Child in Wonderment!
My latest Voicegram talks about getting back that childlike sense of wonderment. Read it here, and join my Voicegram monthly newsletter!
I've recently been asked about the effects of aging on the voice. As the population of Baby Boomers increases, there's more concern about changes that occur with the voice as we age.
The voice tells a lot about a person - state of health, state of mind, and relative age. The aging voice is sometimes breathy, scratchy, weak, trembling or rough. As you read the article by Sue Ellen Linville, you'll notice that there's a lot of medical and anatomical jargon that may get a bit deep for you. In a nutshell, just know that as we age, our parts wear out!! And when the parts wear out, vocal challenges may set it. Ain't aging grand???
There are certain elements of our respiratory system as well as elements of the vocal mechanism that begin to show the wear and tear of age, and you can hear it in the voice.
BUT HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS! Overall good health, a nutritious diet, low levels of stress, exercise, and a good mental attitude will help you keep your voice in youthful, top-shape long into your senior years!
This is why exercising your voice is extremely important! In order to keep all the parts of your vocal mechanism working well, you've got to use them correctly and often. My uncle, Dick Palmer, is over 80 years old, and just began singing when he was 80. He loves it and it proves that a voice doesn't have to disintegrate with age. Yes, there may be some changes in the voice, but with good vocal health habits, you can maintain that voice into old age.
If you want to keep your voice healthy and youthful, I suggest that you begin doing daily vocal and breathing exercises. This will help TREMENDOUSLY and you'll see a big difference in the tone, clarity, and power of your voice.
If you have a question, or want to learn more about how to maintain your voice, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will personally answer any question you may have.
Also, try my Viva La Voice Tonic Recipe for a healthy way to maintain your physical and vocal health! All natural and good for you!
Here are some exerpts from an article in the American Speech-Language Hearing Association Journal.
The Aging Voice by Sue Ellen Linville
Linville, S. E. (2004, Oct. 19). The Aging Voice. The ASHA Leader, pp. 12, 21
As the 21st century advances, senior citizens will make up an increasingly large segment of the population. In recognition of that demographic shift, researchers are developing a database of voice features that are characteristic of normal speakers from young adulthood through old age. Such a database would be invaluable to clinicians struggling to differentiate normal vocal changes with aging from pathologic vocal conditions affecting elderly patients.
Changes in Speech Production Mechanism
The respiratory system changes from young adulthood to old age. In lung tissue, loss of elasticity is considered the most significant change. Other respiratory system changes include stiffening of the thorax and weakening of respiratory muscles. These changes alter lung volumes and respira-tory mechanics. While total lung volume remains unchanged in the elderly, vital capacity decreases and residual volume increases. Maximum expiratory flow rate is decreased and lung pressure is decreased. Thus, elderly speakers experience a decline in the amount of air they can move in and out of the lungs and in the efficiency with which they move air.
The larynx also undergoes age-related anatomic changes during adulthood. Glandular changes may cause drying of epithelium, which may increase stiffness of VC cover. Increased cover stiffness could increase instability of vocal fold vibration and raise fundamental frequency (F0) in elderly men.
Some investigators report progressive thickening of the epithelium with aging in both sexes. In males, thickening reportedly is progressive up to age 70, with declines thereafter. In females, thickening is described as progressive, particu-larly after age 70. Thickening of the laryngeal epithelium may contribute to lowering of fundamental frequency or to increased harshness of voice.
Degenerative changes in the temporomandibular joint are described, along with thinning/loss of elasticity of oral mucosa, declining salivary function, loss of tongue strength, and tooth loss.
Age-Related Voice Changes
Perhaps the voice change that has been investigated most is pitch level. Speaking changes from young adulthood to old age, but the pattern differs according to gender. In women, F0 remains fairly constant until menopause, when a drop occurs (approximately 10 Hz -15 Hz). This drop presumably results from hormonal changes that cause thickening and edema of the laryngeal mucosa. In men, F0 lowers approximately 10 Hz from young adulthood to middle age. The reason for this drop is unclear. After middle age, F0 in men rises substantially (approximately 35 Hz) into advanced old age, reaching the highest level of adulthood.
