Feeds:
Posts
Comments

When I work with people over 65 years old on their voiceproblems, I very often have to literally revive them back to life prior to working on their voice.

When these people finally end up in my studio they most of the time look, feel and act quite beat up, so to speak.

Prior to getting to me, they have had a lot of health issues and other, aspects of life, turbulence and tribulations.

Some of them have undergone various surgeries, and then, instead of getting better, they acquired some strange side effects, like for example (with one of my clients), uncontrollable cough, which has been lasting for the last 27 years!

Finally, several years ago, due to very disturbed upper and lower respiratory organs, as well as her throat and her vocal box in general, she began to lose her voice.

The tone of her voice had deepened and sounded raspy and hoarse.

Needless to say, that her pronunciation and enunciation were severely compromised.

Her posture was very slouched and her upper back was not straight while her pelvis was very much tilted forward.

She has been distributing her weight right onto her lower back and thus, nevertheless, has been experiencing low back pains on top of everything else.

Her whole demeanor did not appear happy and upright.

Obviously, given the above, her spirit was very low, as her heart and soul (not to mention physical aspects of it) were hurting for nearly three decades.

So I, no doubt, had to deal with her whole being while concurrently fixing her voice.

Everybody who has read my publications before, may know that my theory is such that the voice is the expression of who you are and, no doubts, is the identification of the state of one’s being.

So, you my reader, could easily see and understand that all of those components — mental, physical, emotional — and yes, vocal arecompletely and totally interconnected.

Once the voice started to sound brighter, more lifted, and much clearer, the person’s being became much more alive and rejuvenated in every aspect. She started to look younger and her skin on her face started glowing!

With all of the voice instructions, the posture became much straighter which helped the sound to be properly structured and thus projected.

If you visualize a violin player who holds his violin crooked, he would obviously play the wrong notes, as the proper position of the instrument plays a crucial role with respect of the production of the right sounds.

Similarly, the speaking/singing sound has to be projectedup, above, and forward of the person’s body, and if the body is inclined backwards instead of forward, the sound would be drawn to the back of the throat and if delivered at all, it will be delivered to the wall, at best.

My previously doomed student went to the numerous doctors and specialists, naturopaths and homeopaths and never got any help for the last 27 years.

She is 68 years old now and she missed almost half of her life dealing with her health and voice problems.

As the absolute latest news for her came (before seeing me)as a diagnosis by two ENT specialists, one of whom told her she might needsurgery (God knows for what?) and the other revealed to her that she has muscletension dysphonia (MTD)… ?

If she did, she would have never needed a surgery, as MTD cannot be fixed by surgical interference.

But in my opinion, she did not have such a thing.

Her voice reflected all of her health problems from the past and as a consequence was damaged on its own due to her health problems.

Go figure!?

Lately, I have a lot of inquiries from seniors who are finally ready to learn how to speak and/or sing properly. Some of them were motivated because they have been experiencing some voice problems speaking. The others, by trying to learn how to sing properly, have been trying to realist their young years dream.

A couple of years ago, I had a 72 years old student – a very successful business man, who’s dream has always been to become a singer and actor. However, living in poverty and watching his parents suffer with low paid jobs, he gave himself a promise that he will become very well off in the business world.

And so he did. But the desire of his heart and soul did not get realised until he met me in his early 70s, and after participating in several of my Vocal Interactive Workshops, following by the private singing lessons with me, he landed a role of Santa Claus in one of the community theatres.

Way to go Man, I exclaimed!

Now, at present, I am working with a senior of 68 years old who came to me from the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The poor woman has been suffering for the last 27 years with uncontrollable cough and as a result, a very raspy and hoarse lower tone voice. She has been approaching every conventional and holistic health professional under the Sun. She has heard a lot of diagnosis and a lot of speculations about her condition and its treatment.

The satisfactory result never took place and as a last resort, she flew to me here in Toronto. As of today, we have accomplished 13 hours of instruction and treatment. She is spending, on average, the total time with me, about 5 hours a day. By already yesterday, her cough is almost gone, her throat is not sore and not scratchy and she looks and sounds 10 years younger as she did a few days ago today.

