Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vocal Science… Because… I LOVE my voice!

In this blog, I would like to speak about the human voice in general and the speaking and singing voice in particular.

Many people, especially those who are not singers, have no Idea that something may happen to their voice. They get the odd cold or virus, lose their voice momentarily and for a short term, but then regain it fairly quickly and go back about their lives, as per normal.

Unfortunately, they do not even have a clue that, at the time of the cold or when the virus occurs, they have to be extra careful and extra gentle to their, somewhat bruised, voice. Being quite unaware of what the consequences might be, they continue as before; speak a lot, speak loud, scream and sing.
Then, finally, they get rid of the cold but, to their surprise, find out that their voice never got back to normal! 

It still sounds raspy, low and actually, altogether hoarse, as it does not have its usual tone or resonation for that matter. That’s when, unfortunately, the ordeal with their voice begins. For singers, it is a double devastation, as not only their speaking voice is not sounding right, but, to their horror, they discover that they have lost most of the range of their singing voice and it does not sound anything like it sounded before. In more severe cases, people get one or even, God forbid, both vocal cords paralysed.

That voicedisorder is called vocal paresis.

On this note, it brings to memory a case of a Pastor who, prior to his strep throat occurrence, has been traveling all over the world, preaching and singing. When he got rid the actual strep throat, neither his speaking nor his singing voice ever came back to its original state.
He became a victim of a very nasty vocal disorder – vocal paresis; but luckily, there was only one vocal cord effected. You, my reader, could only imagine how devastating it must have been for a person whose livelihood depended solely on his voice!

Sad, but true.

He had to continue to work and fulfill his obligations and never gave his voice a rest during the strep throat occurrence. He loved his work, but he did not love his voice and continued to act as per normal, not realising that he could get a permanent damage to his speaking and singing voice, in his case.

Love your voice!!!

If you are sick with whatever it is concerning your vocal box or respiratory system, give it a deserved rest. Don’t pretend that nothing has changed.
It has, so treat your voice and your vocal anatomy accordingly:

  • Drink lots of water and tea with honey and lemon

  • Speak less. If you have to speak, speak very quietly  
  • Don’t sing under any circumstances, you will pay a much higher price later in the full understanding of that word

  • Take some natural herbs and homeopathic remedies
  • When free of the disease, take some appropriate voice/vocal lessons on how to restore both your speaking and singing voice
Usually, when the person gets stricken by a disease, hers/his immune system is weakened and the disease manifests more so in those organs which are weaker than others.

So if the person speaks a lot for a living or if it is a singer who puts an enormous pressure on his/hers throat, he/she could be assured that the first organ which the disease is going to strike will be their vocal anatomy. So those people have to be extra careful, use a proper technique for speaking and singing and baby their voices at all times, and especially at the time when the cold or virus has occurred. 

Don’t neglect your voice, as once damaged, it could be quite difficult to restore it to its original condition, however, not necessarily impossible. So…

Monday, June 23, 2014

Vocal Science™: Singing Lessons With A Twist? What is it? And who may be in need of those Lessons?

Quite often, I am getting inquires from people who are indicating that they are interested just in regular singing lessons. So, I quote them the price for just singing lessons, not suspecting that they are already having some kind of a voice problem.

Usually, they never admit it over the phone or the e-mail, unless they definitely have been already diagnosed, and the hoarse sound of their speaking voice, is very pronounced. However, luckily, some singers with the vocal problems do not have their speaking voice affected. 

Therefore, when I get them on the phone, sometimes, I cannot even pinpoint that they have any voice issues, as their speaking voice sounds completely normal. Then, they finally arrive to my studio and, after the first 5 minutes, I realize that they have actually enrolled in the wrong course – vocal lessons, (instead of a non-surgical voice repair course)!

In reality, they needed a voice repair, and big time, in some of the cases. Their vocal technique is completely wrong, as some of them, breathing with their stomachs’ out, (looking like pregnant ballerinas and dancers. LOL), throwing the sound down to their necks, shoulders and chest while, concurrently, dropping their jaws down to their knees.

Not a very pretty picture. Hah!

They are scooping the sound from underneath of their vocal anatomy, while gripping their neck really tight. And thus, setting the stage for, minimum to say, a muscle tension dysphonia, or some nasty growth on their vocal cords and on their vocal anatomy overall. We are talking now about nodes,nodules, polyps, cysts and even lesions, to name a few.

Meanwhile, right off the bat, they are expecting regular singing lessons! I could compare it to a runner who, unfortunately, acquired a really bad injury on his leg, and who would think that after he applies some analgesic cream on a sore spot, he will be able to run marathons with no problems, not really fixing his actual problem first.

Go figure!

So now, the challenge is to explain my so called, “singing students”, that first, they need to do the real voice repair, coupled with the natural herbal and, sometimes, added homeopathic treatment.

