Vocal health and removal of ‘hoarse-ness’ (Singing Teachers)Posted by Unknown Member on September 1, 2016 at 2:25 pm
Hey all 🙂
I wanted to start a feed discussing vocal health and how to fix certain sounds that seemingly sound unhealthy in the singing voice.
A student of mine has developed a hoarseness over the last 2 months and I’m at a bit of a loose end in terms of what else I can recommend for her. I have suggested the straw technique to encourage vocal fold closure as I thought it may have been lazy vocal folds that were allowing air to seep through whilst she was singing creating a little hiss. I have also suggested vocal fry but she’s still creating a hissy/raspy sort of sound whilst singing. She has a very clear tone naturally and comes from a classical background and we’re both really baffled by this.
TIPS TIPS TIPS NEEDED!!
All the best xxxx
Hey Lily, would love to hear a recording of this so I can get a feel for what’s going on.
Is it happening across the entirety of her range or is it worse on some specific notes?
PS. Is there any glugginess as well? Does she often clear her throat or feel the need to?
MemberSeptember 1, 2016 at 2:30 pm
She never feels the need to clear her throat – it’s more like air bleed sound. I’ve tried getting her to engage the vocal folds a little more using full vocal fold closure exercises (ZZ/JJ/VV sirens etc). It tends to be more problematic in the upper registers of her voice.
Any exercises you’d recommend? I have a lesson with her next week – so I’ll ask her if she minds me recording her voice. I’m just worried I may be focusing on the wrong areas and missing something vital.
MemberSeptember 1, 2016 at 2:30 pm
Hmm it’s hard to recommend exercises without hearing it. Definitely try getting a recording :).
It’s not unusual for high notes to be breathy, but hissy/raspy sounds like something different all together. I’m not sure what though without hearing!
Lack of fold closure will cause breathiness in the tone, but not any kind of abrasiveness – that’s something else.
Although at the end of the day, fold closure is not reaaally helped that much with the straw exercise or with VVVs etc. As these are semi-occluded sounds they’re more rehabilitative rather than strengthening. If you want to strengthen and thin the folds out, the best way is probably using a bratty/witchy sound.
Just make sure there’s no uncomfortability/pain going on with her voice – you wouldn’t want it to be an injury. And at the end of the day, if you’re not sure, or there’s any doubt, don’t hesitate to send her off to an ENT, just so both of you can have peace of mind.
MemberSeptember 1, 2016 at 2:35 pm
Just had another lesson with my crackly student – I did some recordings of her voice through out the lesson. I also reestablished diaphragmatic breathing and core control and weirdly enough, it seemed to relieve a LOT of the ‘white noise’ that she was displaying. However, there was still evidence of the hoarseness at times.
It’s so odd because she has been classically trained in the past so I’m second guessing my training and the way that I am teaching her.
I’ll forward on the recordings via FB
Hey Lily, just listened to the recordings!
On a side note, I ended up taking on my own hoarse/scratchy voiced student. She said she had bad acid reflux, which was probably the cause, but it was causing her enough problems that I decided to send her to an ENT before seeing her again. It might be nothing, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry with this kind of stuff.
But anyway, on to your student, it doesn’t sound like there are any serious problems to me. The scratchiness is only light, and could just be allergies or a minor irritation. But the air-escapage, that’s something different. And that’s definitely the thing you want to address.
So basically, the gist of it is that she is not connecting to her chest voice or “modal voice”. You can hear this from the breathy “heady” sound of her voice throughout the range, and also in her tendency to be slightly sharp (it sounds like she’s hovering down to the note from above at times). This is unsurprising for an operatically trained singer. In opera, female sopranos are often not taught about chest voice at all and are not even asked to sing below C4, which becomes functionally problematic in the long term (especially if they want to sing contemporary music, which is much more chest dominant).
If you’re wondering how to correct this, you could start with speaky sounds or twangy sounds from the bottom, on a /nae/ sound, for example. I remember Matt Pocock posted a blog about this some time ago, but really, register habilitation and balancing is the work of Bel Canto (IVA, SLS, etc.). If you’d ever like a quick lesson with me to talk about chest voice/head voice balancing, let me know :). If you’d like some reading material, one of my favourite pedagogues in this area is Cornelius Reid, and you’ll find some free articles on his website- http://www.corneliuslreid.com/ . I also LOVE a book called The Naked Voice by Stephen Smith, which features a beautiful way to introduce the registers using natural speaking sounds, and includes a cd for exercise examples, which is very helpful.
Hope that sets you on the right track!🙂
MemberSeptember 1, 2016 at 2:36 pm
You star!!! Thank you so so much. This really makes sense. I’ll send her over some warm-ups and exercises now. I agree about the classical training might be detrimental to her new contemporary way of singing I was just unsure on whether I was sending her in the wrong direction.
Brilliant! thanks again Kat. All the best xxxxx
All good, Lily, glad to be of help!🙂 xx
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