Vocal rest is crucial for optimal voice function and longevity and should be an active part of your life as a vocalist. It is not often prescribed until the singer or speaker ends up with vocal conditions that prevent them from pursing their next venture.
Short-term vocal rest is taking a breather for a minute or two, to help prevent your voice from fatiguing during rehearsals or vocalizing sessions. If you have been practicing for a good amount of time, let’s say 15 minutes, pause and silently go through the challenging phrase in your head while you rest your folds. Or simply walk away from the music in front of you and then return after a few minutes. You will probably be shocked at the result. Studies show that with physical exercise, it is the rest period between reps that the muscles get the most benefit, growth and repair. Just like with any other muscle group, when we take time to rest the voice we are giving the vocal folds a break from their active or vibrating state and they are literally gaining their strength back and recovering, plus your brain is processing the muscle memory that you just practiced.
“Vocal cords needs rest. They benefit from small rest breaks here and there and longer stretches of silence after heavy use…even five minutes of rest helps the vocal cells recover from the pressure and vibrations of speech.”
– Joanna Cazden – Everyday Voice Care
Long-term vocal rest is usually recommended after a long run of a show, tour or especially when there has been a diagnosis of a vocal health condition. This doesn’t mean you totally neglect the voice, in fact sometimes vocal rehab would be prescribed as part of the ‘rest’ period. You may feel a little out of vocal shape after a long hiatus, but the good news is you can bounce back with regular lessons and vocalizing.
If you train consistently with periods of vocal rest your going to achieve vocal strength and balance which leads to much more success in your songs and performances.
Alida is a voice and music educator based in Vancouver, Canada. A graduate of UBC School of Music, Alida holds an IVA Advanced Certificate in voice teaching. Alida has been teaching voice for 9 years to clients from the Lower Mainland as well as across Canada and worldwide on Skype.