They need to learn how not to kill their singing voice with the wrong application of their speaking voice and concurrently heal the flora of their throats. And lastly, now, they need to learn how to sing without the abuse of their vocal anatomy and their health in general. Statistically speaking, lately, 98% of my singing clients do need a voice repair in various degrees and stages. 

So, singing lessons with a twist, you may wonder?


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Vocal Labour - Vocal Delivery, Part 2

About 7-8 years ago I was to publish my second book which would be called “Vocal Science – Flight from the Virtual Music to Reality”. 

I did not end up publishing it, but I got it written and even illustrated by the same artist who illustrated my first book “VocalScience – Flight to the Universe” which came out in February of year 2000. 

One of the chapters I named, “Vocal Labour – Vocal Delivery”

At that time I was referring to a difficult singing student who had not much vocal talent and who had difficulty to release old habits and adopt new ones. 

This time I would like to speak more about my voice repair clients, and more so, speakers rather than singers.

As I mentioned in one of my recent blogs, it is evidently much harder to work with speakers than singers, as speakers are just ordinary people who by chance have lost/damaged their voices; whereas singers have been much more aware that there is a huge task and demand being put on their singing voices, and thus at any given time they could expect that the vocal injury may occur. 

While the ordinary speakers are being taken by a “big surprise,” their distress, disappointment, fear and panic had a huge impact on their psyche and emotions. 

Some of them never could suspect that something wrong may happen with their voice, let alone almost losing it completely.

At first these people are usually in denial, then they become angry that it happened to them, then they question why it happened to them, and not knowing the answer or how to solve the problem, they go to a deep depression. 

However, with help from their relatives and friends, they gradually, at least on the surface, come out of the depression; or at least the people close to them think so. 

Then everybody goes to research how to solve this unpredicted voice problem and finally they land at my studio for a non-surgical voice repair course and natural herbal treatment

The sound of it is very innocent and very promising, however, it is not at all as easy as it sounds for all the parties involved.

As I indicated in my first chapter, “Vocal Labour – Vocal Delivery,” I do engage myself fully in the process of instructing the student and, more so, while nurturing the vocally injured person in front of me.
Those innocent sufferers unfortunately have no idea what it entails. 

I have to engage very deeply into them and connect with them almost like by the “umbilical cord.” 

For the greater success, I have to think what they think, and feel what they feel, which I definitely have the unique ability to do so.

That’s where the whole story begins to unravel; all the scare, all the fears, all the frustration, all the tears, and yes, complete deeply hidden depression surfaces outright. 

Especially those with muscle tension dysphonia and spasmodic dysphonia are holding on tight to their neck muscles and afraid to let go, while concurrently their head and their emotions are playing a number on them. 

Both, muscle and spasmodic dysphonia, are very nasty vocal diseases and it’s extremely difficult to get rid of them, especially from spasmodic dysphonia.

Again, as strange as it sounds, it is much easier to cure or at least to improve the vocal condition with singers rather than speakers. 

The singers know what the hard work is, they’re very goal oriented and know how to work towards it and accustomed to the lengthy labour. 

The innocent speakers who were caught there, so to speak, by fluke, now are facing a huge labour – syllable-on-syllable, word-on-word instruction and a discipline taking numerous herbs and natural remedies which will also play an essential role in their voice recovery.

They’re evidently are not accustomed to any of this and therefore the process becomes even more tragic for them. 

They never thought that it would be so difficult. 

Therefore, often, I have to give them a comparison to a baby delivery. 

Not every labour is easy, some of them, in fact, could be very complicated. 

The baby could be placed the wrong way, or could be a bigger size for the actual opening and that’s where forceps and sometimes vacuum is used. 

I’m pretty sure that this process is not exactly a picnic either, but has to be done for a successful healthy baby delivery.

I’m desperately trying to get my doomed voice repair clients out of holding on tightly to their necks. 

Unless I separate their voice from their lower anatomy such as their neck, shoulders, chest and needless to say their vocal box, as a whole, I cannot conduct any voice repair, whatsoever. 

It’s like the person who is trying to deliver a baby will be refusing to push to help the doctors to pull the baby out of the womb. 

Some of my clients trying harder than others, but muscle tension and spasmodic dysphonia has a tendency just like a swamp to suck the voice right back to the neck muscles. 

After all, those who suffer longer than others, as strange as it sounds, have almost found an “ill” comfort into their condition which, even more so, complicates their voice recovery.

However, when I have the full cooperation from my voice repair client, it makes my work that much easier and that much more successful.

After all, there is a saying: “It takes two to tango.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Voice Repair for Singers: Can the Singer Get Back On His Vocal Feet? — What Does It Entail?

I would like to introduce you to one of my former voice repair clients, “Davey Dee” (a.k.a. David De Giuli). 

David’s dream always was to become a singer

He has tried various teachers trying to learn how to sing and even went as far as Nashville. 

He spent a lot of time, energy, effort and money and instead of learning how to actually sing, he ended up with the obvious voice damage. 

His speaking voice was so raspy that in times it was not easy to understand what he was saying, let alone singing. 

