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Arytenoid fatigue/overuse - how to tackle?

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Sun
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Hi,

What I've been doing

I've been doing basically the same exercise for 4 months, and have gone from being shaky at ~Bb3-B3 to getting clear F#4s, G4s and sometimes G#4s when warmed up - I feel that I know what I'm doing and am not pressing.

I exercise 60 minutes total per day made up of 5 minute intensely focused practise sessions (with like 10-15 minutes or hours between), 6 days a week (yes I have time to do that currently).

I feel the biggest change that has happened is that I'm now spending the vast majority of my practise time on notes E4-G4, while before I was spending most of the time at D#4 or below. These phonations feel good, medium controlled volume and free from any signs of strain. I'm careful with my onsets and try to have a soft coordinated onsets, and have even used W onsets to ensure lack of press.

The Problem

Lately I've been experiencing some slight pain on the side of the larynx pretty far back on the sides. I read a post by a user here saying he had the same type of pain when he overused his interarytenoids by singing too much in the E4-C5 range after just discovering it, "blew out his voice" and had to rest 2 weeks.

I have no problems with the voice beside this pain, it doesn't really hurt when I sing, it just aches sometimes when I sing sometimes when I don't. My skill is still growing and I am clearly the best I've been vocally, however I think I am working too much. I have not noticed any shift in voice quality, although I've had more mucus on the voice the past weeks but I also have been getting lots and lots of post nasal drip, spit yellow phlegm in the morning (sign of some form of irritant/pathogen) and seem to have mucus or something in my trachea so I accredited the mucus to this.

With my new found skill to phonate E4-G4 and my intense practise routine, I think the muscles might not be getting enough time to recover from session to session.

The Solution

To remedy this problem I would like your opinions. Today is my "off day" btw. I was thinking of one of the following plans;

This week reduce workload from 60 minutes to 45 minutes with an extra rest day, and see if the pain persists at the end of the week.

Do a light week, with only 15 minutes per day and see if the pain persists at the end of the week.

Since today is my off day, take another off day tomorrow and then continue with 45 minutes per day and see if the pain persists at the end of the week.

- Do you guys have any opinions/inputs/thoughts on this?

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My first thought is workload.

It sounds like your sessions are nicely paced and I don't think you are practicing too often. I think, if you are comfortable practicing pretty much every day of the week, that's fine. And you are not singing for too long, which is also good.

When I say workload, I mean the amount of time spent at the extremes of range. Though that may not be your problem here. You mentioned spending most of your time at the passaggio area. And it's a good idea to do so, as I have learned and suggested to others. Ironing out the break tells your mechanisms how to behave in other areas.

Since singing does involve the use of muscles (with or without "strain"), there will be a limit to how far the muscles go and for how long and how often they go there. Not necessarily your case but for some guys, C5 is the end of their range. And going to the extreme end of your range can be exhausting. Especially if repeated.

However, I think you are saying that this feeling of discomfort is from working the passaggio area. And you think or feel it is the TA that is getting worn out. I don't know of anyone who has an "adduct-o-meter" to gauge just how much adduction you are using. Is it possible that has you try to lighten and bridge, you have other muscles, either intrinsic or extrinsic that are pulling too much to counteract the tendency to fully adduct? The same principle is involved when you lift a glass of water to drink. As your bicep contracts, your tricep is also contracting but allowing the contraction of the bicep to be slightly greater. This provides an even balanced approach of the glass, rather than you smashing a glass into your face, if the tricep was not there to slow down the contraction of the bicep.

Watch how a baby walks in the beginning. The hamstrings and quads have not learned to balance their pulls against each other. So, the quad tends to throw the body back. And the baby instinctively puts his arms out front to counterbalance against this. Eventually, it works itself out.

And probably will for you. So, yes, some rest will help. It can take up to 48 hours for muscles to recuperate from a "strain", which can result from using them in a way not accustomed before. This does not mean damage. And, also, sometimes, when you are working on something like this if you do it longer than you specfically need to do it, you will start compensating in other ways, even if you don't realize it. That's why a little bit of practice of the right thing is better than an hour or two of degrading ability.

To where, when you do practice, you are only doing the right thing and that is the habit that forms, rather than the habit of increasing compensation.

Then, after a while, the muscle has re-trained and no longer strains from the new coordination. And then, sometime after, that, one has the endurance to go longer before resting. Like the baby that steps around for 30 minutes and sleeps the rest of the day. To the teenager who can walk around all day. To running a 10k marathon.

Time.

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This actually makes sense, I remember before I made a thread asking for some general advice on training and danielformica said from my description it sounded like my adduction strength was lacking which made it hard for me to get higher.

When I practise, I essentially move up a semitone if I get a note right three times and move down only when I fail so I'm constantly practising the top notes over and over and over - spending as much time as possible on the newest coordination. I also speak generally quite low and calmly so it would make sense that I have weak arytenoids since I never really used this range before (except falsetto), and my voice now has to hold adduction through the stronger breath pressure necesarry for higher notes.

I think I might take tomorrow off as well, then start again with lower workload for a bit. Your analogy does make sense, might just be a case of needing some rest/light workouts until I'm recovered.

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Sun, try practicing top-down. Start with the high range in neutral (above G4) and move downwards halfstep by halfstep. Perhaps let it transition gradually into a metallic mode whenever it feels right to do so.

Go for a similar feeling when you go back to work bottom-up.

That should help balance out your voice and encourage it to thin out as you go higher and thicken as you go lower, at least relatively speaking compared to the opposite primitive way, getting heavier as you go higher, which forces your high notes to be nothing but loud constricted shouts, capable of no dynamic or vowel freedom and no room for further range extension.

You sound like you are heading in that direction. The "I can only sing that note loud, by pushing with all my energy" trap. Start working top-down as much as you work bottom-up (probably even more in the beginning to make up for the time you haven't done it) and you will get out of that trap.

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Thanks for your reply Owen,

However it's not shouty or loud even, I'm probably not louder than maybe 4/10 and effort level is not really higher than 3-3.5/10. It's not a matter of shouting/using too much volume

What I struggle with is register transition or resonance transition. Notes up to D4 are perfect, after that they start to leave the hard palate (resonance wise) and this works for me well up to F4 now around F# and definitely G the resonance is in the head and this is the part I find difficult

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Thanks for your reply Owen,

However it's not shouty or loud even, I'm probably not louder than maybe 4/10 and effort level is not really higher than 3-3.5/10. It's not a matter of shouting/using too much volume

What I struggle with is register transition or resonance transition. Notes up to D4 are perfect, after that they start to leave the hard palate (resonance wise) and this works for me well up to F4 now around F# and definitely G the resonance is in the head and this is the part I find difficult

Any chance you could post a file?

I can only guess what you are talking about.

Can you do the register transition in Neutral?

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Okay, I've been singing an hour today and haven't felt anything.

I actually have been making good progress with registers today as I found out about Felipe Carvalhos head voice whistle, things are going good again.

I think this was a false alarm the problem here is tense SCM muscles, I work out a lot and trying to fix my posture, I have tight SCM's and I think this irritated a nerve behind the muscle

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Sun -

THANK YOU for sharing the whole story. there can definitely be connections between vocal soreness or muscle; and nearby regions such as SCM spasm, neck/jaw misalignments, etc.

Its very common for someone to strain a few fibers during fitness workout, but FEEL them only when they sing -- and sometimes in a different place (aka "referred pain")

this is a great community of support and information, I think the level of knowledge these past few years is really growing. Coolio!

Joanna

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