It’s a common misconception that singing with good, healthy technique might not be possible for all styles of music, particularly hard rock or heavy metal (though even Musical Theatre Belting can be dangerous if not approached properly). Fortunately, we now know (thanks to advances in exercise science that better allow us to study the muscles of vocal production) that a balanced technique is helpful to giving all singers the flexibility and longevity they hope for, whatever style of music they choose to sing.
On the flip side, it is true that some styles call for vocal effects that can be dangerous to vocal health– especially if attempted without clear knowledge of how to create the target sound safely. It’s also true that the vocal folds and all the tiny muscles and cartilages surrounding them are fairly fragile, so proceeding with caution is advisable. Vocal injury is a frustrating loss for any singer, and while often treatable (though not always), it’s certainly something to avoid if you can.
Imagine that you needed to do a split for some reason; obviously, if you’re not someone who does splits all the time, that’s a much bigger ask than if you’re a professional gymnast or dancer! So, what would you do? Most likely, there would be daily stretching and training so that your muscles were as limber as possible, right? Well, extreme vocal effects are sort of the same type of challenge. The more limber and in-shape you are as a singer, the more accessible these effects will be without damaging your vocal apparatus. Similarly, there are very wrong ways to go about making some of the rougher sounds in hard rock or heavy metal; the good news is, there are tried-and-true techniques that make these sounds MUCH easier on your voice, too. So, a little knowledge goes a long way!
For vocal health in any style of music, hydration is key (and is doubly important if you smoke- anything- or drink alcohol while performing! Ideally, we advise avoiding these influences for the safety of your voice, of course). And, like any muscle usage, the benefits of a cool-down can’t be overstated– after a hard set, giving yourself 10-15 minutes of gentle singing (the opposite types of sounds that you made all night) can be very therapeutic.
Lastly, note that we don’t really know why some voices can stand up to hard abuse and others are more prone to vocal injury (anything from general vascular health to collagen content in your body could influence how hardy your vocal folds are). Protecting yourself by maintaining a healthful routine of voice use is always your best best. Get in touch with a teacher to learn more about protecting your ability to sing healthfully throughout your life!