Thursday, July 27, 2017

Vocal Science: Vocal Cord Disorders That Cause Voice Problems.

Vocal Cord Disorders That Cause Voice Problems.

Voice or vocal cord problems generally include pain or discomfort when you speak or have difficulty in controlling the pitch, volume and quality of your voice overall.

It may sound a little surprising, but it’s true that a variety of medical conditions are the cause of most voice/vocal cord problems. The most common cause of hoarseness and (generally speaking) vocal difficulties are outlined below.

Some of the more common vocal cord problems include: vocal nodules, vocal polyps, vocal cord paralysis, and laryngitis.

Laryngitis is often defined by a raspy or hoarse voice because of the irritation of the vocal cords. Overuse or misuse of the voice, inhaled irritants, or GERD reflux (the backup of stomach acid into the throat) are some of the big reasons for it.

Vocal nodules are (most of the time) benign or noncancerous growths on the vocal cords, generally caused by repetitive overuse or misuse of the voice. These nodules are a frequent problem for professional singers. The nodules are small and callous-like growths which develop in the midpoint of the vocal folds. These nodules form in pairs on those vocal cord(s) areas that receive the most pressure when they come together and vibrate. These nodules increase your vocal cord problems and make your voice sound hoarse, low in volume/tone and breathy.

Vocal Polyps are small, soft growths that usually occurs only on one side of the vocal cord in a variety of shapes and sizes. Depending upon the nature of the polyp, it can cause a wide range of voice disturbances.

Paralysis of the vocal cords occur when the nerve impulses to your voice box are disrupted. As a common vocal cord problem, this condition can range from very mild to life-threatening. When one or both vocal cords are paralyzed, they can affect your capability to speak or even breathe. A person may also feel discomfort in coughing and swallowing.

Treatment for vocal cord problems:

Vocal cord disorders caused by abuse or misuse of voice are preventable. In addition to this, most vocal cord disorders can be reversed. The treatment for your voice may include the following:

Resting your voice

Eliminating the behaviour that caused the vocal cord disorder

A referral to a speech therapist/alternative voice specialist who has specialized training in treating voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorders that affect communication.

A method of treating growths on the vocal cords known as non-surgical voice repair, combined with the use of specialized natural herbs and homeopathic remedies
Depending upon the cause of the voice disorder(s), the solidified long-term goal of this form of speech therapy is to help you re-attain the use of your voice; and then to improve that voice in order to attain the speaking or singing voice you have always desired.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vocal Science - Adele Has Lost Her Voice...Again?

- Yes... She was forced to cancel the rest of her tour! -

You may wonder why this had occurred one more time again…?

That happened because if nothing gets changed with respect of how the artist is using his/her voice, it will inevitably reoccur again and again… unfortunately.

The very first time it happened to Adele was in the year 2012. At that time, losing her voice, she had to cancel her concerts and tour dates due to a bleeding polyp on her vocal cord. She was transported to Boston, US, to undergo a vocal surgery which was successfully completed by one of the renowned ENT specialists.

Adele was not allowed to speak for 5 months after the procedure. After that, her voice healed and returned “back to normal”, and thus she was scheduled to perform at the upcoming Grammy awards. 

Right before that, she was interviewed by Anderson Cooper and during that interview, she was asked if she thought whether or not that could happen to her ever again?

Without any hesitation whatsoever, she responded “Absolutely!”

“Why is that?” The interviewer had asked.

She replied that after going on tour and to perform over 200 concerts, it would be inevitable that the voice will seize again.

At that time, I happened to be working out of London, UK. I was closely watching the news and watching Adele - now bouncing back to her performances.

While people were asking me what I was thinking about her ordeal battling with her vocal injury, I was replying that I was more then certain that it, unfortunately, will happen to her again (the second time), as nothing, per say, had really changed…

Yes, her throat was “fixed” and her “instrument” was ready to “play on” again. However, the “player” had never changed her “style of playing”, and it was only as a matter of time when that “instrument” would get “broken” again…

Her numerous fans, as well as music industry professionals, were very curious why I thought so…?
Some of them even thought that I had purely negative thoughts towards that matter…?

