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Help: Singers and laryngitis

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nickydavis@eol.ca 22 Nov 99 - 05:37 PM
Áine 22 Nov 99 - 05:49 PM
sophocleese 22 Nov 99 - 05:53 PM
Mudjack 22 Nov 99 - 05:56 PM
Susanne (skw) 22 Nov 99 - 07:39 PM
jeffp 22 Nov 99 - 07:55 PM
Jeri 22 Nov 99 - 08:36 PM
Áine 22 Nov 99 - 08:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Nov 99 - 08:45 PM
kendall 22 Nov 99 - 09:21 PM
Jeri 22 Nov 99 - 09:38 PM
BK 22 Nov 99 - 10:40 PM
Jeri 22 Nov 99 - 11:18 PM
Owlkat 23 Nov 99 - 01:37 AM
Liz the Squeak 23 Nov 99 - 03:49 AM
MMario 23 Nov 99 - 08:43 AM
Alice 23 Nov 99 - 08:58 AM
Alice 23 Nov 99 - 09:01 AM
Betty 23 Nov 99 - 04:50 PM
DonMeixner 24 Nov 99 - 12:04 AM
Liz the Squeak 24 Nov 99 - 12:16 AM
Bat Goddess 24 Nov 99 - 08:03 AM
Roger the skiffler 24 Nov 99 - 08:45 AM
Fortunato 24 Nov 99 - 09:37 AM
Alice 24 Nov 99 - 10:27 AM
Escamillo 25 Nov 99 - 01:54 AM
Liz the Squeak 25 Nov 99 - 04:20 AM
Alice 25 Nov 99 - 10:14 AM
Liz the Squeak 25 Nov 99 - 10:16 AM
rollingcrone0526 26 Nov 99 - 01:08 AM
JameJimFolk 26 Nov 99 - 01:40 AM
currier@ainet.com 26 Nov 99 - 01:18 PM
currier@ainet.com 26 Nov 99 - 01:29 PM
Alice 26 Nov 99 - 01:32 PM
DeeAnn 26 Nov 99 - 11:05 PM
SINSULL 11 Jan 02 - 10:49 AM
Ebbie 11 Jan 02 - 01:38 PM
Genie 06 Apr 02 - 04:51 AM
Alice 06 Apr 02 - 10:46 AM
Alice 06 Apr 02 - 11:51 AM
Genie 06 Apr 02 - 02:31 PM
Celtic Soul 06 Apr 02 - 03:07 PM
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Lynn 06 Apr 02 - 09:02 PM
ciarili 07 Apr 02 - 12:43 AM
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Subject: Singers and laryngitis
From: nickydavis@eol.ca
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 05:37 PM

I'm a folk singer who just missed another great opportunity to sing because of recurring loss or weakness of voice. I don't remember having this problem when I was singing regularly in a choir - It appears to have started happening since I quit my choirs to focus on guitar work and stopped singing as much.

Will a regular vocal work-out help do you think? Any home brewed cures or preventatives for laryngitis?

OR Any Usenet group or mailing list/Listserv where this message could be more appropriately posted?

Thanks for any and all advice / words of encouragement.

Nicky


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Áine
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 05:49 PM

Dear Nicky,

You didn't mention whether you are experiencing any pain, inflamation or infection. Have you been to a doctor about this problem, specifically, an ear, nose & throat doctor?

If you are experiencing something akin to your voice just 'going away' and then 'coming back', then you might want to get checked out for a voice disorder called spasmodic dysphonia. It could also be allergies or stress causing your voice to be weak.

I wouldn't mess around with any 'home remedies' -- your voice is well worth the expense of going to a doctor.

I hope you feel much better soon, Áine


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: sophocleese
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 05:53 PM

I also noticed that when I was singing with a choir my voice was stronger than when I simply sang folk music. Choral singing has different demands. I need to keep myself working the voice, NOT FORCING IT, so that it sounds better in the folk songs as well. But sometimes I slack off because I don't have to be at rehearsal as regularly and there's no choir director to tell me what to do. Also sitting down with the guitar is different from standing facing the conductor. I need to remind myself to sit up straight and not hunch over watching my fingers. Apart from that there were some threads on singing and the voice back in early September. I can't off the top of my head remember their titles, and dinner has suddenly appeared, but if you search about that time you should find some useful information.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Mudjack
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 05:56 PM

Your voice has to be properly voicing and staying in condition by singing more. Use breathing excersizes and work into your voice with warm ups DO RE Mi etc.10 to 15 min.s When you practice and learning the guitar, sing as part of your practice time, this will develope your skills at singing and playing together.
It's best to let your voice heal at this point and go back into your singing habits as soon as you recover your voice strenght.
I'm guilty as can be for abusing my voice by not warming up. I jump right into a song and blast with full volume. It will haunt me and crack or fail me and I'll be telling myself, "self? you did a stupid thing".
Take care of your voice Nicky, or you'll have to resort to singing rock songs with a trashed voice.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 07:39 PM

Alice in Montana has a list of suggestions on how to avoid vocal strain on her website. Go to

http://www.men.net/~acflynn/

and check if they're any good to you! Hope things will be getting better for you. - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: jeffp
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 07:55 PM

While prevention is the best medicine, there are some times that you absolutely need your voice. For those occasions, I've found Chloroseptic spray to be quite useful. The taste takes some getting used to, but it's almost a miracle drug for short-term emergencies. If you suspect anything more than cold- or flu-induced temporary laryngitis, get thee to a doctor quick! But for those occasional emergencies, Chloroseptic is handy, and it's over-the-counter.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 08:36 PM

Try this: Threads on the Singing Voice. (I still have that table of interesting threads I haven't sent off yet.)

