How can professional singers sing so loud and long without going hoarse the next day?

I screamed my lungs out 8 or 10 times in the woods last weekend to help my daughter’s drama club make a scarier “Haunted Trail” at a local park, and my throat ached for days afterward. I was in the super market this evening and was listening some Broadway diva belt out a song in the background music, and wondered how the heck they can sing at that volume for multiple numbers in a Broadway show several times a week, and I scream a few times and nurse a scratchy throat for days afterward. [sub](In fairness, they were excellent, loud screams, even my kids were startled and impressed)[/sub]

What’s the secret to how singers do it? Is it simply genetic or what?

Warming up before singing make it much easier to sing at length without causing a sore throat. Perhaps this is the difference?

Hoarseness is like injuring your leg in an game of basketball with your office coworkers - muscles and tendons that aren’t ready to be used can get injured.
I’m a freshman voice major, and the first couple weeks were hard on me. My body wasn’t made to stand or sit still and sing for six hours in a day. Kinda like playing football - give the body a ramping series of shocks and stresses and it grows to accept the task.

However, opera singers are not screaming <usually>. Singing, even singing as loud as possible, is more like a fluid stream of sound than anything else. If anything clutches between your collar and your mustache during singing, let go of it immediately. One teacher of mine a couple years ago said that singing was a very precise system of control. I know now that the control is not in the cords nor the tongue, but in the brain. Giving clean melismas is much more important than hitting the right notes, which is taken as a matter of course.

The answer - it’s about becoming used to constantly producing song and only tensing the muscles of the upper throat, vocal cords, lower throat, and tongue attachments as much as absolutely necessary. You don’t need to sing hard, to bring out the muscles in your neck, to fill up an opera hall.

Well, I’m the lead singer in a bar band. We play mostly hard rock, with some heavy metal thrown in there. Which means I really have to belt out the high notes I’m on stage nearly four hours a night, for three nights a week. How do I do it?

Practice, practice, practice.

Okay, that sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. Way back when I first tried to sing with a choir, when I was about 14 years old, I couldn’t sing a note any higher than the A below middle C. But I got into heavy metal, and strongle desired to sing that kind of music. So I tried, and tried, and tried, and kept doing it until I could do it. I managed to develop my range to the E a tenth above middle C.

As I’ve had no formal voice training (I was always in the band at school) this was painful much of the time. I could hit the notes, but it was a strain. Especially when many of the songs were literally screamed. Over time, though, I learned how to “sing from the diaphragm”. All the power in my voice comes from there, not from my throat. I learned how to keep my neck and throat muscles mostly relaxed, and to let my diaphragm drive the notes. And like cdhostage said, I learned how to tighten those muscles only as much as necessary.

The result is that I can go all night, full bore. Even when I have to scream, or use a raspy-sounding voice, it doesn’t hurt or wear me out.

Agree w/phase42 and cdhostage.
Not singing, but maybe something similar…

Every season we’d send Jud Milton to do play-by-play of the high school football game of the week (RIP, Jud). And every season he’d go hoarse by the 4th quarter of the first two games.
By the third game he’d make it to the post-game show and by the fourth game he’d be in form.


Oh, this is easy, I’ve been doing it on and off for 25 years. #1 you already know your limits from previous shows/recording. #2 anyone who tells you to exceed those limits are new species of scum, and it is your duty to eliminate them within one second, and don’t even think of being polite about it. #3 sing from your gut, never sing from your throat. #4 when you’re playing, pace it carefully if you have to play within the next three days, otherwise give her. Whatever doesn’t kill your voice makes it stronger. #5 pace yourself carefully through each set, no matter what. No one listens to the middle. Be awesome for three songs, go into cruise control, be awesome for the last three. Never play longer than 50 minutes, unless you have a plane ticket for the carribean in your pocket. #6 if all else fails, crack raw eggs into milk and throw it down your throat, don’t taste or think, just swallow. Don’t drink milk other than that, and don’t use cough medicine or anything else besides what I just said. #7 most important, sing from the bottom of your stomache. It never tires.