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Asking for help with my vocal problems!

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Hi my name is Jennifer and I am a lead singer of a heavy rock/melodic metal band called False Trinity. I have some questions about my vocal problems and I am asking for advice on what I should do about them. You see I am epileptic and had a Vagus Nerve Stimulator put in about 4-5 years ago to control my seizures. I was having problems with my throat and went to see an Ear Nose and Throat doctor who told me that my left vocal chords were paralyzed either from the surgery or the stimulator. Since then I have noticed that it is more comfortable to sing lower and it has become harder for me to sing even though I do it on a regular basis. I was thinking of trying some type of professional help but I don't want to spend the money if it isn't going to help. And if I do get help what type of help would give me the best results? I just don't know what to do in order to make my voice better and make it easier to hit the notes I used to (and maybe some I've never been able to!). Can anyone help me?

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Jennifer -

I'm a speech therapist specializing in voice problems and I've seen a couple of cases like yours. The nerve stimulator goes into the same pathway that controls voice ("cranial nerve X", vagus nerve) so no one should be surprised that your voice has been compromised. I hope someone at least mentioned this to you before the surgery -- not that seizure control is less important, but just for a fully-prepared informed consent!

I also understand your not wanting to invest time & money in solutions that would not help -- but seeing an ENT who truly understands singers, in a team with skilled speech therapist, may be worth while. A comprehensive list of voice-specialty clinics in the USA is at

http://www.gbmc.org/home_voicecenter.cfm?id=1551.

If the closest one to you is a few hours away, it is still worth it -- you are a vocal athlete, and these clinics offer the most specialized "sports medicine" for voice.

As to why lower pitch works better: when one cord is paralyzed, it has trouble closing fully against the other cord. In a lower pitch, the cords get short&fat, and that extra "bulk" probably helps your cords to meet.

Some voice-specialist doctors now use injectable material that similarly "bulks up" a paralyzed cord; there are also voice therapy exercises that you can learn that might help. In fact, at the end of this week I will be doing a workshop on this exact topic at the biggest voice-medicine conference in the country!

Please feel free to contact me privately if you like, especially if you're anywhere near Los Angeles.

I also consult by Skype.

There is hope -- so I'm really glad you reached out through TMV.

all the best -- Joanna

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Thanks Joanna for the hope! That in itself is a stepping stone to what I need to conquer! I have looked at the link you provided and found a close option to try and that will be my next step. I just feel that I can be so much better than what I am now and I know that it will take extra attention but I am willing to do what needs to be done, but I don't want to waste time or money! I just needed to know whether it is a fixable problem or something that I should just accept and you have shown me that there is something out there for vocalist like me! Once again thank you so much! Know that I am using every bit of information given to me and I will continue to use what I can to make my vocals better. If you would I have uploaded a few songs of my vocals and would really like to know your opinion! It helps more than you would ever know!

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