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When the vocal injury occurs it’s definitely not a “picnic” for every party involved.

If it happens to a regular person, who is not a singer at all, and not at all prepared that one day he/she wakes up and will sound with the hoarse raspy voice which is hardly resembling the voice which the sufferer originally possessed.

Not being in agreement with that, the person starts to push all surrounding muscles – like throat, neck, shoulders and chest, trying to extract some sound familiar to them.

Unfortunately, the more they push, the less they accomplish.

Moreover, the sounds actually gets pushed more so down and may easily get stuck at the neck, which in a short while may become an indication of what’s called Muscle Tension Dysphonia.

Now, clearly, the real vocal injury has occurred.

Naturally, the first thought that comes to the sufferer is to get referred to ENT doctor.

They wait for months for the appointment and finally arrive to the ENT specialist’s office.

After being examined and being diagnosed, especially with something the doctor has nothing to operate on, they are being let go with the absolute confusion and no direction how to proceed further and conquer their voice injury.

So what is the alternative?

The alternative is a natural and holistic practitioner who specializes in voice disorders.

Some people are not at all open to that idea; others, with more understanding, are more than happy to embark on a proper voice/vocal technique supplemented with natural herbs and remedies.

Some people truly think that the only problem they have is that their vocal anatomy is not intact, but otherwise they are fine.

So if only they could get a hold of a “magic pill”, preferably prescribed by a medical doctor, they would be just fine and would continue their lifestyle – speaking/singing with a wrong technique/application of the voice, speaking excessively loud, singing with the strained voice and colds, and consuming a lot of dairy, sweets, and red meat.

Go figure!?

We all wish that it would be that easy, but unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it may seem.

By the time the person experiences the severe symptoms, the whole body, and sometimes, the soul is also out of whack.

So at this time the problem is quite deep and quite encompassing and thus has to be approached and treated holistically.

By the time the person with the voice disorder finally finds an alternative help, he/she usually suffers quite a bit psychologically and emotionally.

A lot of them are very tearful and feel like a failure; some of them are so depressed that they feel suicidal.

No wonder though, as the voice is a great tool for communication – speaking or singing.

Suddenly, these affected people are being deprived from their voice – in the global understanding of that word.

It actually could be quite devastating.

So now these people not only need the work on their voice, but first of all, they would need to work on their mental balance, and their physical body balance (diet and what not), and then on the actual proper mechanics of the voice, which once employed, will save and protect the voice for life, and thus prevent the occurrence of this ever happening again.

What price tag can you put on that?

Teaching here in Toronto for almost 3 and half decades, I cannot believe how the people changed with respect of their attitude, mentality, physicality and yes, dreams, which they used to have galore.
Since 1980, we’ve been through quite a few recessions, but it never affected people in the way which I am witnessing right now. They used to possess a lot of passion and love for music. The majority of even just ordinary people, (not necessarily musicians), had dreams to become professional artists, experience the professional recording and then experience the huge urge and excitement to be able to cut a record deal.

Almost on a weekly basis, the new groups, (bands) were formed.

The school kids were positively occupied with the rehearsals with their group; and then, to perfect their craft, with private vocal and instrument lessons on the side. Yesterday, I spoke with one of my young adult students and asked him what his friends of the same age, (18 to 20 years old), had been doing with their leisure time.

He responded that they have been searching through the websites day in and day out, trying to figure out how to make money, and then to engage, at best, in the electronic video games or, God forbid, in some negative activities. According to my student, none of his peers have any other ambitions outside of electronic engagement. The word ‘music’ or ‘singing’ was never even mentioned.
How sad is that?

I am truly missing those guys (age 16 to 25), who use to come with their guitars or base guitars with the excitement in their eyes and smile on their faces. Where did it all go and what is the problem?
My personal opinion would be that, not only now we are going through a general recession, but also the music business is going through a huge recession and reformat. In Toronto, there is virtually no music industry present.

