Friday, February 1, 2013

Voice Tension

I am a 49 year old male, singing professionally for 25 years. I have a natural tenor voice and have never had vocal issues until about 3 years ago. Was diagnosed with silent acid reflux. Since then I have cleared up the reflux and also saw a speech therapist to help with the tension that had set in. My middle to midhigh range was my main issue. The exercises given to me were mainly tension releasers, breathing voiceless exercises, blowing through a straw into water. I was then encouraged to see a vocal coach which I did and she led me to sing everything in falsetto. So I have been there done that with my treatment it seems like to me & I still struggle with singing on pitch and placement with freedom in that range. My low & high range have been unaffected. Do I have severe muscle tension dysphonia that was never really cured? I have seen multiple ENT's just scoped again and was told I was vocally healthy. My speech therapist specializes with singers, so I would assume they have pointed me in the right direction. I just have been so frustrated, because it takes me hours to warm up my voice and then it doesn't keep the focus it once had. Can you give me any additional wisdom for my situation?

Joanna Lott, M.A., CCC-SLP replies...
It sounds like you might benefit from a therapy technique called resonant voice therapy. I think you should also seek out a voice teacher who will work on your entire range, not just your falsetto. Falsetto requires a very different set-up for the vocal mechanism involving a higher airflow through stiffer vocal folds. I'd like to see you working with a teacher and/or SLP-voice therapist who will focus on helping you achieve a barely adducted (closed) vocal fold posture with low-impact but large-amplitude vibrations of the vocal folds. Check with your voice teacher and therapist to see if this is something they can work on with you. If not, it never hurts to look around. Best of luck!

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