Topic: Smoking and singing

Is there anyone here who has actually smoked for a long time and then quit..? Of course I've heard so much about how smoking kills your voice etc., but how much does it really help in practice to quit..? Does your singing get easier? Does it broaden your scale? Is it harder to growl without it?
I wouldn't mind to get answered by people who have actual experience of this...:)

Re: Smoking and singing

Brandon will be able to help you with this one smile

I can bend space and time! (>.<)

www.myspace.com/leemuria

Re: Smoking and singing

Needless to say, as a member of the Voice Council and a Voice Therapist, I strongly have to advise you to attempt to quit smoking. Firstly, we all know of the risks with Lung Cancer of course. A singer's backbone to their voice is breath. I smoked casually a number of years and quit about 12 years ago. Not only will smoking affect your breathing and the ability to hold out notes and longer phrases, but it will irritate the vocal folds. Without question, there are no benefits of smoking to a singer.

Jimi Zimmardi
Moderator
Voice Council
www.thehealthyvoice.com

Re: Smoking and singing

Question as an accomplished vocalist and smoker, I have quit before and lost all control of my voice (cracking etc). I was this way for three months I tried everything and nothing worked.  I started smoking again like an idiot and my voice came back immediately.   I hate cigarettes and i know how bad they are and definitley do not want them to be part of my life, but at the same time i do 200-300 live dates a year as this is my living.  Any advice?? bueller.. anyone?

Re: Smoking and singing

Smoke away my friend. But when the voice starts going from the smoking...and it will...just know what caused it. I work with some of the top rock vocalists in the world and I just had this same conversation with a singer named Tony Harnell, who is a dear friend of mine. I do not believe that the cigarettes is what brought your voice back. I think it might be a mental mind trick that you created to allow you to return to smoking wink

Yeah I know you are going to say that you don't want to smoke, but I bet subconsciously you don't want to let them go and you lost the voice when off of them just to get them back. If you feel you need them, why don't you please at least try cutting down to 3/4 of what you usually smoke a day, or 7/8 even. Stick with that for a while and when it doesn't affect your voice, drop to 1/2 a pack, then 1/4... It might take a year, but you can do it.

Do you love singing??? Are you in it for the long haul???? Better start thinking about your health.

Jaime Vendera
JaimeVendera.com
theultimatevocalworkout.com

Re: Smoking and singing

I quit smoking 7 days ago... and I have lost control of my higher register.
Very scary thinking that it may never come back but I know with time and the corect vocal re-training it will be much stronger than before... it's just a matter of time...I hope not long... !!!

Re: Smoking and singing

A lot of times, after a person has quit smoking, a lot of phlegm and mucus begings to come up.  If you've been smoking for a long time (I smoked for then years), my cords stayed swollen for at least a year after that and I had to take lessons to get the stretch back, and eventually the swelling left.

Cigarettes burn the cords.  It's not as much the tobacco as it is the paper, but nevertheless, it burns them. Burning them is what makes them swell and then your body produces mucus to try to protect them.  Often, the cords of a cigarette smoke will appear pink or red, and swollen,  when they are supposed to be pearl-white in color.

And yes, we all know the risks of smoking,so I can't encourage you enough to quit.  I quit by using cinnamon sticks (the kind you put in apple cider).  I made sure they had a hole that went straight through and were about the length of my cigarettes.  I sucked air through them like I would a cigarette  and discovered that it was the inhale/exhale that I was addicted to -- The breating in and out is what seemed to help take the edge off my feelings whether happy or sad.  So I ran around with those sticks for six months -- never went anywhere without them -- and ended up getting a lot of support from strangers when asked "WHAT are you smoking??" and I'd answer, "I'm not.  Can't you see that? (No Smoke coming out)  I'm trying to quit."  That's when I'd get pats on the back, once from Diana Ross in an elevator!

DENA MURRAY, www.denamurray.com, "like a singer's pathologist"
Books: Vocal Technique: Finding Your Real Voice (2002) & Advanced Vocal Technique: Middle Voice, Placement and Styles (end of 2007-2008) both published by Hal Leonard Corp.

Re: Smoking and singing

Just by way of answering Torre's original question and as an encouragement to Trex;
I WAS a long-term (and heavy) smoker who has now kicked the habit and, yes, it has made a tremendous difference, all positive. My voice is much improved in terms of clarity and range and I haven't lost the ability to scream and growl when needed.
I also experienced a period of 2 or 3 weeks where my body (and voice) were "kicking up" in rebellion at the whole non-smoking idea, lots of flubber and toxins coming out, I guess. I average about 180 gigs a year and have been doing that for longer than I care to remember so another key point for me is that my general physical well-being and endurance has improved remarkably, I'm breathing correctly again and the importance of that, for any vocalist,   goes without saying.
Finally, I know ALL the reasons why it's "OK" to smoke... after all, I've been using them myself as a justification for my behavior for many years but the bottom line is; this is your instrument we're talking about. It occurred to me one day that I wouldn't for a second consider the idea of holding my acoustic guitar in front of an open fire 30 times a day, why then would I subject my vocal cords to something similar? Think about it but make up your own mind, it's up to you to decide.

Re: Smoking and singing

If you are serious about singing as a career -- you have to become willing to quit smoking.  Yes, we all know about cancer, but smoking also burns the vocal cords (folds), swells them, and turns them red in color when they are supposed to be pearl-white.  The swelling can cause hoarseness and loss of range.

Sincerely,
Dena Murray

DENA MURRAY, www.denamurray.com, "like a singer's pathologist"
Books: Vocal Technique: Finding Your Real Voice (2002) & Advanced Vocal Technique: Middle Voice, Placement and Styles (end of 2007-2008) both published by Hal Leonard Corp.