Ever since the FSGW Getaway, I haven't been able to get through one song without going hoarse. I took it easy on my voice for a while, got started on allergy meds (I'm not allergic to anything, but I have a histamine reaction to irritants, like dry air from heating systems) and got a humidifier in my bedroom. I finally seem to be improving. For those of you who've had the misfortune of hearing me sing on Mudcat Radio, I could hardly squeak when I recorded that song. (Well, that's my excuse :-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Áine
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 08:43 PM

Dear Jeri,

That sounded like a darn good squeak to me!

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 08:45 PM

Just recently I found out about how to open the throat while singing, and I've found that if I do I can bellow away for hours without getting throat strain, while if I don't my voice can crack up after one loud song.

A trick for doing it I got from a book, and it works for me - move your lower jaw so that the top and bottom front teeth are lined up, then do a wide grin, still clenching the teeth together loosely; then move the teeth apart, still lining them up front teeth above front teeth. Do this a few times, and you learn to make the relevant jaw movements, so that the larynx is opened up, and you can do it without going through the daft execise with the fixed grin.

Only drawback with this (apart from feeling a right lemon) is that it tends to make the voice a little bit more smooth and "musical", and some vocal styles really need a tight voice box.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: kendall
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 09:21 PM

Jeri, I have been having the same problem, dry air and in my case very little singing. Lots of water helps,with a touch of lemon.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 09:38 PM

Thanks, Áine, thanks Kendall. McGrath, I discovered that (with a friend's help) a short while ago, but I'm damned if I can remember to do it when I sing! (And I do think it may be my biggest problem at the moment.)


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: BK
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 10:40 PM

I seem to get this from time to time - mostly if I'm singing in front of people - & I'm exquisitely guilty of not practicing, as well.. As I've also said on some other thread, like many folks I've a couple tricks that can help me NOT SQUEEK & get through OK.

1] The original "fisherman's friend" lozenges - bloody strong, so I just chomp off an edge & keep it in a cheek.. taught to me by a grizzled old street singer - literally! don't hardly see many like that in USA any more.

2] the herbal teas w/SLIPPERY ELM as a main ingredient; Traditional Medicinals brand "Throat Coat" is the best I've tried. Make it a little strong; with a touch of honey and real, fresh-squeezed lime you have the main ingredient's in what I call the Buzzard's Frog Bane... it can really help (NOTHING makes me great, but this helps me be the best I can be.... for what it's worth...)

Cheers, BK (Who expects to use a lot of frog bane at a street festival coming up soon...)


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Nov 99 - 11:18 PM

In regards to the original poster's question, is it possible to have problems with voice weakness because of lack of use? Is it possible to forget singing techniques once you learn them, if you don't practice for a while?


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Owlkat
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 01:37 AM

I've had times when the voice had to work or the job was lost. Here's some of the things I do: Humidify during sleep.

GET REST.

Drink gallons of ginger root and thyme tea sweetened with honey. Use Fishermans Friends, but sparingly. They can burn.

Always warm up for at least 15 minutes before going on.

Avoid things like Chloroseptic which deadens the throat and can lead to serious damage to the vocal folds by making over-singing too easy.

Lots of diction exercises to warm up and loosen up all the parts of the body that produce sound: hips, diaphragm, lungs, neck, throat, tongue, lips, upper palate.

There. I'm done.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 03:49 AM

Now hold on JEri, I've got the monopoly on squeaks around here.....

Seriously, a hip flask full of half and half (or 2/3 to 1/3 if you prefer) of port and brandy. Take sparing sips during the concert and get a cab or someone else to take you home.

I suffer from asthma and have found that after a weekend of singing, or with regular choir practices, my peak flow goes over 400. When I sang regularly with 2 choirs and a folk club, despite the smoky atmosphere of the pub, the peak flow was an average of 750 - 800, double what I can manage now. So keep doing the excercises. Set yourself a choir practice at home, where you just stand and sing things for an hour or two. It will help your breath control, phrasing and memory too. I have to have 1litre of water with me now to get through a church service of an hour and a half, that just about keeps it nice and moist. Oh, some people use asthma inhalers, like ventolin. These have the effect of widening the bronchioles, those little bits in your lungs that look like coral branches. Sometimes it works, others it doesn't. If it wasn't prescribed for you, don't take it. Widening perfectly healthy bronchioles just means you can take in more of the pollutants in the air, like smoke, water mollecules and dust, and only causes greater problems in the future.

Good luck with it, I prefer the port and brandy cure myself, but then, I would!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: MMario
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 08:43 AM

I've found that I have to take plenty of fluids before, during and after extended singing. The HARDEST time I have, is singing outdoors during the winter, the cold air dries the throat out so badly it is almost impossible to rehydrate your throat easily....(I know, don't sing outdoors during the winter, but I get PAID for this....)


