I am suffering from hoarseness while singing and i cannot sing in a soft tone anymore. I have chronic laryngitis, and its pretty annoying because that is causing a lot of problem to my voice. I have been to several ENTs but they all said my throat is fine, there are no nodules or anything. It is just swollen. My falsetto is getting weird too, not strong like before.
I have a vocal coach before. I was with him for almost a year, he help expand my range from 9 keys to 21 keys. But then he asked me to sing loud, there are a lot of tension and it never improves, so I quit working with him. Another teacher thinks I am suffering from 1. A high larynx while singing(This is pretty true) 2.Chronic acid reflux.
I was with a speech therapist a month ago, and she said my overall vocal production is normal, except I am speaking too loud and high. And she mentioned something about my Glottis Attack was too strong.
My voice tires out easily now, even talking will cause this problem, but on the next day its getting better. My vowel placement is not right, even my voice therapy thinks so.
These are the major problems, and I really needed help on this, because I love singing, I gave up a lot of stuff for singing, and I want to learn the way to sing. I sing pop mostly, but I would like to learn classical methods.
Those are the problems I am having now, is there anyway to fix this?
I think that teacher has given you a very good place to start your investigation. I’m sure with some understanding of proper vocal coordination and behavior your voice will improve. It is encouraging that you have already had a medical opinion come back positive. That tells us that we are most likely dealing with a function problem. These can be challenging, but are much easier to rehab than a medical/physical issue like nodes or something of that nature. You mention swelling and that is to be expected. The swelling is the impairment that is causing the hoarseness. It sounds like the observations of others that you mention make sense based on your symptoms. Now we just need to help you understand how to remedy these habits that are hurting you.
A basic observation from me would be it sounds like you have gotten into the habit of trying too hard to make you voice work and be heard. This is especially a problem if you are too attached to hearing yourself. This is very common and always unconscious. So we first must become aware of the problem of trying to hear ourselves.
When we do this a common tendency is to place the vowel very forward or even out in front of the mouth. (This is obviously an illusion. But we can sense it.) The physical way of accomplishing that placement is by closing the pharynx, which is the same as a high larynx position. When we do this it alters the form of the folds and impairs their ability to vibrate. It also causes an irregularity in the vibration form which can be irritating. So you would need to learn how to sense the difference and then make the healthy form a habit.
Trying to hear yourself would also lead you to talking and singing too loud. And as a result you over-work the voice by using too much breath to be louder. This also is irritating to the folds. The voice should have a natural intensity, which can seem like it is loud, but we should never try to be loud. The two mental concepts cause the body to respond in different ways, either healthy or not healthy.
The glottal attack being too strong would go along with what I’m saying about trying too hard. And this also causes irritation of the folds. This would affect your falsetto negatively because the irritation causes swelling, and swollen folds lose flexibility. It is a challenge to get this all straitened out correctly. It requires an increase in sensitivity to be able to coordinate the fine motor skills involved. But one thing that might help even before we work together.
Imagine the size of your larynx/vocal folds. The vibrating tissue is less than a centimeter in most people. Compare that to your lips, the reed of a saxophone, or the strings of a guitar. Think about how much air pressure, or how little, is needed to make these flexible little pieces of tissue to vibrate. It is so much less than any other instrument that we know. Most of us never even think about this relationship. But the voice requires much less air pressure than we tend to use. This is why the breathing is so important. Because without breath coordination we will over-tax the larynx with breath pressure. So start there and see what you discover.
I have another question. About 2 Years ago, I was singing in school, and there was a high and long note, I think I over do it. Because in the middle of that note, my left throat suddenly feels painful. And now it will be painful sometimes too. The ENTs said there’s nothing there, are the cords damaged forever? Should I have vocal rest for few days now? Since my voice is kinda raspy.
When I place the vowels forward before, my voice became very high in pitch, is that normal?
The pain you describe on the left side of your throat sounds to me like a muscle pull. If the ENT said there is nothing visually wrong then my guess would be something muscular. There is no way for me to know for sure. But I doubt the cords are damaged. Resting the voice is never a bad idea, but only for a short time. Long-term rest is not recommended. It is never a solution, only an avenue to get to the solution by allowing time for the swelling to go down some.
The solution is learning to understand your voice and how it works. Then developing habits that are in line with how the voice is meant to work. This requires knowledgeable guidance. All of the symptoms you described are pointing to a lack of healthy coordination with your voice. You are fortunate that no damage is showing up yet. That is great. Now you have a chance to change how you use your voice before there is damage done.
Your question about the vowel placement is normal. In fact it is very common for people not trained in using the voice to place the vowel more forward to accomplish higher notes. The reason for this is in order to place the vowels forward the throat closes. This is why we don’t want to place the vowels forward. The closing of the throat is a compensation for a lack of coordination in the proper way to tune pitch. And by doing the compensation the proper way will never happen. It is like it overrides the proper action.
These are the kinds of things I mean when I say you need to learn how the voice is meant to work. Then while you are learning to understand that you are simultaneously learning how to coordinate the voice to behave in that manner. Then we keep building on that developing positive habits. At some point the proper coordination will feel more familiar than the bad habits and you will be beyond the vocal difficulty.