Singers Lets Prevent Vocal Problems

-- Dr. Barbara Mathis

Good vocal health, of general interest to everyone, is a vital concern to the professional voice user, singers in particular. The voice is a precious commodity which cannot be replaced when worn out or damaged; therefore prevention can be the most important aspect of vocal hygiene. Vocal experts offer detailed suggestions for maintaining good vocal health and preventing serious vocal problems. Stemple states that people who make professional use of their voice must take special care to avoid risks to general health of the entire body as well as to the laryngeal mechanism, for the well-being of the voice is dependent on the well-being of the whole body. Brodnitz believes that among professional voice users the singer, above all, must practice intelligent hygiene, for the singer's profession requires the highest degree of specialization in the use of the voice. Unfortunately, as Stemple states, "the lifestyles of many professional voice users are not compatible with the maintenance of a healthy larynx. Not only may these lifestyles create vocal abuse and emotional stress, but they may also lead to less than adequate physical health." Luchsinger and Arnold further advise the professional actor or singer that psychological and physical conditions which concern everyone affect them to an even greater extent; and that singers, whose occupation requires a major form of physical activity, should preserve their health through temperance in every respect. The reviewed sources agree that professional voice users must attend to physical fitness and nutrition, prevention and prompt care of illnesses and allergies, environmental conditions, and speaking and singing habits.

Physical exercise and proper nutrition help keep bodies and voices healthy. Brodnitz states that the mucous membranes prefer a diet with limited starches, thus discouraging the overproduction of phlegm which interferes with free nasal breathing and clarity of the voice. The tendency to overindulge in starches and the lack of enough physical exercise often cause a corresponding tendency toward obesity, a condition associated with high blood pressure, higher levels of cholesterol, sugar diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Unhealthy for anyone, obesity is certainly detrimental for the professional voice user who must have a healthy respiratory tract; and, as Sataloff points out, obesity has significant disadvantages for the professional singer:

Today, most people involved in voice education and singing recognize that singing is athletic. As such, it requires good abdominal and respiratory conditioning, physical strength, and endurance. All of these are undermined by significant obesity. . . Even a moderate degree of obesity may adversely affect the respiratory system, undermining support.
Bunch cautions against obesity but reminds singers that a good diet should include protein to combat wear and tear of tissues, and vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fat to insure vitality and energy as well as good health. Bunch also recommends physical activity which involves free movement and increased depth of breathing such as dancing, jogging, walking, calisthenics, tennis, and swimming. She states, though, that singers should refrain from diving and underwater swimming to avoid possible risks of nasal congestion and ear trouble, and further advises against weightlifting which tends to overdevelop the muscles of the neck and the adductors of the vocal folds.

Prompt attention to and care for illnesses, especially those affecting the upper respiratory tract, is important in the prevention of more lasting vocal disorders. The common cold, which may begin with a tickle in the throat, congestion, and/or sneezing, can lead to more serious infections of the sinuses, bronchial tubes, or lungs. Unfortunately, as Lawrence points out, the cold, or the URI (upper respiratory infection), "is a fever producing, sudden onset illness that attacks the respiratory tract, and which lasts about a week with treatment and about a week without treatment." About all one can do when the cold strikes is to rest, increase fluid intake, and provide some relief for the affected tissues. Lawrence recommends steam inhalations, a decongestant, and antihistamine for the first few wet days; however, he cautions singers about the drying effects of antihistamine if used past the "pouring hot water" stages of the cold. Professional voice users should speak and/or sing as little as possible while under the effects of the cold and should avoid violent coughing or throat clearing, all of which may cause hoarseness long after other symptoms have abated. The best cold "medicine" is to avoid catching the virus in the first place, as some sources suggest. Lawrence believes that the best way to avoid a URI during the cold season is to wash hands often and to avoid touching objects which have been in contact with someone infected with a cold. Many sources recommend keeping the mucous membranes hydrated and keeping the atmosphere in homes and buildings at a high relative humidity level to help deter the spread of viruses.

Suggestions for adequate environmental and body hydration appear often as a preventive vocal health measure. Lawrence explains that water is extremely important in the normal functioning of the respiratory tract and of the vocal tract in particular. He advises the professional voice user to carefully monitor body water levels by noting the condition of one's urine: when well hydrated, urine is very dilute, nonodorous and almost invariably the color of tap water. Loeding advises vocal performers to avoid habits which dry out mucous membrane linings of the nose and throat, such as smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages, to drink eight to nine glasses of water a day, and to keep the air moist by using a vaporizer or turning on the hot shower. When outside temperature and humidity levels are uncomfortable, efforts to provide a healthy environment which contains a minimum humidity level of forty percent should often include running a vaporizer, humidifier, steamer, or hot shower, especially in homes or buildings which are centrally heated or air conditioned the year around. When outside humidity levels are too high, Stemple contends that the mucus of the respiratory tract may thin out, causing excessive drainage leading to throat clearing and coughing. He further states, though, that the presence of mucous drainage, or "postnasal drip," is a normal and natural function which should not be changed with over-the-counter "sinus" medicines which dehydrate the mucosal lining. Lawrence explains that normal mucus, which is watery, thin, and liquid, is rarely, if ever, perceived as being present. If overly aware of drainage, one is usually suffering from dehydration, although the thicker secretion can be the accompaniment of a problem such as sinusitis, upper respiratory infection, or a nasal allergy.

Nasal allergies or sinus problems can make life miserable for the professional voice user, for these conditions can cause swelling of the tissues in the throat and larynx eventually leading to hoarseness. Severe or chronic allergies need specialized medical attention; however, if attacks are infrequent and mild and if problems are minimal, Sataloff advises the use of a mild antihistamine and/or decongestant. The drying effects of the antihistamine may be counteracted by mucolytic medications such as Entex, Organidin, Robitussin, or Humibid, which increase or thin upper respiratory secretions. These medications also help dryness caused by atmospheric conditions and overuse of the voice.

Closely related to allergic reactions and general health of the laryngeal tissues is the unhealthy reaction of the voice to irritants such as tobacco, alcohol, and other recreational drugs. Almost without exception, voice experts advise against the habitual use of tobacco, marijuana, alcoholic beverages, cocaine, and other mood and mind altering drugs. Symptoms from habitual use are twofold: direct physical changes in the larynx and respiratory tract, and results brought about by changes in the sensory mechanisms. Sataloff warns that smoking not only may have eventual health consequences such as cancer, emphysema, and heart disease, but that the heat and consequent irritation of smoking also have an immediate effect on the larynx and the linings of the respiratory tract, producing inflammation that alters the vocal folds. Lawrence describes the effects of tobacco and marijuana ("weed" or "pot") smoking:
The hard palate is reddened. The soft palate and the uvula have that whitened surface look you see when you drop egg white into hot water and the protein first begins to coagulate. The edges of the vocal folds are reddened, and there is a slightly dry, nonproductive cough. . . .Pack-a-day smokers of tobacco will sometimes show those findings after a few months, but those on weed will be unmistakably there after a very short time. And the voice loses its brilliance and its cutting edge.

Sataloff explains that marijuana smoke is particularly harsh, hot, and unfiltered and may alter sensorium thus interfering with intellectual awareness and fine motor control. In a later article Lawrence offers further concerns about marijuana usage and resultant attitudes and disregard for ethics. He states that excellent singing requires physical and mental discipline and daily practice and exercise, but that the "lovely, eased-out languid feeling of a marihuana high makes this so much less urgent, so much less agreeable to do. . . .I find pot eroding the work ethic, at least among several of my university voice majors."

The professional voice user should carefully consider the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Wilson warns of these possible effects: excessive vascularization, a drop in fundamental frequency, and hoarseness. Sataloff reminds singers that alcohol opens up blood vessels and alters mucosal secretions while also altering awareness and fine motor control. He states that while very small amounts do not pose a major problem for people who are accustomed to drinking, singers who are not routine drinkers should be careful to avoid alcohol on the day of a performance. Bunch explains, though, that the habitual use of alcohol can affect the voice in several ways. As a depressant and muscle relaxant, alcohol may impair the control of the vocal folds and sensitivity of the throat, and the drying effect of alcohol can cause irritation in the tissues of the vocal tract eventually causing a raspy or hoarse voice.