Tremor and increased hoarseness have been associated with the aged voice. Stability of F0 reportedly declines from young adulthood to old age in both men and women. In men, levels of fundamental frequency standard deviation (F0 SD) more than double between young adulthood and old age. In women, levels jump 71% over a similar period. F0 SD ranges for young and elderly speakers demonstrate little overlap, regardless of gender. In contrast, measures of jitter-the cycle-to-cycle fluctuations in the fundamental period of vocal fold vibration-overlap extensively in young and elderly speakers, especially women.
Amplitude stability also declines with aging, at least in men. Indeed, shimmer, which reflects cycle-to-cycle variation in waveform amplitude, may be a better measure than jitter of chronological aging in men's voices because shimmer levels increase independently of health and fitness variables. Age-related jitter differences disappear if health and fitness are considered.
Another voice quality linked with the aged voice is increased breathiness. While elderly men demonstrate a higher incidence of glottal gap than young men, spectral noise levels do not differ in the two groups. However, spectral noise levels increase in men in poor physiological condition, regardless of age. In contrast to men, both young and elderly women demonstrate a high incidence of glottal gap. However, young women tend to demonstrate posterior chink, while elderly women demonstrate gaps anteriorly in the glottis.
There is acoustic evidence of age-related changes in vocal resonance patterns in both men and women. Lowering of formant frequencies (more pronounced in women) suggests lengthening of the vocal tract. Altered vowel formant fre-quency patterns (more pronounced in men) suggests centralization of tongue position during vowel production. Altered resonance patterns in elderly speakers may result from growth of the craniofacial skeleton, lowering of the larynx in the neck and/or degenerative changes in oral structures that reduce articulatory precision.
In summary, structural and functional changes occur in the respiratory, phonatory, and supralaryngeal systems with aging. Those changes alter the voice produced by the aged mechanism. Gender differences exist both in the nature and extent of age-related changes.
Sue Ellen Linville is associate professor of speech pathology at
Marquette University and the author of Vocal Aging (San Diego: Singular
Publishing, 2001). She is an affiliate of Special Interest Division 3, Voice and
Voice Disorders. She can be reached at email@example.com.
When you're physically tired, your voice may feel tired too. All of our physical systems are interrelated, so it makes sense that low energy will produce a low energy voice.
If you use your voice for your profession; i.e. you're a teacher, salesperson, work on the phone etc., pay particular attention to how you feel physically.
When you're fatigued, make sure that you are breathing consciously and filling up with enough air to support your voice.
You'll also find that attention to your breath, and using low, slow and full breaths
will not only powerfully support your voice, but will energize you in the process!
I have been teaching students to open and release their voices for over two decades. Deep emotional levels have a direct correlation with how we produce our voices and maintain their health. If you are getting no results from traditional Western medicine with your thyroid problem, maybe it's time to consider some more holistic modalities.
If you are having thyroid issues, you might try working on an ENERGETIC level to balance that gland. I have learned through the years, that when the 5th Chakra is blocked, thyroid and throat problems result. We are totally connected to our mind, body, spirit and energy field - we are a WHOLE organism and must look at all aspects of the individual when attempting to bring health issues into balance.
The throat, or 5th Chakra, can become chronically blocked if one has had trauma early in life; is unable, or unwilling to 'say' what has to be said; or is fearful of reprisal when 'speaking our truth.'
Just a suggestion: You might want to look beyond the physical, and go deeper into the emotional causes that may be contributing to your thyroid issues. When I have a client who is particularly constricted or unable to release the voice, I use techniques that aid in opening the throat chakra and releasing the blocked energy that is stuck there.
