Thursday, August 21, 2014

Singing Lessons: Do People Still Have Any Dreams To Become Professional Artists, Or Did Their Passion Die With The Recession And The World, Which Is Becoming Completely Digital?

Teaching here in Toronto for almost 3 and half decades, I cannot believe how the people changed with respect of their attitude, mentality, physicality and yes, dreams, which they used to have galore.
Since 1980, we’ve been through quite a few recessions, but it never affected people in the way which I am witnessing right now. They used to possess a lot of passion and love for music. The majority of even just ordinary people, (not necessarily musicians), had dreams to become professional artists, experience the professional recording and then experience the huge urge and excitement to be able to cut a record deal.

Almost on a weekly basis, the new groups, (bands) were formed.

The school kids were positively occupied with the rehearsals with their group; and then, to perfect their craft, with private vocal and instrument lessons on the side. Yesterday, I spoke with one of my young adult students and asked him what his friends of the same age, (18 to 20 years old), had been doing with their leisure time.

He responded that they have been searching through the websites day in and day out, trying to figure out how to make money, and then to engage, at best, in the electronic video games or, God forbid, in some negative activities. According to my student, none of his peers have any other ambitions outside of electronic engagement. The word ‘music’ or ‘singing’ was never even mentioned.
How sad is that?

I am truly missing those guys (age 16 to 25), who use to come with their guitars or base guitars with the excitement in their eyes and smile on their faces. Where did it all go and what is the problem?
My personal opinion would be that, not only now we are going through a general recession, but also the music business is going through a huge recession and reformat. In Toronto, there is virtually no music industry present.

Some of my clients, in the not very distant past, have gotten signed, but then were dropped off the roster of, for example, Sony, Capital and Universal records. As my clients reviled to me after the fact, that the record company let go of the majority of their staff and there were simply no music professionals left to complete my clients’ projects. The club owners here in Toronto have definitely lost their professional acumen and frankly, as it appears to be, their consciences as well. They never, per say, paid anything, (outside the door), to the bands for their performances, but they also never asked the bands to pay them for the “privilege” to play in their clubs.

When one of my former students, who I had mentored to a beautiful singing performer, revealed that to me, I could not believe my ears. Her and her band were working so hard on writing, playing and recording music, and now they got deprived of showcasing their musical skills, as they were unable to pay upon demand for their performances to the club owners.

It is pathetic, isn’t it?

How could people maintain their dreams and still possess their passion when they are not able to realize their desires and express their love for music and singing? So, our city, unfortunately, is becoming very commercial, very business oriented and, frankly, people in our city have become really skeptical and really cynical. All of these above described “qualities” are hardly corresponding with any artistic tendencies and inclinations. That explains why the city feels so grey, so depressed and with very low energy. I feel a great remorse and experience a great loss of fun, passion, and accomplishment, as in our times, those so called ‘qualities’ are, evidently, not tangible and thus, unfortunately, not being accountable for anything anymore.

What a shame!!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Serious Voice Damage – Could the “magic pill” help solve the voice issues?



I believe, due to the recession, I get more and more phone calls and e-mails with the request to tell them all about the “magic pill” or send them the “magic pill” to fix their very serious voice disorder! 

Such nonsense started several years back when the recession really hit North America.
Before that people were much more sensible and had an understanding that if they had any kind of voice/vocal problem, they would have to come in person, wherever they resided, and fix to the best of their and my ability their voice. 

Then came the next phase – Skype!

They figured that now it’s all good; they don’t have to go anywhere, they don’t have to pay as much, let alone their travel, and they can fix their voice right from their couch and in front of their little screen with a questionable sound quality. 

Go figure! 

And lastly, let’s examine what’s going on now and in the present:

They don’t want to come in person, they don’t even want to do Skype any longer (not that I would offer anything like that) and now they just want me to give them free advice at best and maybe send them the natural herbal voice repair kit, hoping that it would be enough to fix all of their voice problems. 

I’d been explaining to them (till I’m blue in the face) that those herbs are very instrumental in the non-surgical voice repair ordeal, but they only aid the symptoms and provide little comfort, but never address the cause by themselves. 

Unless the voice box and the vocal anatomy as a whole is released from the pressure of the sound (via special speech and singing exercises), the herbs will not be able to work in the full capacity, healing the flora of the throat and strengthening the larynx and the vocal cords. 

So ultimately, the injured person has to learn a new application of speech and singing, using a “newly discovered” facial muscles and the abdominal muscles, coordination of which between each other would save their throat from the enormous pressure, pain, and strain. 

The latter is the very reason why the vocal damage has occurred in the first place.
Somehow, the voice damage victims believe that the problem they’ve got is only anatomical, therefore, the herbs or in the worst scenario heavy duty medications which the doctor prescribed, will fix their voice. 

In reality, the problem is global – mechanical, anatomical, physiological, and psychological, to say the least. 

