Feeds:
Posts
Comments

As technology progresses, more and more, I have been asked if I could do my instruction and an actual voice treatment via Skype, FaceTime, or phone.

The people who are inquiring sincerely believe that the above is possible.

I have news for them, IT IS NOT!!!

The problem with the voice is a serious matter and it has to be treated seriously.

Yes, perhaps, you can learn how to play guitar or even piano remotely, but the voice is an “internal instrument” and it requires special manipulations with the body and body language to discover it, uncover it, and recover it from within; especially when it’s trapped in the neck, shoulders, and chest, not to mention throat and nasal passages.

In this case the physical body has to be completely balanced and centred, the subconscious and conscious mind have to be aligned, the intellectual understanding has to be totally coupled with motor skills, and thus the wholesome mechanism has to be in place to allow the voice to work in the fullest capacity possible with no pain or strain on the vocal anatomy.

When I’m recovering the voice, or even just instructing the person on how to speak or sing properly, I connect with that person on an intimate, so to speak, level of being (almost like a mother connects with her baby by umbilical cord).

Without that, the restoration of the voice, or even an instruction of voice placement for the healthy voice is not possible.

So now, you my reader, please tell me whether something like that described above could be achieved remotely, without the master instructor and the student being present, in person, in the same room?

So this is your riddle.

Nowadays, a lot of singers are susceptible to a variety of vocal disorders.

That happens because in the first place they never “owned” the right vocal technique, the kind which would prosper their voice to the fullest capacity possible; and at the same time it would save and protect their voice for life.

The result – Voice Disorder.

Now the process of restoration of one’s voice begins. A lot of those students, “who were really very good students,” have learned the wrong technique really well and formed it into their vocal habits. Not only do we have to fix their “vocal instrument,” so to speak, but also have to get rid of bad habits, like: dropping their jaws down, sticking their stomach out, scooping and sitting under the notes, excessively using their nasal passages, or their very throaty sounds.

It’s easier said than done, though.

Those habits are usually deeply embedded in the person’s psyche and the body muscles, which are also retaining the memory. Now we have to re-teach the body and the brain to feel differently, and rather than interfere with the voice, help the voice to be supported, structured, placed and projected to its aimed destination.

The lower abdominal muscles have to be conditioned to be tucked in for the greater support of the height of the sound.

The upper diaphragm muscles have to learn to work on the principle of an accordion, so to speak.

The singer has to be able to access the length of the phrase coming and open the upper diaphragm muscles accordingly. (No pun intended).

If the phrase is short, but the upper diaphragm open to the fullest, it will backfire, as the singer will not be able to close the diaphragm back in, and instead will end up working with the old air, the result of which, quite possibly, would produce hyper-ventilation, which in turn could cause shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitation, and deprivation of oxygen, altogether.

Al those symptoms could be completely deadly to the human body, and may not only damage the voice, but could become literally fatal. So the wrong singing business could be more dangerous than anybody could anticipate.

Therefore, it is a must for anybody who attempts any singing (even at the karaoke) to know what they’re doing vocally. You will not visualize a figure-skater who attempts to jump a triple-axle without a very specific training, as this, too, could result in a great injury.  So please do not attempt to do any vocal “escapades” unless you know predominantly what the result would be.

Thus, you would be able to prevent any vocal injury occurrence.

  • REALIZE
  • REVIEW
  • RELIEF
  • RE-BUILD

More and more people seem to be suffering from one or another cause of vocal damage. There are different symptoms and, of course, different causes. So the very first stage for the person with some kind of voice issue is to “Realize” that it is actually present. Something definitely changed in their voice quality, speaking and/or singing.

In the majority of cases the voice became raspy and hoarse, flat and dull. However, some people are totally in denial of it. Nevertheless, they feel a change in their voice quality anddelivery, but they would not admit it even to themselves. Then comes the time when the sufferers start self-analysis and begin to “Review” and analyze when and how the voice started subsiding and disappearing on them.

Next stage, they are looking for the “Relief” of their voice condition, as sometimes they have pain and discomfort in their throat, pain in their neck and shoulders, gastric acid reflux up their throat, as their voice has been drawn so low in its position that it meets gastric acid and the vocal cords could easily get burned quite significantly.

So the latter is the main part, as the person with all the symptoms actually has to find the cause of these conditions in order to outline the best course of action on how to approach their treatment. Once the cause is established, hopefully the cure will be on its way. Now the affected person has to choose the least invasive and the most productive course of action towards their condition. Some people want a magic pill, others run to get their polyps or nodules removed quickly, but some (with most analytical minds) will do a heavy duty research, will first choose a non-surgical approach to their voice disorder.

There is a saying, “Good things come to those who wait.”

It is true, but don’t wait forever, and stay in balance, as, if you are waiting too, too, long towards fixing your voice condition, it also might be too late to do it non-surgically and non-invasively. So now, after heavy duty research and studying, begin to “Re-build” your speaking and/or singing voice. Learn the right application of your voice and acquire a wholesome mechanism, so to speak, which will allow your voice to work in the fullest capacity possible, but with no pain or strain on your vocal anatomy. Utilize your facial and abdominal muscles and use them generously to produce the sound.

In this instance, your vocal box will be released from the pressure of the sound and thus be resting most of the time preserving your vocal anatomy for your lifetime. “All of the above is quite simple, but not easy at all.” One of my clients exclaimed.

Indeed!!!

“RRRR……”

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.