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Alice
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 08:58 AM

The link to the threads on the singing voice contain most of my comments on vocal health and links to medical websites on voice disorders and vocal health, so I won't go into repeating myself too much here. I recommend that anyone serious about singing and mainting their voice read that information if they have questions. I will add this thread to that collection.

I haven't had time for Mudcat much in the last few weeks (and now I have THREE tapes I need to make and send out for jobs, so I still don't have my Mudcat song recorded....). Anyway, I will repeat here that singing is a physical performance, and voice teachers often remind their students that they have to train physically and continue ongoing maintenance to keep the voice in shape, just like an athlete. Have you ever started a physical workout routine and then stopped? Obviously you lose some of the strength, endurance, ability, skills, that you don't continue working out. It is the same with the voice. If you don't sing something that stretches your full range on a regular basis, then you lose the top and bottom notes of your range that you achieved and have to start working again to regain them. If you abuse your vocal folds and lungs with smoke or drink alcohol, don't get enough sleep, or if you scream, talk too much in a loud voice, take medications that dry up your sinus or throat, etc, then you pay the price with how it affects your singing voice.

Some basic preventive measures are:
1. Learn good singing technique and practice it regularly.
2. Don't strain your vocal folds by yelling, talking too much, or pushing your voice out of your range.
3. Live a healthy lifestyle (eat right, sleep well, drink water, avoid smoke and too much alcohol).
4. Rest your voice when you are sick. Hum for practice.
5. Humidify your home in dry climates, especially when you are sleeping.

Those are some basics. Prevention is easier than cure, as with most things.

alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Alice
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 09:01 AM

that should have been "maintaining", not "mainting" (doh..)


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Betty
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 04:50 PM

I'm with BK -- Fisherman's Friends. They won't help "true" laryingitis but are great for loosening up your throat, and one lozenge between the cheek and gum can last for a whole set.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: DonMeixner
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 12:04 AM

There was an article in a Speech Pathology journal some years back on just this topic. What I got out of it was almost a mirror of Alice's list. Ot went on to say that eating a bit of something with oil or butter before the gig and durring breaks helps to lube the tonsils. O can tell you that manys the night a piece of dinner roll and butter has saved my bacon as far as the throat is concerned. The paper also agrees with Kendall re: Water and Lemon. It doesn't agree with those of us who drink brandy, port, or screw drivers. The Alcohol tends to dry up the throat even moreso quicklier.

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 12:16 AM

I didn't say the port and brandy was there to lubricate, did I?! Enough of it and you won't give two sh*ts about whether your throat is sore!! Besides, it is supposed to be sipped gently, rather than chugged back. A standard sized hip flask will last me a whole weekend, unless it is Towersey festival, when I would need a gallon for each day! Consequently I don't take any, so I end up singing for 8 hours every day, on average, and can't speak for a week afterwards.... Must give up smoking other people's ciggies.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 08:03 AM

I had a serious problem with seasonal (May) laryngitis for a number of years in the late '80s caused (I eventually found out) by mould or mildew in the "ventilation system" (I use the term advisedly) of the company I was working for at the time. When I left there, the problem was solved.

My voice still is suseptible to colds -- usually just before pre-Christmas gigs. The best advice I ever received and what is the only thing that really seems to work in the long run is keep hydrated -- drink lots and lots of water -- and get plenty of rest.

The voice comes back.

Short term, well, "Herbal Mist", "Singer's Saving Grace" or similar throat sprays available at health food stores.

Linn the Bat Goddess


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Roger the skiffler
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 08:45 AM

My tendency to get laryngitis when I sing too much is probably the only thing that has kept me married and retained my friends, who think my voice coach was Lee Marvin. :o)
RtS


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Fortunato
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 09:37 AM

My recommendation is gargle with port when you must do the gig and your voice didn't show up. I hydrate then gargle before each set. Like those above I may sip it during the set. But port is strong stuff - go easy. You can' sing if you're too drunk to remember the words, voice or not. Thanks to all for the exercises. Cheers, Fortunato


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Alice
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 10:27 AM

Here is another home remedy that I used in desperation last year when I had almost lost my voice before a performance. I could barely talk, and called my voice coach/mentor in desperation. She said that the last resort was an old opera singer's trick... gross, but I did it.

Buy a small jar or can of anchovies. Take a piece of anchovey and place it far back on your tongue and hold it there as long as possible, sucking the salt out of it. (yuk) The fish/olive oil and salt does something that helps. Spit out each piece and add a new one as the salt dissolves. Do this as long as you can. I couldn't talk, but amazingly I could sing. The other important component was using good technique, lots of breath support so I could flood each note with air. No one could tell I had laryngitis, unless I tried to talk. I did have second thoughts later when I realized that I could have really messed up my vocal cords by singing when my vocal cords were in bad shape.

alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Escamillo
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 01:54 AM

Alice, I've tried the old anchoveys trick, but after I proceeded to the corresponding 4 bottles of cold beer, I couldn't find my music sheets, strumbled the piano, and finally sang a tango when Wagner's "Traume" was expected.
Yours, Andrés Magré :))


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 04:20 AM

That sounds disgusting, kissing a smoker is bad enough, but kissing anchovy breath - eeeeuurgh! What happens if you are allergic to fish?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Alice
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 10:14 AM

Andrés, that's funny, you have me laughing.

