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A lot of singers toss around the phrase “vocal rest” like they are talking about their daily shower. I think it’s time to address this.

Years ago I remember hearing about how Celine Dion goes on strict vocal rest the day of her shows, and sometimes more often than that. I always thought that sounded really dramatic. I mean, does she REALLY need to do that every single time?

Now, I will never criticize her voice. She’s an absolute vocal beast.
Untouchable. Ridiculously talented. But I will question the degree of importance of such a strict standard on the voice.

I recently went on vacation for a solid week celebrating my 2-year anniversary with my husband. I joked to all my students about how I wasn’t going to sing even so much as a single lip roll while I was gone, and do nothing but rest and have fun. And I actually did!! ***pats self on
back*** I was pretty adamant about resting my voice the whole week because I could tell I was just tired from teaching so much. I wasn’t hurting by any means nor did I have any vocal health problems; I just wanted to chill and see where my voice was after seven days of not singing.

It was quite lovely. All I needed coming back was a good “back-in-shape” vocal workout, and I was good as new. So let’s talk about when vocal rest is appropriate and when it’s actually counter-intuitive.

When your voice gets a very regular workout and you use good technique, small increments of resting time is healthy. This is the same reason trainers advise people to not work out every single day. The body needs recovery time even when it’s being used properly. For most of us this is just daily sleep.

However, when you use your voice recklessly, and not often, vocal rest leaves your damaged voice unattended. When athletes get injured, they go through physical therapy to rehabilitate the muscle to health. A tired and abused voice needs rehab, too, not just rest!

Back to Celine. The reason I say it may not be necessary every single day of a show (which for her is most every day!) is because her technique is so good and her voice is in such good shape that she will most likely get all the recovery time she needs in a normal healthy night’s sleep and healthy lifestyle. Our bodies are incredibly good at regenerating themselves. We don’t have to stress ourselves out about it so much! She should definitely squeeze in a vacation or two a year, but it’s not dangerous to speak and use your voice gently on a daily basis.

So sing on friends. Or off, if you need a vacation!!

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Shelby Rollins

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