The Post-Performance Syndrome of Voice Users

If I have seen this once, I have seen it a thousand times. A singer comes to me with vocal problems — sometimes severe ones — a day or so after a performance. They are confused — it just doesn’t add up.

They tell me that before and during the performance they were in perfect vocal shape. They warmed up properly and performed with ease. But now, seemingly out of the blue, they are experiencing strain or even loss of voice. What happened?

In most cases what happened was they left their performance on a high and had a good time with their fellow performers at a post-performance dinner or party. They ate till late in the night, talking and laughing, having a drink or two, and inhaling second-hand smoke.

When they got up the next morning, their voice squeaked and scraped because of lack of sleep. Their throats were dry because of caffeine or alcohol intake, or from breathing in dust or smoke at the post-performance gathering. And their voices were tired because of all the talking and laughing they did the night before.

At this point it starts adding up for them.

In fact, when people talk during most parties, they are actually yelling. They would realize this if the music was suddenly turned off and everyone else stopped talking. They would see that they were unconsciously raising their voice above the background noise in order to be heard. This alone can cause damage to the larynx and neck muscles.

Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not suggesting you become a monk or nun and avoid all celebrations after you speak or sing. But watching what you eat, drink, and breathe, avoiding excessive voice use, and getting a good night’s sleep will keep you on-stage and in excellent shape.

Be sure to check the next post for some specific pointers that will go along way to protecting you from abusing or misusing your voice.

— When you have voice problems “out of the blue,” stop and think. Are these symptoms really out of the blue? Which of the trigger-conditions listed above might you have been exposed to?

— If you suffer from post-performance syndrome, consider adjusting your post-performance habits. See next week’s blog post for more details.

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