Could one, or even multiple “magic pills” solve the voice issues?
The answer is obvious – the treatment has to be holistic and all of the above mentioned factors have to be addressed simultaneously. 

I hope those people with damaged voices will come to their senses and realize that now, since the injury had occurred, they will have to spend the time for the research to find the proper care, the energy which requires to go through the jungle of services being offered on the internet, the money which the proper service will require, possibly the travel which may be required, and lastly, the lovingness and willingness to conquer the voice/vocal injury and thus claim their lives back. 

The other day, after receiving one of the e-mails from the U.S., I did not know whether to cry or to laugh after I’ve read it. 

The person who happened to be a female teacher said that she was looking for some free advice on the internet, on how to shrink her multiple cysts on her throat, as she was afraid that the school year would start soon and she would have even more difficulty speaking than now while she’s on summer holidays. 

Since she obviously had no intention, of any sort, to travel to me to fix her voice or even to purchase the natural herbs to achieve at least some comfort, I had to  explain to her that, granted the internet is indeed a free informational source which directs people who are searching for the best service to the right place, but the actual service is, nevertheless, not free. 

It looks like the latter was beyond her level of understanding. 

How sad is that?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Suffering from Voice Loss or any other Voice Issues? We, most likely, will be able to help!

If you are suffering from a complete voice loss, then, unfortunately, we will not be able to help. In order to recover the voice, we need some kind of a sound production. I was amazed when one person, after quite intensive correspondence with me via e-mails, finally called me and could not produce anything but a whisper. When I asked him what he was diagnosed with, he, to my surprise, responded with whispers that the Doctors could not find anything wrong with him.

I was literally shocked with that reply. But, unfortunately, could not offer him any viable help, as no sound was present at all. Then, in my office, another man unexpectedly walked in, who actually had the sound, but there was nothing but “mooing”, so to speak. Apparently, he recently undergone a cancer of thyroid operation and he ended up with both vocal cords paralysed. Naturally, I told him the truth that vocal paralysis on both vocal cords is non treatable.  Believe it or not, he looked at me with absolute surprise, disbelief and disappointment!

Go figure!

I am not sure what he expected me to say.

There are a lot of things I could do non-surgically, but some things are not possible to concur even with the best abilities of the Voice Repair specialist, or any other therapist for that matter. If you remember the story of Movie Actor Christopher Reeves who fell down from the horse and ended up with quadriplegia.

No doubts, he was surrounded by the best doctors and definitely had no lack of money to hire any help he needed; but, evidently, nobody could help him.

The best they could do is to keep him positive and reasonably comfortable. Conversely, after the initial shock from both parties, my prospective client and my own, I advised him that I could improve the quality of his life and no doubts his confidence, by making him pronounce and announce his words somewhat clearer and to be more understood.  I told him, in a nutshell, how I will go about it, and that my method is completely natural, holistic and alternative to any medical interventions.

I told him that I will restructure his voice in a different set of muscles and take it away from the vocal box to the place where his sound will become more amplified and less strained. I explained to him how that wholesome mechanism, which I will instill into his psyche, will allow his voice to work in the fullest capacity possible and to the best of its ability.

He left and the next day wrote to me an e-mail where he expressed that he could not understand how his voice will work “outside of his vocal cords”. In his e-mail he expressed that he is hoping that one day his voice will come back fully. On that note, I told him that I wished him all the best. It is sad, but true.

That person, as many others, had absolutely no check with reality. I am sure that if any medical professionals could put Christopher Reeve back on the horse and make him a Superman again, they would. So take it from there. It’s always good to have a hope, but it has to be realistic.

And now, yet another case study:

The person comes in with, so to speak, stage 4 of Muscle Tension Dysphonia disorder. I am sure everybody knows that, when somebody is diagnosed, for example, with stage 4 cancer, (God forbid), it pretty much means that, most likely, that person will not make it. I have to admit that, when I’ve heard that young woman’s voice over the phone, even I got shaky. She sounded, the least to say, horrible. I offered her just a 10 hour exploratory session to open it all up and see if anything could be done. To everybody’s surprise, she was responding very well to the instruction and natural herbs, which I had provided for her sessions. Her mom, who was present in the room, said that it was fascinating to watch this transformation.

I was asked right away if I could offer more hours while they were residing here in Toronto for 5 days. I said yes and increased her course to 16 hours. Then they left and I did not have much feedback on the post-course events. Incidentally, on one of the weekends, my husband and I ended up in their neck of the woods. We met up and I was very pleased to hear my former student’s voice which was very much so improved, but of course, was not fully back. The protocol for any voice disorder, especially of this severity, is a minimum of 30 to 40 hours of instruction and natural/holistic treatment. My former student now switched back her phone which she gave up talking on for the last year, until the completion of my Voice Repair course.

I think, by itself, it was a great victory.

