Care of the Professional Voice

Here at Vanderbilt, we are passionate about the singers in our Nashville community, which is why we've spent years developing a nationally-recognized program to help care for the professional voice.

We understand how important a singer’s voice is, as it feeds their passion and their livelihood. Our physicians and highly-trained singing voice specialists work to help singers overcome voice concerns so that they may maintain their unique vocal sound.

Your voice is an instrument and needs to be maintained and cared for just like any other piece of valuable equipment. It’s important to make an appointment as soon as you notice differences in your voice. A change in your voice may indicate the development of a vocal polyp, tear or other concern. The sooner you are aware of what is causing the distress, the sooner you may be able to prevent a more serious complication from developing.

Singer’s voice complaints

Other words used to describe this quality of the voice include raspiness, scratchiness, roughness, and gravelly quality.  This quality may occur as a result of illness or overuse of the voice.  Persistent hoarseness (lasting over 2 weeks) should be evaluated by a physician.

Voice breaks
Voice breaks are best described as the voice “cutting out” at unpredictable times.  It can occur at any point in your pitch range and can come and go.

Voice fatigue/ voice weakness
Many professional voice users are expected to use their voices for an extended period of time.  They must maintain good quality with ease.  When voice problems arise, an individual may experience a sense of tiredness or fatigue in their voice.  The voice may have a strained, tense quality or may be more hoarse than usual. 

Loss of voice
Loss of voice can mean many things to professional voice users ranging from total loss of voice (aphonia) to changed or diminished voice quality.  This symptom can occur gradually or have a sudden onset. 

Loss of control
Professional voice users depend on a reliable wide, dynamic voice range.  Voice problems may limit your ability to control your loudness, pitch, color, mix, belt, and falsetto.

Pain in the throat
Pain in the throat may range from a dull muscle ache to a sharp, radiating sensation.  This may accompany voice use (either during speaking or singing).

Reduction or loss in range(s)
Singers come to our clinic complaining that they have a lot of trouble with their voice range.  This may mean a number of things.  They may have trouble singing as high as they used to.  Singers call this a loss of their head voice or falsetto.  Voice range difficulties can affect the top, middle or bottom of your voice range. 

Difficulty bridging between registers

Expected or unexpected post surgery voice change

Vanderbilt Voice Center
Visiting the Vanderbilt Voice Center should not be just a trip when you are worried about a vocal concern, but rather something you should consider throughout the year as an ongoing prevention/maintenance plan. We want to help keep your voice in prime condition, and that means assessing it for damage or undue strain. Singers may put stress on their vocal cords without knowing it, and may not be exhibiting symptoms of injury which indicate a problem. We recommend regular visits to the Vanderbilt Voice Center to make sure things are working as they should.

The Professional Voice