I Don’t Want My Voice to Fail!

Singing Ensemble with Doctor

Dear Doctor Jahn,

I’m just about to embark on a major European tour (2 gigs a day, seven days a week for 5 weeks) – and I don’t want my voice to fail! I’m open to any advice!


Dear Gary,

Touring can be stressful to your body on many levels, and before we talk about your singing, consider that the voice is only as healthy as you are. So, in general, try to drink a lot of water, rest, eat well and take your vitamins!

Now, the voice – your voice – will need to work hard, and under a variety of circumstances, some of which you cannot control. My most important advice is: save your voice for when you need it. Minimize social voice use, especially between and after your performances – give it a chance to recover between performances. Avoid noisy places if you can, since the tendency there is to raise your voice above the background din. If a noisy environment is unavoidable (such as an airplane, car or tour bus), keep your mouth shut. Noise tends to tense the larynx. If your tour involves a lot of one-nighters with travel in between, noise cancellation headphones are good investment. 

If you stay at better hotels, make use of the gym (hopefully one without loud music) and sauna to stretch and relax.In general, try to plan your day’s activities around your performances, and keep in mind that you have only one larynx, whether it is singing, talking on the bus or yelling at the pub.

During performance, make sure the sound system is working to your advantage. You should not need to strain to be heard. If you work with the same sound crew throughout your tour, make sure they are sensitive to your needs. If you need to work with different people, the sound check is even more important.

After the show, relax, but not in a noisy venue. Drink water before, during and after your performance. Well-hydrated vocal folds will better tolerate trauma than dehydrated ones.

Finally, the more you can adhere to a comfortable routine, the better. Unexpected stress weakens your immune system, and you will
be in contact with many different people (some inevitably suffering from colds), so keeping your immune system strong is key.

-Anthony F. Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)

This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.

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