Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Voice Repair Part 1: Could the Regular Vocal Coach Fix your Voice?

Let’s suppose you have a car, and you know how to drive it.

Does it mean that you also know how to teach driving, or how to fix the car if it’s broken? The answer is - not necessarily.

You could be a very good driver, but when it comes to fixing the car, you probably would need a certified/professional car mechanic who specializes in technical issues of the matter. 

In fact, when my child reached 16, she asked me to teach her how to drive, and pointed out that a lot of parents do exactly that.

My response to her was; “My dear daughter, I definitely know how to drive, but you will not pay me a million dollars to teach you how to drive. I will leave it to a professional who would make sure that you will go on the road, won’t kill anybody and, yourself, come back in one piece. Similarly, when somebody claims to be a vocal coach, it should not be assumed that this person also knows how to fix the voice issue/problem, if such occurs.

However, I have received quite a few obvious Voice Repair clients from various vocal coaches who were desperately trying to fix someone’s voice, having no idea how to even approach it. Moreover, they used the conventional approach to voice mechanics, which is, in the first place, not very beneficial to a human’s vocal anatomy.

The conventional vocal coaching suggests you to drop the jaw down and stick the stomach out, which could be very detrimental to the vocal health. In that instance, the voice gets drowned very low in its position and it pressures upon the components of the vocal anatomy and thus produces the strained vocal cords and abused larynx.

All of the above on its own could lead to growth on the vocal cords, (nodes, nodules, polyps), or even to a muscle tension dysphonia or spasmodic dysphonia. In my book, “Vocal Science – Flight to the Universe”, I have a chapter which is called, “How not to become a singer and work harder at doing it”. That pretty much describes the 'methodics' of the conventional pedagogy, or the lack thereof. 
So let’s analyze this:

If the conventional approach to voice mechanics could actually be harmful to the human anatomy, how could it fix the already occurred vocal damage, which was caused, most likely, by that very approach or, perhaps, by the sufferer’s own experimentation's? 

Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

It does, as evidently, it is the fact and it is true.

So, whatever you do, please separate the ingredients, so to speak. If you need to learn something, find a teaching guru. 

If you need to fix something, find the top mechanic and truly, it has to be a voice technician, who specializes in the field of VoiceRepair.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Voice Repair: Speaking and Singing – How One Affects the Other

Some singers who come to me for non-surgical voice repair are not necessarily the professional singers, which means, that a lot of them have a daytime job or even their own businesses.

Some of the professions require speaking on the phone all day, running meetings, doing presentations, and what not.

After an 8-hour workday, the part-time singers would rush to their band rehearsal or even an outright performance.

Perhaps being vocally very talented but not, per se, knowing about the proper application of their voice, they put the enormous pressure on their vocal anatomy.

So let’s examine that:

They use their speaking voice excessively during the working day and then even more intensely during the night through the late hours.

While they’re speaking at work, they primarily are doing it from the sitting position with a slouched back, thus drowning their voice onto the bottom of their throats and below.

They establish the low voice speaking habit.

Then they go to their “singing job” with already very tired vocal cords and very low “drawned” in its position voice, which now sits deeply in their necks, chests, and shoulders.

When now they try to sing they push the voice even harder trying to reach the higher notes and stay with the melody pattern.

It does work for a short while, but then their anatomy starts, so to speak, to close on them.

Their neck becomes tighter and tighter, their shoulders are always on the upper position, and they breath heavily through their chest and nose.

Soon it becomes apparent that the more they push the less they accomplish, and on the contrary, the result is very diminished and now they are very well on their way to a muscle tension dysphonia.

Their voice becoming breathy, low, and raspy, and they simply sound hoarse.

From this moment on they hardly can perform their daytime work duties and let alone fulfill their singing obligations at night.

Sounds like nothing short of a nightmare, but unfortunately, it is a fact.

Finally, after all of the denial and hope that their condition is just a temporary glitch, it does become apparent that significant voice repair action is needed.

It also becomes evident that there is no change without change, and something’s got to give.

Now, not only speaking and singing voice has to be fixed, but a new application and manner of speaking and singing would be required.

If that change will not take place, the voice/vocal problem will inevitably recur again.

So, love your voice and take good care of it.

Remember that the vocal cords are not made from steel!

You are just human!

You deserve to be as vocal as you can be!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Voice Repair: We don’t just speak about it - We make it happen!

I have been teaching and repairing voices for many years now. I have taught actors, professional media personnel, voice-over speakers, fitness instructors, and, of course, singers of all calibers. To survive in those described above professions, you need a strong voice, a voice which will never let down its user. 

Those people’s livelihood directly depends on the strength, health and command of their voices. If the person, of any of the described above professions, would damage and/or lose theirvoice, their livelihood would be very much so in jeopardy. 

Over the years, I’ve fixed the voices of quite well-known radio and TV personnel, public speakers, pastors, worship leaders, to name a few. All of them needed their voice back to the normal operational state and as soon as possible! So there was no time to just speak about it or feed them with promises of a future recovery — I had to go to the action and to act upon their matter right away!

