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Vocal Reintegration

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Salem
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Namaste!

Last year, alot fell into place- finally :>)- and I found myself with the connections required between breath, range, control, dynamics, strength...you name it. It was an extraordinary feeling and it gave me a renewed sense of purpose, especially for our upcoming CD since I felt I'd finally scratched beyond the surface and could finally sound like myself on record.

When I woke up Dec. 31, I felt one of the first colds I'd had in aeons coming. I kept it away until after our show that night - sheer fighting-spirit willpower I tell you! I can do that with illnesses when there are important gigs and have met other singers who do it too, but maybe it's just lucky "immuno-timing" and nothing to do with our wills. LOL But I woke up SO sick on Jan. 1 and it laid me out for 2 weeks. And I mean LAID OUT. I could barely get out of bed, let alone sing. (One good thing in those 2 weeks was that I was so stir crazy that one day when I could actually lift my laptop, I pulled it onto the bed and found TMV!)

Since I've come back after being sick, I can't get re-integrated. Nothing's working properly. I'm finding that I'm falling back on alot of old mistakes in sessions/rehearsals- muscle memory?- and Vocal Truth seems slippery and elusive, yet again. Of course, time and patience are required. And I'd say, that when given the 5 steps of learning, I obviously hadn't integrated the knowledge I had deep enough and/or hadn't had enough flight time with it.

So, Robert, Steven, Alessandro, Judy, Dena, and everyone else- all you experts who are further along the path than I am, can you give me insights into this frustrating process and/or any particular techniques that seem to work well for re-building? I believe my breath support is the major culprit since hitting high notes is not as easy as before. My range seems in tact; my body just seems to be saying "I don't want to go there".

I'm REALLY looking forward to what all of you have to say here. So much knowledge on TMV.

Thanks!!

Salem

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Rest first... assuming you have stayed off your voice and are now healthy, you can rebuild.

I would most certainly begin by re-establishing your resonant track. Begin semi-occlusion workouts in the front of the vocal tract. TVS "buzzing", lip trills... these are called semi-occlusion workouts and they are designed to heighten source–tract interaction by raising the mean supraglottal and intraglottal pressures. Impedance matching by vocal fold adduction and epilarynx tube narrowing can then make the voice more efficient and more economic (in terms of tissue collision).

In laymens terms, begin to lift the voice up and out of the throat and back to the light and brightness off the upper vocal tracked resonators. After being ill, your voice is probably pretty dark, weighty and throaty... the first thing to do is lighten it and brighten it again... then begin doing some acending sirens and get your bridging coordinated again... drink great gobs of mint tea from Celestial Seasonings... never push, always finese'... and you will be a vocal athlete again.

Hope this helps...

PS:

Forget about those silly throat sprays...

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Namaste Robert,

This fast response is greatly appreciated! You're quite correct, my voice is weightier, which it can be anyway- I'm a bit of a long ranged contralto- and I am still not up to my usual dynamic level of energy, in all things, let alone voice. I'm also noticing way more than the usual amount of mucus which seems quite natural given the circumstances. And thanks, for the tea tip...though I prefer fresh steeped herbs, I've always loved Celestial Seasonings.

(I've noticed throughout TMV, that you do NOT like throat sprays...;>))

Have a divine day!

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Rest first... assuming you have stayed off your voice and are now healthy, you can rebuild.

I would most certainly begin by re-establishing your resonant track. Begin semi-occlusion workouts in the front of the vocal tract. TVS "buzzing", lip trills... these are called semi-occlusion workouts and they are designed to heighten source–tract interaction by raising the mean supraglottal and intraglottal pressures. Impedance matching by vocal fold adduction and epilarynx tube narrowing can then make the voice more efficient and more economic (in terms of tissue collision).

IMO, Robert's recommendation is very sound, when returning to singing after a few weeks, and especially when having been ill.

Other sounds which you can make which are based on the semi-occlusion principle are the voiced fricative consonants, V, Z, Th (as in the English word 'The') and the related sounds. You can even puff your cheeks out and sing through loosely closed lips :-)

They all work by the same principle, which is to stimulate a lighter phonation.

Going beyond that, you can use some resonance principles to help in the recovery. Some vowels are more easily sung on some notes than on other notes. As you slide (siren) your voice around on a single vowel, you can hear these points of volume increase. Note where they are, and in the beginning of a day, start your exercises in the comfortable zone and work outward. Be especially mindfull to spend time gently stretching the voice into the higher pitch regions, even if the notes are not 'performance' quality at the moment.

