Vocal Strain – What causes it – LESSON 23 – Craig Shimizu Voice

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Hi, this is Craig from Shimizu Voice Adele, Sam Smith and Julie Andrews. What do they all have in common? Well,
it’s obvious that they were all great singers. What’s also in common with all of them?
They all paid hospital visits because of vocal cord strain. Quite serious. They all
required operations, for the most part successful. In Julie Andrews case not so
successful because back then when they had an operation on the vocal folds they
had to actually cut off healthy tissue along with the part that was damaged. So
she was unable to regain the voice that she had prior to the operation. Did they really do anything wrong? Do
they have poor technique? Maybe. But in their defense, probably it
was more a case of fatigue. It doesn’t matter what condition you’re
in. If you use your vocal folds too much without adequate rest you would probably get into the same
trouble that they did. Of course, if you had better technique as
in proper support, breath control, placement, all those things help to
relieve the stress on the vocal folds. Those things will allow your vocal folds
to take a pounding without having to rest more than you need to. So today’s video is on strain. How to
recognize when you are getting into trouble. There’s three things – if you can keep
track of those three you’ll be able to head off any kind of
serious problems that you’ll have. And I’m sure all three of them experienced these
three things. I know Julie Andrews, she was not feeling well. She knew something
was wrong in her throat. She did choose to go on with the performance(s) on
Broadway hen she shouldn’t have. And that’s when
she crossed the line and did more damage to her vocal folds. And it’s hard in their defense in that Adele and Sam Smith, they became really, really
popular suddenly. And so they were in demand all over the place. And you have
to do multiple performances and wear and tear is just too much. And more so
because the style that they’re singing, it’s uh, belting. It’s more of a throaty
sound not in a real negative way because it, everyone has to learn to belt now if you
want to sing the pop songs as they’re being done. That gritty, gutty, emotional
sound. It’s hard to beat. That’s why these
current styles wear out the vocal folds faster than
more conventional singing. But if you know three things they will give you
advanced warning that when you need to have more rest. Number one: loss of high notes. Just a
little while ago, maybe a couple weeks or a month ago you could sing that high
note. And now you can’t. Of course a lot of people, a lot of professionals
experience this and what they do is lower the key of the song. But eventually
you can’t do that. And a lot of songs kind of loses a little umph as you drop
the key. number 2 loss of power you could belt those songs couple weeks ago a
month ago but today you cannot or you have to push harder to get the same
amount of power. That’s another warning sign that the
vocal folds are wearing out. And thirdly: loss of control like, um, not
necessarily only the high parts but in the simple parts of the song, your voice slips, cracks, breaks, in the simple parts. What’s causing all three other than just
a general wear and tear on the body and the vocal folds itself is that the vocal
folds are unable to close nicely. You can see my fingers my knuckles prevents the
vocal folds from closing nicely. And that’s a real simple way of explaining
what happens to the vocal folds. You develop the, these bumps on them that doesn’t allow
good closure. And then you release more air. And that is what caused the vocal
folds to have to work harder. So you don’t want these bumps to be forming. So while we’re on this subject, let’s
just talk about general strain. General strain also needs to be avoided even when we’re practicing or getting
into shape for a show or or the recording studio. Two things must
absolutely be avoided when you are training. Actually we should be avoided even in a
show. What that is is any kind of itchy or
ticklish sensations in your throat A lot of times you try to reach that
high note, ah. And then you feel something and you want
to clear your throat. What’s going on there is that you caused
something to irritate the edges of the vocal folds where they come together.
When that happens that triggers a response for you to clear your throw, m,m,
like that. Clearing the throat, what that does is
that there’s mucous membranes in the vocal folds. Anytime its irritated the mucous
membranes need to be triggered to release that mucus. Unfortunately it doesn’t release that
mucus as soon as there’s irritation. It needs
to have you do that sound m-m. At that point mucus is released onto the damaged part
of the vocal folds. That’s the good news. The bad news is
that the act of clearing the throat further damages the vocal folds. So
you’re thinking, “Hmph, that sucks”. What the lesson is, is
that don’t sing in a way that causes your vocal folds to be traumatized in
any way. Otherwise you’re going to have to clear your throat. I know some of you are thinking, “Okay, next time that happens I won’t
clear my throat.” Well, unfortunately, the damage has
already been done. You need to have that mucus to come out
to protect the vocal folds. So that’s not an option. You can try to clear a little lighter.