So she came with the voice issue, but realized that the voice problem is mainly just a symptom, as several related problems lie much deeper. She is completely amazed and amused, as nobody ever gave her the full assessment and evaluation of not only of her voice, but of the state of her whole being. Today, we have been discussing some singing lessons for her down the road. She revealed to me that her ultimate dream would be to sing in a church choir.

Isn’t that amazing? From the Voice Repair on the speaking voice to potentially singing in a choir?

Yes, indeed!

Is it possible, you may ask?

Absolutely! And in her Voice Repair case, for sure!

When somebody suddenly experiences difficulties with their speaking or singing voice, they usually get really concerned, but are still hoping that the problem will go away by itself. Weeks, and sometimes months, will pass and the voice problem not only hasn’t gone away, but has actually become worse.

This person ends up trying to push their voice harder and harder to make it work the way it used to, not realizing that it is doing more harm than it’s worth.

Eventually, after they seem to have tried everything, they end up getting a referral to an ENT specialist, hoping that the specialist will shed light on their problem and offer them a quick and “magical” fix.

And yes, after the diagnosis, especially with polyps, nodes, nodules, or cysts, the ENT specialist usually offers a quick laser or scalpel operation to remove the growth on their vocal cords or their throats.

That operation seemed to also be offered to Joan Rivers, who evidently had some problems with her vocal cords, as she was sounding more raspy and hoarse in recent years. She was obviously concerned with her speaking voice, as her livelihood was depending on it, and rightfully so.

One might ask, should she have considered a non-surgical way of fixing her voice problem first, especially given her age and the numerous other surgeries she had been through?

The answer is most probably yes, but that would require the time, energy, and money; although in her case, the latter probably would not matter.

Like many people today, she was living her life at a fast pace and probably did not want to allocate the time to thoroughly investigate what could have been done with regards to fixing her voice in a less invasive manner.

Surgery of any sort carries a risk and could cost you your life. Here in Canada, I was friends with Bella Kovarsky, the first Ballet teacher of one of the greatest dancers of all time, Mikhail Baryshnikov. She was the founder of the Bayview School of Ballet, here in Toronto.

In the year 2000, Bella Kovarsky died suddenly during what was supposed to be a very mundane and simple procedure (a type of appendix removal). Her death was not only sad but completely unexpected. Nobody could have predicted such a tragic end for this wonderful and talented individual who dedicated all of her life to ballet and great choreography.

Both Bella and Joan’s surgeries were thought to be simple procedures, and yet both of these very talented people did not survive this simple invasion. Any surgical invasion, even those in outpatient facilities (like the one where Joan Rivers’s surgery took place) can be dangerous and could easily end your life.

So, in my opinion, especially concerning vocal problems (since it is in my field of expertise), I would try everything non-surgically first and then, if there is no way to fix the voice naturally and holistically, turn to a surgical procedure.

To conclude:

If you love your voice and yourself for that matter, please do not hesitate to spend the time to research the best alternative care and try absolutely everything possible to conquer your problem naturally, scalpel-less, and laser-less for that matter.

What a beautiful article written about the legendary Joan Rivers!

When I came to Canada almost 35 years ago I was trying to watch as much TV as I could to learn the language. Although I didn’t fully understand her humour at the time, I was impressed by comedian Joan Rivers. Joan had beautiful energy and a very animated personality, and she spoke very loudly with huge command and conviction in her voice. However, being a voice specialist, I immediately noted that she was using her voice incorrectly, as her voice was obviously coming out from the back of her neck and the very bottom of her throat.

In all honesty, I am amazed that her voice lasted as long as it did!

That said, it is evident that, genetically, she was a very strong woman with a very strong personality. In a general sense, no human voice could withstand such pressure applied onto the vocal box for a prolonged period of time. However, you could clearly hear in her performances in recent years that her voice was getting raspier and quite often she simply sounded hoarse.

When that happens to a human being, especially one whose livelihood depends on his or her voice, that individual, quite often, emotionally disagrees with the situation. However, most of the time, that person intellectually understands that something has to be done about it, as there is no change without a change, so to speak. While disagreeing, however, they are trying to continuously push that voice out on the surface when, by that time, the voice has usually already been drowned deep inside in their throat.

