Friday, December 18, 2015

Vocal Science: Love Your Voice – Love Yourself!!!


This Holiday season, we wish you the best of voice and the best of health and prosperity for this upcoming New Year, and always!

For the last 42 years, I have worked on a lot of voices; fixing them, restoring them, or just turning amateur speakers and singers into professionals. I have noticed that, over the last decade, the attitude of all of those people who were seeking my services has vastly changed.

Before 2005, people in general were happy-go-lucky, so to speak. They were gladly making commitments to work on their voices (to whichever degree it was needed), gladly kept their appointments and happily paid for our professional services.

Needless to say that, in the past, the music scene in Toronto was pretty much thriving and was attracting a lot of wannabe singers. There were a lot of bands formed at High Schools and even Middle Schools, let alone Universities. Those guys and girls had a goal in mind; they wanted to become well-known singers/performers, they wanted to win various competitions and they did not mind to work hard to achieve their goals.

You could see those kids and young adults walking all over the city with guitars on their backs and amplifiers. For the last few years, I personally could not spot anybody dressed like a musician, having a specific musician-like haircut or carrying any music instruments with them. I asked one of my young adult student's what his generation, nowadays is interested in.

He said that people like him, between 20 and 25 years of age, are interested in video games and are searching online for an opportunity to make money to buy more games... and what-not!

How sad is that?

Where have their aspirations gone with respect to actually becoming somebody? Where has the belief in themselves gone? The belief that they actually could become somebody, provided that they would be willing to work hard and smart on their craft? 

What about their heart and souls? How will they become fulfilled? 

My fear is that all those essential values are “gone with the wind!” As I have said many times, my definition of the human voice is equivalent to the human spirit!  If the voice is shut down, usually, the spirit is not exactly thriving.

Given that, I am wondering…  Are we raising future robots? At times, I believe that we are!  How scary is that?

I think that the problem is also that the music industry does not care anymore about their artists’ quality of singing. It is becoming a complete Scary-oke!’  (made up from the word Karaoke).

Singing off key, off tone and off tune has become our standard!  Since nobody cares anymore for the quality of the voice, Bad singing has become acceptable!

Not enough that it is hurting everyone's ears, it is, no doubt, hurting the so-called artist’s voices. So, needless to say, sooner or later, those artists begin to lose their voices and acquire all kinds of vocal issues.

Not specifically trained, they experience, so called ‘wear and tear’ on their vocal anatomy. Some of them end up with a growth on their vocal cords like nodules, polyps, and lesions. Others end up with vocal cord strain, which could easily turn into, what’s called, 'sulcus vocalis', which is obviously not a very pleasant disorder. In this case, the vocal folds are split far from each other and are not coming back together in synchronicity to produce the proper sound. 

For singers, it is a very common problem which is identified as muscle tension dysphonia, (when the voice gets stuck in the neck muscles).

For those who have problems with their speaking voice, they could also easily acquire not only muscle tension dysphonia, but also what’s called Spasmodic Dysphonia, (where the voice spasms uncontrollably!)  Luckily, the latter is less characteristic for the singers.

Also, to compare the old good times with nowadays, I have to say that even people with quite extensive voice problems, are not as eager to fix their voice/vocal disorder(s) as before. 

Believe it or not, they become accustomed to their voice/vocal problem(s) and learn to LOVE IT…?

How so, you may ask?

They get used to the sound of their ill voice and find comfort within it!  Moreover, they are afraid to lose the attention of others, which they get use to and, almost, begin to feel “privileged”. They keep saying to themselves and others that they would do anything to fix their vocal issue and they do believe that they would.

And in previous years, they actually did!

Now, they seem to love not being able to work and get their disability cheques!  It sounds quite unbelievable.  But believe it… This is the fact, as strange as it sounds! Yes, at times, some people cannot afford professional services to attend to their voice. We are being more then liberal and generous to these type of clients and have been offering them very significant discounts.

You would think that they would take the first flight and beg us to fit them in at the first available opening!  Not such a case at all!  I personally believe that everything depends on the level of interest. If somebody really wants and needs something, they will find a way to obtain it.

Unfortunately, in our experience, it occurs less and less frequently. Our potential clients are sitting afraid to let go of their voice problem(s), to apply the time and effort to treat it and are afraid to part with their money.

One of my former clients in the UK, who was a throat cancer survivor and obviously had a very big problem with his speech and was hardly understood, was reluctant to pay my fees for 20 hours of instruction and treatment.

When I asked him how he would otherwise like to spend his money, he said that he would spend it to go on a vacation. Then I asked him if he would enjoy that vacation, speaking the way he was? To his credit, he got my drift and, momentarily, paid for his course and natural treatment.

To conclude: We would like to wish you the best of voice and, naturally, the best of health. We wish you to use your sense and make a New Years’ Resolution; to feel and become your absolute healthy self, voice-wise and otherwise.

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