Like alcohol, other recreational drugs change the sensory mechanisms of the body, a pertinent fact for the serious voice professional who wishes to maintain good vocal technique at all times. Sataloff explains to singers the decreased awareness and impairment of accurate analytic abilities caused by "street" drugs:
They not only prevent a singer from making the instantaneous modifications that are intrinsic to good singing, but some street drugs also interfere with reaction time and motor control directly. In some cases, they may also decrease feeling (particularly narcotics) and allow a singer to injure himself without feeling pain. This can result in serious or permanent vocal fold damage as the singer continues to use his voice, perhaps remaining oblivious to the problem until the next day. Certain street drugs, particularly "uppers," may also cause a tremor that can be heard in the singing voice.
Lawrence offers additional concerns about a particular recreational drug, cocaine, and its effects on singers:
As a laryngologist I see the residuals of the chemical and thermal burns of the vocal tract surfaces, and I'll hear the air escape during phonation, the harshness and breathiness, the loss of clarity of voice, the loss of high range voice.
Lawrence also attests to the personality changes which may come about as a result of cocaine. The user most often experiences mood swings, from a sense of euphoria accompanied by a speeding up of thought processes and a tongue that cannot keep pace with mental activity, to the down phases, which can include attitudes of dejection, despair, and depression. Eventually true paranoia may result. The professional voice user may conclude from the opinions stated here that avoidance of smoking, alcohol, and recreational drugs will increase the chances for maintaining good vocal health and technique.

Another important factor in preventing serious vocal problems is sensible use of the voice in regard to time and demand. Unfortunately, many people who use their voices professionally are in job situations which require exhausting schedules of preparation, performance, promotion, and travel. These kinds of demands create tired bodies and tired voices. Lawrence feels that total voice use time should be a major consideration in vocal health and that vocal abuse may be a matter of "too much, too loud, and too hard." He further states:
I would say to any singer, to any voice user, that no larynx is infinite. None of us is made of cast iron or stainless steel. Each of us has a definite, a finite amount of vocal coin to spend. We should consider our priorities and then literally put our money where our mouths are.

Sundberg advises singers and other people who rely heavily on their voices to note an important fact: the endurance of the vocal mechanism varies considerably among individuals. Even when using the voice economically and well, some people cannot perform as long as others. Endurance is affected by factors other than individuality, such as a cold, alcohol consumption, or dry air. What is harmless under normal conditions may be twice too much under unusual circumstances. Sundberg concludes this idea by stating that the more the voice is used, the more wisely and economically it must be used, and, that the risk of developing a voice disorder using one's normal vocal technique increases during adverse conditions such as a cold. Thus, if it is up to the individual to discover his own vocal limits in regard to time and demand without experiencing health problems, then the professional or future professional voice user should know recommendations from experts along these lines. In 1894 Manuel Garcia advised his students that the "practice of singing three or four hours a day will ruin the most robust organ;" and he recommended three half hours a day at long intervals as the maximum of study. Coffin also tells us that the master teachers of singing recommended four practice sessions of thirty minutes a day for "the most robust vocal organs." Coffin also cautions singers about the demands from opera and chorus conductors, and places the responsibility for limiting rehearsal and performance hours on the singer, who must "protect himself by any guise."

Luchsinger and Arnold advise the professional singer to rest the voice at regular periods and, as a general rule, to limit major performances to three per week. Sataloff reminds singers that just as the eyes burn and get "bloodshot" after staying up too late, similar changes in mucosal lubrication and irritability occur throughout the vocal tract: "When we wear ourselves out, we interfere with the body's ability to repair, replenish and balance the components of our vocal mechanisms." Sataloff and Roberts further advise singers, who must deal with both the physical and psychological stress of performance, that rest periods are essential for muscle recovery, and that it is essential to condition and build up strength and endurance before rehearsing long hours prior to a performance. Tucker supports this advice, and he lists singing for excessively lengthy time periods as one factor sometimes associated with vocal dysfunction. He also states that even the well trained singer may experience alteration of the voice during peak points of a career due to behavioral factors such as stress, extensive rehearsal, and the need for precise control and exquisite conditioning.

This need for precise control, exquisite conditioning, and athletic endurance is another aspect in prevention of vocal disorders, as the professional voice user must certainly attend to speaking and singing habits and techniques to avoid vocal health problems. Speaking techniques have been discussed earlier in the chapter, but sources do offer hints for prevention. In his vocal hygiene program for professional voice users, Boone lists twelve "commonsense application" steps, among which are the following speaking habits or techniques: identify and reduce or eliminate vocal abuse and misuse; develop an easy glottal attack; use an appropriate speaking level; keep the speaking voice at the lower end of the loudness range; take an easy, relaxed breath; reduce vocal demand as much as possible; avoid talking in loud settings; and avoid making odd sounds with the voice. Cooper agrees that one should talk with moderate volume, even in noisy situations. He also warns against habitual cheering and yelling. In her ten commandments for vocal health, however, Loeding says one should never scream, not at a basketball or football game, not even for joy. She also warns against overuse of the voice, speaking too rapidly, and speaking or singing in the wrong tessitura or pitch range.

Most sources agree that vocal efficiency and excellence are related to fine control in certain vocal areas as listed by Reich, who offers ways to prevent dysphonia in vocal artists involved in performance speech and concert singing. He believes that vocal efficiency relates to control in the areas of intensity (regulation of pulmonary flow and glottal resistance), fundamental frequency (isometric "tension" tuning of vocal folds), vibrato (frequency modulation accompanied by some amplitude modulation), tone quality (noise-free phonation with lots of energy in the higher harmonic frequencies), respiration (maximum utilization of lung capacity and precise control of expiratory muscles), and resonance (low laryngeal position, pharyngeal dilation, lots of energy in the 2800_3200 Hz range, some nasal resonance, and lots of jaw opening at high frequencies). Further, George Antolik III feels that hyperfunction of the singing voice may be prevented by using correct techniques of posture, breathing, vocal attack, registration, and resonance. However, he does not seem to agree with other sources reviewed earlier in the chapter, such as Boone and McClosky, that once hyperfunction occurs it can be removed with the same techniques, as demonstrated by the following statement:
Since few laryngologists, singing teachers, or speech therapists are qualified to formulate techniques successful in removing vocal hyperfunction, it seems that its prevention offers a more logical approach to both singer and teacher. It should also be noted that once the laryngeal muscles are damaged, the prognosis for a complete recovery of the singing voice is extremely guarded."

Evidently some sources agree that, although cures for vocal faults are possible, they are never absolutely certain, and prevention through proper training is infinitely more vital. In 1894, Garcia, for example, offered corrections for vocal faults such as guttural or nasal sounds, tremolo, and slurring the attack of a sound; however, he stated that some of the faults are distressing and extremely difficult to correct. Today, according to Bunch, the prognosis is still not good for "restoring battered vocal folds to normal function." If a singer suffers severe muscular fatigue, a condition she thinks is the most difficult to detect or remedy, or hoarseness after every practice or performance, it is a clear sign that the voice is improperly used or that something else is seriously wrong. Bunch believes that hoarseness caused by misuse is usually one of two things: putting excessive air pressure on the vocal folds or using too much muscular effort in the larynx to produce sound. When this type of misuse continues until muscles have had more strain than they can take, sometimes the voice stops working "overnight" and thus surprises the singer who has probably abused the voice for months or even years.

All people in the voice professions would agree that prevention of vocal disorders through proper training and techniques is desirable, and many would agree that therapy is the most important treatment for vocal problems. Unfortunately, as Sundberg states, "The dispute among singing teachers and other voice experts as to what is the best method or therapy and what is the best vocal technique has gone on over the centuries, and probably there is little hope that the issue will be resolved in the near future. . ." He goes on to say that although it is difficult to judge what is a good method or technique, objective measurements on voice characteristics should help; and even though one method probably could not suit all voice types or musical styles, he prefers a method which is in close agreement with physiology. Sundberg believes that it is easier for the majority of students to understand instructions that reflect what is actually happening within their bodies. Perhaps Luchsinger and Arnold best summarize good vocal hygiene and preventive measures by stating that good vocal hygiene is based upon knowledge of the physiology and pathology of voice production; and two types of measures may be taken to avoid vocal disease: promotion of physical health and prevention of vocal misuse or overexertion.

For singers, this means careful attention to the following recommendations for good laryngeal
health and the prevention of serious vocal problems:
  • General rules of good health for the entire body
  • Voice training and exercise
  • Proper speaking techniques
  • Good vocal habits (avoidance of yelling, throat clearing, etc.)
  • Attention to allergies and hormone balance
  • Prompt and professional care for respiratory infection and laryngitis

Source : Singers's, Lets Prevent Vocal Problems

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Singing Tips 2 - Video

Here Is Singing Tip 2 by moneymasterjet I promised I would post, this a video i have uploaded from You Tube

Singing Tips - Video

Surfing the net i came across this video by a person called moneymasterjet on Singing Tips, thought u guys would like it, here is the video from you tube, I will also post his singing Tip 2 Video too.

