I Lost My Singing Voice [Here's How I Got It Back]
You might be surprised to learn that I wasn't a natural at singing - I mean, not too many voice coaches would admit that they struggled along the way to building a great voice.
I know, I know - it's probably much easier to market a course or lessons by just saying "I'm simply the greatest ever" instead of "I had some issues along the way" right? But this was something I really struggled with when I was first learning, the disconnect between my coaches who were awesome singers, and myself that was struggling desperately to squeeze "the secret" out of them that was going to fix my voice.
After all, it's pretty hard to learn how to do something from someone who just "has it" naturally - just because someone is a native French speaker from birth doesn't mean that they actually understand how to help you sing French, or that they even recall the process of learning as a child; and much the same can be said for learning how to sing.
I recently detailed how I spent over $15,000 on singing lessons and courses - along with how I continued to experience strain, tension and a lack of high range even after seeing some of the best coaches out there and buying the top vocal methods I could find (well, the ones I could afford anyway). I just kept making the same mistakes over and over again, moving onto a new coach or exciting new method and returning to these same issues time and again - until all that strain and tension got the best of me;
I lost my voice.
That's right, I lost my singing voice - completely. Not only was my will to sing completely zapped, my physical ability to push like I used to was just gone - the meagre amount of range that I was able to push up to with all of my might was just gone.
I remember when it happened too - it was just after a fairly successful recording session where we threw together four songs for our first EP. The fact I had to split the vocals over two days because I kept blowing out my voice was a huge red flag that I flat out ignored at the time - but with the band breaking up shortly after this session; I hurriedly threw together a new lineup and rushed into rehearsal after rehearsal and gig after gig trying to keep the momentum going - about three songs in to one of our shows my voice just started to feel heavy, and I mean heavy - even the lower stuff felt like I was pushing a boulder up a hill - and those high notes that I used to push out with ease were just gone.
Admittedly, this had happened before - but my voice usually came back by the next song, or after a bit of a break - but weeks after this show even my speaking voice was worn out and sounding tired. Weeks become months, and then a year - I really felt like I'd done serious damage to my voice; and I honestly considered giving up my dream of becoming a singer for good.
I've since learned that this sadly happens to a LOT of rock singers who 'get away' with bad technique when they're younger; but the truth is, your recovery time changes as you get older - and past the age of about 28 or so (which is around how old I was at the time) your ability to just 'push chest voice' as high as you can to yell those high notes that you've just been "winging" so far WILL disappear just like mine did - and recovery time will get longer and longer from a few minutes to weeks or even months if you've strained your voice.
I guess I was pretty lucky in that I actually did no permanent damage to my voice in the ten+ years I had been pushing and yelling - but as a caveat; if you're experiencing severe vocal issues such as ongoing pain, problems speaking or issues with even the lightest sounds then you need to see a specialist; I'm not an ENT.
But what I can tell you is exactly how I regained my voice and increased my range ten fold.
But first, let me tell you what DIDN'T help;
- Glottal compression
- Vowel modification
- Speech Singing
- Open Throat Singing
- Burying my head in the sand and just continuing to sing in the same way
That's right - if you've been on YouTube lately, you've probably heard many of those terms thrown around like a "secret" to great singing; and none of them are going to help you.
Do you want to know why?
Because they don't help improve your foundation.
That's right, these advanced techniques do nothing but compound the problems you're experiencing add fuel to the fire of confusion - you need to back things up a step and rework your fundamentals.
Again, I was super lucky that not only did I avert any permanent damage to my voice - but also to meet a coach who pretty bluntly told me how terrible my technique was. He wasn't concerned about my loss of range at all, and after trying to show him exactly how I used to push anything past an E3 - he shook his head and said something to the effect of "it's better that it's gone"; which at the time I didn't really understand, but with many years coaching under my belt now I will attest to the absolute truth that most singers struggle to move forward in their singing because they just won't let go of those bad habits that seemingly help them push that extra note or two out.
Just because you can push an E4 doesn't mean you SHOULD push an E4 when you sing.
I've also detailed the exact method we took to regain control over my wayward voice so I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say in the span of about two weeks my voice went from almost complete loss to multiple octaves of resonance and power - sure, I wasn't perfect; but not only had my voice returned, but I was actually singing better than I ever had before just by learning the four basic fundamentals my coach swore by (and also had never been shown before in almost ten years of prior coaching);
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- Mixed Tonality
- "All In One Flow"
Sure, I'd been told by previous teachers to "yawn" when I sing - but it wasn't explained properly that the soft palate should be raising in the pharynx to create resonant space, and that techniques like Vowel Modification are simple an extension of this basic fundamental.
Having a pretty low voice naturally as a baritone, I'd heard the term Mixed Voice before but wanted to "sing as high as I could in chest voice" with obviously dire results - it had never been explained to me that achieving chest resonance in your high range is actually a result of Mixed Voice, not in spite of it - or even that powerful belting actually occurs in the mixed register, not the chest register.
You can probably see why I had so many issues learning how to sing - basically, my foundation sucked.
Foundation in singing really IS just like the foundation of a house being built; the solid concrete base that your walls and roof (tone and range) are built upon. And when it came to my home, my foundation just kept failing time and time again until I strained my voice severely.
But instead of telling you over and over again just how important it is to develop your vocal foundation and just how AMAZING it feels to sing with effortless freedom and power now that I've mastered these four simple fundamentals - here's a few quick examples of what I'm achieving now that I've developed my vocal foundation and learned to use Vowel Modification the right way; just imagine the incredible singing voice you could build with a rock solid vocal foundation!
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Kegan is the master of vocal training... period.
Top shelf sing-ninja wisdom! All kinds of awesome.
My progress has been pretty epic!
I'll ask you the same question that my coach asked me when he first heard my strained, painful singing:
Aren't you sick of yelling?
I remember almost falling in a heap as he asked me this simple question, because YES, I absolutely WAS sick of yelling and pushing and longed for freedom and fluidity in my singing.
I'll ask you again: Aren't you sick of yelling?
I know I was, and coming to the realisation that there really WAS an easier way - and that it was so simple to achieve if I just let all that weight and tension go - was absolutely life changing.
One of the biggest obstacles that held me back was super strong opinions on things like chest and head voice - thinking that only "chest" was full voice and head voice was just for Jeff Buckley style singing, or even that a baritone couldn't possibly sing an A4 without pushing - all opinions that I either used as excuses for my own lack of singing prowess, or even ones that I had picked up from YouTube videos too.
With The Four Vocal Fundamentals, singing really IS easier - but before we get started improving The Four Vocal Fundamentals, there's one more important question I need to ask you:
Do You Have What It Takes?
When I was first learning how to sing, I often wondered whether It was all worth it, or even whether I really had what it takes to become a better singer. I just wanted someone to TELL me whether my voice was "just bad" or where exactly I should have been investing my time and effort for better progress and more efficient use of my time (and money!)
Well now it's possible!
This simple Vocal Potential Calculator will let you know your exact potential for progress as a singer and also where you should be investing your time to make the most out of your practice routing. Best of all it's quick, super accurate and most singers are absolutely SHOCKED at the results.