Self Assessment

Vocal awareness is an essential tool in a professional voice user's vocal health toolbox.

How do you know if a change in ease, power, stamina, or voice quality is a sign of a voice problem?

Get to know your voice on healthy voice days and then listen to what your voice is telling you.

Dr. Robert Bastian, of The Bastian Voice Institute, is a highly regarded laryngologist. He developed a daily exercise for checking for vocal swelling. Daily is the key word here. You must understand your healthy baseline for this tool to be effective.

  1. Use a very small, high-pitched voice and sing "Happy Birthday" several times. (Just the first phrase.) Repeat the phrase at a slightly higher pitch each time, until your voice "cuts out". Do not sing louder as you ascend in pitch.

  2. Do this exercise at the beginning of your daily warm-up and right before you go to bed.

  3. Take note each day. Is this exercise more difficult? Does your voice cut out at a lower pitch? If so, try to determine why this is happening. What might you need to change about your voice use tomorrow to return to your baseline?

When should I be concerned?

If your voice is your livelihood, it is normal to feel very worried when you notice a voice change. Knowing when to be concerned and where to go for help is essential.

Some questions to ask yourself when your voice just doesn't feel "right":

  1. Is this a new feeling/quality change for my voice? - For example: If you normally can sing high and soft easily and lose that ability, this is a change. If you normally have clarity in your middle voice but start to develop a raspy sound, this is a change.

  2. How long has this change been present? - In general, a voice change/problem that persists for more than two weeks should be evaluated by a qualified medical professional.

  3. Can I identify a specific cause for this change?

  • reflux

  • lack of hydration

  • allergies

  • overuse of my voice

  • recent upper respiratory infection

  • use of vocally drying substances such as antihistamines, alchohol, caffeine, smoking, etc.

  • recent traumatic vocal event* such as yelling/screaming or chronic cough

  1. Is the voice change I'm noticing present all day long? Just in the morning? Just after singing? Just after speaking? - This information will be helpful for your voice team, should you need to have an evaluation.

*A note on "traumatic vocal events" - if you notice a sudden voice change after yelling, screaming, high-level voice use, or heavy coughing episodes talk to a trusted voice professional as soon as possible.