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SINGING TIPS - Breathing, Technique

Singing Tips 1 - Take singing lessons but be sure to seek out a qualified teacher. Check their references. Look at their training and/or schooling as well as their work history.

Singing Tips 2 - Practice singing in front of a mirror. This will help you notice posture, airflow, facial expressions, and overall how you appear to an audience.

Singing Tips 3 - Open your mouth! Well, if you can learn to sing with your mouth "very" wide open, you will hit clearer notes and sing more strongly and cleanly overall.

Singing Tips 4 - Keep your vocal chords moisturized. Drink lots of water or liquids at room temperature.

Singing Tips 5 - Try not to hold your breath when you're singing. You want the air to flow freely through your diaphragm and back out.

Singing Tips 6 - Remember, your vocal chords are an instrument and it must be cared for like an instrument. Be sure to get proper rest and do not shout or scream for long periods of time before a vocal performance.

Singing Tips 7 - Sing with a karaoke machine. This is a great tool to allow you to "have the floor". It provides the words and the back-up musicians. Just be sure to balance it out later on with real musicians. There is quite a big difference when performing professionally and you need to get used to the live performance arena.

Singing Tips 8 - Don't just mouth the words with melody. SING!...from the bottom of your heart and soul. Put heart, feeling, and emotion into every line and sing with conviction. This will translate into an outstanding performance for the listener.

Singing Tips 9 - Don't drink, do drugs, or smoke. These are the worst things ever for your voice.

Singing Tips 10 - Stay away from air-conditioning before a vocal performance.

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Singing Tips - A 2 Z

A = Airflow. Never hold your breath while singing. The airflow carries your vocal tone, so keep it flowing. Learn the proper way to breathe for singing, called diaphragmatic breathing. Direct some of the air out through your nose. Singing Tips A

B = Breathing properly for singing requires the shoulders to stay relaxed, not rise with the breath intake. A singer will gain power to their voice by strengthening the muscles in the rib cage, back and diaphragm. Singing Tips B

C = Communicate the music's message. During performance you should communicate the message of the song. If you make a mistake don't "admit" it to your audience. They probably did not even notice. Singing Tips C

D = Diaphragmatic Support. Develop the strength and coordination of the diaphragm and control the speed, the quantity and the consistency of the airflow. Singing Tips D

E = Elasticity of the Vocal Folds. The vocal tone is created as airflow bursts through the cleft of the vocal cords causing them to vibrate/oscillate. The vocal folds can lose elasticity due to misuse, lack of use and/or increase of age. Be sure to train your voice with vocal exercises on a regular basis to keep your voice in shape. Singing Tips E

F = Free your natural voice. Don't be a slave to any music style -- even your favourite one. Learn to sing with your full and natural voice by developing your vocal strength and coordination. Then add stylistic nuances to achieve any singing style you desire. Singing Tips F

G = Guessing Games. Never guess the pitch you are about to sing. Hear the note in your head before you open your mouth. Singing Tips G

H = Higher notes require an increase in airflow. Singing Tip H

I = Increase your breathing capacity and control by doing breathing exercises daily. Singers must negotiate phrase lengths of all different sizes, so it is important to be versatile. Singing Tips I

J = Jumping Jacks. If you are having trouble getting your body completely involved with singing, try doing some cardiovascular activities, like jumping jacks, for a few minutes before getting started again. Sometimes your instrument simply needs an airflow wake-up call. Singing Tips J

K = Know your limits. Don't sing too high or too low. Don't sing to the point of vocal fatigue. Never strain or push your voice. Doing so will not result in a higher or lower singing range, or a stronger voice, only a voice that has suffered undue stress. Singing Tips K

L = Lower notes require a decrease in airflow. Singing Tip L

M = Mirror. Training in front of a mirror can help a singer discover many things about their instrument, as well as confirm that other actions are being done correctly. Be sure to rely on a mirror during vocal training, but be able to leave the mirror to face an audience. Singing Tips M

N = Never sing if it hurts to swallow. Singing Tip N

O = Open your mouth wider. Nine times out of ten this will help you achieve a stronger, more defined vocal tone. Singing Tips O

P = Prepare your instrument before singing. Singers are very much like athletes. Take care of your body/instrument by stretching out the vocal muscles and relieving the body of unnecessary tension before singing. Singing Tips P

Q = Quit smoking. As a bonus, you will probably live longer :-) Singing Tips Q

R = Raise the Soft Palate. Creating a larger space inside your mouth by raising the soft palate, or fleshy part of the back of our throat, helps achieve a deeper more well rounded singing tone. Singing Tips R

S = Sing through the vocal breaks. If you do not teach the muscles the necessary actions to sing through the trouble spots, success will never be achieved. Sing through it, sing through it again, and again.... Singing Tips S

T = Tone Placement. Learning the facts about tone placement and resonance make a huge difference in the abilities of a singer. In simple terms, a singer has numerous body cavities (nasal cavity, chest cavity, etc.) and amplifiers (bones, ligaments, etc.) that act as resonators. Focusing the vocal tone through the proper resonating chamber with the proper support is important with regard to controlling and developing your personal sound. Singing Tips T

U = Unique Voice Under Construction. Remember that your voice has its own unique fingerprint and is constantly changing with our actions, environment, health habits, etc. With this in mind, listen to your own voice often and use vocal training tools to keep your voice on the right track. Singing Tips U
V = Vibrato. Vibrato is a natural or forced fluctuation of a pitch. Do not concentrate on learning how to sing with vibrato. Instead, concentrate on the basic foundations of singing, breathing and support. When the proper coordination is achieved, vibrato will occur naturally. Singing Tips V
W = Water. Water. Water. Drink room temperature water as often as you can to keep your voice organ hydrated. If you only have cold or hot water available, swish it around in your mouth for a moment. This action will keep your voice organ from being startled or stressed by different temperatures. Singing Tips W

Y = You Can Sing with Impact! Exercise your voice daily with contemporary voice lesson products. Don't Just Sing when You Can Sing with Impact! Singing Tip Y

Z = Zzzzzzzz. Be sure to get plenty of rest. If you are tired, your voice will show it. A tired body/instrument will not allow you to produce your best possible sound. Singing Tip Z

Vocal Exercises

All of us have to sing at some point, even if it's just a simple 'Happy Birthday'. use these simple tips and techniques to improve your voice and your confidence.

  1. Keep your arms slightly away from your body. Clasp your hands out in front of you or bring your arms to your sides and a bit forward, raising them about 6 inches in a flexible, relaxed fashion. This will allow your ribcage to fully expand and your lungs to fill to capacity. More air allows you to project your voice more strongly and clearly.
  2. Keep your feet about shoulders' width apart. If you like, one foot can be further forward than the other. Make sure you're solidly balanced, but still flexible. Slightly bend your knees. If you must sing while sitting, make sure both feet are flat on the floor and that you're sitting up straight, but not stiffly.
  3. Relax! Tension destroys vocal tone. Try not to let your shoulders hunch up and keep your neck from tensing. Don't force your chest out and up when you breath in. This will actually constrict your air flow. Stay in motion, however slightly. This will relax your body and your tone will sound more natural. Try gently swaying from side to side with the rhythm. You'll look better, too!
  4. When you inhale, push your stomach out. This will allow you to more completely fill your lungs. As you exhale, bring your stomach slowly in, using the muscles of your diaphram (which is just under your ribcage) to control your notes.
  5. If you have to hit a high note or you hear yourself singing flat (that is, your notes are a tiny bit too low), raise your arms a little higher and smile slightly. For very high notes, try closing your eyes and turning your face up slightly.
  6. Conversely, if you start to sing sharp (a tiny bit too high), bring your arms down a little lower and open your mouth slightly wider by dropping your lower jaw. Don't dip your chin towards your neck, however, as this will cause your air flow to become constricted, which will show up in your voice.
  7. Enjoy yourself! If you take all these tips to heart, singing could become a habit.

