Ever heard that hard work pays off, and practice makes perfect? This is true in most cases, but when it comes to singing, you might try a different approach from time to time. When considering your vocal chord health, it's very possible that you can sing too much. The reality is...it’s not always possible to pinpoint an exact amount of hours that may be enough. Equally, it's hard to say exactly how much singing is too much singing.
Several factors influence different singers in different ways, and these will determine how long a singer is able to sing for. To get a better idea of what your limit is, here's a simple guide:
Experience and Stamina
It’s important to remember that your voice is a muscle like your arms or legs. And if you’re not athletic and overwork your arms or legs in the gym, they get tight and you feel useless the following day. The same happens to your voice. It’s vital you take your experience and stamina into consideration.
Beginner singers who are still getting the hang of the proper technique won’t have the same vocal stamina of an experienced singer. A 30 to 45-minute exercise, including a 15-minute warm-up, is the maximum suggested practice time for beginners.
As you mature and your technique improves, you’re may reach a point where you are able to sing for 45 minutes without tiring. At this point, you will know that your voice has become stronger.
However, still be careful of long practice sessions. It’s always better to rather add an extra session or two to your schedule instead of making it longer. By taking it slowly and gradually building the strength of your vocal cords, your voice will adapt according to your ability and ensure you’re singing safely and efficiently for longer periods of time.
If you’re an experienced singer, you will have a better idea of what your voice is capable of and what your limitations are. And like with any muscle exercise, good hydration of the vocal cords and enough rest is also extremely important.
When trying to determine if you’re singing too much, you have to take your singing style into consideration. What you sing will influence the time your voice takes to tire. Any singing styles like rock music will have a bigger effect on your vocal cords compared to light opera or gentle folk.
Just because one singing style tires your voice quicker than another one, doesn’t mean that you’re hurting your voice more. It just means that those specific singing styles require more precision and energy to produce a quality sound.
During your practice sessions, it’s important that you work on your technique as it needs to support your chosen style’s level of work. During practice sessions you will need to learn how to deal with vocal fatigue.
How to Deal With Vocal Fatigue
Vocal fatigue isn’t something to be scared of, but definitely something to be aware of in order to avoid vocal damage in the long run.
When you notice your voice is cracking or your throat feels swollen, it’s time for your voice to take a break. Your vocal cords need a proper two-day rest to recover from vocal fatigue. Here are a few tips on taking care of your voice:
Warm Up Your Voice
To avoid hurting your voice, warming up is essential. Just like any athlete needs to warm up their muscles to avoid injuries, the same goes for singers.
Modern tension often centers around the neck and throat; resulting in strain on your vocal cords. Following an exercise program helps you relieve stress and become more aware of how your body works. In short, a healthy body equals a healthy mind.
Get Enough Sleep
When you’re tired, everything is more effort and your body doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. It’s like when you hurt one part of your body, the rest of your body overcompensates and causes more discomfort.
Hydrated vocal cords don’t hurt as easily because they are nice and plump. The more hydrated they are, the smaller the chances are for glottal attacks or injuries.
Take Care of Allergies and Acid Reflux
Allergies and acid reflux can place unnecessary strain on your voice. When you don’t take the necessary precautions, your vocal cords can get irritated - which may result in more serious damage in the future.
If you're serious about singing and you want to protect your voice, it's important to follow some strict guidelines that will benefit you in the long run. Some of the most successful singers have some of the strictest rules around when and how they will use their voice. Singing too much will show different symptoms in different people, while some singers may simply be able to sing for longer than others. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Sometimes it's better to pack it in and take a break instead of pushing too hard...which may end up causing permanent damage.
For some more information on how to maintain vocal health, please read 7 Simple Rules For Maintaining Vocal Cord Health.
About the Author: Julie Adams
I am a mom, a music lover and teacher from Tampa, FL. After completing a Bachelor of Music in Performance Arts, I traveled for several years before returning home where I started offering private piano and singing lessons as extra income. I met my husband in 2009 and 2 years later moved to Dallas where we settled down and I started focusing on vocal training to aspiring singers and performance artists of all age groups. I still enjoy playing the piano very much, and in my spare time you will catch doing some horse riding, drawing, doing some light reading, or just spending quality time with my family.