Vocal Nodules Recovery Without Surgery - Get your voice back with vocal technique

vocal health tips Sep 18, 2018

If you're struggling with vocal nodules or fatigue through your sets and don't have the vocal range, ease and consistency you used to have then I can help you get it back and better than before.

Vocal nodules are basically the "end result" of consistent irritation to the vocal cords.  Prolonged misuse of your voice can lead to swelling of the vocal cord.  Constant misuse at this point can eventually lead to a callous/growth on the vocal cord which we call a nodule.  Swelling or nodules can interfere with how your vocal cords work, which make hitting notes harder and more risky.  Because of this, the instinct will be to try and "force" your voice to behave, the only way to do this being through constriction.  It might help you hit the note, but you'll irritate the voice even more.

There are many pro singers who have dealt with this, probably the most famous of them being Freddie Mercury (I talk about how his vocal nodules affected him here).

So if vocal nodules are caused by consistent irritation to the vocal cords then what causes that irritation?

The culprit is usually bad vocal technique or fatigue.  Let me explain how this plays out.  You might start your week off with some gigs.  The first night is really good.  You're able to sing with relative ease.  Next night is not too bad either.  Then comes the 4th or 5th night.  Your voice is more fatigued and doesn't want to go to the high notes as easily as before.  So you start "compensating" by forcing your voice to do it.  This allows you to hit the notes but then fatigues your voice even more for the next night.

The more you go on like this, the more you irritate your voice and further lock yourself into this cycle of having to force your voice up to hit notes that used to come easily and naturally (and used to sound better).

At this point, if you were to rest your voice a few days, the swelling would likely go down and your voice would return back to normal (much longer if you have a nodule).  A lot of pro singers don't get this option due to rigorous touring schedules.

Either way, even if you did have time to rest, the cycle repeats itself as soon as your workload goes back up. 

So how do you heal and prevent vocal nodules?

Good vocal technique.  Good vocal technique doesn't irritate the voice, so it is kind of like "active" vocal rest.  You're using your voice but also the voice is getting a good massage and gets stronger. 

But vocal technique is not black and white.  It's not "good and bad".  There are shades of grey.  You might have great technique in some parts of your range and questionable technique in other parts of your range.  The more "iffy" your vocal technique, the more taxing, the more "cost" a sound has on your voice.  There are sounds that "cost" more than others.  Powerful, sustained high notes for instance, have a high risk - they tax your voice more if you do them wrong.  They have a smaller margin of error as well, they are easier to get wrong than notes that are closer to your comfortable range.

Because of this, when I retrain a voice, I won't let you go around to the super high notes, the super risky areas of your voice until you're ready.  Because I don't want your voice to get worn down. 

As your voice recovers, you start to be able to access thos upper areas of your voice that you used to be able to access before the damage.  Then we work on retraining that area so that the fatigue/damage doesn't occur again. 

I often times have to retrain how a singer SPEAKS too so that they can tap into the advantages of it.  Speaking should SET YOUR VOICE UP REALLY WELL, not tear it down and fatigue it. 

These things need to be ironed out and managed if you are to maintain your stamina, ease and consistency with your performances.

I train a lot of pro singers who are sick of trying to "survive" their gigs.  They want to thrive through them.  They want to cruise through them.  They want to sing with ease, and have each night be consistent.  They want to forget about vocal technique and truly let loose on stage.  Don't we all?  I know how to teach this.

My golden rule is:  I don't care if it sounds good, if it doesn't feel comfortable then it's an "illegal move".  Don't make sounds unless they feel good.  When you have a high workload and sing often, every sound you make needs to be helping your voice, not hindering it.  This includes SPEAKING & SINGING.

If all of this interests you and you're sick of the confusion and not knowing what to do, then allow me to help.  Book a Skype lesson with me and we can start getting your voice back to where it used to be, and possibly even better.

Let me know what you found interesting about this post, and any question you might have - please leave a comment.

Take care

Phil Moufarrege

SING WITH GREATER FREEDOM & CONSISTENCY.

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