Damaging vocal technique

By David L. Jones

It has been requested repeatedly that I write about vocal techniques that can result in vocal stress or even damage. I have hesitated to write about this because it is a difficult and controversial subject. Nevertheless, I believe it is a subject that needs to be responsibly addressed. Most singers know little if anything about the voice when they begin to study singing. Nor do they know what is healthy or unhealthy vocal technique. Having suffered vocal damage myself, I can only speak from my own experience. In the following paragraphs, I will list the causes of such vocal damage. Not only have I witnessed vocal damage, I can say I have suffered vocal damage and have recovered from it through the concepts of Alan Lindquest, his students Virginia Botkin, Martha Rosacker, and Dr. Barbara Mathis, and Dr. Evelyn Reynolds, my present teacher who has studied the Italian School extensively. All of these teachers have accomplished a deep understanding of the concepts of the Italian School in great detail and they all developed diagnostic hearing plus tools to solve vocal problems. All of them have been extremely influential in my development as a teacher and they have given me an expertise that I value greatly today. This is why I encourage young teachers to find a real master teacher with whom to study. Lindquest continued his vocal research until his death at age 93. This is the sign of someone who pursues the deepest truth in vocal concepts. Singing is a life-study. It is exciting in the sense that one can learn at any age and the journey need never end.

The Damaging Effects of a Flat-Tongued Technique
So many teachers and singers are confused about the healthy position of the tongue in singing. I have worked directly with singers who have studied a 'flat tongued' technique and attempt to sing on this type of production. The flat-tongued technique is basically a non-productive futile attempt to find more acoustical space in the throat. I can tell you without hesitation that this is an incorrect and damaging technique. If the tongue is flat, then the mass of muscle at the back of the tongue (tongue root) is forced into the pharynx. This fills up the primary resonator (pharynx) with tongue mass which can be compared to singing with a pillow in one's throat. Trying to teach a singer with such a background can be a difficult journey at best. Healthy nasal resonance cannot be present in a flat-tongued technique. It is important to understand that healthy nasal resonance (not nasality) is the only concept that completely releases tension at the root of the tongue.

In a flat-tongued technique, the singer is primarily using a technique which does not allow for a healthy change of register as one ascends upward within any scale or arpeggio. The root of the tongue places direct pressure or stress at the vocal cords or glottis. After hearing a singer trained in this destructive technique, it becomes obvious that this incorrect vocal concept does not allow for the healthy pivoting of the vocal folds. Therefore there cannot be a healthy transition into the head voice register. Loss of high notes is typical in such an approach to singing. When the tongue is too flat, then the singer has to force the voice into the upper register with a tremendous amount of breath pressure. This breath pressure irritates the vocal cords and the result is usually hoarseness and an inability to phonate healthily. Some singers have also suffered damage such as vocal hemorrhage, bowed vocal cords, nodules, or polyps from singing with the tongue depressed or flat. This constant pressure on the larynx and vocal cords created by this technique is completely unhealthy for the voice. I warn teachers and singers that those who pursue such a technique to get a 'bigger sound' (this kind of sound is only big in a small room and is quite small in a theatre.) can destroy their vocal health.

Case Study: Tenor Singing Baritone
Recently I had the opportunity to work with a young professional baritone. At 23, he was loosing his voice through hoarseness after each performance. There were two primary culprits that worked together to destroy healthy production: tremendous breath pressure and a flat-tongued technique. Because he was trying to create false color with the back of the tongue and because he thought he was a baritone (see article on Vocal Fach), this young singer was flattening his tongue. There were four negative results (1) absence of healthy nasal resonance, (2) inability to achieve 'ring' in the voice through nasal resonance, (3) chronic hoarseness from a flat tongue position creating direct pressure on the vocal cords, and (4) absence of an easy transition into the upper passaggio and high range. After working with this singer for a period of about 10 minutes and having heard the absence of true resonance in the voice, I decided to vocalize him higher. Because of Lindquest's great understanding of the tenor voice, partly from his association with Jussi Bjoerling, and because his exercises invite balance in the upper passaggio, this singer could quite quickly go up to the high C and even to the high D without major difficulty. I began to analyze the singer's tongue position and realized that at times it was completely flat in an attempt to manufacture a baritone color in the voice. Since he was not really a baritone, this was impossible. After listening to his first lesson, he described his own voice as sounding simply like a "tenor who was trying to make a baritone sound".
By the third lesson, this singer was singing the tenor solos in Handel's Messiah with great beauty of tone. It became more and more obvious to me that this young singer was singing in the wrong fach. The flat tongue position was only one of the negative results of singing in the incorrect vocal fach. As I mentioned above, chronic hoarseness would follow each performance. This is yet another case of a young singer who was on the road to vocal damage because of an insistence from his instructor that he was a baritone. There is absolutely no denying the truth; that he is a high tenor. This is an example of a situation where a teacher's ego dominates over real concern for the singer. This is criminal and there should be laws to protect singers. True, he could sing in the baritone range by depressing the larynx with the root of the tongue. However, this created false color and forced the voice to phonate lower than intended. As a light skinned blond person, (usually these singers have blood vessels right on the surface of the vocal cords.) had he continued to sing with this false and unhealthy technique, he most certainly would have suffered vocal damage, probably through a major vocal hemorrhage.

Tongue depressors: The ultimate in vocal abuse: I have taught singers who were taught to depress the tongue with a tongue depressor while looking into a mirror. This is absolute vocal abuse that most certainly results in vocal damage. In this kind of circumstance, there is absolute and obvious confusion by the instructor. The confusion lies in the idea that what appears to be filling the mouth space can be flattened to make more space in the throat. This concept represents a basic ignorance in the physiology of the voice. In actuality, flattening of the tongue is filling up the pharynx or back wall of the throat with tongue mass. Singers trained in this way often sound as though they are gargling marbles and trying to sing at the same time. On the other hand, when the mouth space appears to be filled with the forward and arched tongue; the back of the throat (pharynx) is actually much more open. Remember Lamperti's quote: "The singer's pronouncer is in the pharynx NOT the mouth." When the tongue is arched healthily as in the 'ng' position (Lindquest's home position of the tongue), then the singer can pronounce the vowels clearly. The integrity of the clear Italian vowel sounds is never sacrificed. The tongue should never be frozen in place. Otherwise clear pronunciation is impossible. Those who have forced the tongue flat cannot make a clear transition from vowel to vowel. The result is a large forced ugly sound with lots of breath pressure forcing the voice to go higher. Many singers have suffered vocal hemorrhage or nodules from this tremendous breath pressure alone. I warn teachers and singers alike that this is extremely dangerous. A singer who has suffered from this kind of instruction and suffered vocal damage should seek legal action. One famous court case in the United States awarded a singer a very large sum of money. The technique taught this singer was extremely destructive and included an unhealthy depressed tongue approach. I had one lesson with a New York teacher who taught this technique because he had a big name. I was searching for another teacher at the time because Mr. Lindquest had died. This teacher gave me a vocal hemorrhage trying to make me a high C tenor when I was actually a lyric baritone. I left his studio unable to speak and cancelled all of my teaching for the next 3 days. Later when I had my vocal cords videoed at the University Hospital at Groningen, The Netherlands, the scar on my right vocal cord from the hemorrhage was evident. I now have a scar on my right vocal cord because of this teacher's dalliance and irresponsibility (he had a huge ego!) Luckily the scar is on the fold and not on the vocal lip. Therefore it does not impede my singing ability.

Jaw Forward Technique
I remember the first time I had a singer who had been taught to place or relax the jaw forward. The resulting sound was that of a small child; extremely breathy and throaty. The throat was completely closed and the vocal cords would not approximate properly. The voice lacked any kind of color or warmth and would fatigue very quickly. When the jaw is forward, there are several negative results: (1) the vocal cords do not approximate correctly. (2) The tongue usually goes back into the pharynx, filling the primary resonator with tongue mass. (3) The larynx functions in a high position allowing only a thin immature sound to be produced. (4) The soft palate assumes a low position, often resulting in nasal or thin tone. (5) Legato line is impossible because the tongue is so tense that there cannot be a healthy separation between the jaw and tongue function. (6) There cannot be a healthy breath line because the breath is choked off by the root of the tongue. (7) It is impossible to create a musical phrase because the singer cannot crescendo or decrescendo healthily. (8) The vowels are usually distorted because of a large of amount of tension at the tongue root. (9) Since the back wall of the pharynx is closed, there cannot be healthy resonance present in the voice.