LTS, if you are allergic, don't do it. Kissing? You're supposed to be singing, not kissing. ;->


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 10:16 AM

Who said I was allergic. Besides, I've never sung at a fish and I ain't starting now!! Bring on the port!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: rollingcrone0526
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 01:08 AM

Hi, I'm new here - Once got my voice back by gargling hot water with salt in it. Didn't make me sound good, but I could at least make some sound. Chlorseptic, I agree, only in a pinch. In fact, I agree with all of it: water, rest, exercise, practice...I just don't get around to doing it all. Really enjoyed reading everyone's input on this. I never seem to get sick UNTIL I have a gig.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: JameJimFolk
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 01:40 AM

The voice is like any other muscle - needs exercise - the choir had to help. I agree with "plenty of liquids." Just plain old water works well for me. Strange that you are just beginning to have this problem. It happened to me about 17 or 18 years ago - suddenly became allergic to environmental elements (dust, pollen, etc.). Found that turning the furnace on for the first time wreaked havoc with me. Could be other changes in life are occuring - any hot flashes? Cold ones(flashes, that is)? It could even be that you've moved to a new place - made other changes (job?). I once had an office that was horrible - blew dusty hot air down on me from the ceiling. Yuk! Just keep singing a little every night!


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: currier@ainet.com
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 01:18 PM

I am a singer and I often have problems with respiratory infections that result in laryngitis. However, there are times when you simply have to sing. Some of my remedies: hot lemonade with honey, most any herb tea with honey and lemon, Celestial Seasoning's throat drops, Throat Coat herbal tea (slippery elm bark), and the number one best for quick voice restoration: Entertainer's Secret throat relief for dry throat and hoarse voice. My local pharmacy carries it because it was requested by a performer in town, the pharmacist keeps it on a back shelf. It was recommended to me by a performer who is also a nurse. It hydrates the vocal chords and does no harm that I know. Info for the pharmacist who orders it for you: Kli Corp, P.O. Box 567, Carmel, IN 46032.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: currier@ainet.com
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 01:29 PM

More info: I was in the middle of one of these periods of laryngitis (allergies with secondary infection) when I recorded the stuff I put on my little website for family. I could hardly make a sound the day before. The Celestial Seasoning throat drops, honey and lemon and slippery elm tea, water and most importantly Entertainer's Secret got me to the point you hear there. Not my very best voice, but a tremendous improvement over the day before.

http://members.xoom.com/bonnylark/

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Alice
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 01:32 PM

Entertainer's secret link is on the list of threads I compiled called Threads On the Singing Voice (link previously and below). Other vocal throat sprays are also discussed on that thread. Take note that these are not the same as anesthetics or decongestant sprays. Medicated sprays are fine to treat your illness symptoms, but do not use them as a throat spray before singing.... they dry up and/or anesthetize your membranes. Don't sing when you are sick, if possible.

Here again is the link to Entertainer's Secret.
click here

Here is the link again to the compiled threads discussing singing and vocal health.

click here for Threads On The Singing Voice

alice flynn


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: DeeAnn
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 11:05 PM

Was glad to see this thread. I've been singing for eons but only just started having problems this year. I kept rationalizing that it was a temporary strain from singing too loudly or long. Thanks for the info on Entertainer's Secret. Turns out my problem was dry mouth due to a prescribed thyroid medication. Drinking water only worsened the dryness and I found myself leaning toward sweetened fluids. Only problem was, sweetened fluids caused too much hydration when I switched from singing to playing pennywhistle.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: SINSULL
Date: 11 Jan 02 - 10:49 AM

Refresh. I know at least two Catters who will benefit from a re-read.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Ebbie
Date: 11 Jan 02 - 01:38 PM

A friend's name for'Throat Coat': godoffal (spelling intended)


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Genie
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 04:51 AM

Betty, re "true laryingitis" -- I've got it -- or maybe worse.
Alice, You hit the nail on the head with that old saw about prevention and cure.
I'm afraid I've gone beyond the kind of 'laryingitis' most of you folks are talking about.
Two weeks ago I developed a productive cough and rhinitis, which made my asthma worse and my voice a bit froggy. I used many of the techniques discussed above for the next week, and managed to participate in Singtime Frolics in Oregon and do several gigs I had lined up during that first week.
But the mistake I made, I fear, was allowing myself to keep coughing--sometimes in great spasms--trying to get the phlegm out of my lungs. By the time the worst of the coughing part of the bug was done with, I had severely irritated my bronchial tubes and vocal cords from the coughing.
The result? For the next four days I could barely whisper and couldn't produce any musical hum beyond half an octave, no matter how much I hydrated or did throat relaxing exercises.
The docs ordered me not to use my voice at all for the duration, and I've complied with that pretty completely for the last 5 days [no singing, hardly any talking]. Now I can almost hum a whole octave [low tenor range] -- I seem to gain about one note a day.

I know, I know, I should go see an ENT doc, but my travel schedule doesn't permit my gettting an appointment for now.

I hope I haven't developed terrible nodes on my vocal cords and that I haven't lost my singing voice for a long time or permanently. Singing is my livelihood, as well as a source of pleasure.

