best results.
3. Ease into vocal exercises
After you're finished resting, don’t jump straight back into bellowing vocal solos. Instead, start small and work yourself back into your normal self. Think of it this way: If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t go straight into running a marathon; you would start small and work up.
Your vocal chords are a muscle, just like every other muscle in your body. Start with short exercises with a low volume that doesn’t take much effort. Don’t push yourself too hard. After a day or two of these, start building up gently. By the end of the week, you could be back to normal!
4. Get a doctor's opinion
After you’ve completed everything listed above, your vocals should be pretty much back to normal. In some cases, however, you may find very slight improvements or none whatsoever. If this is the case, you’re going to need to see a doctor.
This is because you’ll probably have something more serious than just vocal fatigue, like an illness that’s causing the pain. Of course, this will vary from person to person, so make sure that, when in doubt, consult your doctor.
How to minimize the risk of vocal fatigue
The best way to overcome vocal fatigue is to avoid the risk altogether. You’ll probably experience it at some point in your career, but there are plenty of things you can do in order to reduce your risk and help your vocals stay in tip-top shape. Like:
- Sleep enough hours per night
- Eat and drink a healthy diet
- Practice and train your voice in an appropriate manner
- Use your own live vocal microphone for better hygiene
By looking after yourself on a daily and weekly basis, you’ll be able to minimize the risk of vocal fatigue and perform your best during upcoming recording sessions.
- How to Keep Your Singing Voice Healthy
- 4 Tips to Get Better Playing and Singing Simultaneously
- 6 Simple Tips for Nailing Your Vocal Recording Session
- 9 Different Ways to Earn Money Singing
Gavin Whitner is a passionate musician, and the primary blogger at MusicOomph, where he writes about musical instruments, related gear like headphones, and other accessories. He’s also written for publications like Music Connection, Making Music Magazine, etc.