Thursday, November 16, 2017

Part 2, Neo-Singing…? Neo-Skating… Anything Else?

What do we mean by that?We mean… NO singing and NO skating… per say.

“It’s quality of skating, not quantity of jumps” - states Canadian figure skating champion, Patric Chan.

“Skating can be rewarded” -  said the figure skating commentator, Rod Black, after the U.S. well-known skater, James Brown’s ice performance.

James Brown himself said: “ Of course, I can land ripples and quads, but not in the expense of the artistry!”

Given all that, in this case, the skaters themselves are revolting against “ice acrobatics” and overall “ice circus”, so to speak. They actually have been missing the artistry of their craft, as well as poise and grace, which had always made figure skating field a very special place where they had an opportunity to show off their very special skills (and not just very dangerous and vigorous jumps which, in turn, could, at any time, become very detrimental to their body’s anatomy and physiology).

I just watched a pre-holiday movie where the top female figure skater had been badly injured; and thus was attending an out-of-town rehab trying to recuperate and overcome her injury. In the midst of that, she had met an also badly injured (in the past) used-to-be well known, hockey player.

They became friends and throughout this relationship, they both realized that there is more to life then vigorous competitions which literally put their lives in danger, and leave them with one and only option to take the pain killers to numb the pain in order to get through their tasks…

How sad is that?

It is sad indeed, as both sports require enormous human effort to reach the top and stay on top. The debatable question is… Is it really worth it? Evidently, both characters from the aforementioned movie came to the conclusion that it isn not; and, in my opinion, rightfully so.

Now, let’s look at singing, or the lack there of…

On the contrary, less and less effort to get on top of that game is required. 

As shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent or even The Voice, suggest that no effort is required or no “dues” should be paid by the artist, trying to climb to the top.

The message those shows are conveying:
“Don’t worry, you can easily get discovered; and then you will become an “instant star" after which, however, you might lose your voice.… But don’t worry… 

It is a known fact that there is always another wannabe artist waiting in line.

So the organizers of those shows are not worrying too much…

However, if you get lucky and get on top, but still do not really know how to sing, no worries at all…

They will build you a forty million dollar stage.  
They will hand you a self-tuning microphone.
They will play for you a pre-recorded version of your song backstage and teach you which peddle to press to get the sound to match your recording… They can even suggest some lip-syncing for that matter.

How pathetic is that? I am personally lost for words…

It has become clear that any real training towards vocal technique is simply eliminated; and it almost looks like it is completely obsolete these days… However, there is always a price to pay for the above, like for everything else in life.

The vocal technique was not present, and now the voice is lost and thus became non-functional. What is the next step? 
The next step is a vocal operation.  
Some of those interventions were pretty successful, but did anything change? In fact, it did… to some degree.

Let’s examine Adele’s situation:

In 2012, the bleeding polyp was successfully removed from her vocal cord; and once the vocal anatomy healed (after she was ordered not to speak or sing for five months), she attempted to resume her singing career.

However, to her credit, she really did not want to do that, as being a very smart and down-to-Earth woman, she had the understanding that nothing (in reality) had changed.

The surgeons in Boston performed a very complicated vocal surgery and completed it with absolute excellence.

So Adele’s “instrument” got fixed; but what about the “player”?

Was she shown any different/new technique or application of her singing and/or speaking voice, for that matter? 

Evidently not!

So being forced to continue her journey, and then (5 years  later), she came to the same result. She could not complete her tour due to the new damage to her vocal anatomy.

On that note… should we be surprised?

In my opinion, we should not. In fact, I would be more surprised if it didn’t happen, because in that instance, it would be simply a miracle.

To conclude:

My take on the above is such.

I think that we should not try to adapt to the new standards and so called “progress” to today’s society. We should rather try to bring and implement the old, good, classic standards to the so-called “modern society”.

To see part one on the same topic (named “Neo” Classical Ballet…? What’s That..? Let’s Find Out… For Whatever It’s Worth!") please click on the title. 

"The Unique Application of an Alternative Speech/Singing Method may be the Best Approach for Post-Stroke & 'Various Accidents' Survivors."

Short but intense round of alternative speech therapy may be a better solution for restoring language skills lost to a stroke than any traditional methods. 

Specialists have found that stroke/post-stroke survivors who have difficulty in speaking or understanding speech, showed some good improvements in language and communication skills after a short term of intense speech therapy. 

Language impairment occurs in more than a third of people after a stroke; but up to 60% still have language impairments for more than six months after a stroke. This condition in medical terms is known as chronic aphasia. 