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Oh Steven, this is fabulous. Yes, I was used to having alot of power and alot of notes and then they started tripping all over after the cold. I've never noticed such a change after an illness before...the longer you live, the more you learn! :>)

Many many thanks!!!

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Salem, I just read this thread today (the 8th); you're probably well on your way to recovery by now. But I thought I'd add a thought or two.

First, of course you want to wait until the active infection causing the swelling is gone. Then you want to slowly and wisely do some vocal exercises to pump the interstititial fluid out of the tissues. As the swelling goes down, the voice comes back, and more vigorous vocalizing can be used to build back the strength and flexibility of the instrument.

When healing after a bad case of laryngitis, it's common to become "guarded" when using the recently wounded voice. Tension invariably and counterproductively builds as a singer tries to protect the cords. This is why it might be a good idea for you to see a trusted coach in person, because you probably don't even realize the tension you could be holding in neck, shoulders, jaw, etc.

When you first begin vocalizing after healing, you might find yourself with a feeling of light hoarseness I call "the helium effect". In my experience, AS LONG AS YOU ARE NOT APPLYING TOO MUCH PRESSURE AT YOUR THROAT, this effect goes away after about 3 or 4 days. It's important that this effect not be because you are applying incorrect breath pressure or having your throat channel tight or constricted. NOTE: this "helium effect" is not a feeling of throat strain. It's just that you temporarily lose a bit of your low end.

To help you balance breath support and breath control, and to help you open your throat, I recommend "wall work". Stand with your back to the wall, head and heel against the wall. Keeping your chin flexibly level and putting your hands up about chest level so they aren't ribcage anchors, sing an easy song. Squeeze your butt for power so as to cause your chest to expand.

As always, I invite comments from all. :)

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Dear Judy Thanks!!!!

You're correct about the hoarseness. Tough to deal with, that stuff....the mental aspects of this whole fiasco are very interesting to watch.... There's a propensity to panic, I believe because I'd come to such a great place prior to the illness. I have been seeing my coach (who is the best in town and one of the best in our whole country) and she counsels #1: patience. :>) She also knows me well, knows how physically active I am and really believes that so long in a state of all-inclusive physical inactivity is a large part of it. Lo and behold she was right about that as I've noticed that the more active I become again, the better eveything is.

Interestigly enough, I'm happy to report that even before reading this, I've also been using your wall technique regularly to check alignment. Very grateful for that.

Ultimately I just need to have faith...I had a tough session last week, some demos that had to be done fast- 6 new songs in a short time, not fully vocally written or arranged, some fairly high wailing required, I was exhausted from a late night hoity toity meet n greet in a loud club the night before (I HATE how the industry does that- singers can't be expected to yell over loud music!!!!), everybody was tense in the session for lots of reasons....you get the picture right?! :>) Well, the result of the demo is that when our producer heard the material, he gave me two of the most amazing compliments any singer could ever receive! (Gosh I printed out his email to frame it!! LOL) So even though I was working harder than usual, against the odds, I still managed to pull it out of the hat. True, that's our job as professionals, butt I like it better when it flows better!! When it's easy!!! LOL

I really appreciate your wisdom and friendship Judy!

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LOL Matt. I just love your energy and always get a blast from your brevity. Please never change!!

I'm just too humble to trot that stuff out my Brother in Voice, but you can ask him yourself if you guys are ever connecting and have nothing else to talk about...LOL: it's Alessandro. He said many things but two of them will live in my heart 4-ever, since they came at this difficult time.

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I may get some flack for this, however I generally speak my mind lol. First off I would have an ENT look down your throat- If there is no irritation to the actual vocal fold or damage. Keep singing regardless of the comfort or discomfort and regardless of if it sounds good or not. As I have stated in other post on here and formerly in VC forum. There are other things that cause obstruction , irritation or the sound to default so best to know what your dealing with. My guess in general is sub-lingual tonsil infection ,( compacted sinus is also common) most common, hurts, splitters the registers- needs either anti-biotics or remove if chronic, but you should continue to sing. Mine were removed at 19 in the morning at around 8 am and I had a 1 hour voice lesson with David Kyle the same afternoon at 2pm, very painful, didn't sound great but the correct thing to do. You do not want scar tissue forming incorrectly after such a procedure or it will simply rip when you go to stretch the throat later. It is very Important however you do know what your dealing with. Many infections and in some other situations it is best to work through. You want stamina and to learn to sing well regardless of irritation or internal distraction. Even dry mucous on the fold can be painful and obstructive, but you can sing through without harm with some minor adjustments.