My response to that was as such:

“The singer always represents the ‘instrument’ and the ‘player’. By ‘playing incorrectly’ the aforementioned ‘instrument’, the ‘player’ is simply harming it.”

The worse part is that by “playing incorrectly”, the “player” (via wrong application of the voice) ruins that very voice; and even if the “instrument” (throat, larynx, vocal cords) gets fixed, the singer will continue ruining it time and time again until he/she learns the right application of their voice, and thus will finally begin to “correctly play on their instrument” using the vocal anatomy efficiently and safely, while concurrently extracting the maximum capacity from their God’s-given “instrument”.

So… the artist may have a talent (given-by God “instrument”), but what about the education and awareness of HOW to use their God’s given talent properly and with confidence; and, for that matter, learn how to rather perfect their “instrument” then to (instead) ruin it, which (sometimes), could end up at the point of no return.

The Vocal Science™ Technique, specifically designed  to instil in the artist the proper application of the speaking and singing voice, by (in a manner of speaking) instilling within the artist a certain “vocal mechanism” which will allow the singer to use their voice to its fullest capacity possible and with no pain or strain on the vocal anatomy; and thus, in turn, safe and protect their voice for a lifetime!

We are talking of such components of aforementioned mechanism like:

  • The proper sound support via the properly-strengthened abdominal muscles (lower abdomen and upper diaphragm)
  • Proper breathing implementation
  • Certain structure of the sound within the facial muscles (sinus cavities)
  • Placement of the sound into the (ready-to-except) vocal chambers
  • And (as a result of the above) the maximum (or any desirable) projection of the sound to its aimed destination.
Utilizing that mechanism as a whole, the artist will be performing upon pre-designed schematics of the sound movement.

At that point, he/she could consider themselves owning their voice and thus bringing their performance to the “Master” level; therefore avoiding any voice/vocal injuries and any other kinds of possible vocal troubles!

Isn’t the above ultimately the name of the game???
Yes, nevertheless… it is indeed good “food for thought”!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Voice Repair - Who Needs It and Why?

The Right and Healthy Modality of the Vocal Behaviour for Non-Singers.

Being in the music and voice business for over four decades, I've met a lot of people with good voices, bad voices and also, so to speak, broken voices.  Some of them were singers, some of them had nothing to do with singing. Those who had nothing to do with singing, however, had a lot to do with a lot of speaking; and thus sometimes, they had been forcing their voices out and screaming from the top of their lungs and from the bottom of their throats...(basically, purely screaming)! Outside of the regular people, we are also talking about some professionals like: fitness instructors, martial arts instructors, teachers, lawyers, crown attorneys, public and motivational speakers to name a few.

Due to their occupational (in a manner of speaking) hazard, they have been forcing their voices to serve others and one day, someday, their once precious voice seized on them "unexpectedly and out of the blue", as they all thought. Does it happen "out of the blue" in a real sense? Not really.

Some of them admit that they had lost their voices before... and numerous of times, but always (at least to a reasonable degree) gained it back. Then it came the time that they pushed it "the very last time" and now, as a result, their voices had been drawn to a very low position... almost to the point of no return. At this point, nevertheless, they had finally begun their search for professional help.

What kind of help you would think they had been searching for? You would never guess. They were trying to perfect themselves, i.e. they had even begun doing yoga, staying upside down on their heads, eating raw fruits, exercising "like mad", employing all alternative natural and homeopathic remedies and looking and feeling like a million bucks, except the voice was still not working... How so, you may ask?

This is my answer:

Let's imagine that the Mercedes that I have been driving , would no longer be able to take me places  and it would stall  every time I try to  turn the key to start it. Should I wash it, make it shine and work on its body so it would look good and pristine...? Or should I rather look into its mechanics and define what exactly is not intact? The most probable issue would be with the mechanics defaulting inside of that wonderful, shiny Mercedes... And until I correctly assemble all the internal parts in that Mercedes, it will remain to be shiny and beautiful.., but, unfortunately, it will never take me places.