So by pushing it vigorously, they are, unfortunately, accomplishing the opposite result, as by drowning and straining that voice exponentially could bring it to the stage of no return. However, like you are stating in your article, people with voice challenges should notice the change sooner rather than later and first try to conquer it non-surgically—by finding a qualified voice specialist who knows how to conduct the voice repair in a holistic manner.

We live in a very fast-paced world and to accomplish something we have to move pretty fast.

So the thoughts of people like John Rivers and even just of ordinary people are “Let’s do it now, and let’s do it fast.” She was probably thinking about her next upcoming performance and, nevertheless, wanted to sound nice, clean, and crisp. However, she did not realize that surgery is not necessarily the solution. The “instrument” might be tuned and fixed, but the “player” is still applying the wrong technique, trying to extract the sound from said instrument. If the greatest pianist of all time, Liberace, had been hammering his beautiful pink Grand Piano he would have broken it to pieces and would have no instrument to show his best piano skills.

It takes two—the instrument and the player.

The instrument has to be sound and the player has to be adequate. The player also must be able to extract the maximum capacity of that given instrument. So in the case of the voice, the speaker or singer has to be able also to extract the maximum capacity of their voice and with no pain or strain on the vocal anatomy. I always say, work smart, not hard, and with minimum effort accomplish the maximum result. Also, work upon the design and do not play it by ear.

That said, be professional on every level.

A lot of people, especially with speaking voice problems, who are coming to me for my services, are absolutely sure that the only problem they have is their voice problem.
Little do they know!

Evidently, they don’t perceive that the voice is the essential part of their anatomy and it is interconnected to their whole emotional, physical and mental being.

Sometimes, the problem with the speaking voice could be an indication of something else happening in the physical body and their voice problem actually has been emotionally induced. Let’s take, for example, spasmodic dysphonia.

This particular voice disorder has very little to do with the nasty symptoms like uncontrollable spasms of the voice and loss of control of the vocal box, as the problem, in this instance, is not in the voice. The problem has neurological nature which was most likely induced by highly emotional stress and then it manifested in the physical body. The symptoms of spasmodic dysphonia, coupled with high blood pressure and highly emotional stress, could be the warning symptoms of the future stroke.

If we are talking about muscle tension dysphonia, it mostly has to do with the improper conduct of one’s voice. However, these people who suffer from this nasty voice disorder are usually quite highly unbalanced, hyperactive, loud and controlling. While embarking on fixing their voice, these individuals should look closely at their behavior on an everyday bases.They should reassess their communication and habitation with the people they come into contact with regularly or otherwise.

These types of people are usually very opinionated and like to prove their point with everything they’ve got, so to speak. While doing that they sometimes become very loud. They actually are not noticing that they are pushing their voices to the absolute heights and limits, until they reach the point that they cannot push anymore. Now, their so called ‘power’ has been taken away from them and now they feel helpless.
So, as we see, the voice problem has very deep roots. The character of the person, the physical and emotional make-up of the person has a lot to do with why their voice injury occurs.

Maybe, in a way, it is a blessing for those people who were on the loud side all their lives and never thought that they could, perhaps, adjust their behavior and their lifestyle to the point of the absolute balance, so that neither the voice issue, nor any other health issues, would possess their being. And of course, there are “simple cases” which usually happen to singers and simply being induced by them not knowing how to conduct their speaking and singing voice. For them, once they recover their voice, the sky is the limit. Now, they acquire a proper vocal technique, which applies to speaking and singing and they are very well on their way to stardom.

Yes, of course, their vocal injury also, understandably, plays with their mind and their emotions, but the roots of their vocal injury, usually are not as deep, as for people who just injured their speaking voice. The psychology of the voice/vocal injury for both categories has completely different roots and has to be approached somewhat differently. The main thing for both categories, of course, is to regain the full health and full balance and realize that the voice loss is just a symptom of something bigger and greater which has been happening to them for some time.

Nevertheless, the innovative and alternative voice therapy suggests to treat the person as a whole, holistically and naturally.

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!!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.