Going on vocal rest is precisely what it sounds like: giving your vocal cords a rest. It benefits singers, rappers, preachers, voice actors, motivational speakers, and even non-professionals in post-op who suffer from vocal damage.
Our voice box, also known as the larynx, holds our vocal cords, which are delicate parts of our bodies. When we overwork these body parts, it shows in the form of pain, hoarseness, and irritation. If you're a performer, you know that can be extremely annoying.
Sometimes it's best to just give yourself a break, no matter how hard it seems. Stop talking, whispering, laughing, singing, rapping, and especially stop yelling.
Your vocal cords will that you when you give them a chance to rest. According to the Boston Medical Center, our vocal cords vibrate against each other 100 to 1,000 times every second. Your voice box can handle this, but it isn't meant to be overworked.
When you constantly sing or speak beyond your limits, you don't give your vocal cords enough time to recover from all of the vibrations, and they will begin to lose their effectiveness.
Overworking your vocal cords and larynx can cause you to go beyond the damages, like hoarseness and a soar throat. Those who overwork their vocal cords can suffer from extreme conditions, including vocal nodules.
Like calluses that grow on your hands, vocal nodules are a growth on your vocal cords (sometimes benign, sometimes worse) that impacts your ability to vocalize correctly.
When done correctly in combination with being sick, going on vocal rest can help speed up your recovery time and get your voice back to normal.
According to Complete Vocal Institute, "You can try a period of complete voice rest, i.e. no singing, speaking or whispering for 4 - 7 (sometimes 10) days after which most nodules will have disappeared all by themselves."
If you are a touring musician or someone who has multiple performances happening consistently, you will want to implement regular voice resting periods throughout your schedule.
As a session singer who records from my home studio, I find that I need periods of vocal rest between long gigs. I find that if I've been singing a lot throughout the day, periods of silence every few hours really help me to get my vocals back in shape for heavy singing.
If you are going through a post-op process, consult your doctor about if, when, and how long you will need to rest your vocal cords. Obviously, this is a scenario where you should have no excuses when it comes to going completely silent for the sake of your health.
When I encounter sickness due to allergies, a cold, flu, or something similar, voice rest helps me save my vocal cords for moments that matter (like a small singing gig I will have coming up).
Avoiding singing or speaking while you are sick is also a great way to recover your vocal cords and your larynx from inflammation.
If you are prepping for a demanding performance that is coming up within a day or two, you may want to consider going on voice rest hours or days before so that your vocal cords can be fully prepared for your performance.
The amount of time you go on voice rest will vary on a case-to-case basis. If you are sick, you likely want to go on voice rest for a few days to speed up your recovery.
If you are prepping for an upcoming gig of yours, you may only need an hour to go on voice rest. If you are trying to give your voice a chance to breathe in between performances, you could benefit from 60 minutes of voice rest.
UTS Medical Center professionals recommend that for every hour you spend singing or speaking, you will need to give your voice rest for 10 minutes to allow your vocal cords to recover.
If you can, try using other forms of communication like hand signals, texting, and writing to get your point across for one to three days, especially if you are sick.
When we speak or sing at normal levels, our vocal cords vibrate, which keeps the muscles in our voice box healthy and resonating. But when we whisper, the vocal cords do not vibrate, and this can cause dryness, leading to irritation.
In an article penned by Dr. Isaac Namdar, M.D., he states that "Whispering actually requires special muscle contractions in order to modulate our voices from their natural state. Typically, this could be just as bad as yelling or shouting."
Get around eight glasses of water a day into your body to keep your voice in tip-top shape. This practice alone can save you from hoarseness and even full-blown sickness, whether you're a singer, performer, or not.
If you are going on voice rest because you are sick, Consider a medicine like Mucinex that has Guaifenesin, which can help decongest you without causing any adverse effects to your voice box.
Zinc is also known to help shorten the time that you are sick with a cold or flu. As I mentioned before, try natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric and ginger.
Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat Seasonal Tea - this is the first tea I have ever tried for the sole purpose of soothing my throat for singing.
It's the tea I heard the most positive things about, and the people weren't wrong at all when they said that this tea is one of the best for singers. The taste is good and has a hint of licorice, and it really smells nice too!
Avoid clearing your throat and coughing if you can while going through vocal rest, because both acts can be a stressor on your vocal cords, just like talking and singing can.
The best alternative solution for wanting to clear your throat is to simply get some water or swallow a bit of saliva.
It's far better than the irritation that comes with several coughs or throat clears that do nothing but damage over time. I know it's hard to do, but even cutting your coughs and throat clearing in half will do you a lot of good.
Lastly, you want to be aware of little noises you may make with your vocal cords that you don't even notice. This could include laughs, grunts from moving around, sighs, and so many other things that you want to make sure you are actively avoiding!
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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