Sometimes speech may return all of a sudden on its own even without treatment. This condition happens generally after a minor stroke. If the stroke survivor’s speech returns, it often happens within a few days, although this happens quite rarely. Anyone who has suffered from a severe stroke, causing significant damage to one’s speech pattern, needs a specialized form of voice rehabilitation in order to regain their speech.

This form of voice rehabilitation (known as the Vocal Science™ Method) has been proven to help post stroke/accident survivors regain vocal skills lost by damage sustained during the stroke or accident. This method of voice/vocal rehabilitation will include physical body movements and specialized vocal instruction that will teach the voice disorder sufferer how to correctly and effectively use their speaking (and, if applicable, singing) voice.

This method of treatment will indeed teach the voice disorder sufferer how to use and improve their speaking skills; however, depending on the severity of the post-stroke/accident symptoms, the time of voice recovery may vary.

The process of the human voice recovering from a stroke is difficult and it takes a lot of motivation and patience. With that said, stick with the voice recovery process and your hard work will surely pay off. Also, be realistic about your recovery. While some people have minor brain damage and minor aphasia, others have more severe damage and may not be able to completely recover their voices after their initial stroke. Therefore, it is imperative that you come into this form of alternative speech therapy with realistic goals in mind and a realistic mindset with respect of the level of complete voice recovery. 

While no shortcut exists for hard work and time, this form of voice restoration can certainly make the recovery process more efficient. Having a program that tailors to your recovery needs, in combination with the latest discoveries of voice enhancement, can increase your chances of reaching your potential; and in a shorter time than you may have thought possible.
For more information on Voice Disorder Treatments for those who had their voices compromised due to a stroke or accident, contact The Royans Institute for Non-Surgical Voice Repair. | 416-857-8741

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What Is Spasmodic Dysphonia & How is it Treated?

Spasmodic Dysphonia is a voice disorder caused by a neurological condition, affecting your speech. This disorder can affect all ages and can develop at any time.

With this voice-related problem, movement of the vocal cords if forced and strained resulting in a jerky, hoarse, tight or groaning voice. If you are affected with Spasmodic Dysphonia, the muscles inside your vocal cords may receive some abnormal nerve signals that cause to vibrate your vocal cords uncontrollably at a time. 

Symptoms of Spasmodic Dysphonia

At first, the symptoms may be mild and they may occur only occasionally. With the passing time, they may worsen and become more frequent before they even out.

The main symptom of spasmodic dysphonia is a forced movement of the muscles inside the vocal cords. This can cause a strained voice. Words you speak may be dragged out or broken while you talk. The symptoms may also include:

A hoarse voice
You have difficulty producing air when you speak
There is too much air behind your words (excessive breathy voice)
Difficulty swallowing liquids and food

A mild form of this vocal disorder (what is known as muscle tension dysphonia), could also compromise your speech making your words difficult to understand. Moreover, these symptoms may get worse when a person is fatigued and/or stressed, not to mention the intense speaking with an improper voice application or singing with an improper vocal technique.

What causes it and who is at risk?

This condition can develop at any age. During this time, you may assume that there is a structural problem with your voice box, vocal cords or some other part of your throat.

The main causes and risk factors for muscle tension dysphonia or spasmodic dysphonia can come from more than one source. Some people with the condition of spasmodic dysphonia appear to have an abnormality with their nervous system, which produces an organic tremor of the vocal cords. While others may have dystonia, another kind of neurological disorder that creates abnormal muscle tone.

What treatment options are available?

There is no known cure for spasmodic dysphonia, but there are treatments available that will help you significantly relieve its symptoms. 

There is a form of alternative speech therapy that can teach you to improve your muscle control and correct your breathing that can help you speak more clearly.

For more information about available treatments for muscle tension dysphonia or spasmodic dysphonia, please contact The Royans Institute for non-surgical voice repair – Specializing in alternative voice restoration, rehabilitation and enhancement | | 416-857-8741

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

“Neo” Classical Ballet…? What’s That..? Let’s Find Out… For Whatever It’s Worth!

This time, my reader,  I’m not writing about singing, speech or even voice repair (those services which I advocate for almost 4 decades). This time, I’m going to express my opinion about what’s happening in the arts world – will it be music, ballet, figure skating or what have you.

This past Saturday, on October the 28th, My husband and I paid a “gazillion” amount of money to attend a Canada All-Star Ballet Gala which was held in one of Toronto’s most prestigious venues for the arts which is now called the Sony Centre (formally known as O’Keefe Center).

I, however, am a big fan of both - ballet and figure skating.

In fact, in figure skating (which also entails a lot of ballet elements), I myself have spent over a decade skating; first for the professional career and then just recreationally. My very serious education in music, and also my dedication to music, took over my (also very serious) hobbies such as ballet and figure skating.