This is to underscore your point, Alice, that you should not sing when you are sick if you can help it.

Now that I've gone and really messed up my throat, though, I'm wondering what's recommended for rehabilitation. Is it really true that the best cure for real laryngitis is complete rest of the voice? If you completely rest any other parts of the body--muscles, and bones, at least-- they get very weak and you can't just return to normal activity by warming up. What's the balance between resting the vocal cords and stretching the throat?

FWIW, the doc has me on prednisone and a codeine cough syrup [with guafenicine(sp?)] for about 5 days to deal with the bronchitis and laryngitis. Anyone have any experience with those meds for severe laryngitis?

Fisherman's Friend and Cold-eez have helped soothe my throat but they didn't bring my voice back when I was getting absolute lack of sound above middle C. The only thing that seemed to help was just to quit trying to make noise.

Thank God for whistling! It got me through a couple of gigs when I couldn't sing. I'd just accompany my whistling with the guitar. I hope that doesn't hurt the voice, too!

Yeah, Alice, maybe I should have tried the anchovy thing--or just gargling with heavy salt water--but as you said, I could have really messed up my vocal cords [and maybe did] by singing when my vocal cords were in bad shape.


Susanne
That link you posted --http://www.men.net/~acflynn/ --r turned out to be a gay men's website. Just a typo?

Genie


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Alice
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 10:46 AM

Genie, I hope you DO go see an ENT. I would hate to hear that you have permanent damage or a malignancy. Please get it checked, won't you? I re-read what I wrote about the anchovy day, and now I wish I had just cancelled out of that performance, not taking the risk to my vocal cords. If it was so bad that I would suck an anchovy, then I was too sick to sing (maybe sick in the head that day, LOL?). It is weird that sometimes when we are sick we get focussed on something we think we just have to do in spite of being sick.
Please get your throat checked out, Genie.

My site used to be on www.mcn.net (not men.net, as Susanne typed it in above) and the MCN ISP was sold and doesn't exist anymore. Sorry about that. I just give people my home domain page, now, http://www.aliceflynn.com
my current ISP has been sold again. The domain name will stay aliceflynn.com.
alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Alice
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 11:51 AM

Genie, regarding your question about resting your voice for rehabilitation, YES rest your voice. When you are recovered from the bronchitis, then you can start building up your voice again with warming up, humming, then singing, not pushing or over-using again. Be gentle and go slow in getting back to the full use of your voice. If you can find a good doctor that works with vocalists, I suggest doing that. We have only one ENT in our town, and I would never go to him. He has nothing but dollar signs in his eyes, does surgery at the drop of a hat and decided to add cosmetic treatments to his practice! A real money grabber, not at all someone interested in prevention. I hope you can find a voice specialist who can help you. - alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Genie
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 02:31 PM

Thanks for the advice and the heads-up about ENTs, Alice. [The doc at the urgent care clinic wasn't even equipped to look into my throat.] I'm with Kaiser, and getting to see the right specialist can require being a really squeaky wheel--especially if the specialist you really need to see is outside their system. If I can find the right singer-oriented specialist, I'm willing to pay out-of-pocket, though.

This persistent vocal cord swelling I've got has really increased the already great sympathy/empathy I have for Kendall's plight. In his case, there's cancer to deal with in addition to concerns about the voice. I do hope that treatments are available to deal effectively with both keeping him alive and allowing him to sing.

Any tips on finding a good throat specialist who treats professional singers in a given city [in my case, Portland, OR]?

Genie

P.S.
I should emphasize that I think it was the prolonged, violent coughing --more than the continued singing--that really messed up my larynx and vocal cords. That's what seemed to produce the pain I began to feel all the way up and down my throat. I know now that you can take cough suppressants and use steam, increased fluids, and increased dosages of expectorants to loosen phlegm, so that it's not necessary to cough your guts [and throat] sore to clear your lungs.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 03:07 PM

Likely this has been said before, so forgive the redundancy if so...

But, seek a Doctors advice (better if he or she has specific experience with vocalists and their issues).

Once you know *why* you have this recurrent problem, you will know better what to do about it.

Vocal coaching may or may not help you, depending on what the root cause is.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Alice
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 03:13 PM

Genie, I would approach the search by talking to some professional singers who have had medical care for their voice. That way you can hopefully get some practical feedback, if they will share it. You could call voice teachers in your area, the university music dept., and ask if they have ever had to seek medical care for their voice - who did they go to for care. A quick search of the net brought up only one specialist in voice disorders in Oregon, and he is in Portland. Try James P. Thomas, MD, Laryngology and voice disorders. Found at this site: http://www.voicedoctor.net His email address and phone, etc. is on that site.

alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Genie
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 07:33 PM

Thanks so much for the net search, Alice. I could've done it myself, but I'm not really good [efficient] yet at searching the net without getting led on wild goose chases. I appreciate the lead to that website.

Genie, Le Grenouille


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Lynn
Date: 06 Apr 02 - 09:02 PM

Nicky - I'd avoid the Chloroseptic thing. It's designed to numb your throat, which is OK when you're trying to go to sleep. But if you try to sing when your throat is numbed by Chloroseptic, you're likely to do more damage to it because you won't be able to feel the pain. Gargling with warm salt water (1/2 tsp/pint, which approximates the salinity of the body) will strip away any gunk that might be accumulating back there, and will also help to massage the throat a bit.

