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A little background: I'm a countertenor that sang faithfully since 1996 with my former church in the choir and as a soloist. I've also done some musical theatre. After we did a recording at church in 2007, I stepped away from music because the project never got released and after all of the hard work, I was frustrated and disappointed. I haven't seriously sung since then.

The confidence I once had in my voice that "could do anything" is gone. I'm a year round allergy sufferer (Thanks Indiana!) and recently started going to vocal lessons to get my voice back as I've recently begun transitioning to musical theatre. I'm not willing to go for a lead role until my voice is back to what it once was.

The one issue my vocal coach has found is I've developed glottal/vocal fry in my chest and lower register (it almost always sounds like I need to clear my throat when I get lower or in full chest voice). I can't take ibuprofen to ease the inflammation; VERY allergic. I've been doing tea and honey religiously along with throat lozenges and Throat Coat and even the exercises he has me doing.

The fry is still there. While I know it won't disappear over night, what, if anything, can I do to smooth this fry out of my voice and give me my true tone and everything back? Any exercises or practicing I can do that you would recommend? I'm open to anything now that I'm back to singing!

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    Body reacts in lots of different ways to stimulus. It could be anything, diet, stress, self doubt. Don't compare yourself to what you could do years ago, compare yourself to last month. Remember, your voice is always changing over time, you need to re-learn it. – Dave Engineer Sep 24 '15 at 16:01
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Firstly, I don't know why you are experiencing "inflammation" but all I can say is stop! Anything that is causing you pain is usually bad. It sounds like you're really anxious to start singing again and are pushing too hard. If you keep pushing hard you risk damaging your voice.

Realize that when you're out of practice your range shrinks and your technique degrades because you've lost the muscle and muscle memory that you had before. It will come back with practice.

Also, some things to think about. As you expand your range up then you also expand your range down a bit too (and vice versa). As men age, their voices tend to become lower so you might not have the same range now as you did in 1996.

Vocal fry is a very healthy place to sing from. Using vocal fry to hit your lowest notes is normal but it shouldn't cause pain. Try doing some lip trills and sirens to smooth out/relax your voice.

When you are trying to hit low notes, sing on an open vowel and ensure you have good breath support. Hope that helps.

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My contribution to this will be in the area of the allergies, to complement My_CryptoPrime's answer about vocal technique.

A local steroid nasal spray such as Flonase can help with throat issues during allergy season, even if you don't have any noticeable sinus issues. A general practitioner can prescribe this. In addition, it can be helpful to use saline spray (also for the nose) several times a day.

I know honey is often recommended, but I think teas work better without it.

Inhale chamomile tea two or three times a day.

Dairy thickens mucous -- for everyone.

Also, it's possible you have a food sensitivity to dairy. Try going dairy free for two weeks, then re-introduce a small amount of dairy first thing in the morning to see what happens. If nothing happens, you can go back to your previous diet.

(Going dairy free is harder than it sounds -- read all the labels, you'll be amazed.)

I don't know if you have an infection, but if you do, you can cure it with the following withing two weeks: buy a bag of fresh cloves from a store that sells ethnic Asian foods, with a good turnover rate. Buy a small electric coffee grinder. Now, grind some cloves up fresh every couple of days and keep it in a tightly closed jar. Put an eighth of a teaspoon in a cup of warm (not hot) water and sip it slowly. This has a strong taste; you may mask it with some cocoa if you wish.

You may want to consider allergy treatments. In addition to the approach that involves getting a shot in the office once a week, there is another approach in which you give yourself some special drops under the tongue at home once a day.

  • Thank you all very much. I'm going to take all things under advisement. Re: vocal fry being a healthy place to sing from--I think my coach's issue is that it's in all parts of my voice and it's unintentional. In fact, what he refers to as vocal/glottal fry, I refer to as just being raspy. I am noticing that the more I sing and the longer I sing, the flexibility and "hidden" parts of my voice that were gone are now reappearing in glimpses. – ReformedChurchBoy Sep 25 '15 at 19:59

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