High Larynxed Technique: Often Associated with the Boy Choir Sound
I can speak from personal experience about this subject. I was trained as tenor even though I was actually a lyric baritone. This is extremely damaging to a young singer. My personal belief is that many teachers are not taught to hear the difference between healthy ring in the voice and a 'squeeze' of the throat. Often college, university, or conservatory teachers are teaching very young singers and are afraid to address the issue of the high larynx. Their fear, and I understand that fear, is of a depressed larynx technique which is truly incorrect and damaging as well. However, it is crucial that the singer learn a slightly low larynx production without overly depressing the larynx with the root of the tongue. If taught with the nasal resonance and the 'ng' tongue position, the slightly lowered larynx makes for a healthy, warm, and balanced vocal tone which includes both higher and lower overtones. I understand that many teachers are afraid to allow young singers to make a big sound. However, it is critical that teachers understand that if they are teaching a young large-voiced singer and the singer is not allowed to use the fullness of the instrument, then the result is usually a squeezed throat which can be damaging. The singer is trying desperately to 'lighten up the voice'. This concept of lightening the voice needs to be taught with a deep body connection. The only way a large voiced singer can lighten up his/her tonal quality is to connect deeper to the body.

One of the largest problems for me personally was when I was required to sing as a tenor in choirs when I was in reality a lyric baritone. This created constant hoarseness, especially when I was required by a conductor to sing a boy choir sound with a straight tone. I would have difficult speaking clearly after any choral rehearsal. This was primarily due to the fact that I could not sustain the tenor tessitura with a lower larynx position. The result was a constant irritation of my vocal cords. A depressed larynx or a high larynx can cause irritation. I am fortunate that the scar on my right vocal cord is not at the vocal lip. However, this scar could have been catastrophic to my singing and I could have suffered damage that would not allow me to sing again. Scar tissue does not stretch as healthy tissue does. The 'boy choir' sound is not a sound that is designed for any adult to make. Demanding this kind of sound by voice teacher or choral director from an adult singer creates all kinds of vocal difficulties as I listed at the top of this paragraph.

Straight Tone Singing:The Early Music Trap
Some of my favorite music is of the Baroque period. I love Bach and Handel and the beauty of their music. I personally sing this music with a healthy shimmering vibrato. A healthy vibrato shimmers with fast vibrations. It is not to be confused with a wide vibrato or 'vocal wobble'. I certainly understand that choral directors do not want any of their singers to 'wobble' because tuning becomes impossible. However, attempting to solve this problem with straight tone singing is futile and destructive vocally. Usually the singer with the wide vibrato gets even worse because of the holding in the throat. This is of course a response to trying to 'straighten out' the tone.
Why is straight tone singing damaging? The answer to this question is simple. When a healthy tone is produced, the result is a taut and shimmering vibrato. The vibrato is a result of the healthy function of the vocal cords. It has a direct relationship to Flagstad's comparison of a 'silver sound' or 'silver thread'. If a singer is required to sing a straight tone for any choral director or teacher, then that singer has to squeeze the vocal cords in order to stop the vocal cords from fully vibrating. This does not allow a healthy amount of air through the vocal folds. This holding of tension in the throat can create all sorts of negative results including a closed acoustical space. The largest problem is vocal fatigue accompanied with an imbalance of the registers. Most straight tone singers find it impossible to allow for a healthy transition into head voice. This kind of singer is actually unaware that he/she is belting from the lower register upward. However, the straight tone sound is so thin and light with a high larynx that it disguises chest voice as head voice. I speak from personal experience on this issue. When I was singing as a high larynxed tenor, I thought I was singing head voice when in actuality I was belting the middle voice as high as I possibly could. The vocal cords became extremely fatigued and beauty of tone was impossible. The healthy pivoting process of the vocal folds was impossible and I had no sensation of a high soft palate. With age, my voice became more and more brittle in sound. There was a complete absence of warmth of tone in the voice. By the time I got to Alan Lindquest, I was suffering vocal damage at age 29.

The Smile Technique
There is one large-scale incorrect technique that I must speak about; the smile technique. So many teachers and singers think that it is important to smile at the mouth opening while singing. This absolutely is destructive to the throat. The Italian School teaches the inner smile which is actually a high and wide soft palate, lifted cheeks under the eyes, sunken cheeks at the back teeth (this creates more acoustical space in the pharynx), and all this with an oval mouth shape. The smile is actually in the eyes, NOT the mouth.
So many singers are taught the smile technique in an attempt to brighten the tonal quality of the voice. Instead brilliance of tone should be produced by bringing the tongue forward and arched out of the throat. The smile technique is related to the 'boy choir' sound in an adult voice; something that should never be taught. It does nothing to enhance the voice and the results can be extremely damaging over time. This smile of the mouth technique raises the larynx, drops the palate, invites the jaw to move forward, the tone to be bright and thin, and usually the singer is flat in pitch. The vocal cords also do not close properly. Absolutely NO body part is in the correct position for healthy singing to occur. The absolute negative result is a closed throat that causes hoarseness after singing. Again this is another technique which is widely excepted as one of vocal health. The truth is that is it extremely dangerous and detrimental to true vocal health and should never be taught. This has been scientifically proven through the use of fiberoptic research.

Although there are some excellent early music singers, this smile technique is quite popular amongst many in that genre of music. Those who use this concept in an attempt for authenticity will and do suffer the consequences. I can name several early music singers who have large scale recording careers, yet they sing constantly flat and out of tune. I have never understood why their recordings sell. Do people not hear that they are singing flat? Over time the voice will deteriorate completely. Again, I am speaking from personal experience. I was taught by a high tenor who had me smile while singing. The result was an extremely high larynx position and constant vocal fatigue. By the time I got to Alan Lindquest in 1979, my voice was stiff, rigid, and had a flat and unpleasant tone. It was impossible for me to go into the upper passaggio and high range because the larynx position was too high. The vocal cords could not pivot properly for the correct register changes. There is not doubt that the smile technique is quite dangerous.

The Pulled Down Facial Posture in Singing
I have witnessed many singers who pull down the cheeks and cover the teeth completely while singing. This simply makes singing very difficult and hooty. Again, the Swedish/Italian School attempts to create a balance between higher and lower overtones. The lift of the cheeks under the eyes brings the soft palate up. Quality of tone is directly effected by one's facial posture because of its effects on the interior posture of the throat. If the facial posture is pulled down, then singer must work twice as hard with breath pressure to blow the soft palate out of the way. The result is usually pushed and unpleasant tone. When the facial posture is lifted, then high overtones come into the singer's production. Without lift, the singer's voice does not carry properly in a concert hall or opera house. The lift brings ring into the voice and therefore carrying power.
It seems that men are often the singers who use this technique the most. I remember hearing a British baritone who was flown over to sing Elijah in a concert in Connecticut. This was a catastrophic performance. The production was hooty and dark and he sounded somewhat like he was imitating a moose call. I actually felt sorry for the singer because of his own obvious discomfort. The audience was shocked and disappointed at the lack of beauty of tone. I believe that people can keep their voice as long as they can keep their health. This is also very related to exercising the voice properly. If a person is physically healthy and exercises his/her voice properly, then vocal longevity is quite easy. This baritone was only about age 55 and should have been at his peak. Sadly the voice was quite stiff and ugly and the high notes were completely flat in intonation. All this was directly related to his confusion regarding correct facial posture. Since I had a mezzo in the performance, then I got more of the inside story. This man was quite arrogant because of his own insecurity. It made him quite a bad colleague. His own unhappiness and insecurity turned him into a difficult and demanding performer. I will be writing an article on facial posture and the acoustical relationship to healthy tone shortly. It will also be a long chapter in my upcoming book.

The Belting of Breath Pressure: Over-Development of the Chest Register
The more of this article I write the more it becomes obvious that every vocal concept is connected to another. If one element is out of alignment, then the result is that other aspects of the voice become unhealthy as well. When I was incorrectly trained as a high larynxed tenor, I had to use a tremendous amount of breath pressure to force the voice upward. This was not a conscious or aware reflex, but there was really no other choice. My tongue not only was flat, but in the upper range it also dipped like a spoon. This tongue problem was a direct result of the breath pressure that I had to use to try and go up into the higher range. I especially wanted to try and go higher because teachers had told me I was a tenor. I was actually a lyric baritone. This tenor training was extremely damaging. This was because it resulted in every body part being in the wrong position for healthy singing. This includes a larynx high, flat and back tongue position, breath high under the chest and little or no lower body support. The result was the support of tone by the tongue, little or no vowel clarity because of the forward jaw and low palate, and tremendous lack of resonance because of a complete lack of acoustical space. It became obvious in later years that I was constantly doing a close dance with vocal damage and no one really offered me any answers until I met Alan Lindquest and the other teachers I mention at the first of the article.

One thing is for sure; hard belting is damaging to the voice. There is absolutely no way to belt with breath pressure and have the vocal cords survive without damage. It is unfortunate that pop and Broadway singers feel the necessity to belt in order to compete. Usually the singer must use a lot of breath pressure or breath compression in order to push the chest register upward further than it is designed to sing. I was fortunate to survive with only one vocal hemorrhage. I have the scar on the right vocal fold to prove my vocal distress. I was intelligent enough in my instincts to seek help and it took years to find a teacher who knew about vocal technique.

