I Lost My Singing Voice (here’s how I got it back!)
I first started singing by accident in my teenage years when a fruitless search for a formidable frontman led me to step in front of the mic and just let it rip out of pure frustration. Completely untrained, and with little consideration towards my vocal health (or anyone’s ears) I was just happy to hit the occasional pitch while singing extremely rough and what I liked to call “raw” – and eventually, this is exactly what my vocal chords become, worn out and raw.
After a number of years in local bands and making recordings in this manner, my voice finally packed its bags, didn’t bother with a forwarding address and simply left me. I actually gave up singing for a time at this point and even experienced occasional issues with my speaking voice too – I was convinced my voice was gone for good and my days as a confident rock singer were done forever.
I continued to play guitar and hang with muso buddies until one day the question was put to me “Dude, why don’t you just go see a vocal coach?”. In hindsight, this seemingly simple suggestion is really one I could and should have come to on my own many years earlier when I was losing my voice show after show, but youthful brashness, dubious singing ability and Rock ‘n Roll have always gone hand in hand I guess.
My first voice coach was my local classical voice coach, and while she had a spectacular and powerful singing voice herself we, unfortunately, had no luck with her approach to placement, and reluctantly we both conceded defeat with my frustrating voice issues. A few more coaches along, and even a prehistoric online vocal course (we’re talking almost 15 years ago now) yielded few results other than being told a number of times not to sing Rock any more, or even to only sing low baritone material like Johnny Cash (direct quote by the way) that suited my low voice type. While I love Johnny Cash, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear and really felt I had an inner voice that needed to be unleashed if I could JUST find the right technique to get my voice back.
Eventually, I realised it wasn’t my voice that was incapable of singing the songs I wanted to and with the powerful high range I really dreamed of, it was actually the coaches I was seeing that were unable to teach my voice how to sing better. This was in part due to my own stubborn attitude, rather odd voice type, accent and also my unique vocal issues – in short, my voice simply didn’t behave in the way they thought it should, and hence I never received the coaching my voice needed or developed an approach that worked for my unique voice.
It wasn’t my voice holding me back, it was the “one size fits all” coaching I received
I went back to some of the classical techniques and terms I had originally been taught by my fantastic first teacher and researched their origin and the real meaning behind how and why these techniques were intended to help my voice. As an example, placement was something that had eluded me for over 4 or 5 years at this point, and in one afternoon of research and trial and error I actually achieved proper vocal placement for the first time in my life – My voice was BACK, baby! I realised that vocal placement was simply an approach to singing with efficient and appropriate frequencies considering your voice type and unique resonators – with this in mind, I developed my own approach to frequency production that worked every time, and I now often refer to in a tongue-in-cheek way as reverse placement. You see, it’s not physically possible to move or place your voice, but it IS possible to encourage the creation of efficient frequencies while limiting any unnecessary or inappropriate tones when you sing.
The darndest thing then started to happen, each of the classical techniques that once made me scratch my head started to make sense in a practical sense, and I was able to get to the root of Open Throat technique, Appoggio, Vowel Modification and so many other important aspects of a great singing voice. I learned in particular that Open Throat singing technique actually requires closure rather than a literal ‘opening’ of your throat, and is really better translated as “No Throat” or “Singing without your throat” instead of the literal interpretation I initially tried to implement, ultimately hindering my progress. With my new approach and heightened perception about how the voice worked, and how singing terms like Open Throat and Appoggio were really intended to help your voice in the first place – I then set about developing a whole new approach to singing that worked every time and could be implemented by any other voice type and used to troubleshoot any number of unique vocal issues other singers might be struggling with.
I designed my own approach to singing that worked EVERY time
This is how Bohemian Vocal Studio was born. Since we launched in 2010, BVS has steadily become the fastest growing vocal studio online helping students all around the globe improve their voices and reach their singing goals faster and easier than any other method out there. Bohemian Vocal Studio has become one of the premier online voice studios providing professional voice coaching to touring professionals and beginner singers alike.
It wasn’t a vocal coach or a particular piece of advice that returned my voice and ultimately led me back to vocal health, it was what I did with the information I learned and how I then applied this to my own unique situation to make it work for my own voice. I now design a unique vocal approach for each of my students considering their voice type, native tongue, unique vocal issues and many other aspects of their individual and unique voice – ensuring that the approach they use is the best one for their voice, not just what worked for me.
Over the years my voice has grown stronger than it ever was in my youth, and I totally cringe at the thought of those old shouty recordings and feel bad for the strain and struggle my voice was going through before I really learned how to use it in the right way. I hardly ever sing Johnny Cash, even though I do love his music and get a kick out of shocking people with just how low my natural range is when I appear to sing in the Tenor range so naturally now. Your voice type and unique vocal mechanism isn’t a limitation on how you can sing if you learn how to use it in the right way it’s actually one of the most valuable commodities you could ever possess.
If you’re ready to discover your own true voice and regain the lost range and ease you sang within your youth, you can book a Skype Session with me and we’ll get started rebuilding your voice today!
If you have any questions about how I got my voice back, or if you’re having vocal issues yourself – feel free to leave any questions or feedback below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.