Doctor, doctor: Can teenage vocal chords cope with pop industry pressure?

I know a girl in her early teens whose parents are about to sign her to a record label. She sings all day, every day, and has been doing so for a while. Is this OK for such young and tender vocal cords?
My expertise doesn't extend to how to train a singing voice, but I have a neighbour who is a music academic. He is horrified by the numbers of young teens who are pressured (mostly by pushy parents) into seeking instant success in pop music. We know that boys shouldn't sing through the period when their voices are "breaking" (when the larynx is developing fast from the childhood to the adult version). Fewer of us know about girls' voices. My friend feels very strongly that anyone looking for a musical career should be professionally trained, which means resting the voice at the appropriate times, as well as learning how to sing (and breathe) without harming the eventual adult voice. It also means not attempting to rush things. However, I don't see how you can interfere with your friend's and her parents' plans. You will simply have to watch and hope.

In my 20s I ran a lot, until I got a sharp, throbbing pain around and under one knee. A physio advised me not to run for a while. A few months later, I tried running again and the pain came back after about 20 minutes. For five years I have tried to run every now and again, but the same thing happens. What can I do about it?
You need to know what is causing the pain when you run. There are several possibilities, from cartilage and ligament trouble to pressure on the nerve that runs around the knee and the top end of the fibula (the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg). You need to tell your doctor, who will examine your knee and probably refer you to a sports medicine specialist or sports physio expert. In the meantime, you may be helped by putting 2in-wide sticking plaster strips around your leg at the knee – one above the kneecap and one below it – when you are running. But that isn't a substitute for seeking expert help.

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