Re: Smoking and singing

Dean is right. When you quit, you are going to go through a period of releasing tar from the lungs. Hey Dena, I swear that sounds like another Useful Tip for RYV from you-explsaining what can happen after smoking wink Just a thought smile

Jaime Vendera
JaimeVendera.com
theultimatevocalworkout.com

Re: Smoking and singing

Yes that's right, the first period of time after you stop smoking, the mucus membranes produces more mucus. Until they restore balance. But it vary from person to person. I smoked for twenty....yes twenty years, and never had any vocal problems as a performing singer. I stopped for health reasons. And I of course advice the singers that I teach to stop smoking for health reasons. But never before a recording session or an important concert due to the fact that the mucus membranes acts different than they normally do, and therefor your technique doesn't work a you are used to.

Last edited by Vocal Coach (2007-05-14 01:02:58)

Re: Smoking and singing

I used to smoke for ten years.  It eventually wreaked havoc on my range and tonal quality.  Smoking burns the cords and makes them swell, even turn red  when they are supposed to be pearl-white in color.  If your cords are swollen, it will make them hard to stretch and it's the stretching of them that takes you into higher and higher registers.  Without the stretch, you will eventually begin to lose range and your sound will change considerably.  After 10 years of smoking I sounded like a Las Vegas version of Billy Joel -- when I used to have a 3 1/2 octave range.  I could only sing in my low register.

I quit by using cinammon sticks.  I pretended they were cigarettes which meant that when I was in the spice aisle at the market, I'd have someone man it so I could go through all the bottles and take out the sticks that appeared to be the size of my cigarette with a good size hole through it from end to end.  I discovered that in the end, it was the breathing I was most addicted to.  That sucking down of air and exhaling it out helped take the edge off emotions, happy or sad.  I used those things for 6 months and never gained any weight because I also gnawed on them instead of running to the fridge.

Anyone I have ever turned on to this method (countless) of quitting it has worked for and it didn't take them 6 months of using the sticks.  It took less than three.

It did take some time to get my voice back.  At one point I never thought it would come back, but then it did -- all 3 1/2 octaves.  Because it had been so long since I'd had the full use of my voice, I had to take voice lessons again.

Dena Murray

DENA MURRAY, www.denamurray.com, "like a singer's pathologist"
Books: Vocal Technique: Finding Your Real Voice (2002) & Advanced Vocal Technique: Middle Voice, Placement and Styles (end of 2007-2008) both published by Hal Leonard Corp.

Re: Smoking and singing

I'm enjoying reading your very inspiring stories about quiting smoking smile  I'm proud to say that I have never smoked a cigarette in my entire life!  My mom smoke thought and I always hated it as a child so smoking for me just didn't make sense.  Good luck to any of you trying to quit.  You're making the right decision for yourself and everybody else around you, especially your family.

Attention teachers!  Visit my new website: www.voiceyourselfintheclassroom.com

Re: Smoking and singing

I have never smoked so I can't give insight in that arena. I have messed with cigars here and there but I never ever inhale. I just did it for novelty when I would hang outside in the summer and fall doing yard work, having a few beers with a firepit going. But from a health standpoint, a friend of mine just lost his mother yesterday (11/25/07) to lung cancer and because I'm close with them, I witnessed the metamorphisis that took place on his mother during the course of 7 months. She was 60.

So if not for singing, quit for your life.

Last edited by bannoreno (2007-11-26 10:38:06)

Re: Smoking and singing

If it means anything.   I'm not going to start smoking, I thought I would, but now I'm not . . . . . . . . .

Re: Smoking and singing

Apart from the long-term life threatening dangers of smoking, it damages the entire singing apparatus. You feel out of breath a lot faster and builds up gunk on the already swollen inflammed vocal cords. While these conditions can seem to give you a false sense of vocal control, making your voice sound deeper, fuller, more rough and tumble and even higher at times, it creates an extra strain on the voice putting a heavy toll on them to function as they naturally should. The cords lose their flexibility and elasticity making it difficult for them to maneuver consistently. Smoking increases the risk of developing vocal nodules which can inhibit or even kill your singing voice FOR GOOD. In this lifetime, you are gifted with only one set of vocal cords, they are not replaceable(at least not yet lol). If singing means that much to you, why do anything to harm your voice and destroy your dream forever?

Yes I know quitting is easier said than done, but you have to make up your mind to quit. Do whatever it takes. Cut down, try the patches or the gums, or see a doctor for medicinal options. The first step is usually the hardest. And after you make that first step forward, don't go taking 10 steps back into old bad habits. Stay focused on your goal. It must be a steadily conscious effort especially when the withdrawl symptoms kick in. It gets easier with time as the detoxifying process slowly nurses your body back to being nicotene/tobacco free. During this time you will want to remain active and BUSY to keep your mind occupied. Don't give yourself the opportunity to sit around thinking about how much you miss those cancer sticks!

A few weeks after quitting, you should begin to experience a gradual improvement in the overall feel and sound of your voice. It will sound cleaner and purer and less "pinched"(that is if you don't already have vocal nodules or caused any permanent damage). The complete rehabilitation of the singing apparatus can take several months, so go easy on your voice for a while. Then you can begin to develop on your TRUE singing voice, and not the smoked out cords. If you used to get up in the higher range ONLY through smoking you must now learn to access it with proper technique. There's no short cut, it takes perfect practise and patience.

Re: Smoking and singing

It's not a matter of will power but rather a lifestyle change. You must consider the long term effects. There is not one benefit to smoking. Not even a shred of benefit. So be smart singers... if singing is important you then protect your cords, protect your life.

Re: Smoking and singing

Perfect example:  Dave Matthews.  Compare the "stand Up" album to "Crash" or "Crowded Streets".  Poor Dave's voice is leaving him.  He's smoked too much sad

Still good though.