Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Repair Your Voice and Protect it for a Lifetime.

More and more, I am getting inquiries from people who have problems with their voice.
Some of them ruined it due to wrong application of their voice while incorrectly speaking and/or singing.

Some of them acquired some kind of a virus-like strep throat infection or random various respiratory inflammations. Others had weird accidents, like bicycle, car or construction; the results of which actually, physically, damaged their vocal anatomy. Some people have had even unrelated surgeries where the breathing tubes were installed incorrectly and thus, their throats were, literally, ruined.

However, independently of the cause, all of them have had some similar symptoms like 'raspiness', hoarseness, difficult and slow speech, and in some cases, slight or heavy stuttering/involuntary spasms. So, independently of the cause, all of them have been in need of a voice repair, and needless to say, all of them were hoping for a non-surgical solution. 

Is it possible, you may ask?

My answer will be that, in the majority of cases yes, but sometimes, a surgical procedure may be required, but the crucial point then would be is to acquire a post-surgical care, to help the vocal anatomy to heal, and mainly, to relearn to speak and then sing, (applied to singers) properly, not excessively engaging into the use of the actual vocal anatomy itself. The rule of thumb is to learn how to use the alternative set of muscles, (like the facial and abdominal muscles), which will take the pressure of the sound upon themselves, and thus will relieve and release the vocal box from the pressure of the sound and will then allow it to heal.

Once that is accomplished, the voice will sound healthy, and mainly will be protected for life, as it will be lifted all together from the once injured vocal anatomy. The facial muscles memory will be established and, so to speak, indexed, so as the abdominal muscles’ strength and memory, and thus, the sound will be secured between the coordination of the former and the latter.

That and the unique method of visualization, as well as integration and synergy between all of the muscle groups, will protect and secure the speaking and, if needed, singing voice for the lifetime

Vocal Folds Growth… How dangerous is it, and what could happen if untreated?

Lately, I have more and more inquiries about almost all kinds of growth on the vocal folds (vocal cords). The most “popular” inquiry is about vocal polyps. Over the years, I, non-surgically, have treated all kinds of unpleasant vocal disorders, and I have to say that the polyps are the most stubborn of all. Moreover, they have tendencies to multiply even after they have been removed surgically.

The good example of that would be the case of a singer named John Mayor.  Polyps have some kind of a viral nature, apposed to nodes and nodules.  I believe that due to that, they could multiply and multiply fast. I also know the cases where those nasty polyps turned cancerous. Not too long ago, I got a phone call from an apparently quite known solo Artist’s husband.  According to him, his wife, solo guitar player and singer, was diagnosed with a polyp on the vocal cord 6 years ago. She was offered a surgical removal of the polyp, which she refused profusely and just continued with her busy schedule of vocal/guitar performances.

Evidently, she was not looking for any solution, including non-surgical, or any other for that matter. Meanwhile, her voice was deteriorating gradually and eventually, subsided to the point that she could hardly speak, let alone sing.  At this point, she had no other choice as to agree to have the surgery and have that polyp removed. During such surgery, when any growth is to be removed, the doctors send it to pathology in order to verify that it is benign, or conclude otherwise. Unfortunately, in her case, the test came back malignant. The husband of the aforementioned person had passed the phone over to her to speak to me. That was 2 months after the surgery was performed and I still could not make out any words that she was saying.

It mostly was the whisper and hiss. How sad is that?
So the moral of it is; if God forbid, you got diagnosed with any kind of voice disorder and especially any kind of growth, please do not pretend that nothing has changed, as there is no change without change and, therefore, you should take immediate care of that matter, surgically or non-surgically, but please deal with it with whichever means you find suitable.

The best way, as we all know, is to prevent such events and take good care of yourself and all of your organs, voice included. The voice is the main tool for communication and you have to treat it with care and knowledge, thus not to end up on the operating table and out of commission for several month, speaking and/or singing.   

Friday, June 7, 2013

Vocal Paresis - The Causes and Consequences.

More and more, in my practice (close to four decades), I have been hearing about the devastating vocal disorder - Vocal Paresis, also known as Vocal Paralysis. The interesting thing is that a lot of other vocal disorders are usually caused by speaking and/or singing in the wrong (and often aggressive) way.

- Vocal Paresis, as well as Spasmodic Dysphonia, quite often have additional reasons for their occurrence. -

Interestingly enough, I hear a lot about some kind of a virus (or even a simple cold) that had produced vocal paresis affecting one or even both vocal cords. When a person is under a lot of stress, their immune system subsides which means that they become more susceptible to all kinds of infections, colds, and needless to say, viruses.

A couple of years ago, a client from Atlanta, Georgia came with one paralyzed vocal cord, which occurred after he experienced a really severe strep throat condition. However, this person was a pastor who travelled internationally, giving speeches and leading worship conferences and also, quite often, employing his singing voice.

So in this instance, the cause for the Vocal Paresis was not only the Strep Throat itself, but also the wear and tear on my former client's vocal anatomy, as he definitely did not use his voice properly and thus misused and abused his vocal anatomy.

So the "marriage" of the two conditions resulted in Vocal Paralysis.
In his case, his throat became the targeted organ which he had been using the most due to his professional conduct.

