Vocal Health Part 2: The Ear

I started this little series on Vocal Health Last week. Hopefully you can go back and read it if you have the chance. I wanted to expound on a couple more things that I’ve been reminded recently that are imperative to the singer.

Today we are gonna talk about the ears. As any non-newbie could probably tell you on some level, the ears are a very important part of any musicians “arsenal,” if you will. In fact, I would guess that a large part of the reason that people sing off key is that they really just don’t know that they are not singing in tune (just a guess, not verified or anything). They don’t hear themselves, which means they can’t tell that they need to adjust or that they are pushing too much.

I too ran into this problem myself at our conference two weekends ago. I found myself on stage in front of our band; two blaring electric guitar monitors, an unshielded drum set, and speakers that were turned up to the max. I don’t normally sing like this though. Our normal Sunday band is usually an acoustic, an electric drum set, a couple keyboards that you can barely hear through the system, and maybe 2 other singers, not 6.

I kept asking the engineer to crank my vocals in the monitors so that I wouldn’t start pushing, but it was of no use. The vocals were at max, and there was no consolation to this problem. I went on to sing my heart out, with a few resulting problems.

1. I am sure that I sang out of tune more than a couple times. I literally couldn’t hear a note I was singing. You know when you can feel the vibration while singing, so at least there’s that. Not even that. I was singing loudly (not on purpose) and there was nothing I could do, in all honestly.

2. When it was quiet, and it was time to lead the songs that I was leading, my voice was toast. Just done, burned, and ready to be put away. I often attribute anything that comes out of these moments as a gift from God, because there is no way that I contributed anything personally to this.

3. Almost two weeks later my voice is still sore, tired, dehydrated (my fault still), and still a bit cranky with me.

What I needed? In-ear monitors, or a button that turned everyone with electricity down… waaaaaaaaay down. Hahaha. Honestly though. There is almost no way to sing well, or correctly when you can’t hear yourself at all.

So, for those of you who find yourself on an over-volumed stage, do yourself a favor; turn it down, get ear plugs, or in-ear monitors. And what ever you do, do not persist to push your voice out. I guarantee that even if you feel like you’re not singing loud when you can’t hear yourself, you are.

Singers who don’t know any better will just keep doing that week after week, conference after conference, concert after concert. You will not only lose your voice over and over, but you can and will eventually do great damage to your vocal chords. This is damage that only lasers can fix, if they can. I’ve read of some of our favorite artists having to have these surgeries. These problems bring people out of the music world into another area of service because their voice can no longer handle the strain they’ve caused it to endure for years and years. But let’s be clear, years and years is a gift from God. Most singers won’t last a year if they treat their voice like this. I have witnessed many singers burn them selves out like this. And those that don’t burn themselves out usually build this permanently “raspy” sound. That’s not natural, and that’s not edgy or cool. That’s called mis-management.

Do yourself a favor, turn it down, stop pushing, and/or get yourself some in-ears if you can afford it. In any case, take care of the gift you’ve been given, and steward it wisely. You’re body’s on loan, try to take care of it!

We’ll bring you more about the voice soon. Is there something specific that you want to know about or that you have a question for? Hit us up in the comment section below!