Questions from a young singer.

"Some days I have a great voice and other days my voice sucks. What am I doing wrong?"

The first thing I would say to answer this question would be that you need to own your voice. I was taught early in my voice training that a common viewpoint is, "My voice cracks...my voice sounds bad today...my voice this...my voice that..." I tell my patients that they need to own their voices. Why? Because you drive your car to work, you brush your teeth, you dress yourself, you feed yourself and it should be no different for how you make sound.

We combine respiration (breathing), phonation (sound) and resonation (how the sound is amplified by our laryngeal cavity/tract) to achieve a voice that sounds like "us." We must learn how to manage these three systems efficiently for speaking and singing because we are all unique and we are always learning.

The second thing I would say to answer this question would be to take notes. Keep a journal of everything hydrating and dehydrating you consume for 3 weeks. Keep track of emotional occurrences and fights. Keep track of stress levels. Keep track of exercise. Keep track of how often you are using your voice and in what contexts. Then review this journal. Hopefully you are also keeping track of "good voice days" and "bad voice days" so that you are able to pinpoint exactly what was occurring in days leading up to the bad ones. It is important to remember that emotions play a huge role in our bodies. When we are upset, we often feel a "lump" in the throat. This is tension, so without realizing it we have tightened the muscles around our vocal cords.

Hopefully you are able to change your viewpoint and what you say becomes "I wasn't entirely focused on producing sound in an efficient way today."

You are your voice. Only you can control it. Take charge because no one else will do it for you.

 

-ATVC

 

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on vocal health to area choirs and students. She also owns and runs a mobile videostroboscopy and FEES company, Voice Diagnostix. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Voice Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at  www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid and adult-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.

Ariana's Autotune and Steven Tyler's good genetics

I spoke today for a varsity choir about the importance of vocal hygiene and vocal health, and a few questions were posed following my lecture that I wanted to address in my blog.

1. Is there something wrong with Ariana Grande's voice?

First off, I read an article recently that discussed the strange sound of Ariana's words and the article even had side by side comparisons of what her lyrics actually were compared with what they sounded like. I believe that her unintelligible diction is a direct result of compensating for laryngeal cavity space necessary to keep correct vocal tension as pitch increases. There is another article that discusses Ariana's innate vocal talent and that she is using autotune for an unknown reason. Also included here is a comparison of Britney Spears singing Alien with and without autotune, which reveals a night and day difference Britney's tone quality, but more importantly for the actual pitches she should be hitting. It's painful to listen to her try to hit these notes. I just want to tell her to use more breath support and to stop singing from her throat.... Back to Ariana Grande, another article mentions a vocal fold hemorrhage that happened to her last year. So I don't believe Ariana has something wrong with her at this time, but people think she sounds strange because of the physical limitations of the human vocal tract.

2. What has Steven Tyler been doing to damage his voice?

Steven Tyler has been the subject of scrutiny regarding his raspy singing voice during a rendition of the National Anthem. I found information online that he had a vocal fold hemorrhage within the past few years and that he had surgery to stop the bleeding without scarring the tissue. His physician also monitored his vocal folds during just one concert and reported that Steven had 780,000 vocal fold collisions! The physician mentions that Steven has had years of vocal fold damage and abuse, as well as having the vocal folds age just like other muscles in his body. Technique, genetics and hygiene all play a role in whether a person will develop a vocal fold pathology or not.

 

-ATVC

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on vocal health to area choirs and students. She also owns and runs a mobile videostroboscopy and FEES company, Voice Diagnostix. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Voice Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at  www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid and adult-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.

Joan Rivers' Death and Opera Shapes and Sounds

Joan Rivers' Death and vocal cords

by atempovoicecenter atempovoicecenter on 09/07/14

 

Hello all,

Rumors are currently swirling regarding Joan Rivers and her death. Details are murky, but questions about what type of procedure she was having are floating around out there. I found this great article on vocal therapy, treatment, hygiene and surgery and Joan Rivers here. I think it gives an unbiased look at treatment for vocal disorders and is relatable because of how it is written and its subject matter. Well done!

Also, here is a link to an article on harmonics and high pitched notes. It explains why Opera singers are so hard to understand at high pitches. As it turns out, the singers are limited by physics and not by their skills. Take a look!

 

-ATVC

Posted on September 30, 2014 .

Avatars, Tigers and Bears Oh My! (and straws)

Avatars, Tigers and Bears Oh My! (and straws)

by atempovoicecenter atempovoicecenter on 06/09/14

 

Voice rest recommendation got you down?