Some of my clients, in the not very distant past, have gotten signed, but then were dropped off the roster of, for example, Sony, Capital and Universal records. As my clients reviled to me after the fact, that the record company let go of the majority of their staff and there were simply no music professionals left to complete my clients’ projects. The club owners here in Toronto have definitely lost their professional acumen and frankly, as it appears to be, their consciences as well. They never, per say, paid anything, (outside the door), to the bands for their performances, but they also never asked the bands to pay them for the “privilege” to play in their clubs.

When one of my former students, who I had mentored to a beautiful singing performer, revealed that to me, I could not believe my ears. Her and her band were working so hard on writing, playing and recording music, and now they got deprived of showcasing their musical skills, as they were unable to pay upon demand for their performances to the club owners.

It is pathetic, isn’t it?

How could people maintain their dreams and still possess their passion when they are not able to realize their desires and express their love for music and singing? So, our city, unfortunately, is becoming very commercial, very business oriented and, frankly, people in our city have become really skeptical and really cynical. All of these above described “qualities” are hardly corresponding with any artistic tendencies and inclinations. That explains why the city feels so grey, so depressed and with very low energy. I feel a great remorse and experience a great loss of fun, passion, and accomplishment, as in our times, those so called ‘qualities’ are, evidently, not tangible and thus, unfortunately, not being accountable for anything anymore.

What a shame!!!

If you are suffering from a complete voice loss, then, unfortunately, we will not be able to help. In order to recover the voice, we need some kind of a sound production. I was amazed when one person, after quite intensive correspondence with me via e-mails, finally called me and could not produce anything but a whisper. When I asked him what he was diagnosed with, he, to my surprise, responded with whispers that the Doctors could not find anything wrong with him. 

I was literally shocked with that reply. But, unfortunately, could not offer him any viable help, as no sound was present at all. Then, in my office, another man unexpectedly walked in, who actually had the sound, but there was nothing but “mooing”, so to speak. Apparently, he recently undergone a cancer of thyroid operation and he ended up with both vocal cords paralysed. Naturally, I told him the truth that vocal paralysis on both vocal cords is non treatable.  Believe it or not, he looked at me with absolute surprise, disbelief and disappointment! 

Go figure!

I am not sure what he expected me to say.

There are a lot of things I could do non-surgically, but some things are not possible to concur even with the best abilities of the Voice Repair specialist, or any other therapist for that matter. If you remember the story of Movie Actor Christopher Reeves who fell down from the horse and ended up with quadriplegia.

No doubts, he was surrounded by the best doctors and definitely had no lack of money to hire any help he needed; but, evidently, nobody could help him.

The best they could do is to keep him positive and reasonably comfortable. Conversely, after the initial shock from both parties, my prospective client and my own, I advised him that I could improve the quality of his life and no doubts his confidence, by making him pronounce and announce his words somewhat clearer and to be more understood.  I told him, in a nutshell, how I will go about it, and that my method is completely natural, holistic and alternative to any medical interventions.

I told him that I will restructure his voice in a different set of muscles and take it away from the vocal box to the place where his sound will become more amplified and less strained. I explained to him how that wholesome mechanism, which I will instill into his psyche, will allow his voice to work in the fullest capacity possible and to the best of its ability.  

He left and the next day wrote to me an e-mail where he expressed that he could not understand how his voice will work “outside of his vocal cords”. In his e-mail he expressed that he is hoping that one day his voice will come back fully. On that note, I told him that I wished him all the best. It is sad, but true.

That person, as many others, had absolutely no check with reality. I am sure that if any medical professionals could put Christopher Reeve back on the horse and make him a Superman again, they would. So take it from there. It’s always good to have a hope, but it has to be realistic. 

And now, yet another case study.

The person comes in with, so to speak, stage 4 of Muscle Tension Dysphonia disorder. I am sure everybody knows that, when somebody is diagnosed, for example, with stage 4 cancer, (God forbid), it pretty much means that, most likely, that person will not make it. I have to admit that, when I’ve heard that young woman’s voice over the phone, even I got shaky. She sounded, the least to say, horrible. I offered her just a 10 hour exploratory session to open it all up and see if anything could be done. To everybody’s surprise, she was responding very well to the instruction and natural herbs, which I had provided for her sessions. Her mom, who was present in the room, said that it was fascinating to watch this transformation. 