However, to my huge disappointment, my former voice repair client still was not satisfied and kept repeating that she will only give me a reference when her voice will return fully. She only engaged, at best, on half of the protocol required. Yet, instead of acknowledging the huge victory, (at least 80% of improvement), she was stubbornly repeating over and over how her voice has not come back fully…

My response was that the gratitude and positive outlook on things would probably help her to recover her voice that much sooner. I am not sure, however, that I succeeded in my persuasion, unfortunately.

And lastly, the very positive outcome of my American client who recently came to my studio for only 4 days and also for only 10 hours to fix her cyst on her throat and learn how to sing professionally.

Not even half an hour to her first session with me, she inquired if I could give her more hours while she is here in town. I was able to accommodate 5 extra hours and complete the course with absolute success, however, with her understanding that she would need more hours and more treatment to be employed to achieve true and final success.

Therefore, she arranged me, now coming to her, to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and conduct yet another 20 hours of instruction and treatment. Thank God for her normalcy and understanding that the screws, so to speak, still have to be tightened and a new pattern of the application of her speaking and singing voice has to be totally established.

So to conclude; the normalcy and balance of the person with some kind of a voice disorder, voice loss, or whatnot, has to be present first of all. The voice repair client should outline the realistic goal and enjoy getting there.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vocally Speaking: “You Have The Right To Remain Silent…” But Would You Want to Exercise This Right, Or Would You Rather To Embark On A Voice Repair Deal?

Sometime ago, I received an e-mail from a, seem to be, very frustrated, aggressive and, probably, very loud in the past, woman. She was, sort of, inquiring about her damaged voice, but in the tone of her e-mail, there was a lot of anger and blame. As usual, I asked her if she wanted to speak on the phone, so I could hear her voice, first hand and then make my assumptions and outline the best course of action for her particular case to be.

She agreed and I dialed the number.

The minute she picked up the phone, she tried to “scream”, with her broken voice at me, blaming everybody and anybody and saying, with anger, that she could not scream anymore at her two teenage sons while they were on the field, playing soccer.

Go figure!

To me, even with her voice issue, she sounded very loud, rude and obnoxious, and also, interestingly enough, she, instead of wanting (for real) to fix her voice, wanted to learn a sign language…? Usually, people with a hearing impediment are using sign language, so, obviously, it should not be her deal.

It was extremely difficult to understand her, and I asked her if she had another number for me to call. She said yes, and submitted a new number to me. When I dialed (two times in a row), there was a machine.

So it was clear to me that she did not want to continue the conversation and thus, preferred, instead of embarking on the voice repair endeavour, remain to be silent. Perhaps, for her and people around her, it would not be a bad choice, I am sorry to say.

Maybe it was God’s way to quiet her down for a while. But dark jokes aside, her choices were all wrong.

Instead of being frustrated to the point of being rude and obnoxious to the people who genuinely wanted to help her, she should have been searching and researching for the actual vocal, and evidently, some emotional help.

It is indeed very sad that the emotions of some people have gotten the better of them and common sense is not prevailing over their emotional state. That’s where the holistic approach to the repair of the voice mechanics would take place. 

In the above described case, (Upon her understanding and agreement), I would need to work first on the root of her emotions and to work quite deeply, as the voice problem did not happen out of thin air. Her very extroverted and loud self, no doubt, caused at least 70% of the problem.

The stress itself could “close” the throat very easily, not to mention that the thyroid becomes inflamed and prevents the voice from going through. In the holistic teaching, there is a saying; that the thyroid represents suppressed emotions and hurts. My friend and associate herbalist likes to ask her clients, “What couldn’t you 'swallow' that it brought you to this condition?” 

Very true!!!

So the problem is psychological and emotionally induced, but it always manifests in the physical body. It usually attacks the weaker organs and the organs which are used the most. If this person’s, (described above), habitat and mission to be bossy, in control, forceful and loud, no wonder her first organ, which got affected, was her voice. 

My brother, who remains to be in Russia, was first married with also a very loud and controlling woman. Sometime ago, he divorced her, and when I asked why, (as she was his first love), he said that she was screaming too much. She did not take the break-up of the marriage very well and turned, nevertheless,  to chain smoking. Not too long ago, I spoke to my brother and asked him how she was doing. He answered that she had a stroke and could not speak at all! 
I still cannot get a grip with it, as I remember her being very “vocal” and very hyperactive, to say the least.
How uncanny is that?! 

But it is true and it is the fact.

Being a voice specialist, I totally understand the cause of the above described. And from the professional point of view, I am not surprised to that consequent; rather, on the contrary, I would be surprised if it did not happen. In her case, however, nobody would be able to help, as her speech center and both of her vocal cords are paralyzed completely.

The question is, could it be prevented? The answer is yes, but the person cannot remain ignorant and careless to their behavioral and health habits. 

We like to say in Russia; “The learning and repetition is the Mother of teaching”.

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