Sign in to follow this  
Draven Grey

Extreme Throat Tension? What To Do...

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

This is by far the best exercise I've taught to help students overcome choking.

I've had my share of students who deal with Muscle Tension Dysphonia. This is when they not only choke off on higher notes, they may not have higher notes at all (including head voice or access to their upper chest range), and often it's present in their speaking voice too. I often recommend first and foremost that they see an ENT to make sure there's no medical issues holding them back. Then, after working through many singing exercises meant to open up the throat and relax the glottis, I recommend a speech therapist. Sometimes I work with them for months with only a little progress before sending them to a therapist. 

I've had one student over a year who has had multiple singing exercises work for him one day, and totally fail on the next day, maybe even 10-minutes later. He's made progress, but it's extremely slow. He couldn't sing head voice at all when he came to me, and even his upper chest range choked off horribly. He hasn't had much success finding a speech therapist who will respond to him. And since I have quite a few students who deal with something similar, and really want to see him progress, I set out to find the answers for him.

Besides using the cocktail straw exercise from Ingo Titze (which I put in part 2 of my warmup video), appoggio crescendos that morph into a horizontal embouchure, as well as onsets like dampening, wind, and pulse, the video below is BY FAR the best exercise I've found for getting my students to feel what opening the throat and finding deeper soft palate placement feels like.

Now I just need to make my own video of everything I do from there.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/24/2017 at 0:22 PM, Draven Grey said:

This is by far the best exercise I've taught to help students overcome choking.

I've had my share of students who deal with Muscle Tension Dysphonia. This is when they not only choke off on higher notes, they may not have higher notes at all (including head voice or access to their upper chest range), and often it's present in their speaking voice too. I often recommend first and foremost that they see an ENT to make sure there's no medical issues holding them back. Then, after working through many singing exercises meant to open up the throat and relax the glottis, I recommend a speech therapist. Someimtes I work with them for months with only a little progresss before sending them to a therapist. 

I've had one student over a year who has had multiple singing exercises work for him one day, and totally fail on the next day, maybe even 10-minutes later. He's made progress, but it's extremely slow. He couldn't sing head voice at all when he came to me, and even his upper chest range choked off horribly. He hasn't had much success finding a speech therapist who will respond to him. And since I have quite a few students who deal with something similar, and really want to see him progress, I set out to find the answers for him.

 

Does he do in-person lessons or Skype lessons? If Skype lessons, does he have the lessons recorded so that he can go back to it the day after?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Gsoul82 said:

 

Does he do in-person lessons or Skype lessons? If Skype lessons, does he have the lessons recorded so that he can go back to it the day after?

Skype. But he's one of the students I let do a short call anytime he needs one. However, it's not about having a recording. We've had him during a lesson doing things crorectly, only for it to fail completely 10 minutes in and not be able to get it back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

Skype. But he's one of the students I let do a short call anytime he needs one. However, it's not about having a recording. We've had him during a lesson doing things crorectly, only for it to fail completely 10 minutes in and not be able to get it back.

Weird that he's losing control like that while in a lesson. I was just suggesting that it might be helpful to have a recording so that he can see himself and listen to what he's doing when you tell him that he's doing it right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's simply part of having severe muscle tension dysphonia. You constantly fight your body to use your vocal folds how you want to. In the end, it usually wins. It's the type of problem that, when severe enough, can only be overcome with speech therapy. Even though the exercise above is working for him, he still constantly fights with it and is seeking out a speech therapist. My otehr students haven't been as severe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/25/2017 at 6:37 PM, Draven Grey said:

I think it's simply part of having severe muscle tension dysphonia. You constantly fight your body to use your vocal folds how you want to. In the end, it usually wins. It's the type of problem that, when severe enough, can only be overcome with speech therapy. Even though the exercise above is working for him, he still constantly fights with it and is seeking out a speech therapist. My otehr students haven't been as severe.

Goes to show how great it is to have a great coach. Imagine having a problem like that and trying to train without knowing it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Muscle memory can be a beast. If you program it to some unneccessary tension it can get very hard to get rid of misbehaviour. The excercise is indeed great to get the proper narrowing in the back of the vocal tract that gets you a more "deep" placement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, benny82 said:

Muscle memory can be a beast. If you program it to some unneccessary tension it can get very hard to get rid of misbehaviour. The excercise is indeed great to get the proper narrowing in the back of the vocal tract that gets you a more "deep" placement.

Yes.

draven have you tried doing all the things we have discussed but adding to that an excessive amount of /a/ "cat" simply to get the soft palate raised as far as possible... slow and super splatty . It might prove to loosen some muscles up .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, Robert Lunte said:

Yes.

draven have you tried doing all the things we have discussed but adding to that an excessive amount of /a/ "cat" simply to get the soft palate raised as far as possible... slow and super splatty . It might prove to loosen some muscles up .

That too. But it choked him off because of the tension in the glottis and side-squeezing in the throat. You and I spent a couple of hours with him together, and I've spent over a year of weekly lessons with him. The pseech therapy will definitely help him, and the above video helped. None of my other students experience it as severe as he does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/24/2017 at 9:22 AM, Draven Grey said:

This is by far the best exercise I've taught to help students overcome choking.

I've had my share of students who deal with Muscle Tension Dysphonia. This is when they not only choke off on higher notes, they may not have higher notes at all (including head voice or access to their upper chest range), and often it's present in their speaking voice too. I often recommend first and foremost that they see an ENT to make sure there's no medical issues holding them back. Then, after working through many singing exercises meant to open up the throat and relax the glottis, I recommend a speech therapist. Sometimes I work with them for months with only a little progress before sending them to a therapist. 

I've had one student over a year who has had multiple singing exercises work for him one day, and totally fail on the next day, maybe even 10-minutes later. He's made progress, but it's extremely slow. He couldn't sing head voice at all when he came to me, and even his upper chest range choked off horribly. He hasn't had much success finding a speech therapist who will respond to him. And since I have quite a few students who deal with something similar, and really want to see him progress, I set out to find the answers for him.

Besides using the cocktail straw exercise from Ingo Titze (which I put in part 2 of my warmup video), appoggio crescendos that morph into a horizontal embouchure, as well as onsets like dampening, wind, and pulse, the video below is BY FAR the best exercise I've found for getting my students to feel what opening the throat and finding deeper soft palate placement feels like.

Now I just need to make my own video of everything I do from there.

 

Yes, this was well done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this