But, David was very determined to recover his voice and to become a singer. 

He took quite a few hours of my instruction and consumed quite a bit of natural herbs which also played an essential role in David’s voice restoration

To date he recorded two (2) original rock songs - “I Got It Bad” & “The Other Side” - and just recently sent it to me. 

I was more than pleasantly surprised! 

Not only now he looks great, but he also sounds great! 

His songs are also very catchy and well produced by a well-known Toronto producer, Mark Zubek, of ZEDD Records

Now, my reader, before listening to David’s songs, we would like you to read a post-course letter which David wrote to us describing his journey to his vocal success. 

Here it is:

Davey Dee – Singer/Songwriter

To Diana,

Nice to hear everything is going well with the studio! I hope everything is great with your family!! I can’t deny that you put me on my way; to be able to sing for hours until I just become too tired! Something I never thought possible however believed if others can do it so can I. It took still a couple more years after seeing you to figure it out to for me I feel as you once said becoming invincible! Well, I feel like that now with my voice…can’t believe it. I told you before I was getting fewer sore throat infections with viruses like colds and Flu…to now in the past couple of years a sore throat is something of the past, which I believe should be also marketed as a benefit…I truly believe people who get sore throats are stuck in their throat constantly putting them under stress and the first exposure of a virus susceptible to infection. I am currently battling a cold but have ZERO throat symptoms to pre-Vocal Science I was the sore throat KING which you so eloquently said I was stuck in my throat! Amazing! Thank you!!!!

I don’t know if I would say it took 10 hours…LOL…maybe for some I guess…it is truly like learning how to walk all over again….I guess I feel like, now that I understand more the entire connection….Amazing how the connection works…of all the moving parts, face, positioning and most important is the diaphragm control…wow that was a very difficult thing to bring in.

Interesting, now that I speak sing just behind my teeth maintaining a constant diaphragmatic pressure…which is now the honing of the technique to master the pressure…like any wind instrument. Anyway…I do want to acknowledge that if it were not for you I would have been going down the wrong path and I will always give credit where credit is due. Thank you.

Thanks again Diana…you were the spark! No matter how crazy you are..LOL.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Vocal Disorder. Speakers and Singers. Do you have what it takes to conquer your voice problem?

When the vocal disorder occurs, whether you are just a speaker, (regular person), or a singer, it is always a devastation to say the least. 

For those who are not singers, it appears to be even more devastating than to the actual singers who have lost their singing voice; sometimes their speaking voice as well, and possibly, at least temporarily, lost their singing career, which a lot of the times they have been working on all their lives for. You would think that the process of voice recovery would be easier for people who just lost their speaking voice, but interestingly enough, it is exactly the opposite. The fact is that to recover your voice out of any voice or vocal disorder, takes a lot of strength, a lot of energy, sometimes quite a bit of time and money as well. It is a very tedious process, syllable on syllable and word on word. Especially those with muscle tension or spasmodic dysphonia seem to be suffering the most. They have drawn their voices in a very low position, starting with the neck muscles and below.

During the process of the recovery of their voices, their dysphonia is constantly sucking them back in in their necks, shoulders and chests. I call it a “vocal swamp”, where like in a real swamp; the person is desperately trying to swim out of, but being constantly pulled back in. It could be extremely frustrating for the sufferer, as the muscles from time to time are locking in on them and thus, not allowing the voice to come out fully out of there and on the surface.

Sometimes, the voice does come out, but by their description, it still feels like the muscles are tightening up which, in that case, the feeling is only echoing back, and in that instance, the exhausted brain and body are playing their nasty role on the sufferer. Now, what will it take to get better or, furthermore, completely recover from this nasty voice injury? First of all, a lot of understanding is what has happened and why. Second of all, a lot of understanding of what requires coming out of that, so to speak, voice prison, where the person ended up, voluntarily or not. And lastly, it requires a lot of physical and mental strength to power the voice back to its regular state. 

Yes, with singers, we have 2 things to do:

To recover their speaking voice first and then re-teach them how to sing properly and not only complying with standards of professional singing, but concurrently preserving their voices for the rest of their singing careers. As strange as it sounds, and at the glance, it should be much harder to work with the singers then just with ordinary people teaching them how to speak again. However, those regular people with speech disorders never have been facing before such an intense instruction, employing such a big effort on the way to their voice recovery. On the contrary, the singers have been through a lot of drills such as: rehearsals, performances, recordings and etc.

So, naturally, they are accustomed to all kinds of, so to speak, drills and also accustomed to the hours of hard work on their craft. So go figure, but that’s the fact and I derive this information from my practice with ordinary people and singing professionals. The ordinary people with speech disorders are, by far, more emotional and taking it much harder than the real troopers – singing performers. And those are the facts from my extensive practice! The process of voice recovery is definitely not for the faint of heart. Is it do-able though? 

The answer is yes, but only if the sufferer will find their inner strength to go through this ‘not very easy at all’ process.