The first thing to look for in your technique is your breathing. When you're standing with a choir, it's easier to concentrate on getting a good, low breath. When there's a guitar hanging over your stomach, even if you're standing, it's easy not to breathe so deeply because you feel the guitar against your stomach, even when you haven't taken in a big enough breath. Without enough breath, you're trying to use the musculature of the throat and jaw to help get a bigger sound. Hence, vocal fatigue. Find yourself a teacher who'll teach you basic vocal technique, which can apply to ANY style of singing. In the meantime, BREATHE!!!

Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: ciarili
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 12:43 AM

Boy, do I totally identify with you guys!

Ever since I moved to Southern California, I've experienced constant sinus infections due to allergies. I go between laryngitis and pharyngitis, so sometimes I can only sing high, sometimes only low. Now, I have a big range so I manage to make do, but when I finally got rid of the sinus infection with a round of amoxycillin, I suddenly found I could sing through all of it with no trouble! I was AMAZED. I thought I had lost something since my days at Indiana University, but no, it is the infections. And damn, if it didn't come right back a couple of weeks later.

The fact is, I cannot expect to make a living by singing as long as I live here.

Now, I've got a few tricks that I rely on when I've absolutely got to get better and sing Bach. One of them is guaifenecine, the active ingredient in plain ole' Robatussin (sp?). It puts the moisture back in your tissues, which is why it helps you to expel phlegm, and there's nothing more damaging to your vocal apparatus than a dry cough (except screaming!). When you need to, go see a doctor and hold his knees and cry until he prescribes guai, so that you can pop a pill instead of drinking a triple dose of Robatussin, unless, of course, you like the taste of Robatussin! I'm a total wuss when it comes to yucky tastes....

Drink water ALL DAY LONG. Get a purse or satchel big enough for a water bottle and get in the habit of carrying it EVERYWHERE.

Avoid cashews, chocolate, black or green tea, and wine when you are singing or have to do something big within a couple of days. The aforementioned beverages pickle your tissues, like your fingers get pickled by water after you've washed dishes. The foods are just irritating to the throat, not that big a deal, but every little bit helps.

Coffee, while it does have enough tannin to be mildly pickling, is still great - the caffeine opens up your bronchs like you wouldn't believe! My voice teacher informed me that they used to give caffeine shots to premies. In the womb, the last thing to get "cooked" completely is our lungs.

Rest and exercise both do wonders to keep the muscles of your frame in decent shape, which helps you to relax when singing. A strong body obeys, a weak body commands.

DON'T USE OVER-THE-COUNTER NASAL SPRAYS!!! They mess you up BIGTIME and can be addictive. This obviously doesn't include saline sprays (duh).

I have been using Claritin and Nasonex, but they definitely have a negative effect on my voice. I need to explore alternatives, but I have to wait for my insurance to kick in before I see a specialist. I'll let you all know how the next medical adventure pans out, but I don't recommend either of these prescriptions.

Don't know if any of this helps, but I hope someone benefits from the years it took me to discover some of this!

Seinn O,

ciarili


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Genie
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 04:39 PM

Celtic Soul, Maybe I'm in a time warp (or just overmedicated), but I could've sworn your post wasn't there when I responded to Alice's last post (April 6 at 3:13). Your advice is good, but I should point out that this is not a recurrent problem--the asthma is chronic; the laryngitis is episodic, very rare, and nearly always in conjunction with some virus.

The tips on breathing and vocal exercises in this thread are good. Vocal training has, indeed, helped me over the past few years avoid straining my voice even when I sing for hours in a given day. [Despite the aversion many folkies have to amplifiers and mics, I readily use them when I feel that the venue is one where I will probably strain my voice trying to be heard without one.] BR>It's precisely when all the warm-up and breathing exercises, hydration, zinc lozenges, nasal decongestants don't bring the voice back-even after several days of resting the focal folds--that's when it seems something's going on beyond simple vocal strain. [FWIW, as of yesterday, I now have an actual incipient sore throat and other body aches--for the first time since the bronchial problems began 2 1/2 weeks ago--, so I think I may be dealing with multiple viruses. The docs think so--and so there's no medicine to clear it up, of course! ]

Getting to see a vocal specialist, of course, can take many days or even weeks. Meanwhile, if you make your living with your voice [speaking or singing] and you don't get sick leave, this can be a big problem financially. This is why I'm interested in any information other singers have about dealing with "true laryngitis." Or about whether and how much you can use your voice while fighting virusus without doing long-term damage.

Alice, as to "...approach[ing] the search by talking to some professional singers who have had medical care for their voice...," I will, as soon as I feel it's ok to start talking on the phone again. Right now, 'talking' on line is easier on my vocal folds.

I really appreciate all the anecdotes, referrals, tips, etc., folks. Always good to know what other singers have done and would do.

