“It is usually impossible to know when you have prevented an accident.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Vocalists, be they singers, voice actors, stage actors, or anyone else who uses their voice professionally, are at high risk for vocal injury. Their daily profession puts them at risk of injury because of the intensity and duration of use. But most simply go on until they have a symptom that limits their ability to perform. At that point, crisis management ensues and often the performer is down for some time, while treatment can take effect.
Singing and acting are the sport of the vocal cords.
If we shift the mindset around singing and acting from the current “work around it” and “push through” to “an ounce of prevention” vocalists would be at much lower risk of injury.
How do we prevent vocal injury? Do we have to simply stay silent? I’ll admit, that would help but it is far from realistic. Life is vocal. Socializing, daily tasks, rehearsals and performance all require we use the same delicate vocal cords.
This much use, alone, is enough to produce injury. However, most vocalists don’t realize there are things within their control that may be increasing their risk of injury. A preventative vocal health visit with a laryngologist is the best way to detect and manage these issues. For example, improved allergy control can dramatically reduce the risk of injury.
Does this mean you go to the doctor and just get thrown on medications? Not necessarily. Even medications have have vocal side effects and must be used with caution. That is why the best vocal care is provided by someone with extensive knowledge and experience with the voice.
What is preventative voice care?
- Establishing a relationship with a laryngologist before you have problems
- Maintaining that relationship with regular check-ups to ensure your voice is healthy
- Setting up a program for healthy voice maintenance
- Checking in before tours and performances to ensure you’re clear to perform
A visit with a laryngolgoist allows you to:
- identify medical problems that are increasing your risk for vocal injury
- report mild symptoms that you may be discounting that are actually signs of early injury
- conquer the fear of the voice exam, which is actually quick and painless
- learn more about your instrument and how to identify problems on your own
Now that you know what to do, you’re going to face one more obstacle. Where to go. How do you know if your doctor is a laryngologist with expertise in professional voice? More on that in a future post!