Similarly, instead of (or along with) perfecting their physical bodies and all other organs associated with it (however not, in real sense, related to voice/vocal mechanics), these people should look a little closer to the cause of their voice loss and identify it accordingly.

The fact is that these people had been brutally misusing their voices throughout a prolonged period of time, not realizing that their vocal cords are not "made from steel", so to speak. Some of them had finally "clued in" after feeling great and looking good, that there is perhaps something else they would need to be doing to actually fix their voices. And now finally came the time when their wounded voices needed to be restructured to a different set of muscles (their facial muscles) and then put to work in conjunction and coordination with their abdominal muscles to minimize and practically eliminate the use of their throat, larynx and vocal cords.

Once the pressure of the sound had been removed from the vocal box, the whole vocal anatomy had to be treated with natural herbs and remedies; and sometimes even with homeopathic remedies, if (and/or when) needed.

The individual's voice health had been addressed and the whole modality of the proper "vocal behaviour" finally had been changed and employed.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Once Vocally Impaired, Should They or Could They Continue Embarking Further on their Vocal Drive?

Nevertheless, I have been getting a lot of calls regarding the non-surgical voice repair program.

The people who are inquiring are usually very desperate and very emotional, which is quite understandable. They're pleading for help and, at the glance, appear that they would do anything that would be required from them; would drop everything and anything (including their vocal and voice performances) and would rush to Toronto to fix their voices in order to continue their performances, recordings and whichever other careers which are directly connected to their voices' health and their overall well being.

Some of them are diagnosed, some of them not yet, and some of them are hiding their diagnosis (to my dismay...) But what is more surprising is that a lot of them are till singing (more like faking) and thus being in denial, while at the same time, their singing (and voices in general) and quite compromised!

Go figure!

They are actually singing on their nodules and polyps while, no doubt, pretending that everything is actually fine! Unfortunately, through my practice (and even not too long ago) I've heard quite disturbing cases of people who have been in denial of their (nevertheless challenged) voice conditions.

I got a call from a distraught spouse, telling me the story about his wife, who is a singer/song writer and has been diagnosed 6 years ago with polyps on her vocal cords. She was told to stop singing and either to find a non-surgical solution to get rid of those polyps or embark on vocal surgery.

She obviously did not listen... and went on her marry way to stardom.

The voice was deteriorating exponentially and disappeared completely after the 6 years of abuse. Unfortunately, by then, since she has lost it completely, she already had no other choice as to embark on the surgical procedure. I have spoken to her husband and tried to speak to her (there was nothing but the hiss and whisper) five weeks after her surgery took place. She has not regained any voice, at least not yet, and was advised, after the polyps were sent to pathology, that the growth was malignant, clearly meaning that it had turned cancerous. In this instance, I would not be able to help, as it had progressed to the point of no return.

If she had come to me at the beginning stages  of her vocal problem, I would be able to solve it non-surgically, and mainly, I would be able to teach her how to use her voice safely and efficiently; and not only would we be able to dissolve those polyps, but we would be able to prevent them from coming back again and again...

The polyps, in fact, have a viral nature and to get rid of them is much harder than from nodules or nodes, for that matter.

The perfect example would be John Mayer who, in the past, had a few surgeries because his original vocal cord polyps kept coming back... and,  unfortunately, even in multiple amounts. Due to this fact, he had to go on indefinite hiatus and nobody knew if he would be able to continue singing ever again. Something like this definitely would be very traumatizing and tragic for just anybody, especially for a professional singer.

So the moral of the above is..., learn how to speak and how to sing properly and take care of your, so to speak, instrument efficiently.

Don't treat it lightly if the vocal injury has already occurred. And don't fool yourself thinking that it will go away by itself or will miraculously get better. Try to solve your vocal problems non-surgically first. If it is too late for that, embark on that surgery, but definitely address the post-surgical care and change your voice application from the one existing before the injury.

After all, there is no change...without change. 

Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, Studio Vocal Producerand Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School in Toronto, Canada. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science (TM) method and Talent Scout and Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc.

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If you find yourself struggling with vocal performance or are in need of voice repair, you can reach Diana by email or phone at 416-857-8741