Genie

P.S., Ciarili, N-o-o-o-o! Not give up CHOCOLATE!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: ciarili
Date: 08 Apr 02 - 04:40 AM

Haagen Daaz! I used to rent chinese flicks (subtitled, NOT dubbed) and buy a couple of pints on my days off...and one of my favourite flavours is Haagen Daaz plain chocolate. It's the cocoa-ey kinda flavour as opposed to brownie kind you get with Ben & Jerry's. Yes, I choose my brand according to the flavour I'm in the mood for - so I'm not only eating milk products and often chocolate, but something cold on top of it!

Here's a horror story for you - my voice teacher knows two singers who've popped a blood vessel in the throat by consuming cold things. After all, as singers we all have an extra-rich blood supply to our throats, and cold can do that, but, damn the torpedos, I love my ice cream!

ciarili
If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Genie
Date: 08 Apr 02 - 11:15 PM

I find it interesting that folk are always bringing me ice water when I ask for water at a gig. Seems counterintuitive, of course.
On the other hand, the urgent care doc suggested chewing on ice cubes for laryngints--to counter the inflamation, of course. Mind you, I wasn't supposed to be singing or even talking during the ice therapy, but it did make my throat feel better.

Genie

And if a duck loses its voice, sould a quack be consulted?


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: 53
Date: 08 Apr 02 - 11:29 PM

I have just started singing along with my playing guitar. It seems as everytime late in the day I will become hoarse, and therefore limiting my abilility to try and sing. How do I overcome this problem?


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: ciarili
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 03:28 AM

Ah! Position is almost undoubtedly the root of your problem. Instrumentalists who don't have to breathe to play tend to hunch over their instruments. There is no way on earth to get good breath support that way.

First ya gotta know here's how the breathing process works. Now, most folks think that the diaphragm is responsible for pushing air out of you. In fact, it has nothing to do with that! It is responsible for pulling air in. Your lungs, by the way, are actually sloped on the bottom and tilt upward toward the front, like this if you were facing to your right: / The diaphragm pulled your lungs down and forward as you breathe in. When you are hunched, it doesn't have room to go very far, see?

So, you hafta find a way to sit at the front of your chair with your feet in such a way that your thighs are sloping down toward your knees. This'll give you some breathing room. I know it's hard with a guitar, I play a bit myself, but it's worth it to sort your position out and get used to it as soon as possible.

Now that you are sitting like that, breathe in and visualise what's happening. Don't let your chest come up and out, that's a shallow breath and the chest rise/fall is not an indication that your lungs are filling up that much! You must breath such that you feel you're sucking air down toward your navel, and let your stomach expand. You can actually work on increasing your lung capacity this way, and eventually your stomach will bulge all the way up to the beginning of your sternum, out from under your ribs. My voice teacher looks like he's just swallowed a third-grader when he's all filled up!

Anyway, now you can just try singing. I don't know if you're tightening up your throat and tongue and fatiguing quickly therefore, but once you have the breathing down enough to turn your consciousness to something else a bit, start to focus on relaxing from your face right on down to the top of your chest. Don't be afraid if the sound you get is very different than what you've been producing and not what your looking for, just get the fundamental breath support down before monkeying with the rest of it! Noone can give you much advice without your physical presence from here on out, and even just a few lessons with a really good person can help more than you'd be willing to believe at first, so I'd think about it. Be picky though - a bad teacher can really screw you up, I speak from experience.

Let us know how it goes!

ciarili


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Jingle
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 01:28 PM

Try Dr Sanderson's Throat Specific. It's a good old fashioned remedy that tastes awful but it's very good. Not as drastic or as quick acting as Chloraseptic but it doesn't do your voice any harm long term. Not as much fun as port and brandy though, I must try that one.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Genie
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 01:35 PM

Having rested both my voice and my bod for quite a while now, my speaking voice is sounding almost normal, and I can hum the lower 60 to 70% of my normal range again. I'm wondering what the best strategy would be for regaining my voice.

With other muscles, I would just start with short exercise sessions, warm up thoroughly before and after, and gradually increase the frequency, duration and intensity of the workouts. I can do this with the throat to some extent without vibrating my vocal folds a lot --doing breathing exercises, throat opening exercises [like the grimace exercise that Lynn described], yawning, etc.--, but there's no way to do a real choir-type warm up without vibrating the vocal folds, and I wonder if that should be avoided.

What I'm pondering is the balance between rest and exercise. Rest is good to combat inflammation, but it weakens the support you need for proper singing.

Any of you well-trained singers out there have a nutshell guide to getting your voice back after recovering from a bug-induced laryingitis?

Specifically, I'm wondering when I should start trying to regain my higher range. [If you can make noise up to a point and then not much comes out, should you just not try to sing above that point until it comes naturally [i.e. without discomfort] again? [With other muscles, I avoid forcing a stretch to the point of discomfort; I prefer to hold the stretches that are reachable, then relax and stretch again, usually going farther with each rep. Same thing for going up the scale with the voice?]

Genie


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,Jessica
Date: 16 May 02 - 01:44 PM

Thank you, thank you, one million thank yous' to all of the advice on this page. I am a vocalist and have a concert tonight.... with a severe case of bronchitis. I am not going to push myself horribly but also can't miss out on my final concert. I hope I am not wrong by drinking hot lemon tea with honey... (I think I am all right in doing so). Again, thank you so much on the educated information!


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,Just Amy
Date: 16 May 02 - 04:43 PM

I tried to read this whole thread but there is so much BAD information here!