Well, fear no more. I wish to share with you an amazing speech generator that you can use for yourself or recommend for your patients. I mean, this thing is right out of an episode of 30 Rock. You can find a Jack Donaghy-sounding voice and make him talk for you so you can really get the voice rest your speech pathologist is recommending. It features an avatar of your choice and can even speak in different accents.

 

Need a louder voice?

Here is a link for a cell phone amplifier. It can amplify up to 40dB! On this website, serene innovations, you can find other useful products as well.

 

And for kicks, here is Ingo Titze's Straw Phonation video from YouTube. This is helpful to "unwind" your voice. Semi-occluded Vocal Tract Exercises, like this one, allow you to make sound without any glottal pressure. This can be helpful to start your day off right with good vocal production, or when you need to re-set your voice after some bad-habit talking. Titze has some great tips in this video.

-ATVC

Posted on September 30, 2014 .

2 Resources and some Deep Voices

2 Resources and some Deep Voices

by atempovoicecenter atempovoicecenter on 05/29/14

 

Hello all!

I am feverishly writing up reports tonight, but wanted to stop and talk about some great new resources I have uncovered. The first is a website run by Dr. James P. Thomas, an ENT Laryngologist with an interest in voice and some savvy computer skills. It is full of videos that are very informative and are easy to follow for any SLP or potential patient with a voice disorder. Enjoy!

I have also reached out to the Fort Worth Transgender Community to let them know a tempo Voice Center is a resource they can take advantage of. Voice therapy for transgender individuals can be a daunting task, and sometimes it is the first step of a person's journey. Receiving voice therapy for my vocal cyst really opened my eyes to how nervous one can be when seeing a speech therapist for the first time.

On a fun and science-related note, I found this video of some adults (still young at heart) and their experience with Sulfur Hexafluoride gas. This gas, also known as SH6, is very dense. It is heavier than oxygen, so when inhaled, it slows the speed of sound and resonates lower frequencies than regular air. It causes a perceivable drop in pitch. Please do not try this at home, it is dangerous.

Vocal Cords: Amazing Tiny Instruments

Vocal Cords: Amazing Tiny Instruments

by atempovoicecenter atempovoicecenter on 05/22/14

 

Hello all!

I have been hard at work on this new website and needed some relaxation time to take my brain off of stressful things.

I was rummaging through old SIG-3 (a special interest group for voice nerds like me) emails and I came across this VERY COOL VIDEO of our vocal cords in action.

Did you know that normal vocal cords are white in color, have no nerve endings and can come together to vibrate 1,047 times per second just to make a bit of noise? These little guys work so hard to create what so many of us take for granted: speech.

I was talking to a website consultant today who said, "You don't even think about your voice until you have a problem with it." So true, so true.

Reminding myself that two tiny muscles do so much for my livelihood helps me to remember not to clear my throat so much, drink more hydrating beverages, and to take a vocal rest now and again...I mean, they need it. :)

Posted on September 30, 2014 .

What is their secret?

Does vocal hygiene mean deodorant for your vocal cords?

by atempovoicecenter atempovoicecenter on 05/19/14

 

Clients often wonder what in the world I mean when I say vocal hygiene. I don't mean putting deodorant on your vocal cords, however, the routine and care parts of hygiene apply here. There are aspects of vocal hygiene that I recommend to all my clients do their very best to improve.

 

1- Water Intake:

.....Try to drink about half your body weight in ounces of water per day to completely hydrate your vocal folds.

..... Get in a habit of always having a bottle of water with you. (I always leave the house with a large bottle in the morning, and refill as needed.)

 

2- Vocal Misuse Behaviors and Habits

....Please avoid smoke as it dries out the vocal folds

....Do not scream, yell, make weird noises for long periods of time

....Take voice rests when you are using your voice for long periods of time

 

3- Medication and Acid Reflux

....Some medications can dry out your vocal cords, so add a cup of water per drying medication

....Caffeine can dry out your vocal cords, so add a cup of water per cup of coffee

....Acid Reflux can cause heartburn, but some effects of Reflux can cause damage to your vocal cords and surrounding areas while never causing you any pain or discomfort

 

 

A more specific presentation of this information can be found here

from Blake Simpson

 

Resources: Sivasankar, Mahalakshmi & Leydon, Ciara. (2008) From bench to bedside: Translational research on vocal fold hydration. Perspectives, 18, 112-118. Roth, D., Verdolini, K. (2003) Occupational issues in voice problems. Perspectives on Voice and Voice Disorders, 13, 1, 8-14.