Page: 1

question about vocal tension

notsovirginmary Profile Photonotsovirginmary Profile Photo
notsovirginmary
Stand-by
joined:6/12/04
Stand-by
joined:
6/12/04
question about vocal tension#0
Posted: 11/8/05 at 9:10pm
Okay, so first of all.. I have always had a low and slightly raspy speaking voice. My voice teacher has often commented on my odd placement of it, saying that it sounded as if I were "gripping" my vocal chords a bit too much. He has encouraged me to speak higher and lighter, but it's very hard to remember to do that, as I have been speaking this way my whole life. Not to mention that directors have praised my voice, because it is unique. But despite the raspy sound, it has never felt raspy in my throat, and Iíve never had any difficulty speaking.

Until about five days ago. Presently I have tons of tension in my throat, it feels extremely tight and I have to push to get the sound out. Iím not sick, I havenít made any lifestyle changes, and Iím not even doing a show where I get a vocal work out. I canít figure out what is going on.

Iím worried that what ever I am doing wrong is going to screw up my singing voice. I called my voice teacher, who is out of town for three weeks, and he told me to go on a vocal rest. I canít do that completely because I am in a production of A Christmas Carol, and I have some dialogue in it.

I know that you canít diagnose a vocal problem over the internet, so my question is: how long should I wait before I see a throat doctor?

I could wait out the three weeks and have my voice teacher make that choice, but if something is seriously wrong, couldnít mess things up pretty badly?

Any advice you have would be much appreciated.
"A wonky eye, you've got my friend."
DamnYankees101
Stand-by
joined:11/7/05
Stand-by
joined:
11/7/05
re: question about vocal tension#1
Posted: 11/8/05 at 9:13pm
Hmm..it sounds interestingly odd to me...so your voice is naturally of a raspy tone...and it's only bothering you lately..are you sure you're not sick? No bad tea or anything like that? If it continues I would suggest seeing a throat doctor. My friend a couple of years ago had the same problem when we were rehearsing Little Shop of Horrors but that was probably because of all the vocal stress performance-wise she was under...
Rathnait62 Profile PhotoRathnait62 Profile Photo
Rathnait62
Broadway Legend
joined:6/3/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/3/04
re: question about vocal tension#2
Posted: 11/8/05 at 9:13pm
I wouldn't wait. See a doc right away.
Have I ever shown you my Shattered Dreams box? It's in my Disappointment Closet. - Marge Simpson
Ebonic_Singer Profile PhotoEbonic_Singer Profile Photo
Ebonic_Singer
Broadway Legend
joined:8/18/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/18/04
re: question about vocal tension#3
Posted: 11/8/05 at 9:14pm
Make an appointment as soon as you can. Better safe than sorry. I was wondering about my voice and made an appointment--turns out I had acid reflux which was burning my vocal chords. I used to wake up not being able to speak for a few hours, but that has since cleared up (knock on wood).
DamnYankees101
Stand-by
joined:11/7/05
Stand-by
joined:
11/7/05
re: question about vocal tension#4
Posted: 11/8/05 at 9:14pm
Ouch Ebonic...how do these things start up? Too much singing or just because?
Jazzysuite82
Broadway Legend
joined:2/6/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/6/05
re: question about vocal tension#5
Posted: 11/8/05 at 9:22pm
I too have acid reflux. It's common in singers because of the constant pushing the Diaphram does on your stomach. What I understand it to be is a weakening of the sphincter that closes off the asaphogus from teh stomach. With the sphincter weakened, it allows all the stomach acid that's usually kept in up the asaphogus. That's how it gets to the vocal folds and burns them. There are varying effects. I had significant loss of vocal range till I got it fixed. If you have been diagnosed with acid reflux, a word of advice: STAY AWAY FROM NEXIUM THE PURPLE PILL. That drug has a rebound effect like no other. I stopped taking it and the reflux came back far worse than I EVER had it. The doctor then informs me that this is indeed what the drug does. Try something else.