I was asked right away if I could offer more hours while they were residing here in Toronto for 5 days. I said yes and increased her course to 16 hours. Then they left and I did not have much feedback on the post-course events. Incidentally, on one of the weekends, my husband and I ended up in their neck of the woods. We met up and I was very pleased to hear my former student’s voice which was very much so improved, but of course, was not fully back. The protocol for any voice disorder, especially of this severity, is a minimum of 30 to 40 hours of instruction and natural/holistic treatment. My former student now switched back her phone which she gave up talking on for the last year, until the completion of my Voice Repair course.

I think, by itself, it was a great victory.

However, to my huge disappointment, my former voice repair client still was not satisfied and kept repeating that she will only give me a reference when her voice will return fully. She only engaged, at best, on half of the protocol required. Yet, instead of acknowledging the huge victory, (at least 80% of improvement), she was stubbornly repeating over and over how her voice has not come back fully…

My response was that the gratitude and positive outlook on things would probably help her to recover her voice that much sooner. I am not sure, however, that I succeeded in my persuasion, unfortunately.  

And lastly, the very positive outcome of my American client who recently came to my studio for only 4 days and also for only 10 hours to fix her cyst on her throat and learn how to sing professionally. 

Not even half an hour to her first session with me, she inquired if I could give her more hours while she is here in town. I was able to accommodate 5 extra hours and complete the course with absolute success, however, with her understanding that she would need more hours and more treatment to be employed to achieve true and final success.

Therefore, she arranged me, now coming to her, to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and conduct yet another 20 hours of instruction and treatment. Thank God for her normalcy and understanding that the screws, so to speak, still have to be tightened and a new pattern of the application of her speaking and singing voice has to be totally established. 

So to conclude; the normalcy and balance of the person with some kind of a voice disorder, voice loss, or whatnot, has to be present first of all. The voice repair client should outline the realistic goal and enjoy getting there.

Tony Robins and I are in complete agreement with the latter.

Sometime ago, I received an e-mail from a, seem to be, very frustrated, aggressive and, probably, very loud in the past, woman. She was, sort of, inquiring about her damaged voice, but in the tone of her e-mail, there was a lot of anger and blame. As usual, I asked her if she wanted to speak on the phone, so I could hear her voice, first hand and then make my assumptions and outline the best course of action for her particular case to be.

She agreed and I dialed the number.

The minute she picked up the phone, she tried to “scream”, with her broken voice at me, blaming everybody and anybody and saying, with anger, that she could not scream anymore at her two teenage sons while they were on the field, playing soccer.

Go figure!

To me, even with her voice issue, she sounded very loud, rude and obnoxious, and also, interestingly enough, she, instead of wanting (for real) to fix her voice, wanted to learn a sign language…? Usually, people with a hearing impediment are using sign language, so, obviously, it should not be her deal.

It was extremely difficult to understand her, and I asked her if she had another number for me to call. She said yes, and submitted a new number to me. When I dialed (two times in a row), there was a machine.

So it was clear to me that she did not want to continue the conversation and thus, preferred, instead of embarking on the voice repair endeavour, remain to be silent. Perhaps, for her and people around her, it would not be a bad choice, I am sorry to say.

Maybe it was God’s way to quiet her down for a while. But dark jokes aside, her choices were all wrong.

Instead of being frustrated to the point of being rude and obnoxious to the people who genuinely wanted to help her, she should have been searching and researching for the actual vocal, and evidently, some emotional help.

It is indeed very sad that the emotions of some people have gotten the better of them and common sense is not prevailing over their emotional state. That’s where the holistic approach to the repair of the voice mechanics would take place. 