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Thanks Darrison! This is one aspect I hadn't thought of in this situation. My tonsils were removed when I was 4. I haven't seen a specialist in a quite a few years too. It may be time for a check-up, to get clear on where my vocal physiology is at this time. I always appreciate your excellent advice!

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Salem, Sub-lingual tonsils or Adnoids are not the same pair of tonsils generally removed. they are just below under the base of the tongue in the back, usually hurt when you swallow if severely infected they can close off the throat and suffocate. In general I have found the majority of throat infection not related to a cold or flu are on or around the sub-lingual. do get a check up and I recommend in generally singers get one check up a year even if they have no problems. Just to know there condition.

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Well, as I'm always the controversial one around here, I'll cause more.

I think effective singing is more a series of discoveries rather than skill sets. It's true that you can get skills to sound a particular way, but audience's hearing is very discerning, and most can uncover what is skill and what is heart-felt inner emotions being expressed.

So, if you have "lost" your voice, the first belief is have confidence that it's still there; it's not a muscle memory loss (I hope you don't think your muscles are dumb). There's simply something obstructing the way.

The challenge, of course, is what is this something. Here's where I differ. What I'm reading suggests you have a set mechanics method. I don't think singing works this way. It's a series of different mechanics, to which your components are used differently. So, one can have a stuffy nose and sing. It's more difficult to sing with some components messed up, but it is possible and have it sound good.

It's more a matter of utilizing whatever mechanics is suitable for the song and health at that particular time.

So, my opinion is that it's not a muscle memory loss (you had the singing already and can't lose it). You can rediscover whatever singular set of mechanics used, or use your temporary handicap to explore more mechanics.

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Hey Chen Sun! Yes! !!!! That's the philosophy of it all and it's primarliy where I function from. I put this question on here specifically for the mechanical knowledge since there is so much on TMV. I like to look at everything wholistically, from all angles. Thanks for a reminder of where True singing really comes from. Namaste.

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Hi Salem and team...I'm just starting to get back to the forum sorry!

Most has been said here technically as Salem wanted...but I would add that this winter has been tough for many singers from an energetic perspective as the voice is our centre of will and expression of who we are. When there is emotional stuff still needing to clear through...it can take time. I have also had a bad winter with my voice and I know many of us on the site haven't had an easy time. If the body doesn't want to go there....don't push it...it will come right! There is often a time and place and we ignore it due to pressures! I know that's easier said than done when you have a hectic voice shedule...but you can learn to manage yourself and your voice through these things...carefully if you try! I had my tonsils removed at age 25! My voice is better than ever! It's the sound from inside as I always go on about.....that makes the difference. I find the open sound of AAHH helps ease you back in and the lower sounds of OOH...all done gently at first...then increasing power as you sound them over time. Great post Salem and great input here from the team. Enjoyed the read! love Hilary:cool:

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Hey Hilary, You Dear Scorpion Lady! Thank you very much. Yes the emotions rule the voice...many changes on deeper levels for everyone and everything these days. The wild part was that the band told me I sang Like Saraswati (Hindu Goddess of Music, Poetry, Art and Beauty) during that gig when I was coming down with the illness. ( I barely remember; I was in that spacey place a person goes when an illness is stalking her. :>)) It has been shocking to me though, that this is taking sooooooo long to stabilize; never has that happened before! But then, we're not who we were before are we? I believe I'm also feeling impatient since I had finally found my true voice, so that's square one and there's SO MUCH MORE to learn!!!!!! A setback ....just doesn't seem right! But all for a reason...

Love your energy Hilary. This site has every kind of teacher and expert the global vocal community will ever need. It's the only site I go to on a regular basis.

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Thanks Salem and WOW..Saraswati eh? A lot going on for you.......magical music and voice I am sure! It's great how we can share on this site...ALL kinds of teaching...a true heart centred spirit of community...TELL AND SING IT TO THE WORLD! :lol: Namaste Hilary

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