At any rate no matter what you have, get to a doctor now. Even if there's nothin physically ailing you, you could get into some speech therapy that will teach you how to use your speaking voice more effectively.
BWLVER34 Profile PhotoBWLVER34 Profile Photo
BWLVER34
Chorus Member
joined:10/29/05
Chorus Member
joined:
10/29/05
re: question about vocal tension#6
Posted: 11/8/05 at 10:38pm
My voice teacher had the same problem recently. She went to see a specialist and he gave her thses things to try which she passed on for me... apparently they are good even if you are not in vocal distress...

Brew:
24-32 oz of hot water
1/3 cup of Honey
1tbl. liquid vegetable glycerine (coemetic use mainly found at heatlth food stores)
^sip thoughout the day

Aqua Drops (looove them, they hydrate your throat unlike cough drops which remove phlegm that actually helps your chords, you can get them at CVS or K-Mart and most other drug stores)

Slippery Elm Throat Losenges (taste awful but work, health food stores)

also try

www.entertainers-secret.com

hope that helps

notsovirginmary Profile Photonotsovirginmary Profile Photo
notsovirginmary
Stand-by
joined:6/12/04
Stand-by
joined:
6/12/04
re: question about vocal tension#7
Posted: 11/8/05 at 11:05pm
Thanks everyone.

Going to a doctor right a way was my gut instinct, but sometimes you've gotta hear that stuff from someone else.

BWLVER- Thanks for all of the tips. I have the Slippery Elms- they do taste awful! re: question about vocal tension

"A wonky eye, you've got my friend."
Ebonic_Singer Profile PhotoEbonic_Singer Profile Photo
Ebonic_Singer
Broadway Legend
joined:8/18/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/18/04
re: question about vocal tension#8
Posted: 11/8/05 at 11:05pm
DamnYankees--it's genetic I think. My mother has it and takes medication. It really helps to go to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor!
Jazzysuite82
Broadway Legend
joined:2/6/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/6/05
re: question about vocal tension#9
Posted: 11/9/05 at 1:28am
Ebonic I don't think it's genetic, but it is very common.
The Distinctive Baritone Profile PhotoThe Distinctive Baritone Profile Photo
The Distinctive Baritone
Broadway Legend
joined:8/28/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
8/28/04
re: question about vocal tension#10
Posted: 11/9/05 at 1:56am
It could be tonsilitis, it could be a nodule, it could be nothing. But go see an ENT doctor, and get some rest!
jimmirae Profile Photojimmirae Profile Photo
jimmirae
Broadway Legend
joined:11/25/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
11/25/03
re: question about vocal tension#11
Posted: 11/9/05 at 2:58am
I've had a lot of throat problems and I know they would go away if I had my tonsils removed but in an adult the operation sounds hideous and then, there is no promise of a voice the same after either.
"It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance." - Elizabeth Taylor
Broadway Legend
joined:12/31/69
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/31/69
re: question about vocal tension#12
Posted: 11/10/05 at 12:39pm
Check your personal messages.
TinyDancer Profile PhotoTinyDancer Profile Photo
TinyDancer
Understudy
joined:10/27/05
Understudy
joined:
10/27/05
re: question about vocal tension#13
Posted: 11/11/05 at 1:10am
notsovirginmary-

Many people have given you very good advice about how to take care of yourself and your voice (which i second). As far as vocal tension goes, I would suggest an exercise that has proven very beneficial for me. Simply lie down on the floor and sing. It is a marvelous test to identify places in your body where you grip and hold tension and you'll find that is most difficult to sing (with tension) in this position. Much luck in your vocal education and good for you for asking for help when you need it.

Tinydancer
AndiV Profile PhotoAndiV Profile Photo
AndiV
Stand-by
joined:2/8/05
Stand-by
joined:
2/8/05
re: question about vocal tension#14
Posted: 11/11/05 at 10:15am
my reflux is genetic...my dad has it, my sister has it and my grandfather had it...though he never took medicine for it. none of them are singers. i don't think it has to be genetic, but i think it can be.

i never took Nexium, but had taken Protonix for a while--loved it...but is is UBER expensive... so a friend recommended trying Prilosec OTC, and taking it in the same way i did the Protonix. it has worked beautifully.

my problem is i don't like avoiding the foods that i should avoid... re: question about vocal tension
So long status quo/ I think I just let go/ You make me want to be/ BRAVE
best12bars Profile Photobest12bars Profile Photo
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/29/05
re: question about vocal tension#15
Posted: 11/11/05 at 10:30am
It also could be allergies. It's still very much the season for it.