In the above described case, (Upon her understanding and agreement), I would need to work first on the root of her emotions and to work quite deeply, as the voice problem did not happen out of thin air. Her very extroverted and loud self, no doubt, caused at least 70% of the problem.

The stress itself could “close” the throat very easily, not to mention that the thyroid becomes inflamed and prevents the voice from going through. In the holistic teaching, there is a saying; that the thyroid represents suppressed emotions and hurts. My friend and associate herbalist likes to ask her clients, “What couldn’t you ‘swallow’ that it brought you to this condition?” 

Very true!!!

So the problem is psychological and emotionally induced, but it always manifests in the physical body. It usually attacks the weaker organs and the organs which are used the most. If this person’s, (described above), habitat and mission to be bossy, in control, forceful and loud, no wonder her first organ, which got affected, was her voice. 

My brother, who remains to be in Russia, was first married with also a very loud and controlling woman. Sometime ago, he divorced her, and when I asked why, (as she was his first love), he said that she was screaming too much. She did not take the break-up of the marriage very well and turned, nevertheless,  to chain smoking. Not too long ago, I spoke to my brother and asked him how she was doing. He answered that she had a stroke and could not speak at all! 

I still cannot get a grip with it, as I remember her being very “vocal” and very hyperactive, to say the least.

How uncanny is that?! 

But it is true and it is the fact.
Being a voice specialist, I totally understand the cause of the above described. And from the professional point of view, I am not surprised to that consequent; rather, on the contrary, I would be surprised if it did not happen. In her case, however, nobody would be able to help, as her speech center and both of her vocal cords are paralyzed completely.

The question is, could it be prevented? The answer is yes, but the person cannot remain ignorant and careless to their behavioral and health habits. 

We like to say in Russia; “The learning and repetition is the Mother of teaching”.

Lately, more and more voice issues sufferers are coming to me with the most, seem to be, common diagnosis, such as vocal cords acid reflux and muscle tension dysphonia. Why those two, you may ask?

Are there any other vocal problems which people also experience? Of course there are! The rest of them are much more so obvious; those like nodes, nodules, polyps, etc.

But what appears to be interesting that if the person, let’s say with the hoarse/raspy voice, is not diagnosed with any growth on their vocal cords, he/she is immediately labelled with one or the other diagnosis; either gastric acid reflux which is burning the sufferer’s vocal cords, or muscle tension dysphonia, which effects primarily the neck muscles, and also could be connected to the acid reflux and fibromyalgia. So, mainly, the conventional doctors are implementing the method of elimination.

In other words, if there is nothing obvious they could detect, they offer the generic and most common diagnosis, such as described above. How pathetic is that?

A lot of my voice repair clients came with the diagnosis of the acid reflux and obeying the doctor’s orders; they took all kinds of anti-acids, changed their diets, and did not, unfortunately, accomplish any results. Their voices were still hoarse and raspy and they still did not know how to properly speak or sing.

Yes, in some cases, they could have been affected by acid reflux, but it was not the main cause of their voice problem. It was just a side effect, as their voice was drawn in a very low position, via wrong speaking or singing and via an enormous pressure which was applied to their vocal box.

Once the voice is sitting low in its position (sounding very throaty and heavy), it will no doubt meet the gastric acid and, evidently, the vocal cords will get burned. So the approach to the vocal problem has to be completely holistic.

I was speaking today with a US client who had been diagnosed with Reinke’s Edema (smoker’s disease). She was offered an operation instead of recommendation of stopping smoking, cleansing her body completely from the toxins, building the strength of her vocal anatomy and learning how to speak properly without putting an enormous pressure on her vocal cords and larynx. 

Even if she agreed to do the surgery, without the changes described above, it would be completely obsolete, as all of her symptoms will come back in full force in a short period of time.

There is no change without change and the surgery is not one of them. However, in some cases, the surgical interference is a must, but my recommendation would be to try everything possible and impossible (so to speak), Non-Surgically first!

After all, what do you have to lose? If nothing else, you will have knowledge and understanding to gain and then come to the write decision with God’s blessings.

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.

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!

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