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  #1  
Old 12-07-2007, 11:07 AM
TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW is offline
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My throat hurts after singing - what am I doing wrong?

I aspire to sing. I'm decent and get better all the time.

But even after singing for only a little bit, like a song of karaoke, my throat hurts, and a night of karaoke (or recording demos for my band) will leave me with an aching throat and hoarseness the next day.

Is there something basic and essential that I'm probably doing wrong, or is this something that I need to get some sort of voice coach to deal with? I've always lost my voice very easily, like when I was a kid and would go to summer camp for a week.
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  #2  
Old 12-07-2007, 11:17 AM
Knowed Out Knowed Out is online now
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Sing from the diaphragm. No, not that one...

I think voice coaches mainly tell you not to sing with the throat, but with your gut. The throat is used for channeling, not projecting. It's how opera singers are able to project to the back row, and the reason they always look so stilted.
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  #3  
Old 12-07-2007, 11:21 AM
Eureka Eureka is offline
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I'd recommend taking a couple of lessons with a voice coach. If my throat hurts after I've been singing, it probably means I've been singing too many high notes--sometimes it means I just haven't warmed up properly for those high notes. But a voice coach would be better situated to listen to you, to talk about relaxing your throat, proper warm-ups, etc.
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  #4  
Old 12-07-2007, 11:49 AM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Unless you're from Tuva, you shouldn't be singing with your throat.

"How to sing" and more importantly, "How to stop what you're doing wrong" are tough to handle via typing. You really need to hook up with a vocal or singing coach in person. If you keep doing bad things, you can cause long-lasting, if not permanent, damage.

In terms of projection, the throat is mainly a thing in between the two stars - lungs full of air and use of your tongue and teeth to are. tick. you. late. your. words. Too many people are talking from the backs of their mouths and "swallowing" their voice. A visualization trick that helps is to imagine yourself speaking to someone behind your target.
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  #5  
Old 12-07-2007, 11:57 AM
Lunar Saltlick Lunar Saltlick is offline
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Give us an idea how you sing. Do you sound like Minnie Ripperton? Rufus Wainwright? William Shatner? Axl Rose? Often when people try to imitate their favorite artist, they wind up with a sore throat because they're just not cut out to sing that way, and so they force.
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  #6  
Old 12-07-2007, 12:02 PM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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I've encountered similar problems; I sing in a rock band, and it's murder on my throat.

I looked up some techniques, and I've tried to sing the "right" way...

...and it sounded totally gay, like those gits in high school musicals or something.

The problem is that the mode of expression in popular music, for the most part, depends on conveying emotions by voice inflection, which is often done by doing "wrong" things, basically. Not only that, unless you're Pavarotti or something, you're not going to project over drums, bass and guitars singing the "right" way.

So, drink some Throat Coat and suck it up, soldier. Either that, or brush up on your Noel Coward or something.
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  #7  
Old 12-07-2007, 12:24 PM
Ichbin Dubist Ichbin Dubist is offline
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This is anecdotal as fuck, but I find that if I sing more than a handful of songs while driving, my throat will sometimes hurt. I always assumed it was because I wasn't breathing properly -- I can sing for hours standing up at a mike (which is a confounding factor in this little n-1 study, I admit).

I agree with An Arky -- you're not going to sound like Joe Strummer through voice lessons. But I think watching how deeply you breathe might help.
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  #8  
Old 12-07-2007, 12:49 PM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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Which reminds me, there are some things you can do to lessen the pain (without sacrificing the rock), and breathing right is one. Another is to avoid whisper-y singing. That's probably worse than yelling.

Last edited by An Arky; 12-07-2007 at 12:49 PM..
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  #9  
Old 12-07-2007, 01:03 PM
TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by An Arky
I've encountered similar problems; I sing in a rock band, and it's murder on my throat.

I looked up some techniques, and I've tried to sing the "right" way...

...and it sounded totally gay, like those gits in high school musicals or something.

The problem is that the mode of expression in popular music, for the most part, depends on conveying emotions by voice inflection, which is often done by doing "wrong" things, basically. Not only that, unless you're Pavarotti or something, you're not going to project over drums, bass and guitars singing the "right" way.

So, drink some Throat Coat and suck it up, soldier. Either that, or brush up on your Noel Coward or something.
Yeah, I'd rather be a Tom Waits or a Leonard Cohen than a Backstreet Boy any day. I guess I'm stuck with weirdo idiosyncratic voice and vocal damage!
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  #10  
Old 12-07-2007, 01:11 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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This usually means I'm reaching too far, or I've been on a long lonely drive listening to the Scorpions. For me, the more I practice, the better this gets. I can get the high notes (high for me) but I can't control them. As I practice, my vocals get toned and I gain control. At the same time, the next day soreness goes away. Tenor is a bit of a reach for me right now, but I can safely sing the medium tenor range.
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  #11  
Old 12-07-2007, 01:18 PM
velvetjones velvetjones is offline
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Singing is just pushing air through your larynx in such a way as to vibrate the vocal folds and create a sound. The rate of vibration determines the pitch. Your neck and throat muscles have little to do with changing the rate of vibration and making the sound but it's very common for people to unconsciously involve throat and neck muscles in singing.

The first thing to do is learn to breathe correctly. Take deep breaths, expand the rib cage and lower the diaphragm this will allow the maximum amount of air into your lungs thus you have more air to support the sound you're trying to make.

Second, relax. Try and consciously relax your neck, throat and facial muscles while singing.

Third, don't over sing. Pay close attention to whether or not you're singing really loud to be heard over the music or to hear yourself. Back it down a notch and try to sing with a little less volume and thus a little less pressure on the vocal chords.