Locked Solar Plexus Technique
Tragically, many young singers are taught a technique that tries to get only to the 'big vocal sound'. Some teachers think that a singer must have this in order to compete in the business of classical singing. True that any singer needs a large amount of 'ring' in the voice. But this is not created by pumping a 'big sound' out of the mouth space with lots of breath pressure. Healthy resonance is created with the help of nasal resonance that takes away the pressure at the root of the tongue.

This 'big vocal sound' (which has become popular!) is manufactured by pumping a tremendous amount of breath pressure through the larynx. I call this the over-compression of the breath. Often in such a technique the teacher puts his or her fist in the singer's solar plexus area and then has the singer 'push out' with a great amount of pressure. The result is a loud and pushed sound with little or no healthy nasal resonance. In healthy singing, the solar plexus gradually turns freely as the singer gradually fuels the small stream of breath through the larynx. Remember that Caruso said he needed no more breath to sing than to have a casual conservation with a friend. With this pressurized technique it is quite impossible to achieve vocal freedom. The root of the tongue becomes locked and yet again direct pressure is placed at the vocal cords by the root of the tongue. Usually these singers suffer an overly-chested technique. Again there is no possibility for head voice development. The singer suffers difficulty with high notes and there is a large imbalance of registration present. I once had a French mezzo who had studied a teacher who used the 'fist in the stomach technique'. She was admitted into a very exclusive conservatory and at the end of her study she could no longer sing thanks to this damaging technique. She was not allowed to perform her graduation recital and after a threatened law suit, she was allowed to study with me outside the school for credit. It took one and one half years to rehabilitate her voice. Her teacher used the 'fist in the stomach' technique which creates a gag reflex at the root of the tongue. Once this extreme reflex is taught to the body, it is difficult to correct. After tremendously hard work at recovering from the damage taught her, this singer graduated and is now a successful voice teacher. She was indeed a victim of a damaging technique taught by someone who was ignorant of the resulting damage. She paid a large sum of money to attend a conservatory, which not only did not serve her, but also damaged her voice.

Breathy Technique I first learned of the damage of breathy singing from my friend and colleague Dr. Barbara Mathis. Her research is ground breaking to say the least and she is on of the finest voice scientists and teachers in the United States. She teaches at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.
During her vocal research, she decided to have a 'vocal abuse' session using the fiberoptic camera. The discovery was nothing less than amazing. She told me that after singing with a breathy tone, the vocal cords turned more and more red and the vocal lips swelled almost twice their normal thickness. This was indeed an eye-opening event. I have had the privilege of seeing Dr. Mathis' research. I consider her to be a great vocal technician and she has done amazing work with damaged voices.
My personal experience with breathy tone was revealed when I worked with Alan Lindquest. My vocal cords would not come together properly because of years of using breath pressure and a high larynx. The vocal cords were 'bowed' and would not come together like healthy cords. He offered me exercises that changed my singing life. Suddenly after only about 2 days my tone became healthy again. Lindquest used some of Garcia's 'coup de glotte' exercises that healed a great deal my vocal damage. I had acquired this damage over about 15 years of incorrect instruction. It is scientifically proven that breathy singing is damaging to the voice. It is sad to say that this technique is being taught in an attempt to 'lighten the voice'.
Recently I had the experience of hearing a Cabaret performance in New York City. The singer used a lot of breathy tone for dramatic effect. This was a huge mistake. After only about 3 songs vocal fatigue began to develop and by the end of the performance the singer was trying desperately just to get through the performance. All of this occurred because of the swelling of the vocal cords due to breathy singing.

The Final Analysis: Causes of Vocal Fatigue In closing, I think it is crucial that I list the causes of vocal fatigue. Because singing is such a coordinated function, the list of causes might seem repetitive. However, I feel it is important to review the causes of vocal fatigue. Allow me to say emphatically, a singer should NEVER experience vocal fatigue. If he/she is singing correctly, the voice should not tire. I speak and teach 7 to 8 hours per day 6 days per week and I never experience vocal fatigue in my voice studio. Never should a singer feel fatigue after a lesson. I have heard so many singers tell me that their last teacher told them that the 'muscles had to get used to the new technique'. This is irresponsible for any instructor not to take vocal fatigue as a red light for future vocal damage. Hoarseness should NEVER occur after any voice lesson unless the singer is executing the instruction incorrectly.
(1) Smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages.
(2) Belting: using too much chest voice pushed up to high in the scale.
(3) Using a technique with a tight solar plexus during singing.
(4) Singing with a high larynx.
(5) Singing with a low soft palate.
(6) Singing with a forward jaw position.
(7) Singing with the vocal cords too far apart or too squeezed together.
(8) Pushing too much breath pressure through the larynx.
(9) Incorrect posture; dropped chest or hyper-extended chest.
(10) Singing with the head posture pushed forward from the spine.
(11) Use of mouth vowels instead of pharyngeal vowels.
(12) Unsupported singing; lack of connection to the resistance of breath pressure in the lower back and abdominal muscles.

(c) David L. Jones/2001


By Rosalie Loeding

Gregarious Behavior Can Be Dangerous You must never delude yourself. The cause of nodules, polyps, and chronic laryngitis, hoarseness and other unpleasant vocal disorders is usually overuse and abuse of the voice. . When you talk or sing, the vocal folds vibrate. The only way to heal the folds is to avoid hitting them together temporarily. This article is aimed at YOU.

Be very vigilant! If the voice is already under stress -- hoarse, tired, fatigued, gravelly -- a physical condition such as asthma, sore throat and allergies, may escalate the vocal problems, but it does not cause them. You may unconsciously compensate by replacing correct vocal technique with incorrect technique. For example, nodules do not form if the voice is used sensibly and correctly.

Most vocal technique, speaking or singing, is comprised of learned responses; for better or worse. When vocal technique becomes automatic, one is seldom aware of how the voice is being used. Always be alert to the warning signals that your instrument is not working normally. Don't wait until disaster strikes. Cut back drastically on vocal use the minute you recognize symptoms of vocal fatigue and stress. Social talking should be eliminated until the voice is better. Listed below are some clues to help you recognize problems:

I. Causes and/or exacerbators of vocal problems in singers and professional voice users.
A. Lack of discipline and self-motivation.
B. Lack of self-restraint: Overuse and abuse.
  • Speaking too long, too loud, too low, over too loud noises -- particularly when voice is tired or "ill." Voice rest is not an excuse for not practicing. It is the reason to eliminate or severely restrict social talking.
  • Inability to say "no" socially and professionally when you and your voice are tired, sick, and overworked. C. Incorrect vocal technique. To develop good technique and maintain a healthy voice:
    1. Warm-up the voice every day before speaking and singing.
    2. Practice efficiently and carefully.
    3. Correct technical problems when pointed out and work diligently to correct them as soon as possible.
    4. Correct specific vocal habits that hamper good technique:
  • Mouth/jaw not open enough.
  • Vowels -- example: E too stretched, restricting mouth opening.
  • Tongue retracted, humped etc., causing muscular tension, particularly the jaw.

II. Singer's vocal technique problems that result from vocal dysfunction (laryngitis, hoarseness, nodules, etc.)..

A. Inability to bridge easily between registers.
B. A voice quality that is breathy, hoarse, raspy, and gravelly.
C. The inability to sing loudly and/or softly, particularly in the bridge from middle to low register (a "break").
D. The double whammy: It takes longer to warm up a damaged voice. But, in order to minimize further damage, it is imperative that one thoroughly warms up the voice. This is unfortunate because a "sick" voice tires quickly.

III. Singers and professional voice users with vocal dysfunction may have some of the following problems:

A. Raised shoulders, one shoulder higher than the other.
B. Congenital conditions such as a short leg may result in one shoulder being held higher than the other. The longer leg is habitually in front of the other with the weight on one foot. Do not try to artificially level the shoulders. It will only cause more tension. A lift or small molded appliance in the shoe is needed. This is also one cause or exacerbator of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD).
C. TMJD - mouth/jaw does not open symmetrically.
D. Incorrect head position (ex. chin up).
E. Tension of neck muscles, shoulders, arms, hands.
F. Symptoms that should alert one to the possibility of asthma, bronchitis and allergies:

  1. A feeling of tightness in the chest.
  2. Wheezing and/or shortness of breath.
  3. Problems with breath -- inability to complete a relatively short musical phrase.
  4. Frequent episodes of vocal and physical fatigue. The appearance of stress of being tired without sufficient cause.
  5. A frequent dry or wet cough with the feeling of mucus on the vocal folds.
  6. Excessive tension of the extrinsic neck muscles, jaw, and face.
  7. Persistent throat clearing,
  8. Tickle in the throat.
  9. The appearance of restlessness or nervousness.
  10. A wrinkled forehead.
  11. Loss of voice.