Owlkat and Alice had some good ideas (but anchovies!). Anyone who uses any alcohol while they are singing is an idiot. Alcohol deadens the nerve endings starting with the tongue (so no enunciation) then the lips (mumbling) then the ears (can't hear how off you are).

Genie, there is a bronchitis virus going around. It is a virus and cannot be cured with antibiotics. Unfortunately, you just have to ride it out and it may take many weeks.

Anti-hystamines dry out your vocal chords. Do not use them.

You may be getting laryngitis for several reasons: Allergies, dryness, infection, or strain. Find out which one it is before you fix it.

I suggest to my voice students that they gargle with hydrogen peroxide if they are prone to infections (warm salt water is nearly as effective). Also, if you are a vocalist, you must be practicing vocal exercises AT LEAST one hour per day, just like you practice your instrument. Warm (not hot) light tea (steep not over 3 minutes) can be an excellent warm up before a gig. Of course, always tune your voice when you tune your instrument before performing.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: Genie
Date: 17 May 02 - 01:49 AM

guest Amy, thanks so much for your input!

BTW, HALLELUJAH! After almost TWO MONTHS of bronchitis and very tenacious laryingitis, I FINALLY seem to have gotten my full vocal range and vocal stamina back! Yesterday I did a program in which I sang a song where I went up at least to high F or G. Haven't been able to do that for a LONG time!

Interestingly, the serendipitious result of the laryngitis has been improved vocal technique. Out of necessity, due to the lingering laryngitis, as I began singing again, I had to make extra effort to support my voice with a lot of breath, so I worked extra hard on expanding my rib cage and taking in a lot of breath before each musical phrase. I HAD to improve my singing technique during the laryingitis, because otherwise I couldn't sing! Now that the laryngitis is finally gone, those habits continue--to the betterment of my voice.

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions and infornmation.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,Joakim
Date: 05 Aug 06 - 03:09 PM

Hi,

I'm from Sweden, so please be patient with my English. I was wondering if anyone could help me solve this life shattering mystery of mine. About 4 months ago I was working a lot on making my both registers (light baritone and sopranista) blend (now that's a lot of work!). It was done for the musical production RENT in the rôle of Angel, a transsexual. A lot of rehearsals eventually got me tired and I experienced pain for the first time in my life, specifically located to my vocal folds. I tried singing with less pressure but my condition worsened. I tried singing only in my falsetto register, since that has always been healthy to me, but that only made it worse since I'm not too comfortable in the lower (alto) parts of my falsetto voice. I quit the production, thinking "nothing is more important than my voice". I gave up singing and speaking for a week and a half from a doctor's advice (big mistake, huh?). I communicated through notes. When I started speaking again it was still there. I tried using my vocal knowledge (doing light excercises such as m, "vui", "hui" and others). And only that. I also did some light work in my baritone register, but I felt that was what had caused the problem in the first place - so I didn't do that a lot. Now I've had my folds checked (everything ok!!). I'm currently doing some speech therapy to regain my "big voice", but I don't feel my singing voice has recovered and that bothers me enormously. I try to take care of myself with remedies but I'm getting really tired when nothing happens. I have lost a huge part of my upper (flute) register and I now sound more like a mezzo ( which is not bad in itself ;-) ). Is my voice doomed to deteriorate? Any advice will be taken with great thankfulness.

This is really bad ( and I'm an optimist :-) ).

Sincerely,
Joakim


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 06 Aug 06 - 10:31 AM

i believe that being a singer is like being a certain kind of athlete. It requires a kind of training.

1. Excercise moderately, particularly aerobic (swimming..walking..treadmill...stairsteps)
2. Avoid dairy, alcohol, tobacco and any lozenges or medication that dries up your throat
3. Coax your voice and don't force it.
4. Alexander Technique for relaxation and flexibility
5. Yoga if you don't strain or force.
6. A good night's sleep
7. Find the proper balance for your voice...don't overdo
8. Find that special vocal instructor
The one that helps with vowel placement, relaxed breathing, facial relaxation, and avoid pushing or straining
9. Drink enough water to keep folds moist
10. Avoid negative people
11. and stay awy from side stream smoke)


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,Joakim
Date: 06 Aug 06 - 10:59 AM

Sorry for double questions... Check out "Losing my voice" if you want to read the rest.

Joakim


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,miriam
Date: 24 May 07 - 03:19 AM

been having sour throats ever since i was little. i don't get them often now but lately i seem to have a permanent lose of my voice. Do the two connect and what can i do? Don't have money for all those voice spray stuff.


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,James H
Date: 24 May 07 - 11:34 AM

get thee to a doctor, and get it all checked out. If they say there is nothing physically the problem, you may be straining your voice - drink lots of water and check out some of the links further up in this thread for vocal warm ups etc.

James H


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 24 May 07 - 02:13 PM

I agree with the Fisherman's friends solution if desperate but be careful keeping them in the side of your mouth. They can rot that tooth very quickly. Sugar free cherry ones are good


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Subject: RE: Help: Singers and laryngitis
From: GUEST,Doping
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 08:21 AM

Take care of your voice Nicky, or you'll have to resort to singing rock songs with a trashed voice.
Mudjack


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