These people were desperate, as they were literally losing their jobs and their passion and zest for life. Some of them just had to restore their speaking voice; some - their singing voice; but others had to restore both. I cannot describe the emotional, physical, and mental impact the damaged voice had on those sufferers. 

The voice is our main tool for communication. 

It reflects on the state of our being and actually identifies who we are. When the voice is damaged, the in-congruency between who that person is in reality and what he/she is able to express, makes the whole matter devastating. The voice sufferer ultimately loses his/her known, to them, identity. When the voice damage occurs, the surrounding people now have difficulty to assess the person in front of them due to verbal communication breakdown. The person with the voice problem becomes, understandably, less communicative due to the difficulty of speech and constant tiredness of their voice. 

When they happen to be in a loud environment, they nearly become mute, as they intuitively feel that if they tried to speak, and on top of it loud, they might push their voice the last time and lose whatever is left of their sound. So, in not so many words, it is a real tragedy and practical help should be on its way immediately. 

A lot of voice practitioners, speech therapists, vocal coaches like to theorize about it, but the clock is ticking and every day is counting, especially for those who have to return back to their everyday lives, not to mention, their speaking and/or singing career. Now voice repair – hands-on-experience should take place. 

Majority of people, especially with growth on their vocal cords like nodules, polyps, lesions etc., do not want right away jump onto the operating table. They are usually looking for alternative ways to solve their vocal problems. 

Now, I – the non-surgical voice repair specialist – have to go into action, along with my client, as it “takes two to tango”, so to speak. Both of us, my voice repair client and I, are facing a very tedious syllable-on-syllable, word-on-word instruction, to first fix the speaking voice (it applies to both speakers and singers); and then, to teach a singer how to sing a new way – not pushing the sound of their voice down to their throat by virtue of dropping the jaw almost down to the knee, and also not simultaneously sticking the stomach out and pelvis forward. 

Those actions described above would, nevertheless, “help to kill” anybody’s voice on a root. To recover the voice, the speaking and singing voice application has to change completely. To accomplish this, I have to practically use a “Pavlovian conditioning” method and virtually re-teach the psyche and the human anatomy a completely different behavior, which also falls in the science of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). 

So it is a complex endeavour and it cannot be treated lightly. 

There is indeed no time to just speak about it; there is a lot of mental, physical, emotional and vocal work to be done, and in practice, not in theory. 

Our device:  We don’t speak, We do! And we make it happen in all cases where it is possible!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hoarse Voice / Raspy Voice? – Should you be concerned and do something about it, or should you hope that your voice would get back to normal on its own? Let’s find out…

Perhaps one day you woke up and felt that your throat is unusually dry.

You probably did not think much about it, as it had happened before. So you started clearing your throat, trying to cough it out, but this time it was much harder to bring it to the normal state. You have tried again and again and instead of better it was getting worse.

Now, probably there was a time for concern.

At first, you thought that maybe you caught a cold or a virus, but you overall felt allright and not sick at all, then you started to analyze your social behavior and your conduct at work, trying to remember if anybody there was sick and had a virus or a cold. Then another thought occurred your mind – “probably I speak too much and too loud on an everyday basis, I speak on the phone all day and then go to a loud club or to my band practice…”

Suddenly, you realize that you are overworking your voice double/triple capacity and not knowingly, you actually abuse your vocal anatomy. Remember the vocal cords are not made from steel.

They are two human threads which could handle only so many voice strums per lifetime. Just like your heart, which has only so many beats per lifetime, and therefore, if you are fit and your diet is adequate, you preserve and save your heartbeats for a longer time, assuring the health and length of your actual life span. Similarly, when you look after your vocal anatomy trying not to overload your vocal cords and your throat with excessive pressure of the sound, you will never experience the loss of voice and will never acquire the raspy or hoarse voice, for that matter. And nevertheless, you’ll be completely out of danger of injuring and/or losing your voice.

However, if the vocal injury already occurred, should you be doing something about it or hoping that one day, someday, your vocal anatomy will recover on its own?

The answer is:

Act upon it immediately! The longer you wait, the harder it will be to fix it. Don’t pretend that nothing has happened, because it did. Minimum to say, you bruised your vocal anatomy and thus your voice is not functioning as per normal.

Ultimately, you would need to do 2 things:

Firstly, treat your whole vocal box with alternative and holistic means. That will, hopefully, “tune your instrument” back to its normal physical state.

Secondly, learn a new application of how to use your voice speaking and singing without putting an enormous pressure on your already fragile vocal box. In a nutshell, you have to lift and restructure your voice to a different set of muscles and as far away as possible from your vocal anatomy.

Those facial and abdominal muscles are very safe to use and you will get much more run out of them than your actual vocal anatomy. There are special speech and singing exercises available and they will allow you to use your voice in a fullest capacity possible, and needless to say, with no pain or strain on your vocal anatomy.

So, by utilizing that wholesome vocal mechanism, you will assure the safety and proper workability of your voice for life. So don’t procrastinate.

Start loving YOURSELF and your VOICE!

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