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Have i damaged my singing voice?

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Kleenex4real
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Hi, this is a great forum for beginners like me. Two years ago i started using Brett Mannings singing success and i noticed great improvements in my voice. Last year, i was made head of a large prayer group and we prayed in open air. Afterwards i lost my singing voice but it didnt come back until a after month when i started taking Strepsils. On 19th december last year, i was asked to take prayers again and i lost my voice again. Now ive used antibiotics, strepsil but all to no avail. My voice is not hoarse and my speech is smooth but now i strain easily and feel pain when i sing. My throat and voice do well when i do my voice exercises (lip rolls, nay etc) but singing is a different story. Now i don't know what to do because i can't afford an ENT because its very expensive here. Anyone familiar with this should pls help out with tips. Also i noticed that my head voice is still fine and smooth but my chest voice is where i'm having problems.Thanks

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It sounds to me like a coordination problem. I have had good luck with soft volume sirens, high to low. Do one for each vowel. At first, you will notice breaks in "eye" and "ah" and not so much on oh, oo, and ee. Now, this may also make your chest sound lighter but that's okay. You're looking for consistency of tone, I imagine.

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Anything pain = rest.

I had problems with Manning because it was not explained well enough (or I didn't get it) how the muscles should be relaxed and using the breath. He just went on saying lip bubbles was the all in one solution for everybody and keep at it. Resulting in me hitting exercises I had no idea how to execute. I always got a sore throat from that. So maybe as ronws is saying it is some coordination problems. You should experiment with different approaches and read up on some basics again -after you are fully rested and recovered.

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Okay man thanks. Will be resting my voice for now.Oh and by the way whats your take on lowering the larynx. It causes more tension for me and even if i maintain the low larynx with the dopey sound on the exercises, it shoots up again when i begin to sing a real song. Can i hurt myself by forcing it down?

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That was actually one of the misconceptions I had with Manning too. I lowered the larynx by stuffing my tongue down the throat. This is all wrong and you can get the "dopey" sound well without it moving the larynx hardly at all (I seem to recall him saying, not "too" dopey, which is what I did). The tongue in a relaxed position is furrowed slightly at the tip and curled up toward the soft palate like a little slope (think of holding it like in an -ng position as in the end of "sung", with the fleshy part under your chin still being soft). If you have the tongue in this position you can try to lower the larynx without tensing up anywhere and you should get a more "correct" dopey sound which is NOT forcing the larynx or tongue down. The importance is open throat and relaxed muscles, then add steady stream of air from below the chest and you should be golden.

From what I understand, I am a beginner still in learning, it is much more important to relax the muscles than to keep the larynx from moving. In fact it SHOULD move slightly and naturally. It's only if it's moving too much or causing strain you should consider training it in place. There are much more basic things to look out for, like relaxing, breath, tongue, vowels and consonants before worrying about flying larynges.

We haven't really found an answer to the question if you have damaged your singing voice but I think if the feeling persists, you are worried and in a position to go to a doctor it is not a bad idea. In many countries a basic check-up cost hardly anything.

Cheers

Fred

/edit

And yes, you can: http://www.voiceteacher.com/tongue.html

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What do you mean by singing extensively? Are you shouting? Are you singing for hours without a stop?

Keep in mind that a singer like Bruce Dickinson performs, at most, a 2 hour show, interrupted by 22 hours of rest. Except for a brief warm-up about 30 minutes before show time, and that is just humming to himself with a manic smile, feeling his resonances. Notice the amount of rest. And they might be averaging 3 to 4 shows in a week on a heavy tour.

Yes, better technique might make things go away. And is the pain in your throat or is it actually in your chest? You might be straining muscles elsewhere in your body.

But if it feels like a knot in your throat, then your throat might be constricted, the result of either too much air pressure below the vocal folds or too much strain trying to "squeeze" high and maintain that "chest" feel. Higher notes should feel like they are in the head, not the chest. And higher notes will sound thinner than chest.

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as a speech & voice therapist -- I'm concerned by your report of feeling pain.

Is it a sore-throat type of pain (raw, hot, surface of throat) or a muscle-ache (effort, tension)? Is it located in a particular area of the throat (top, under jaw; bottom, 1 inch below adams-apple; one side more than the other) —or is it more vague, all-over?

I might have some speculations about whats going wrong, but support others' advice to see a GOOD throat-doc. If you are serving your church community as a prayer-and song leader, is there a community fund that could help you get throat looked at?

Don't waste travel-time &money on an exam without video-stroboscopy, however. Your description sounds like the sort of problem that needs to be seen in a detailed image for best diagnosis & correct treatment.

I'd recommend delegating as much of the song/prayer-leading as you can, especially out-doors. If no one else can help you with this responsibility, consider that you might strain because you can't hear yourself well. Wearing a single ear-plug (one ear only) can help in this situation.

"Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it, and how you take care of it, are your gifts to God." -- Jewish proverb, paraphrased.

please contact me directly if I can help you find a good doctor in your area.

sincerely,

Joanna

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@Joanna thanks for your concern. Initially, it was a sore throat kind of pain which went after using antibiotics but later it felt like the pain was a little lower in my throat. I would say the pain is around my adams apple, but i really feel it when i try to rest my chin on my chest. I dont feel pain when i swallow but i like the feeling of food being in my throats. What are your speculations? Oh and there is no church community fund available for me.

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@Joanna went to see a throat doctor today and after examining my throat with a tube that had light at the end, he said i had contact ulcers. He said to rest my voice and only gave pain reliever and antibiotics. He also said there was little inflammation in my throat. Do u have any tips to make me "SHUT UP" and rest my voice. Thanks in advance.

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@Joanna went to see a throat doctor today and after examining my throat with a tube that had light at the end, he said i had contact ulcers. He said to rest my voice and only gave pain reliever and antibiotics. He also said there was little inflammation in my throat. Do u have any tips to make me "SHUT UP" and rest my voice. Thanks in advance.

Kleenex4real: Contact Ulcer=bad vocal node. For this, the prescription should not be vocal rest, it should be SILENCE. No talking, no singing, no whispering, and _great care_ when coughing. IMO, the doctor should be referring you to a voice therapist, someone qualified to tell you when you can resume making vocal sounds, and what those first vocal sounds can be. And, you should schedule a follow-on visit to your doctor to assess progress in about 2-3 weeks.

Contact ulcers, or nodes, can heal rapidly when the contact stops. But any phonation will cause contact, and is to be avoided. When you are cleared to make sounds again, I believe you are going to need the continued help of the voice therapist to find a way to use your lower voice, speaking and singing, without incurring this kind of damage. Nodes appear for a reason: friction. You will need to learn how to use your voice in a manner that does not cause this to re-appear, and also address any medical situations that make the problem worse.

For the motivation you seek, here is the downside of not addressing the issue now: If you do not take care of this until it is completely healed, and then re-learn how to sing and speak so it does not repeat... you will never, ever sing the way you dream to. Your speaking voice will be painful, and you will become progressively more dependent on expensive antibiotics to keep you from horrible throat infections. What you have spent on voice training materials, and the two years you have practiced, will be entirely wasted.

The alternative is to get yourself a voice therapist, and do everything you are instructed to do. You'll need to find another way to communicate with those around you... family, school, work, friends... all of it. But there is lots of hope. The regimens used by good voice therapists work well. Pick someone who works with singers. If you _do_ follow the regimen, you will eventually be in better vocal shape than you were before your original throat problem.

Joanna: if I have erred in any way in this recommendation, please offer correction.

I hope this helps.

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