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Sing With Power - Vocal Disorders


Eric specializes in working with singers with vocal disorders. He works in conjunction with ENT’s, Vocal Pathologists and Speech Therapists, to help singers with vocal disorders regain their vocal range, strength and control.

Unfortunately, most singers to a certain extent have an imbalance between the airflow and the use of the “right” singing muscles in the larynx. The result of this imbalance is tension, strain, vocal “breaks”, sudden register shifts, pitch problems, weak tones, breathiness, hoarseness, or strident, pushed, harsh tones, and all to often, vocal disorders

Many vocal disorders stem from the use of poor speaking and/or singing technique. A few common vocal disorders caused or agitated by improper singing technique are:

VOCAL PRE-NODULES
A vocal cord pre-nodule is an inflammatory area that develops on the vocal cords of people who constantly strain their voices. Pre-nodules have not yet progressed to the true vocal nodule. Pre-nodules respond well to good singing technique, general vocal health care, and conservation of the voice (no straining, overuse or talking/singing to loudly). For singers, treatment requires modification of voice habits, and referral to a knowledgable vocal technique teacher. Resting the vocal cords a bit by allowing little speaking/singing for several weeks may permit the pre-nodules to shrink.

VOCAL NODULES
A vocal cord nodule is a small, inflammatory or fibrous growth that develops on the vocal cords of people who constantly strain their voices. These are also called screamer's nodule, singer's nodule and teacher's nodule. For singers, treatment requires modification of voice habits, and referral to a knowledgable vocal technique teacher, and in more advanced cases, surgery may be required to remove the growth area. Resting the vocal cords by allowing little speaking/singing for several weeks may permit the nodules to shrink.

VOCAL POLYPS
A vocal cord polyp is a small swelling in the mucous membranes covering the vocal cords. As they grow, they take on a rounded shape. They may run the whole length of the vocal cords or be localized. Polyps are lesions that develop from voice abuse, chronic laryngeal allergic reactions and chronic inhalation of irritants, such as industrial fumes and cigarette smoke. It may also be seen in hypothyroidism. Polyps can make the voice become breathy-sounding and harsh. The person may complain of hoarseness. Sometimes biopsy and surgical removal are necessary. They can be removed during the course of a special examination (a laryngoscopy) in which a metal tube with a light on the end is passed through the mouth and into the throat. A small, sharp, cup-shaped punch is threaded through the tube and used to clip off the polyps. Biopsy of the polyp may be performed in order to be certain that there is no cancer. Removal of a polyp should be followed by voice therapy to correct the underlying cause.

VOCAL FOLD HEMORRHAGES
Vocal fold hemorrhage is a fairly rare occurrence that usually is caused by aggressive or improper use of vocal folds (e.g. cheerleading). It is a result of rupture of a blood vessel on the true vocal fold, with bleeding into the tissues of the fold. Weakness of tone, incomplete range and hoarseness are common complaints. Total and complete vocal rest recommended.

VOCAL FOLD BOWING
Vocal fold bowing, can result from neural, muscular, traumatic, congenital, or functional causes, with or without vocal fold atrophy, and can result in vocal weakness. Singers will need to first work with an ENT familiar with the special needs of the professional voice.

MUSCLE TENSION DICORDER
Excessive laryngeal muscle tension squeezes the vocal folds and surrounding muscles, preventing air from moving through the vocal folds. The voice is often reduced to a “squeak”. Singers will need to work with a knowledgeable vocal technique teacher, and quite possibly a Vocal therapist.

SWP Vocal Health site links:
SWP Vocal Health Home
Vocal Disorders
Other Vocal Health links

SWP Featured Vocal Health Articles:
Vocal Health Article #1
Vocal Health Article #2
Vocal Health Article #3