IV. Causes and manifestations of vocal dysfunction in the speaking voice. Incorrect habitual/optimal pitch and glottal initiation of sound. So that you can use this information, let's discuss these two areas.
One of the most damaging vocal behavior I know is speaking at the incorrect optimal pitch, usually too low. (Vocal Fry) More women than men have this problem. A soprano with vocal problems may have a speaking pitch around C or D below middle C! When I vocalize them in this area, they claim it is too low, but that is where they are speaking. This causes register interference (discrepancy) - usually affecting bridging between registers and seriously affecting the ability to sing in the upper voice. There can be little hope of successfully rehabilitating the singing voice until the optimal pitch is raised appropriately.

Learn your correct optimal pitch and use it all the time. If your voice is gravelly and hoarse, it is probably too low. When the optimal pitch is used, the quality of the voice is clear and does not tire as quickly. Not very scientific, but a way to find your approximate optimal pitch is to hum, sliding upward until the voice is clear. This will be close to the optimal pitch.. Become aware of that approximate pitch and continue to speak there, never allowing the voice to gradually "anchor" on the very low, damaging pitches. When speaking, the voice pitch encompasses a range of a fifth or more, but the optimal pitch is the most frequently used pitch. Begin by using mainly head voice for speaking -- it may sound childlike to you. The phrasing must be legato, sustained and well supported, using no excessive force or pressure. Until the voice is healthy, do not use your projected, "performing voice."

Glottal initiation of words and phrases is another surefire way to finish off your voice. It occurs when the delivery is staccato, breaks after almost every word and is disjointed, not legato. The louder the voice, the harder the folds collide; the higher the pitch, the more frequently the folds slam together. In glottal initiation of words or phrases (glottal attack) the glottis closes firmly before breath pressure is applied. To make a sound, the folds must explode open against muscular resistance, causing great muscular tension and vocal fatigue. Glottal Initiation of words or phrases is quite common among speakers whose speaking pitch is too low and those with voice disorders. The damage to the folds causes trauma, irritation and swelling. Hard, fast glottal attacks for 20 minutes may cause hemorrhaging of the vocal folds and even 24 hours of complete voice silence may not repair the damage. Unfortunately, most habitual voice abusers cannot be persuaded to rest the voice until they can hardly croak.

To correct this problem, begin the breath before the initiation of sound. Try saying /singing "hum" as you begin the phrase. Speakers and singers often use glottal initiation in an attempt to speak more distinctly and project the voice. Instead, the disjointed delivery often interferes with the audience's understanding of the thoughts being expressed. Convey the meaning and emotion of a song or speech by placing emphasis only on the important words, not every word; use the appropriate emotion in the voice; appropriate body action; and use variety of vocal pitch.

No matter the physical conditions that cause or exacerbate vocal problems, be it viruses, injuries or chronic conditions, vocal technique must be addressed. I have never worked with a client with vocal problems who had perfect technique.

Gradual retraining is necessary to recover from laryngitis and other voice disorders. The same process can be used with singers after vocal surgery. For best results work under the guidance of a voice teacher or a speech pathologist who understand the singing voice. Here are some suggestions:

1. Do some easy physical warm-ups before vocalizing!!! Begin with five minutes of humming when the doctor says it is OK.
a. Random humming, lips trills and sliding exercises in mid range.
b. Gradually add minutes to each session and more sessions per day.
c. Begin vocalizing only in the middle voice and gradually and cautiously extend the range up and down. Lip trills are excellent.
d. Add other exercises one by one as the voice improves.
3. Always "warm-down" after singing or performing, particularly after strenuous singing. Using easy humming exercises, etc.,
4. Never whisper! The arythenoids are slightly abducted and "toed in" when whispering, resulting in a small triangular chink. When breath is released, turbulence occurs in the chink exacerbating the problem. Use a quiet, well-supported head voice.
During the first week or two after vocal surgery all social talking should be avoided. When the voice is feeling and sounding healthy, gradually begin short social conversations in a quiet room - no long monologues, no tense, emotional exchanges. Tears may help clear the emotional "air," but it wrecks havoc with the voice (results in muscular tension).

Professionally, one must walk a tightrope, making modifications in lifestyle and in professional activities when necessary to save the voice. To summarize:

During the recovery period or when your voice is tired, take advantage of every weekend and holiday to be absolutely quiet. Save your voice for your job. Try to schedule your time so that there will be vocal breaks. If one day or portion of the day requires heavy vocal use, plan vocal breaks that involve moderate, low, or no vocal expenditure. You must consciously plan vocal use, otherwise you will unconsciously use it in the same manner that got you in trouble. You can use your voice less and be more effective. Be creative.

How rapid the voice improves depends on you and on a number of circumstances: 1) The severity of the vocal damage. For example, a fragile, hoarse voice that fatigues quickly; fibrous nodules or contact ulcers will recover more slowly.
2) Vocal regression following a vocal surgery will also take longer. In any case, one should not expect to resume normal vocal activities for approximately six weeks. How rapid the vocal recovery depends on compliance with the recommendations of your otolaryngologist and your vocal rehabilitation specialist and the determination of the singer to accomplish it in the shortest period of time and on how vocally stressful his or her job may be.

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FLV Player is a standalone freeware to play FLV (MPEG-4 encoded video file for Flash) files. With Any FLV Player, you can easily play your FLV videos as it doesn't require the complicated Flash authoring tool and Flash development tools. Compared with other FLV players, this FLV player tool can help you post video files to website or BLOG with clicks. You can use the Publish to Web feature to easily integrate any videos to your website. In addition, the FLV meta information injection feature easily enables you to add the FLV meta data to FLV video files.

Version 1.0.2 improves the SWF video playback object.

Cool Features:
Fully customized play control panel
If you want to play any video clips on your own website or blog, you need a FLV player Flash object, or a SWF FLV player. At the same time, you need the SWF FLV player to match your website color scheme. Any FLV player is so cool because you can adjust the color of each part to match your website. You can select your own color for the control panel, play/pause button, time display, play position slide etc. You can decide to put the control bar on the top or bottom of the video.
Publish your FLV video to website with a few clicks
It requires some coding work while you want to integrate video playback on your website. you need to know some basic knowledge about FLASH or XML etc. However, with Any FLV Player, you can playback video on your website with a few mouse clicks. Don't need any coding skills.

Automatically inject FLV video meta information.
The Macromedia Flash 8 FLV Playback component functions best when your .flv contains valid metadata,however, some FLV encoder doesn't output the metadata. With Any FLV Player, the FLV metadata will be automatically injected to your FLV video file, including playback duration, audio, video information etc. So the visitor of your website will get better playback effect with the metaData injected video file.

Drag and drop to play FLV files. No Flash development environment required.
Any FLV player support simple FLV playback functions, you can double click the software to open FLV files, drag and drop FLV files. If you associate .FLV with Any FLV player, you can open FLV from Windows Explorer more easily than before.
Resizable windows plus zoom 1x, 2x and full screen mode
The fully resizable window let you playback FLV with any size you want. Furthermore, the software also support quick shortcut to zoom 2x or to original video size. It can also support full screen playback.

It's free to enable video playback on your website with Any FLV Player.

How to prepare for a great performance 3

7. Don't Smoke or Do Drugs
Smoking is not only bad in general, it is especially bad for singers. I've never smoked a cigarette and anybody who wants to have a singing career with any longevity should not smoke. Not even one cigarette "every once in awhile." Common sense tells us that smoking is harmful in many ways and has long term effects but for singers, it can greatly damage your voice and your career. I even try to stay away from places where other people are smoking, as second hand smoke is just as bad, if not worse. Many incredible singers have lost their God given talents by smoking cigarettes or using drugs. Rumors have abounded that Whitney Houston, one of the greatest known singers of all time, was into drugs and in recent performances has failed to make an impression with her vocal grandeur. Some legends have even had their addictions lead to their ultimate deaths.

