Tips and advice for learning how to speak, sing, perform and live the dream of being a professional entertainer (speaker or singer) and performing artist, along with common sense commentary and rants on the state of today's music industry. Written by international master vocal coach, Diana Yampolsky, creator of Vocal Science (TM).
Should you continue singing the same
way you have always been singing?
Should you ignore the unusual symptoms
like hoarseness and dryness of the voice, loss of range, change of tone, etc.?
These are your answers;
You are a singer and have been for a long time.
Your voice has never let you down for some time now, but, as musicians
like to say, there is no gig lasts forever! Now you are not just getting mature, but you are also getting older and
have had a lot of shows under your belt.
Suddenly, you started noticing that you cannot reach the same high notes
which you never had a problem with in the past, your tone of the voice is not
the same and at times, you are even experiencing pitch problems, which you
never had a problem with in the past. After the show, your voice and
nevertheless, yourself, feeling exhausted and your voice sounds raspy and
Those are very unfamiliar symptoms to you and now you are puzzled,
concerned and even in panic.
Your livelihood depends on your voice…
You have multiple shows booked ahead…
A couple of years ago, I got a call from Chicago from a local radio DJ,
who also was a singer. He was panicking, as he just had two polyps removed fromhis vocal cords and for a while, he thought that he could continue speaking and
singing the same way as he always was. So he did; and then, to his surprise he
found four new polyps on his vocal cords.
Why, you may ask?
He had a very successful vocal surgery and was able to start speaking and
singing again in the while, just like before, so he thought. True, but since he
did not change the way he was speaking and singing, naturally, those polyps returned
and even multiplied by double. The fact
is that polyps have a viral nature and tend to multiply at all given times,
especially if the manner of speaking and singing has not been modified. When I asked the above mentioned person whether
he wanted to come to Toronto to get the proper vocal instruction and natural herbal
treatment, he said, “Oh no. I have a very busy performing schedule”.
He was planning to continue singing and speaking on the radio with all of
his polyps and could not bring himself to the realization that there is
definitely a time to stop and do something about it, and maybe this time
around, non-surgically, by simply learning how to speak and sing properly -
without the pressure on his vocal cords and his vocal box in general.
There is no change without change!
Once you notice the change in your voice, you should immediately stop and
assess the situation. Obviously, your voice does not respond the way it used to
be, and not only when you are singing, but even when you are speaking.
Any growth on your vocal cords like nodules or polyps will prevent your voice
from acting normally, as it is an obstruction for the voice to fly freely from
your vocal box out to the listeners.
It cannot be treated lightly and has to be addressed immediately. There
is no time to pretend that nothing happened and continue to act as if it didn’t.
Remember, by the law of averages, your voice will not get better on its own.
You need professional help!
My suggestion would be to try the alternative methods first before you agree
to any surgical procedure.
My dentist once said to me, “It is never too late to pull the tooth, but
please see the specialist first to find out if we can save it.”
As technology progresses, more and more, I have been asked
if I could do my instruction and an actual voice treatment via Skype, FaceTime,
The people who are inquiring sincerely believe that the
above is possible.
I have news for them, IT IS NOT!!!
The problem with the voice is a serious matter and it has to
be treated seriously.
Yes, perhaps, you can learn how to play guitar or even piano
remotely, but the voice is an “internal instrument” and it requires special
manipulations with the body and body language to discover it, uncover it, and
recover it from within; especially when it’s trapped in the neck, shoulders,
and chest, not to mention throat and nasal passages.
In this case the physical body has to be completely balanced
and centred, the subconscious and conscious mind have to be aligned, the
intellectual understanding has to be totally coupled with motor skills, and
thus the wholesome mechanism has to be in place to allow the voice to work in
the fullest capacity possible with no pain or strain on the vocal anatomy.
Nowadays, a lot of singers are susceptible to a variety of
That happens because in the first place they never “owned” the right vocal technique, the kind which would prosper their voice to the fullest
capacity possible; and at the same time it would save and protect their voice
Now the process of restoration of one’s voice begins.
A lot of those students, “who were really very good students,”
have learned the wrong technique really well and formed it into their vocal
Not only do we have to fix their “vocal instrument,” so to
speak, but also have to get rid of bad habits, like: dropping their jaws down,
sticking their stomach out, scooping and sitting under the notes, excessively
using their nasal passages, or their very throaty sounds.
It’s easier said than done, though.
Those habits are usually deeply embedded in the person’s psyche and the body muscles, which are also retaining the memory.
Now we have to re-teach the body and the brain to feel
differently, and rather than interfere with the voice, help the voice to be
supported, structured, placed and projected to its aimed destination.
The lower abdominal muscles have to be conditioned to be
tucked in for the greater support of the height of the sound.
The upper diaphragm muscles have to learn to work on the
principle of an accordion, so to speak.
The singer has to be able to access the length of the phrase
coming and open the upper diaphragm muscles accordingly. (No pun intended).
If the phrase is short, but the upper diaphragm open to the
fullest, it will backfire, as the singer will not be able to close the diaphragm
back in, and instead will end up working with the old air, the result of which,
quite possibly, would produce hyper-ventilation, which in turn could cause
shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitation, and deprivation of oxygen,
Al those symptoms could be completely deadly to the human
body, and may not only damage the voice, but could become literally fatal.
So the wrong singing business could be more dangerous than
anybody could anticipate.
Therefore, it is a must for anybody who attempts any singing
(even at the karaoke) to know what they’re doing vocally.
You will not visualize a figure-skater who attempts to jump
a triple-axle without a very specific training, as this, too, could result in a
So please do not attempt to do any vocal “escapades” unless
you know predominantly what the result would be.