Mar 09 2016

3 Steps to Create a Super Voice for Vocal Marathons

Published by under Vocal Health,Vocal Image

dreamstime_m_35585888Ever since people have been trying to be heard over a crowd, there have been hoarse voices, but nowhere is this more apparent than in the race to grab the Presidency in the US. An article in the NY Times stated that the Republican Primary Campaign “has a cold,” and described vocal issues experienced by the candidates due to the extreme demands on their voices, while MSNBC actually interrupted the broadcast of a speech by Hillary Clinton in order to discuss her voice, which was obviously hoarse from overuse.  With nearly 8 months to go, the candidates are already showing signs of vocal fatigue, problems that would put most people on immediate vocal rest, i.e. silence! Since that’s not an option for a presidential candidate, they soldier on with raspy voices as their vocal images fade into a shadow of their former glory. (This could be good for the rest of us if they now feel they will only speak if they have something to say that is worth the pain of croaking it out.)

Although the race for the Presidency seems to create extraordinary conditions for vocal use, executives often speak non-stop for 8-12 hours a day, as do teachers and attorneys. According to voice practitioner, Joanna Cazden, voice over artists spend hours in a studio creating voices for games, making sounds that are harsh and hard on the vocal folds.  Singers go on tour, and day after day they have to be heard by thousands when they cannot hear themselves, and they over sing to compensate. Success in these vocal marathons is threatened by the physical demands of travel, eating on the run, colds and flu, and sleep deprivation– universal experiences in a global economy.

dreamstime_m_56418716It’s tough to have to depend on your voice when you know the requirements of your job put your voice at risk for vocal damage; everyone knows that in today’s competitive landscape, the one who stops talking (or singing) is the one who starts losing. Yet, is it any better to have a voice that gives people the perception that you are weak or hedging because your vocal folds are so raw that you can’t make a strong sound? Conversely, if you have to shout in order to bring your inflamed vocal folds together to make a sound, others may judge that you are yelling at them, which is exactly what is happening to Clinton. Your vocal image is the perception people have of you from the sound of your voice, and that perception is created in the first 8 words that you speak, when the race has just begun.

dreamstime_m_62076681For the current candidates, it’s already too late to create the super voice they needed. They can only hope to get a little time off to recover after the primaries, or enough cortisone to keep complete voice loss at bay long enough to finish the race. But they will be limping to the finish line. Your super voice, however, doesn’t have to be a lost cause.  In order to find it, you have get to know your voice and treat it like it is important to you BEFORE you have a problem with it. If you know you have vocal demands greater than the average person, take a lesson from the athlete’s handbook and do something about it before your only resort is repair rather than prevention. Here’s how:

1.     Learn good vocal technique: Minimize vocal distress when put to the test of extreme vocal use by finding a good voice coach and learning how your voice works and how to use it;  find out about posture and breathing. Eat a diet that supports a strong voice. Exercise it to make it strong and, above all, practice regularly to keep your technique in shape.

2.     Adopt good vocal maintenance habits: Drink lots of water and build vocal rest into your day. Keep fit with vocalizes and warm-ups before voice use.

3.     Follow good vocal care practices: when there is an issue emerging, the right care helps to prevent problems that lead to severe, permanent damage. Learn when to seek help from an otolaryngologist. For starters, if you have chronic hoarseness, get help. If you wake up with laryngitis, get help. If your voice hurts, get help. Get help before a lingering vocal issue shuts you down for a long, long time and you have to get out of the race for good.

To learn more about these three steps to create a super voice, please click the links below.

What is good vocal technique? How to Create a Strong Voice, Parts 1-4

How should you care for your voice on a day-to-day basis? 10 Ways to Love Your Voice

What can you do when you lose your voice? How to Relieve a Tired Voice When You Must Keep Talking

And here’s a peek at what Vocal Marathoners do on American Idol.

 

© Arindam Banerjee | Dreamstime.com

© Tommy Jeffers | Dreamstime.com – Donald Trump November 9, 2015

© Dmcdesign | Dreamstime.com – Bernie Sanders at War on Woman March

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Jan 27 2016

Who Let the Frogs Out? Another 3 quick remedies for voice malfunctions

Published by under Vocal Health

dreamstime_m_2422198One of the most popular posts on this blog is Who Let the Frogs Out? 3 Quick Remedies for Voice Malfunctions. Maybe it’s just the catchy title, but I think the attraction has more to do with the horrible feeling you get if you open your mouth on stage and nothing comes out.  The original article was triggered by a question on Twitter.  After the popularity of the first, I wrote a second.  In those two posts I addressed: what to do if your voice croaks, shakes, tickles, flips, or disappears.

I thought I had about covered it all until one of my readers asked what to do if you have a cough that won’t go away, and you have to speak in front of an audience.  That made me think of other situations I had forgotten to address, and, voila! this post was born.  Thus, here are suggestions for what to do if you have a cough, get cottonmouth, or can’t seem to clear your throat.

If you have a cough, and you have to speak in front of an audience, you may experience such things as trying to speak and coughing instead, prolonged bouts of coughing when trying to answer a question, or a voice that gradually fades away because of inflamed vocal folds caused by coughing.  To take care of this on the spot, breathe through your nose so that the air is warm and filtered and not as likely to irritate your voice, and take several big, low breaths to relax your throat and make it less likely that your folds will spasm, causing more coughing. If that doesn’t work, ask for a glass of water and drink it. Hydration will help. If that doesn’t help, take out a lozenge or a peppermint candy and suck on it.  (You do always have one in your pocket for such times, don’t you?) Finally,  If nothing else works, you may need to excuse yourself for a minute while you cough up what’s making it hard to breathe or while you get a cup of tea. Warm liquids will help.

If you have cottonmouth you will probably just need to keep talking unless it’s too distracting or embarrassing to do that. If necessary, turn around and pull your lips back down over your teeth (a particularly embarrassing result of cottonmouth!), or put your head down and run your tongue over your teeth.  Take a drink of water if you can and calm yourself down by remembering that it’s not about you.  Focus on the audience and what you can do for them rather than what they think of you.  Cottonmouth is most often caused by the increase in Adrenalin that comes with stage anxiety.  Calm down.  Have some fun!

If you can’t seem to clear your throat, drink a full glass of water asap.  The vocal folds are a low priority organ and when you are dehydrated, the heart and lungs always get the juices before your voice.  The answer to clearing your throat is getting enough fluid so that the phlegm you create is thin and runny.  Precautions for this include being well-hydrated before going on stage and having enough iodine in your diet.  The way most of us get iodine is through iodized salt.

Are there situations you’ve faced where you needed a quick fix for a voice malfunction? What were they and what did you do? Please share on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn.

© Alptraum | Dreamstime.com – Frog

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