Vocal chords can swell, and then your throat muscles try to compensate here and there to adjust to it, and you end up with a chain reaction mess and "vocal tension."

Yes, see a doctor, as others have said.

Also on a side note: Celebrate the unique qualities in your voice! Work with a vocal coach who understands this and helps you use your OWN instrument successfully, rather than trying to make you sound like everybody else (or his/her interpretation of a "perfect vocal" sound). Sometimes I get angry when I see or read what "teachers" are trying to do out there.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3, Hamilton22
Grommetik Profile PhotoGrommetik Profile Photo
Grommetik
Understudy
joined:8/3/05
Understudy
joined:
8/3/05
re: question about vocal tension#16
Posted: 11/11/05 at 10:47am
Thanks for this thread, everyone. I suffer from vocal tension as well, and while the ENT doctor diagnosed me as nodule free, I had to undergo speech therapy as well, the effects of which are currently waning due to my current state (three auditions coming up for arts colleges, two exams, etc) The regular GP could only disgnose me as having acute anxiety and prescribed me some muscle relaxants, which I am yet to take. Does ayone think this is a good idea?
best12bars Profile Photobest12bars Profile Photo
best12bars
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/29/05
re: question about vocal tension#17
Posted: 11/11/05 at 11:12am
Grommetik---I'm not a doctor (and I don't "play one on TV" either)...

But here are a couple of my basic philosophical opinions on the subject. Muscle relaxants seem like a semi-radical approach to fixing the problem. It goes beyond the "don't operate any heavy machinery" thing. They alter your motor skills and abilities to various degrees, and I would carefully read the label first. If you going on stage after taking them, your body could betray you during a performance. You might fall or misjudge something. Not only will you be fighting your natural nerves of being in front of an audience, but also the affects of your medicine. My personal opinion (and I'm no expert) is take medication as a last resort, and fully understand its potential consequences first.

I would suggest instead that you try a few general relaxation exercises (not necessarily for the voice), as well as some stress reducing exercises. Speech therapy would only help the symptoms but perhaps not the actual cause, if its psychological stress. Hopefully you're working on your basic breathing technique. Taking in air, and using it for support of your (unique) voice is critical, and if done incorrectly can cause many vocal problems.

But taking a "doll" to fix your problem should be a final resort, not a first one.

Just as Neely O'Hara. (joke)

"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3, Hamilton22
Grommetik Profile PhotoGrommetik Profile Photo
Grommetik
Understudy
joined:8/3/05
Understudy
joined:
8/3/05
re: question about vocal tension#18
Posted: 11/11/05 at 11:27am
Hahaha. My thoughts exactly. I think what I'm actually lacking is GOOD, solid tech training. I find it kind of creepy ingesting something that alters my motor skills.
This is why I hate doctors. Except the fake ones on Scrubs. And House.
pndmnd
Broadway Star
joined:4/3/04
Broadway Star
joined:
4/3/04
re: question about vocal tension#19
Posted: 11/11/05 at 11:41am
Go to the doctor. Even if your voice teacher was around, he/she is not a doctor and can't properly diagnose what's going on with you.

Reflux can be genetic-related, but singers are definitely more prone to it (whether they have a pre-disposition to it or not). And, jazzysuite, my doctor said the same thing about it being related to the extra use of the diaphragm.

On the muscle relaxer topic--I have taken them, but that was do to back spasms that I was having. I only took them at night when I was going to bed anyway. Medications are going to affect different people in different ways, but they definitely made me feel loopy and disconnected. I also think that muscle relaxers are a very extreme treatment for vocal tension or anxiety. There are other things designed for anxiety.

My understanding of vocal tension is that it can be something to do with placement (which you may not even be aware of a change in--like if you're suddenly holding your shoulders up high from stress, or you're leaning forward with your head). If it's from allergies, illness, something you drank, etc., then I see that more as being vocal irritation than tension. But that's just my definitions.