That will help. But the main thing to know is that clearing the throat is not
the solution for straining. The best solution for straining – don’t strain. Now this clearing of the throat will let
you also know that you’re running into long-term problems or more serious
problems. If you notice that you’re clearing your
throat throughout the day more often than you normally do that is
a big warning sign that something is going wrong Please pay heed to this and analyze
what’s going on that caused that. Is it improper training? Sometimes for a lot of you out
there too much training. Not enough rest. Lack of water. If you’re
not getting your basic amount which is, I don’t know what it is now. They keep
changing, six to eight glasses? If you’re not getting that a regular
basis… Was a warning for me like I’m not
getting… I have just… I confess I don’t get my six to eight everyday. But some of
my students, when they come in just with that understanding, their
voices and kind of their lives changed for the better just by being adequately
hydrated. So when a student comes in and they
sound very different from the previous week, they’re obviously straining or they’re just
pushing harder than they normally do, or they’re just singing poorly, you know, flat,
then we go through a checklist to find out what happened. Did you yell during
the past few days? That causes great vocal fold damage. Did you talk too much? I know it’s a hard
one especially for women. I’m not picking on
women. That’s… women need to talk to think
clearer unlike men. Not criticizing… it’s just the way that your brain
operates. So it’s hard to not talk so much. But if you talk a lot or talk louder
than you normally do then your vocal folds will pay a price. What else causes strain? If your
abdominals, mainly the rectus abdominis is too tight.
As in if you start to do more exercising, as in you played a sport, anytime you do any kind of physical
activity that you’re not used to your rectus abdominis your stomach is going
to get tight. When that becomes tight automatically your throat is going to be
tight. Laughing. Laughing causes strain. Think of the last time that you had a laughing fit and you couldn’t stop laughing for
minutes and then when you try to talk after that, do you remember that roughness in the voice.
So laughing is done in a way that’s detrimental to the vocal folds. Now am I saying not to laugh? Of
course not. Laughing does, there’s health benefits from laughing. So you should
laugh but if it’s overdone, you will get into trouble. I had this
poor girl that came in and she wanted to learn to sing better and she actually
could carry a pretty good tune. – and I couldn’t figure out why her
vocal folds were in such bad shape. We went through the list and she passed
everything. She was okay physically. Uh, no yelling, adequate hydration,
adequate rest, uh, I’d better not forget that if you’re training hard for your
singing be sure that you get more sleep than you
normally do because that’s when your whole body heals… when you’re sleeping. You don’t
strengthen your vocal folds while you’re using it. It becomes stronger when you’re
resting. Getting back to that girl I noticed that while she was having her
lesson she would laugh a lot. And I’m thinking ooo. And then she told me she had
this infectious laugh, that people love. So her friends would do things to make
her laugh… all day long. So I told her that’s a problem. If you want to heal your vocal
folds and develop as a singer you’re going to have to cut down how
much you laugh. So I don’t know the ending to that one because I don’t think
she liked that advice. If she maintained that same lifestyle of laughing like
that throughout the day then her vocal folds are in really bad
shape today. I can guarantee that. So that’s what Adele, Sam Smith and Julie
Andrews went through. Now for Adele and Sam Smith, what’s lucky is that the
surgery is getting better. Uh, I think they both went through laser
surgery. What’s good about laser surgery is that
they’re able to cut off only the parts that are damaged unlike
Julie Andrews when they had to cut off healthy tissue along with the damaged
parts of the vocal folds. And in fact I just read that they have even better
surgical techniques. That’s fine and dandy but you don’t want
this to happen to you as life is at a critical time. Both of them Sam Smith and Adele had to
cancel concerts. That’s a lot of money. But just for
yourself, you’re probably going to be in something maybe a play or going into the
recording studio so you just want to learn to sing
correctly and also to get adequate rest and understand proper vocal fold hygiene. This is Craig from Shimizu Voice. Today’s talk was about vocal cord distress and what causes it. Now of course we didn’t talk about how
to fix those things but generally that’s what good vocal technique is… you learn
to sing efficiently. If you learned anything from this video, please give it
a thumbs up, share it with your friends and subscribe to get the latest
information and also comments. Let me know if you understood everything about
this video or if there’s anything that you want me to clear up. In the meantime
all of you out there have a great day!

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