Saturday, May 25, 2019

Singing Above My Vocal Cords

Back when I stilled worked in the insurance industry, I did quite a bit of public speaking - mostly continuing education classes about insurance coverage for property/casualty agents. Generally this meant traveling in the upper Midwest during the winter, and on one memorable trip involved losing my voice.

I had been suffering from a cold and was a little hoarse at the start of the trip. After two days of talking virtually nonstop for 6 hours each session, my voice failed. We cancelled the third speaking engagement, and after two days of rest and making my wishes known in writing, I was (barely) able to finish the fourth class before my voice checked out again for an entire week.

After yesterday's lesson with my new voice teacher, I now know what I was doing wrong. In the past, whenever I've started to get a little hoarse, I've tried to power through by speaking in a lower voice and a little more loudly. Apparently this puts a lot of tension and stress on the vocal cords, and makes a bad situation much worse.

This week I took my Dad to a walk-in clinic for tests and came home with a 48-hour stomach bug, which was not so bad in itself, but set off a nasty asthma episode. After several days of hard coughing I went to my voice lesson with a hoarse singing voice and a plea for help. Patti, my teacher, did not fail me.

All of the warmup exercises we did were designed to keep stress out of the throat and tension off the vocal cords. When I was finally ready to sing, she told me to visualize "keeping your voice as far away from your vocal cords as possible." Well, that sounds pretty weird, but in general I've been learning to sing so that my voice resonates in my head spaces instead of coming from the back of my throat, so this was more of the same, and it worked really well. In the past an hour of singing with a hoarse throat would have killed my voice completely; after yesterday's lesson my throat actually felt better instead of worse.

 I am so glad that I decided to look for a teacher specializing in problem voices; as in most areas of life, learning from a real expert pays off in many ways. I am learning to sing better, but also to breathe correctly and keep my throat healthy. Amazing!

"Crying is really bad for your vocal cords." ~Adele

No comments:

Post a Comment