Evidently, a lot changed ever since my childhood and so did the concept of my favourite leisure pursuits. 

Let’s start with my favourite Ballet dancers – Mikhail Baryshnikov & Rudolf Nureyev. Both of them studied and graduated from Leningrad Vaganova’s highly-acclaimed School of Ballet.

At that time, the very high standards of CLASSIC BALLET were in high-gear and were embedded to every ballet dancer from an early age; and as soon as they entered such institution via a very strict selection based on true talent and specific body structure requirements. 

However, here in North America, everything is about money… unfortunately. 

The child (or adult, for that matter) could be over 200 pounds or so and, in a manner of speaking, with two flat (and “left”) feet; but as long as the money is paid, the rest, evidently, does not even matter… How sad and pathetic is that? 

However, this is life in North America and I guess we have to except it as it comes. I though, personally, have a very hard time with it.

In fact, in my business, I have always chosen to rather lose money, but tell the truth when I was asked if a certain child or adult under my care could someday make it professionally. And if the truth of the matter was that I did not think so, the parent or the young adult were solely advised about it.

However, there is nothing wrong in doing it recreationally. In fact, one of my clients just forwarded to me a beautiful article which suggests that music (and singing in particular) could do a lot of good to a person health-wise, positive emotions-wise, confidence-wise, etc.


But let’s now return back to the professional field of dancing:

When the talent meets the right training, that’s where the world’s names, like Mikhail Baryshnikov & Rudolf Nureyev, had been scouted, “sculpted” and created.

But then, there were different times…

The word Classical Ballet meant grace, poise and specific standards of each and every minutest movement produced by a ballet dancer. Those talented and well-trained dancers were able to perform (with absolute excellence) in such classic ballets like Giselle, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker - those are just to name a few. 

The music for the above listed ballets was written by such classic composers like Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, etc.

On that note, I would like to thank God that their brilliant music had not gotten changed (at least not just yet…)?

However, the classical ballet (now known as Neo classical) had unfortunately changed a lot!

In this gala, nevertheless, my husband and I came to appreciation of a mastery of every member of the cast (I believe 16 of them from the various European & North American ballet theatres). However, the dance, about 95 percent of the time, was rather a modern “parody” on a classical ballet we once knew and got accustomed to and fell in love with.

To me, it was quite disheartening and very strange watching their very high-quality performance; but the dancers themselves had been dressed up in very strange costume attire…

The “last straw” for me was where the principal dancer (Svetlana Lunkina of National Ballet, formally of Bolshoi Theater in Moscow) came out to dance a part of Swan Lake Ballet dressed in something resembling, what looked like, pyjama shorts (to put it politely…)

No traditional tutu, or feathers for that matter, were present…

At this point, I finally took a wild guess realizing that what I have witnessed was what they now call ‘Neo Classical Ballet’.

Pathetic…? INDEED!! 
I wonder what’s going to be next?
Will the music (let’s say… by Tchaikovsky) be remixed into something like EDM, God forbid…?

Actually, on second thought, as pathetic as it sounds, the above actually would fit better to this so-called “Neo” interpretation of once known as classical form and genre.

Wouldn’t that actually be funny… if, nevertheless, it wasn’t so sad?


My other hobby is cars and I just saw, in two separate instances, a yellow Mercedes and an orange BMW parked near stores and restaurants. It also looked a little strange to me, as classic high-end cars like Mercedes and BMW, in my opinion, should be painted in, (so to speak) classic colours like black, white or silver. These type of cars should not look “funky” opposed to small, inexpensive, no-big-names cars.


Anyways, I guess, I have now expressed my frustration with this form of art; and now, to top it all off, my other frustration with “modern” figure skating as well (which lately reminds me of a glorified “circus on ice”).

All those performers are constantly injuring themselves (putting their bodies under enormous strain) to amuse others…

Where are the Russian pioneer skaters, like Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov, who glided on ice like ballet dancers, using music by Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Rachmaninov…? In my opinion, that was real artistry on ice!

Today, if a skater cannot jump 3 or more triple axels or quads during the program, he or she will not be qualified for any serious competitions. Those, however, who can, very often, become severely injured; and, evidently, end up facing a lot of obstacles with their health in general… Today, it is not about arts; it is about delivering amusement at all costs & money paid for it.
For the true lovers of arts (like me) it is indeed very disappointing and, nevertheless, extremely frustrating…

However, I’m not done yet… Stay tuned for my “humble opinion” of the, nowadays, “modern” music scene… Till then, my reader… Thank you for takin the time reading the above. I would love to hear your opinion on the above mentioned matters.
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