Monday, October 16, 2023

If it hurts to sing, then stop!

Often a singer will come up to me in a session and tell me their throat is hurting. I usually tell them to stop singing. 

In this post want to look at what might cause pain or discomfort when singing and what you can do about it.

There are many different reasons why something may hurt when singing. It could be your throat or a stiff neck. Here are some possible causes.

possible causes

trying too hard – singing too loud or pushing your voice

out of range – trying to reach notes that are too high or too low for you

singing across your break – some singers, especially women, find singing high or low is fine, but in the middle they’re singing around the break between head and chest voice

muscle tension – not being relaxed and self-aware enough, allowing tension to creep in whilst singing

no support – bad posture or not enough breath to support your singing voice

unfamiliar technique – trying something new like belting or singing like Bulgarian women without sufficient training

being ill – having a cold or other virus which affects your throat

lack of hydration – forgetting to drink enough during a singing session

singing for too long – tiring your voice out by singing for a long time with rests

wrong environment – the rehearsal space may be too dry due to heating or a hot, sunny day

I’m sure there are plenty of other possible causes. Often you can realise what is causing your pain then make an adjustment. Usually issues like this only come up now and again. However, if you find that you’re hurting regularly when you sing, then you need to do something about it.

what to do

Sometimes it’s simply matter of improving your technique and being more self-aware so that tension doesn’t creep in and your support is strong. Make sure you warm up properly each time.

Stopping and resting if you’ve been overdoing it can often sort things out.

If your voice is tired or you’ve been singing at the extremes of you range, you can try creaking. Very gently make the sound of a creaking door. This will help relax your vocal cords.

If you’re unwell, then don’t sing. And don’t be tempted to take over-the-counter remedies and soldier on. You need to rest your voice (even if you’re due to sing at a concert) or you may do longer term damage.

If the situation persists, seek advice from choir leader. They may be able to give clear advice if you let them know under what circumstances you begin to hurt. They might offer you one-to-one sessions to improve your singing technique. Failing that, you could look for a singing teacher to help you address a specific problem

See also What to do if you catch a cold and a concert is looming and Your singing voice: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Chris Rowbury


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