8. Always Wear Earplugs
If you are going to be at a concert where there is going to be loud music, wear earplugs. If you are going to be at a ball game where there will be a lot of shouting and loud noises, wear earplugs. If you are going to be at a dance club where loud music will be playing, wear earplugs. If you go anywhere where there is a chance you'll leave with ringing in your ears, wear earplugs! How does this relate to singing? It relates to singing because if you can't hear yourself, you cannot sing in tune! Keeping your voice and body healthy is important, and so is making sure you don't damage your hearing. There are special, affordable earplugs you can buy that minimize the sounds surrounding you but protect your eardrums at the same time. This way, you'll still be able to hear the music but you won't be walking out with a ringing sound.If you really want to be taken seriously as a singer and want to protect your instrument, follow these steps. Nobody in the entire world has the same beautiful voice as you, so protect it and take care of it! Now go grab a bottle of a water, hit the gym and then take a little nap.


How to prepare for a great performance 2

3. Watch What You Eat
Many vocalists don't think about how what they're eating can affect their singing. I do know which Food items to stay away from. Don't eat dairy, chocolate, pasta or things that will dry your throat out or create mucus. Also stay away from citrus, as it can do damage to your chords too. I tend to think that apples are good, as they provide nourishment and in addition are juicy, which creates wetness, which is good for the voice. Also, oily things that allow for the vocal chords to easily "slide," though I think the best bet is soup. Soup is good because it is known to help when people are sick, which means it has the power to heal. It also doesn't create a "residue" that will dry out your throat. In combination with a healing tea, soup is probably the best thing to eat before you perform. Make sure you eat before you warm up, giving your food time to settle in your stomach. You don't ever want to sing on a full stomach (or an empty one), as that can alter your ability to sing and breathe effectively.

4. Drink Plenty of Water
I can't stress enough how important it is to be hydrated. We're supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day, whether we're vocalists or not. A voice teacher once said that as a vocalist, you should drink so much water that you need to use the restroom every fifteen minutes! I think that is a bit far fetched but making sure you drink a lot of water is not. It's especially important to fill up the days prior to performing because like most things, our bodies need time to adjust and prepare. And while most people (myself included) carry around a bottle of water to keep on hand the day they perform, it's actually not the best choice during a performance. For some reason, water has a tendency to dry people out when they drink it during a set. I have not yet figured out a better alternative, though I am thinking that tea of some sort is probably the answer. The important thing is to hydrate yourself with H2O in the days leading up to the show and even the day of, just not while you are performing. I drink two to three bottles of water daily, even if I won't be performing.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep
I don't know how the major league performers do it. Sleeping on a tour bus is hardly good for your body, mentality or your voice. For those who have the ability to sleep a full eight hours in the comfort of your own bed, take advantage! When you are tired, your voice is tired and when your voice is tired, you cannot perform your best. Also, singing when your voice is not rested can harm your vocal chords and sometimes creates vocal nodes. Sleep and water are probably the top two most important ways to keep your voice and yourself healthy. 6. Stay in ShapeThis is particularly important for singers who also dance while on stage. It's hard enough to breath properly and keep your voice under control while sitting still but when you're up on stage moving around, you can easily lose your breath. This is perhaps why many major artists have personal trainers. Staying in shape keeps you fit physically, mentally and emotionally and helps you learn to control your breath while you're moving. This is why I sing in my car or even sometimes when I am on the treadmill. It helps you gain control of your body and your voice, the two of which must work together. Not to mention, your voice isn't the only thing you use when you sing. If you play an instrument, your hands, fingers and arms need to be in shape. If you stand when you sing, you need to be in shape so you don't feel the need to sit down. Everything on our bodies works together when we perform, so it is important to keep our whole body healthy, not just our voice.


How to prepare for a great performance 1

Singing is not just about sounding good but about protecting your precious instrument - your voice! Here are some easy to follow steps to see that as a singer, you can protect yourself from nodes and make every performance a masterpiece.

1. Don't Talk The Day of a Performance
An old voice teacher Once Told that Celine Dion is so protective of her voice that she doesn't talk or answer the phone when she has a performance. It's quite obvious that Celine has some great pipes so I would say this piece of advice is a good one! That voice teacher also told that she doesn't talk for the first two hours after she wakes up. Not talking most of the day is good but at some point, you are going to need to talk in order to warm up your voice before the show. If you need to communicate, there is text messaging, email and good old pens and paper. Talking can actually do more damage to your vocal chords than singing can, so not talking for most of the day is a really great way to keep your voice intact.

2. Warm Up Before You Hit the Stage
After following rule number one, it is important to warm up your voice. I would say that it's okay to begin talking (lightly - but not whispering, which is even worse!) about three hours prior to showtime. Since your voice has been resting all day, it's had time to "wake up" and now just needs to "warm up." Warming up is crucial. Just like any other muscle in your body, your vocal chords needs to be stretched out and built up before they go full force on stage. That voice teacher had another great idea, which is to use a steamer to moisturize your voice. You can take a hot shower to steam up, heat up a pot of boiling water and inhale the vapors, or buy an actual voice steamer. This should be done prior to vocalizing, about two hours before the show. When warming up, make sure you don't overdo it. Don't sing higher than you need to or lower than you need to. Do some simple up and down scales and something to get your voice energized, but don't go longer than about fifteen minutes.



Version : 1.1.4

Size : 7.22 MB
Rating : ****
OS : Windows XP

Directly From MXPLAY

"MXPLAY was founded with an ambitious mission to develop a unique music player - a player focused on providing amazing quality, something that is surprisingly lacking in digital music. However, since music is all about personal taste and expression, it also had to be an "open" player, empowering music fans to explore and experience content from anywhere they choose.
So what is MXPLAY? Quite simply, the best experience seamlessly paired with the best content the web has to offer. MXPLAY offers music fans an unprecedented way to discover, sample, purchase and share music, without compromising the experience. Once you’ve experienced MXPLAY, digital music will never sound the same."

MXPLAY is the only player that renders your music library in a 3D audiospace, providing a rich, immersive "live" audio experience (especially with headphones). It supports all the popular file types (MP3, AAC, OGG, WMA, FLAC, ALAC) and also allows you to mashup your music with videos from the web. It has a growing library of plug-in extensions including: Last.fm, MP3tunes and Nintendo WiiMote. Features: * Take control of your music with the 3D AudioSpace * Organize and import your music from anywhere * Browse the web in MXPLAY and discover new music * Share what you discover with friends

If you are a new user, here are a few features of MXPLAY:

  • Full digital music player, with an integrated web browser for finding new music all over the web
  • A new way to experience music - the AudioSpace - combine videos or photos with your music and change the way the music sounds
  • Social integration so you can share your playlists, AudioSpaces, and the links you find on the web.

MediaCoder - An Audio/Video Transcoder

Size : 17.58 MB
Operating System : Windows (All)
Version :

MediaCoder is a free audio/video batch transcoder, putting together several excellent audio/video software from the open source community into one friendly GUI.

For video, MEncoder is used as back-end, which provides support for nearly all known video compression and container formats as well as rich and useful video filtering features (e.g. post-processing, 3D de-noise). For audio, MPlayer and Winamp input plug-ins are used as decoders; various encoders integrated, MediaCoder can simply batch transcode among any known audio formats, with tags transferred, file names generated and even performing audio filtering (e.g. resample, normalize) on the fly.

Features In Brief

  • Convert to and from many audio and video compression formats and re-multiplex into various container formats, on the fly, in batch.
  • Give you the control over the transcoding process and all the parameters of the transcoded files, so you can learn about, compare among and play with various codecs.
  • Specific user interfaces for specific devices with device plug-ins and extensions.
  • Fully standalone, no dependent on any media player, filter or codec, no registration of any components into system.
  • Extensions to expand custom features and user interfaces.
Typical Applications
  • Improving compression / reducing file size
  • Converting for audio/video portable devices (digital audio player, MP4 player, mobile phone, PDA, PSP, VCD/DVD player etc.)
  • Extracting audio tracks from video files
  • Ripping audio/video discs

Supported Fomats

  • MP3, Vorbis, AAC, AAC+, AAC+v2, MusePack, Speex, AMR, WMA, RealAudio, mp3PRO*
  • FLAC, WavPack, Monkey's Audio, OptimFrog, AAC Lossless, WMA Lossless*, WAV/PCM
  • H.264, Xvid, MPEG 1/2/4, Theora, Flash Video, Dirac, 3ivx*, RealVideo*, Windows Media Video
  • AVI, MPEG/VOB, Matroska, MP4, RealMedia*, ASF, Quicktime*, OGM*
  • CD, VCD, DVD, CUE Sheet*

* supported as input only, not all combinations supported


MediaCoder Full Pack

MediaCoder Update

Additional Downloads

Kindly Do Visit The Homepage For More Features