Ten Surefire Ways to Destroy Your Voice

 In Presence, Vocal Health
Quarrel between two men screaming at each other in megaphone

Not too long ago, someone called me asking for help with his voice. He wanted to sound like Rod Stewart. Without batting an eye, I said, “You don’t need a lesson.  Just yell a lot, smoke a couple packs a day and don’t get any sleep.” He thanked me and hung up. How about that? I actually like Rod Stewart, but I wouldn’t want to sound like him, and I don’t usually coach people to destroy their voices. However, I believe that a person has the right to sound the way they want to sound.

So, with that in mind, here is a list of ten things you can do to ruin your voice, or give it a rough, gravelly sound in case you like that:

  1. Smoke. Smoking does terrible things to your voice and your body. It’s certain that it will make your voice less flexible, dry and crackly, lower than it used to be, and may even cause laryngeal cancer, in which case your voice will be eliminated. Perfect!
  2. Scream. My kids used to assure me that there were secrets that their favorite “Screamo” artists used to keep their voices completely healthy in spite of screaming every night on stage. If you know any of these secrets, please let me know, because screaming is still high on my list of guaranteed voice wreckers.
  3. Avoid drinking water. Since water is the lubrication for your vocal folds, without it you will need to clear your throat all the time, which will irritate the cords and make them more likely to become red and puffy, which may eventually lead to nodules or other permanent damage.
  4. Pitch your voice as low as you can get it and force the sound out. To help you with this, there are several websites that promote a sexy low voice, so you can even get some help from someone who is not a vocal practitioner.
  5. Get help with your voice from someone who is not a vocal practitioner.
  6. And if you use one of those on-line solutions, ignore the notice that says you may hurt yourself doing this!
  7. Push that sound out until it hurts. Don’t take breaks when your voice starts to feel tired. Instead, push it to the limit and then more. As we say in the voice world, “no pain, no strain.”
  8. Eat a big meal just before going to sleep. Acid reflux is one of the best ways to destroy an otherwise healthy voice, and if you do this night after night,  you may even develop esophageal cancer.
  9. Attend parties and try to speak over all the noise. You cannot produce a sound you cannot hear, so you are sure to strain your voice trying to speak loud enough to hear yourself.
  10. The next time you get laryngitis, go to the doctor and get some steroids. Then continue to speak as though there were nothing wrong. In fact, go out and sing karaoke, and impress all your friends with your low sexy sound. A few days of this, and you may ruin your voice for a good several months, or even permanently!!

If you have more suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  What’s going on with your voice?

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