Hoarse Throat, Permanent Damage?

Did I Do Permanent Damage To My Voice?

Another question has come in from one of my YouTube followers.

This one has to do with a hoarse throat and wondering about permanent damage.  Here is what he writes (I’ve corrected a few typos and spelling errors so you can read it more easily):

“I was training for about a year and recently tried a few high notes and may have strained something…I waited a month and still feel a bit hoarse and like my voice is thick….no clarity..really upset..should I brake again or see a throat doctor?? I’m scared I may have done permanent damage…”

Here is what I wrote back to him:

“Without hearing you, it would be difficult for me to advise you. However, I do know this: often the fear of damage will cause even more tightness in the throat area. There are a number of things that you can do to relax the muscles that affect your vocal cords….focus on how you can relax and let go of the fear. I have worked with hundreds of people and find that usually there is not permanent damage done in these types of cases. But, again, I am not a doctor and without hearing you, I cannot say for sure.”

Now here’s the thing. This man who asked the question also confided in me that his voice teacher teaches with an opera style, but he himself likes singing pop style.

He also said that his teacher doesn’t mention head voice or vibrato, and then concluded by saying, “…they say if u can do opera, you can sing anything…”

Opera versus Pop Styles

The question of what style to sing is a common one so I want to write a little bit about it today.

First, let me say that my teaching philosophy regarding opera versus pop is to go with what makes the person feel most happy when singing. After all, it is supposed to be something that gives us joy not fear, right?

However, learning how to sing requires certain techniques that are based on the anatomy of the voice and we cannot really go against the natural laws of that voice anatomy and expect to get very good results.

I think the difference in approach has to do with attitude and a singing mindset.

When I teach people how to sing (and yes, I do take on a few private online students), I always approach their voice with tremendous care and respect, as though their voice is the ONLY voice in the world and needs to be treated like a precious jewel.

That’s because the truth is this: your voice is the only one like it in the world. You cannot go out and buy a new one if you ruin it or don’t like it, and it is more valuable, in my opinion, than much of what we consider valuable in this world.

In other words, your voice must be approached from the stand point that
you are truly the only one who knows what is best for it.

I know….that’s a shocking or peculiar statement for me to make as a master voice teacher. But stay with me here. This is what I mean.

Your voice is inside of you and only you. Not I, nor any other voice teacher, can get inside of your head or into your throat. All we can do is listen, watch, observe and give guidance based on our experiences and training. Ultimately, you are going to have to search deeply inside of yourself in order to find the answers you are looking for.

I believe those answers are already inside of you and you just need someone to help you find them. That’s what I do. I help you find what is best for your voice.

If opera or musical theatre is not your thing but pop, rock, jazz, folk, blues or something is, then utilize the timeless vocal techniques that work no matter what style you like and apply it to your own personal style of singing and the unique voice that is yours and yours alone.

And if you want more personal help from me, leave a comment below that says, “Joy, I need more help with my singing voice,” and explain what kinds of problems you are having.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Mark ,

    I have a hoarse throat today, and it was due to me singing in a key
    that was too high. I would like to increase my vocal range, but,
    I have found that singing songs too high for my vocal range
    inevitably leads to me getting a hoarse throat. Typically, the
    hoarseness is gone by the next day or two. What is the right and
    proper way to go about trying to increase ones vocal range, without
    getting hoarse, or doing damage to the vocal chords and the surrounding muscles?

  • Joy ,

    Hi Mark,

    Great question.

    There are a number of different things that you can do and I have written about them in this article about how to release the tone when you are practicing.

    Start with that article and be sure to check out the “resonance” link on that page. There are 2 videos at the bottom that may help too.

    On the videos, be aware that the reference to singbabysing.com is something that has changed. Singing lessons and information for teens and adults is happening here on singingmastermind.com. The SingBabySing site is for pregnant women and mothers of young children and how their voices influence the way their children’s voices will develop.

    One other thing: as you sing higher notes, the vowels you sing on will require more breath and muscle energy. This has to do with how the vowels are formed, which has everything to do with the singing tongue muscle.

    The keys to singing without getting hoarse as you go higher in pitch have to do with the things mentioned above and breath control.



  • Joy ,

    Mark, also check out the singing tongue articles:

    Remember, your singing tongue is what shapes the vowels you sing on so as you go up higher you have to know what to do with the tongue muscle!

  • dom ,

    Hi singing mastermind

    I have recently got a job in a haunted house, working 35 hours a week. I am utilizing techniques such as inwards screams and have found that my voice is hoarse in the morning. Everyone at work says the voice will get used to this and that there is no risk of permanent damage however, I am unsure. What do you think?

  • Singing Master ,

    Hi Dom,

    Congratulations on the job. I do not agree with the people at work who are telling you there is no risk of permanent damage. Being hoarse every morning is one of the symptoms of the beginning of damage. If not corrected, it can become permanent.

    There are a number of articles here on the SingingMastermind site. Start here with Singing Help #1 and get back to me on the comments section on that page so I can help you further.

    I have helped many people prevent permanent damage, so that is the main thing to think about: prevention of vocal damage.

    Sing well, be well,