#1
Hey guys!

I sing a lot and have been singing for a very long time. I don't have a whole lot of formal training, but I have been fairly confident in my vocal ability over the years.

I've noticed that over the last year or so, that both the quality and upper range of my voice have shrunk down a bit (maybe 3-5 pitches?). My first guess is to attribute this to the fact that in the band I've been a part of over the last year, I scream (in the same vein as someone like Jesse Lacey from Brand New, I sound like something is tearing my throat out). However, I only really perform this style of singing in like 3 of our songs and when I do, its not for the entire duration of a song, its more of like icing on a cake. Its just a little texture at a few points. I admit (somewhat regretfully?) that I also have no formal training in how to execute this vocal style, and when my band-mates heard me doing it as a joke at practice about 8 months ago, they really liked it, so it stuck.

I'm wondering if my untrained screaming (or maybe just growing older? or the weather?) have affected my voice to this point of loss of ability. My voice just gives out so much quicker than it used to. Also, I used to be able to sing comfortably in my belting range up to a D (in the alto-ish range I guess?) and now I have to really hold on to my balls to make it happen on a good day.

Any tips on how to re-gain lost range? I know that I've gained vocal range in the past from just practicing, but any other tips? Also, with screaming this way, do any of you know how I can make this take less of a toll on my voice? Is there a more "proper" technique for this more "raw" style of screaming?

Thanks!
#2
Hello,

Your vocal chords are essentially two strips of muscle that are slammed together at different speeds and frequency to create pitches. Just like any other muscle in your body, they can become tired, strained, or even seriously damaged.1

Improper usage of the voice can lead to damage to the vocal cords. Singing outside of a comfortable vocal range and screaming are two of the absolute worst things you can do to your voice. A single instance of shouting can do permanent damage to your voice, but generally will leave your voice hoarse or raw for a few days. Consistently screaming puts a person at high risk for vocal cord damage such as polyps or vocal cord nodules (nodes).2

Many professional artists also have had to undergo vocal cord surgery to repair damage done after years of abuse and improper technique. Stars such as Adele, Keith Urban and John Mayer have all had to put their careers on hold because of damaged vocal cords.3 However, it is much better to practice proper techniques to prevent damage than to have surgery performed due to damage. Vocal cord surgery can be costly and requires the patient to rest their voice for possibly more than a month depending on the severity of the operation.

In short, I would recommend against all instances of screaming as it puts you at high risk of losing or damaging your voice permanently. Is this risk really worth having that “cool sound” in a song or two? I would also try to avoid singing music that is extremely high (or low) for extended periods of time as this can also put you at risk for voice damage.
Additionally, I would seek a medical exam with a professional who can diagnose whether or not you vocal cords are currently damaged. It has been reported that some singers do not even know that they have vocal nodes or other ailments.4
Finally, I would recommend that you take voice lessons, or at the very least research proper singing techniques to help avoid doing permanent damage to your voice.

In closing, I would have you ask yourself: Isn’t it better for your band to have you able to sing some songs, rather than continue to sing songs that damage your voice, possibly to the point where you are no longer able to sing at all?
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1“Vocal Cord Disorders” Harvard Health Publications. http://www.drugs.com/health-guide/vocal-cord-disorders.html. Accessed 2/19/16.
2Senior, Kathryn. “Can Shouting Damage the Vocal Cords?” http://www.throatproblems.co.uk/can-shouting-damage-vocal-cords.html. Accessed 2/19/16.
3McKinley, James Jr. “Advances in Medicine Lead Stars to Surgery” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/19/arts/music/why-voices-of-singers-like-adele-and-john-mayer-are-stilled.html?_r=0. Accessed 2/19/16.
4Senior, Kathryn. “Can Shouting Damage the Vocal Cords?” http://www.throatproblems.co.uk/can-shouting-damage-vocal-cords.html. Accessed 2/19/16.
#3
even proper screaming can leave you with polyps. you never know. just take it easy, practice, work on your technique and don't push and it shouldn't be too bad. remember perfect practice makes perfect.

there's a channel on youtube called ultimate-vocalist. he's got some good stuff, ian bearer and phil bozeman have some tips on their channels too.
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#4
+1 on Brandon's advice. That was really well stated.
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