Back in my high school years, my choir director told me—with a tinge of envy—that I had “cords of steel.” I wore that label like a badge of honor, and prided myself on the fact that I was rarely put out of commission by a cold, fatigue, or overuse. Even in college, despite using my voice far more frequently, it seemed that I had merited such a label.
Then I started teaching.
On top of constant illnesses that I picked up from my students my first year in the classroom, I was singing in two choirs and spending my entire day either speaking or singing. Determined to carry on like I always had, I didn’t (or perhaps wouldn’t) listen to the warning signs that my voice and body were giving me. While I finally sought medical advice from my ENT and had a laryngoscope done to confirm that my stubbornness hadn’t done any serious damage, I wish I had taken steps to honestly self-assess my own vocal health.
Outlined below are some warning signs and symptoms to watch out for.