If you need any more info on this, please feel free to contact me directly through http://www.vivalavoice.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have learned that each individual carries a lot of 'stuff' into adulthood, and that in working with voice, all aspects of the individual must be examined and considered.
Music and singing have so many intrinsic benefits! In my article "10 Ways Singing Can Change Your Life", I talk about how singing promotes deep breathing; oxygenates the blood; stimulates brain activity, and boosts a sense of well-being, among other incredible benefits. The article below by Dr. Jay Adlersberg is so exciting because it talks about helping young asthma sufferers with music therapy!
I've been working with clients with asthma for some time and because singing therapy involves re-training the breathing mechanism, while also becoming conscious of how one is breathing, the effect is dramatic!
Here's the article:
Music therapy for young asthma sufferers
WABC By Dr. Jay Adlersberg
(New York-WABC, February 8, 2007) - Using music class to help treat asthmatics.
Asthma strikes children particularly hard in some areas of the Bronx and Brooklyn. Sometimes medications are the only things that keep kids happy in their daily activities. But now, thanks to a financial gift from one of the Fathers of Jazz, music may be helping some young asthma sufferers.
It's an outreach program of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center. Melrose is one of three schools in the city which are part of research to see if tension release using woodwind instruments to teach breathing control and relaxation, with the help of the seashore wave drum and Native American flute, can help in controlling asthma.
"It helps them identify when they having difficulties to use these breathing techniques," said Brian Harris, of Beth Israel Medical Center.
These four young men have been taking these classes once a week for the past six months to a year. Their asthma?
"It has improved, because before I couldn't breathe that good," student Alex Calo said. "But now I have more breath to hold when I'm running and stuff."
"Now I can play more, because I have more breath," 11-year-old student Alex Acosta said. "It's better."
"I could breathe more and it makes me relax," 13-year-old student Frank Maxwell said. "So I can play a lot more than I used to do."
And giving kids back their playtime is news in this city.
The Bronx is a hotbed of asthma. The illness causes more missed days from school and more hospitalizations than any other illness in kids under 14.
The music goes beyond just illness control. As with all music, it's about feelings.
"The music, the relaxation, the tension release and the drums," 13-year-old Carlos Vega said. "You could express your feelings when you're playing it."
Coincidentally, because of an aggressive band program at the school, each of these boys already plays a wind instrument. One plays flute, the others clarinet, trombone and saxophone. No problems learning breathing control for them.
I was pretty upset yesterday about losing my voice, even though I knew it was not a permanent condition. An acute laughing (ha!) or coughing attack can obviously inflame the vocal cords, as it did mine, but only chronic abuse of the voice can create nodules or polyps on the cords. So I knew it was just a fluke and would quickly heal.
Actually, my voice is better today although I'll continue to be silent to rest it. I'm sure I'll be perfectly recovered by tomorrow, and I will be singing like a bird.
Since I've never had this happen to me, and I've been laughing heartily for most of my life, I thought it curious that suddenly a little laughter made me hoarse. I've been taking antihistamines recently for allergy, so I found this info on the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) website pretty interesting:
"Medications can also affect the voice by thinning blood in the body, which makes bruising or hemorrhaging of the vocal cord more likely if trauma occurs, and by causing fluid retention (edema), which enlarges the vocal cords. Medications from the following groups can adversely affect the voice:
Antihypertensives (blood pressure medication)
Antihistamines (allergy medications)
Anticholinergics (asthma medications)
High-dose Vitamin C (greater than five grams per day)"
Although I drink a lot of water, knowing the importance of hydrating the vocal cords, I wonder if the antihistamines had dried out my cords more than
usual and caused the after-laughing coughing? It makes sense. Probably my cords had less fluidity or protective mucous and were traumatized by the laughing!
I'm going to be drinking my Viva La Voice Tonic for the rest of the week and and in the future while I'm on antihistamines. You should too if you're taking any of the above medications. It will help protect your voice.
Find the VIVA LA VOICE TONIC RECIPE to guard your voice!
Open Up Your Words!