Try to avoid bad habits like pulling your chin down for low notes or stretching your chin up for high notes. They're just going to make it more difficult for the sound to come out.

While you're singing pay attention to where in your body your notes are resonating. You should feel resonation in your nasal cavaties and head and maybe your chest cavity for low notes.

Figure out where the natural "break" in your voice is and work on singing gently through those pitches rather than straining for the high notes.

Oh, and I second the idea of a vocal coach if you're really serious.


velvet jones - BA in Voice, professional jazz singer.
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  #12  
Old 12-07-2007, 01:39 PM
Mtgman Mtgman is offline
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Echoing most of the comments here. Odds are you're tensing your neck and throat muscles unnecessarially. My first voice coach always emphasized relaxing the neck and throat muscles. Think of the way you feel when you start a yawn and everything just kind of loosens up and opens up. What's happening is your soft palate(at the back of your mouth) is raising and your larynx(which houses your vocal cords) is dropping lower in your neck. Guys can see this by watching the Adam's apple. Try singing a bit with your fingers on your throat. If your larynx is up very close to your jaw then you're straining your neck/throat. This does two things, first it strains the muscles, but it also affects the sound by reducing the amount of resonant space you have available to shape and focus sound. It's easier to sing when you have the resonant spaces open and clear.

If learning to relax your throat muscles and properly support your singing through breathing doesn't help, see a Dr. There are medical conditions which can cause this. Nodules on the vocal cords are the most common.

Enjoy,
Steven
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  #13  
Old 12-07-2007, 02:07 PM
Eureka Eureka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VCO3
Yeah, I'd rather be a Tom Waits or a Leonard Cohen than a Backstreet Boy any day. I guess I'm stuck with weirdo idiosyncratic voice and vocal damage!
Please seek the opinion of a professional voice coach in person before you decide that you are stuck with vocal damage. There may be something simple that you are doing wrong--but we probably can't diagnose it over the internet. ( And I couldn't diagnose it in person--I'm just an amateur singer, church choir soprano category). Also, if the problem is that you are trying to sing too high or too low for your range, you might be able to transpose some of the songs you are trying to sing to make it easier.
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  #14  
Old 12-07-2007, 02:11 PM
JustThinkin' JustThinkin' is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ichbin Dubist
This is anecdotal as fuck, but I find that if I sing more than a handful of songs while driving, my throat will sometimes hurt. I always assumed it was because I wasn't breathing properly -- I can sing for hours standing up at a mike (which is a confounding factor in this little n-1 study, I admit).
When my college choir went on tour, our director expressly forbade singing on the bus. Apparently, even if you're trying to sing quiet, you sing louder than you think and that can strain the voice.

I've also heard stories (sorry, no cite) that some rockers had to get vocal coaching to keep from ruining their voices. Same vocal quality, but better technique.
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  #15  
Old 12-07-2007, 02:46 PM
Ruffian Ruffian is offline
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I sang for years in a choir that performed about 60 concerts/year, with rehearsals 8hrs/week. (Swells chest: one album made with the Cincinnati Pops was nominated for a Grammy. Of course, that was the year BEFORE I was in it. Chest collapses.) Then we went on tour for two weeks, where we'd have at least one concert a day. The voice takes a beating, but you learn some tricks.

Yes, use your abdominal muscles/diaphragm to support your voice; don't force it through your throat. That will ruin your voice in very short order.

Warm up. Warm up. Warm up. Something I learned in that choir--your vocal chords perform like any other muscle. If you don't warm up and dive straight into action, you risk straining or injuring. Also, the more you sing (correctly), the more "in shape" your voice becomes. No way could I sing half as much now as I did back in my choir days. I find singing an "E" sound is easiest--this 2nd alto can soar into soprano territory (once made it to a B flat below high C! ...once) on E.

Swallow often. (Now, don't be naughty!) It lubricates the chords, and relaxes the straining muscles.

Never sing on a sore or strained voice--it makes it worse, and you can develop nodes (callouses). Those things are a bitch to get rid of. I got them not from singing, but from teaching--I got laryngitis, forced myself to teach anyway, and ruined my voice. Took 6+ months to recover, and it's still weak.

Worst thing for a voice: caffeine. This coffee freak BOOOOOOOOOOOOOs this. But, some hot herbal tea (Throat Coat is really good--but so is peppermint or lemon) with some honey and/or lemon juice is excellent.

Last edited by Ruffian; 12-07-2007 at 02:48 PM..
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  #16  
Old 12-07-2007, 02:53 PM
Ruffian Ruffian is offline
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It's vocal cords, dammit. I knew that, but the edit time ran out on me. Dammit.
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  #17  
Old 12-07-2007, 03:10 PM
fachverwirrt fachverwirrt is offline
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Many good points here. In addition to making sure you're breathing from the diaphragm rather than the chest (what is called "clavicular" breathing), you need to learn to access the head voice. That is the part of the voice that will allow you to sing high notes in a relaxed manner with full resonance and without straining. On the other hand, if you want to sound like you're straining, there's nothing for it but to shout and live with the damage. If you want to sound like Tom Waits, then smoke a lot, scream at every opportunity, and generally abuse your larynx. Just don't tell me about it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruffian
Swallow often. (Now, don't be naughty!) It lubricates the chords, and relaxes the straining muscles.
Not really, no. The larynx is in your trachea, not your esophagus. If swallowing lubricates your cords, then you're going to end up having a coughing fit.

This is why, while there is some sense in keeping your mouth moist, drinking during a performance is really rather useless. You need to stay constantly hydrated; there's no way to directly lubricate the cords.
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