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”.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Voice Disorders Classic Diagnosis: Vocal Cords Acid Reflux and/or Muscle Tension Dysphonia? Go Figure!!!



Lately, more and more voice issues sufferers are coming to me with the most, seem to be, common diagnosis, such as vocal cords acid reflux and muscle tension dysphonia. Why those two, you may ask?
Are there any other vocal problems which people also experience? Of course there are! The rest of them are much more so obvious; those like nodes, nodules, polyps, etc.

But what appears to be interesting that if the person, let’s say with the hoarse/raspy voice, is not diagnosed with any growth on their vocal cords, he/she is immediately labelled with one or the other diagnosis; either gastric acid reflux which is burning the sufferer’s vocal cords, or muscle tension dysphonia, which effects primarily the neck muscles, and also could be connected to the acid reflux and fibromyalgia. So, mainly, the conventional doctors are implementing the method of elimination.

In other words, if there is nothing obvious they could detect, they offer the generic and most common diagnosis, such as described above. How pathetic is that?

A lot of my voice repair clients came with the diagnosis of the acid reflux and obeying the doctor’s orders; they took all kinds of anti-acids, changed their diets, and did not, unfortunately, accomplish any results. Their voices were still hoarse and raspy and they still did not know how to properly speak or sing.

Yes, in some cases, they could have been affected by acid reflux, but it was not the main cause of their voice problem. It was just a side effect, as their voice was drawn in a very low position, via wrong speaking or singing and via an enormous pressure which was applied to their vocal box.

Once the voice is sitting low in its position (sounding very throaty and heavy), it will no doubt meet the gastric acid and, evidently, the vocal cords will get burned. So the approach to the vocal problem has to be completely holistic.

I was speaking today with a US client who had been diagnosed with Reinke's Edema (smoker’s disease). She was offered an operation instead of recommendation of stopping smoking, cleansing her body completely from the toxins, building the strength of her vocal anatomy and learning how to speak properly without putting an enormous pressure on her vocal cords and larynx. 

Even if she agreed to do the surgery, without the changes described above, it would be completely obsolete, as all of her symptoms will come back in full force in a short period of time.

There is no change without change and the surgery is not one of them. However, in some cases, the surgical interference is a must, but my recommendation would be to try everything possible and impossible (so to speak), Non-Surgically first!

After all, what do you have to lose? If nothing else, you will have knowledge and understanding to gain and then come to the write decision with God’s blessings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Voice Repair Part 1: Could the Regular Vocal Coach Fix your Voice?



Let’s suppose you have a car, and you know how to drive it.

Does it mean that you also know how to teach driving, or how to fix the car if it’s broken? The answer is - not necessarily.

You could be a very good driver, but when it comes to fixing the car, you probably would need a certified/professional car mechanic who specializes in technical issues of the matter. 

In fact, when my child reached 16, she asked me to teach her how to drive, and pointed out that a lot of parents do exactly that.

My response to her was; “My dear daughter, I definitely know how to drive, but you will not pay me a million dollars to teach you how to drive. I will leave it to a professional who would make sure that you will go on the road, won’t kill anybody and, yourself, come back in one piece. Similarly, when somebody claims to be a vocal coach, it should not be assumed that this person also knows how to fix the voice issue/problem, if such occurs.

However, I have received quite a few obvious Voice Repair clients from various vocal coaches who were desperately trying to fix someone’s voice, having no idea how to even approach it. Moreover, they used the conventional approach to voice mechanics, which is, in the first place, not very beneficial to a human’s vocal anatomy.

The conventional vocal coaching suggests you to drop the jaw down and stick the stomach out, which could be very detrimental to the vocal health. In that instance, the voice gets drowned very low in its position and it pressures upon the components of the vocal anatomy and thus produces the strained vocal cords and abused larynx.

All of the above on its own could lead to growth on the vocal cords, (nodes, nodules, polyps), or even to a muscle tension dysphonia or spasmodic dysphonia. In my book, “Vocal Science – Flight to the Universe”, I have a chapter which is called, “How not to become a singer and work harder at doing it”. That pretty much describes the 'methodics' of the conventional pedagogy, or the lack thereof. 
 
So let’s analyze this:

If the conventional approach to voice mechanics could actually be harmful to the human anatomy, how could it fix the already occurred vocal damage, which was caused, most likely, by that very approach or, perhaps, by the sufferer’s own experimentation's? 

Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

It does, as evidently, it is the fact and it is true.

So, whatever you do, please separate the ingredients, so to speak. If you need to learn something, find a teaching guru. 

If you need to fix something, find the top mechanic and truly, it has to be a voice technician, who specializes in the field of VoiceRepair.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Voice Repair: Speaking and Singing – How One Affects the Other



Some singers who come to me for non-surgical voice repair are not necessarily the professional singers, which means, that a lot of them have a daytime job or even their own businesses.

Some of the professions require speaking on the phone all day, running meetings, doing presentations, and what not.

After an 8-hour workday, the part-time singers would rush to their band rehearsal or even an outright performance.

Perhaps being vocally very talented but not, per se, knowing about the proper application of their voice, they put the enormous pressure on their vocal anatomy.

So let’s examine that:

They use their speaking voice excessively during the working day and then even more intensely during the night through the late hours.

While they’re speaking at work, they primarily are doing it from the sitting position with a slouched back, thus drowning their voice onto the bottom of their throats and below.

They establish the low voice speaking habit.

Then they go to their “singing job” with already very tired vocal cords and very low “drawned” in its position voice, which now sits deeply in their necks, chests, and shoulders.

When now they try to sing they push the voice even harder trying to reach the higher notes and stay with the melody pattern.

It does work for a short while, but then their anatomy starts, so to speak, to close on them.

Their neck becomes tighter and tighter, their shoulders are always on the upper position, and they breath heavily through their chest and nose.

Soon it becomes apparent that the more they push the less they accomplish, and on the contrary, the result is very diminished and now they are very well on their way to a muscle tension dysphonia.

Their voice becoming breathy, low, and raspy, and they simply sound hoarse.

From this moment on they hardly can perform their daytime work duties and let alone fulfill their singing obligations at night.

Sounds like nothing short of a nightmare, but unfortunately, it is a fact.

Finally, after all of the denial and hope that their condition is just a temporary glitch, it does become apparent that significant voice repair action is needed.

It also becomes evident that there is no change without change, and something’s got to give.

Now, not only speaking and singing voice has to be fixed, but a new application and manner of speaking and singing would be required.

If that change will not take place, the voice/vocal problem will inevitably recur again.

So, love your voice and take good care of it.

Remember that the vocal cords are not made from steel!

You are just human!

You deserve to be as vocal as you can be!

Share It