We also had a former client who was a professional Rock singer; and in the middle of his recording, his voice (in a manner of speaking) "snapped". However, he continued pushing it to the max until he could not push it any longer. He underwent 3 operations; and at the last operation, he was offered a synthetic device to be implanted into his right vocal cord. That device, along with the previous voice abuse, paralyzed his vocal cord for good.

That's when he came to see me. I was able to fix his speech, but I was not able to recover his singing voice. However, nevertheless, with great difficulty, I was still able to produce noticeable improvement.

When the vocal cord is paralyzed, with my method, I restructure the voice in a different set of muscles and do everything in my power to go around the actual injury. However, on the other hand, the vocal cord itself needs some sort of "physiotherapy" (vocally speaking) and I need to produce some flexibility and movement on that cord, which by itself is very challenging, but thankfully, in majority of cases, not impossible.

The fact is, that the initial sound has to go off of both vocal cords, therefore, the movement of both vocal cords is required. However, depending on the severity of paralysis, I can always make the healthy vocal cord compensate for the ill one, and make the sound primarily go off of that one. The next step is to direct the sound to the set of one's facial muscles, which will amplify the sound quadruple times over... provided that the abdominal muscles are employed to the max (especially in the case of Vocal Paresis) to help the sound to reach its aimed destination.

- The role of the abdominal muscles is such that they have to produce a proper "lift of the sound" ( the height) to assure its needed support, as well as the "body of the sound", which will assure its fullest capacity (the width). -

There are other bizarre accidents that people described to me which also caused vocal paralysis and had greatly affected their speech (one of them included a "chainsaw gone wild" during a construction accident!).

Somebody we had previously treated had fallen on a bicycle's handle bar while being pushed by a car from the rear.
The above (almost unbelievable accidents we have dealt with) are just to name a few.

So, there are many circumstances which could produce this nasty condition; the consequences of which,  unfortunately, could cause a devastating vocal disability.

However, on a positive note, it can definitely be improved, and in some cases, quite significantly!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Vocally Speaking It May Not Be a Job, But It’s Definitely Hard (Smart) Work.

Evidently, and independently of age, social background or education, the majority of people like to sing, some of them recreationally, but a lot of them have dreams of one day becoming a professional singer/performer.

Some people think; how hard could that be?? Let’s just open the mouth and produce the loud sound from the bottom of the throat and from the top of the lungs?

However, it would be easy if it wasn’t so hard.

These unaware and naive people also think that the harder they push, the more they will accomplish. To their surprise, it works exactly the opposite, and sometimes those experiments produce vocal injuries, which are not always easy to reverse. For some reason the structure and the training is not recognized in the field of the voice work. If the inexperienced figure skater decides to jump triple axel without proper training, he will definitely injure himself, and will be out of commission for some time. 

Needless to say, it applies to gymnastics, ballet, hockey, and other fields, which require precision. However, when people think about singing, they presume that it has to come out naturally, and without any required training. Unfortunately, some of them find out the consequences of the above, the hard way.

They are trying and trying, pushing and pushing their voices, until they cannot push any longer. Then, they begin to understand that they actually need professional vocal help. However, now, the damage done, needs to be reversed, and preferably non-surgically and naturally. 

There are quite a few nasty voice disorders that may occur while singing and speaking, for that matter, incorrectly. The voice may become dry, as the vocal cords and other parts of vocal anatomy are exhausted, and that’s how the growth like nodes, nodules, and polyps take place. The voice also could get trapped in the neck muscles, and that’s how the muscle tension dysphonia takes place. Now, the voice is so to speak, trapped in its own ”jail”, which is not always easy to come out of, unless you have the right “combination”, in a manner of speaking, which will open that lock.

If the voice drops even lower in the position, then even a nastier disorder may take place. Now we’re talking about spasmodic dysphonia, which is equivalent to epilepsy, in a manner of speaking. In other words, the voice begins to spasm un-voluntarily, and thus produces a very distinct, howling sound.

The latter in the medical field, presumes to be un-curable. The only “cure”, the doctor’s offer are Botox injections in one’s neck and vocal cords.

Sometimes it does help temporarily, sometimes it doesn’t at all.

The actual cure, definitely, does not occur.

So, the moral of it is: do not attempt anything you do without professional expertise.

When you get professional coaching and guidance, you might find that it is not a job, of course, but it is hard and smart work, which involves a lot of components outside of the actual voice. In order to produce the desirable results, the whole human being has to be, so to speak, scanned. When I do my work, I go as far, as the childhood, upbringing, social background, and many other important components, which will definitely be reflected in one’s voice. I said it many times before, that the voice is an identification of which you are, and a reflection of the state of your being.

Therefore, if you’re only working on the voice, you’re only working on the surface, which means the results will be shallow, and most likely not accountable for. If you work on the human being as a whole, and on each and every component of his physicality, and spirituality, the voice will reflect the depth, and the uniqueness of one’s personality. Needless to say, that the tone of the voice will become distinct and with the “signature”. It is after all, an integration and synergy, nevertheless, a marriage between the mental, spiritual, physiological, and vocal state.

Given the above, you may probably already understand that the voice work is much more complex than screaming, screeching, and pushing from the wrong parts of the anatomy.

So work hard, but smart and you will achieve the results you’ve been looking for and dreaming about.