The next time you sing a song, or give a presentation, become conscious of 'opening up your words'. So many times I'll hear a singer or speaker, and can't understand most of the words they're saying or singing! What you've got to realize is that people may not have heard your song before, so all your words, your entire story, is new to them. If you're presenting, everything you'll be saying to your audience is brand new!
Do your audience a favor and let them CLEARLY UNDERSTAND YOU. No one will be focusing on your message if they're straining to hear your words.
The way to make yourself clearly understood is to open up your words. I don't mean to open your mouth in phony, exaggerated movement. All you have to do is simply make more space INSIDE your mouth. By imagining an orange (or some other small fruit!) inside your mouth, you'll lift up the soft palette and open up the words. Elongating your vowels will also make it easier to hear every word.
It's also important to slow down your speech, or slightly overemphasize your pronunciation. What is clear to you, may still be hard to understand for someone who's unfamiliar with your words and topic.
Singers, especially, need to open up vowels and make space for their words so that lyrics are clear and understandable. If you're telling an important story with your song, you want it to be understood, otherwise, your audience won't be able to relate to your music and you will have lost a very important emotional connection.
Remember that what sounds clear to you in normal speech or singing, may not be clear to an audience who has never heard your presentation or music. Open up your words to clearly communicate your message and the emotion that is the key to your success as an effective performer!
Throat Clearing can damage your vocal cords!
Here's a helpful article from guidetohealth.com
Throat Clearing - WHEN TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR
* Your repeated throat clearing has persisted for a week or more.
* Clearing your throat is disturbing your sleep or affecting your speech.
* Your throat clearing has begun to cause hoarseness or pain in your throat.
* You also have trouble breathing or swallowing.
What Your Symptom Is Telling You
Ahem. Clearing your throat is a time-honored way to draw polite attention. Just ask Miss Manners. But you may be clearing your throat so often that it's drawing negativeattention. Perhaps a family member is wondering if you have some kind of throat problem. It's even starting to annoy you.
Chances are, it's just a habit that got started when you had an upper respiratory or throat infection a while back. Even though the original secretions that produced the tickle were over, you continued to clear your throat. That repeated throat clearing has been banging your vocal cords together, and when they meet so forcefully, they swell and create the sensation that something is still there in your throat. Your response? Ahem-and-ahem--more swelling, more sensation, and the cycle goes on.
Another common cause of throat clearing is acid reflux—excess stomach acid that creeps up the esophagus and irritates your throat, usually while you sleep. You may have reflux even without experiencing heartburn, doctors say.
Inadequate fluid intake and smoking can also dry and irritate the throat, prompting you to clear it. A good case of stage fright can do the same thing.
Aging can also have a drying effect on mucous membranes and prompt throat clearing. And if you've undergone radiation therapy, that may have dried your throat as well.
There's a lot you can do to clear up a throat-clearing problem.
Raise your fluid level. You need a crutch if you want to quit the throat-clearing habit, says David Alessi, M.D., an otolaryngologist in Los Angeles. And that crutch is water. "Feel like clearing? Stop and think—drink instead. Always carry a bottle of water with you," he says. "In three weeks, your habit will be broken."
Hydrate for stage fright. "Warm liquids are good if you're fighting stage fright," says Howard Levine, M.D., director of the Mount Sinai Nasal Sinus Center in Cleveland. "Your mouth and throat are drier when you're scared," he points out. Try this concoction when you need to use your voice in front of a group: Warm water with lemon juice and honey. "It creates humidity, coats the throat and gives soothing relief," says Dr. Levine.
Humidify the air. In winter, when there's dry forced hot air inside and cold dry air outside, use room humidifiers, suggests Steven Zeitels, M.D., an otolaryngologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. The vapor will ease irritated throat membranes.
Swallow the problem. "Instead of clearing your throat, do a hard swallow—an extended swallow as though you had something in your throat," suggests Glenn Bunting, a senior speech pathologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. "It may alleviate the sensation that something is there."
Try the hard stuff. Bunting recommends sucking on hard candy to increase saliva and moisturize the throat. But don't use menthol lozenges, he says. They may be drying.
Be gentle. Your vocal cords are very small, about the size of a nickel, says Bonnie Raphael, Ph.D., a vocal coach for the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Imagine blowing into a tiny musical instrument, she suggests. "How hard would you blow? You need to avoid overpowering the vocal mechanism and think instead of providing just a steady, gentle breeze." Here is her prescription for reducing your ahem-ing.
"The safest way to clear the throat is to sharply sniff and then swallow. If you feel you must clear the throat, then do so silently without any voice at all. The more you avoid abusing your throat, the less damage you'll do to your vocal cords," she says.
Dry up the drips. If postnasal drip from an allergy or sinusitis is the culprit, treat these underlying conditions first, suggests Dr. Levine.
Relieve reflux. "If throat clearing is occurring after meals or when you're asleep, it may be the result of reflux," says Dr. Zeitels. Try taking antacids.
I totally agree with this article by Dr. Eva Gotell. Singing is such a powerful tool for accessing the mind and heart, where other modalities fail.
Caregiver singing improves the communication between patient and caregiverThis website describes intervention research in dementia care, focusing on caregiver singing as the primary method, or what is called Music Therapeutic Caregiving (MTC).The principal investigator for this research, Dr. Eva Götell, has found that caregiver singing can help reduce aggressiveness in the communication between caregivers and persons with severe dementia. In addition, such singing can have positive influences on verbal communication, body expression, sensory awareness, and mood, and can even create a joint sense of vitality between the caregiver and the person with dementia.
In their ongoing research, Eva Götell and her team are committed to further describing the influences, and measuring the effects, of Music Therapeutic Caregiving, where the caregiver sings for – or together with – persons with dementia during complex dementia-care situations.
Awful! The dreaded 'Vocal Nodule'!
This is an post from Sarah Luebke's Blog: good information!
Vocal health is very important, especially for people who use their voices for most of their day,such as teachers of singing who not only speak through lessons, but also sing to model for their students.
The voice can become a problem when pitch, volume or the tone of the voice begins to draw attention to itself rather than to what the speaker is talking about. Sometimes the voice can sound too high, too soft, too nasal or hoarse, or can even cause pain to the speaker or singer. So how can the busy voice teacher continue singing, teaching, and modeling without putting undue stress of her voice?
Symptoms of vocal damage include:
It is important to know when the voice is not just tired, but may need medical attention. If you experience breathiness, huskiness, hoarseness, loss of vocal power, monotone, sore or tense throat, loss of the voice, pitch breaks and easy vocal fatigue, it it time to consult an ENT (ear nose and throat doctor).
What about vocal nodules?
Vocal nodules are often caused by abuse of the voice and are indicated by some of the above symptoms. The vocal folds are generally smooth, white mucous covered surfaces without any ridges or blemishes. With vocal abuse a haematoma – or bruise – can appear on the vibrating edge of the vocal folds and over time, if this is not given adequate rest and healing, the haematoma can become more fibrous and form into soft or hard nodules on the vocal folds. Generally they appear in pairs, one per fold, and the combination of the two nodules meeting each other will not allow the vocal folds to meet cleanly and vibrate correctly, hence the often breathy or husky vocal tone that accompanies them.
Factors that contribute to voice problems:
The simplest remedy for vocal health is to look after our own overall health. If we get run down or ill, our voice will also be affected. Here are some other more specific ideas for vocal health.
Thanks Sarah for this good information! To avoid nodes - learn to sing correctly, and don't abuse your voice! Treat it kindly!
From Beth Lawrence
If you're serious about singing then you've got to take care of your voice. Here are some healthy ways to do that!
Beth Lawrence, Award-winning singer, songwriter and author of "From Shower To Stage...7 Easy Steps for Singing Like A Pro!"