Vocal Health

Lisa Rochelle often works as a Singing Voice Specialist in collaboration with medical professionals in the retraining of injured and problematic voices, having specialized training in vocal pedagogy and rehabilitation (called ‘vocology’). This training informs her work with all students and is an integral part of her teaching. She is coordinator of the  NY Singing Teachers’ Association’s well-respected Professional Development course ‘Vocal Health for Voice Professionals’, a detailed exploration of vocal health issues relevant to singers and teachers of singing, taught by six leading medical voice professionals.

Ms. Rochelle also offers seminars in Vocal Health Management, which can be tailored to the specific needs of your school or group. Seminars in NYC have included those at:     The Neighborhood Playhouse, Marymount Manhattan College, The Chapin School, and  New Dance Group.


AN IMPORTANT FACT TO CONSIDER...


Most performers don’t think about ‘Vocal Health’ until they have a problem.

The confidence in knowing that your voice will 'be there’ when you need it comes from having solid vocal technique plus the discipline and smarts to maintain voice-friendly habits. I have often received the panicked phone call from a new client, “I open/begin rehearsals/leave town in 3 days, and I’m having voice trouble” or “I don’t have my high notes/I’m hoarse, and I have a callback tomorrow!”

Don’t let that be YOU. Experiencing vocal fatigue, strain, discomfort, hoarseness or loss of high notes is upsetting under any circumstances and can have ramifications in all professional situations. Once you are cleared medically, we will be sure that you are prepared and able to rise to the occasion when the important audition, callback, and/or job comes along and that you have your voice for a long time after this job is over. You will have the tools to be able to sustain a rigorous touring or rehearsal schedule so that you can focus on being the best performer you can be – not whether or not your voice is ‘there’.


What ARE the VOCAL ‘RED FLAGS’ to look out for?

 

CHALLENGES to MAINTAINING PEAK VOCAL PERFORMANCE



  • Insufficient vocal training or poor vocal technique in any one of the musical styles in which you intend to audition or perform (i.e., for theatre - from pop and rock to theatre ‘super- belt’ & legit - often to High ‘C’, for ensemble)
     
  • Excessive or consistently loud talking or shouting i.e., anything from survival jobs that require talking over music or a lot of ambient noise (teaching, directing, choreography, babysitting and restaurant jobs) to long phone conversations and cheering at sporting events.
     
  • Environmental irritants
     
  • Allergies and Acid Reflux (heartburn)
     
  • Dry mouth due to many singer ‘un-friendly’ medications or dehydration
     
  • Singing when sleep-deprived
     
  • Singing and dancing simultaneously

 

  • Long rehearsals or long hours in the recording studio
     
  • Not being able to hear yourself singing while in performance, due to either amplified stage noise or from high volume/ill-placed monitors
     
  • Adapting to a new theatre or concert space with minimal or no rehearsal
     
  • Singing an 8-show week or multiple sets in one night
     
  • Eating or drinking late at night
     
  • Not having a recording engineer to ‘create’ your vocal performance, as most established recording artists do. As theatre singer or live performer, your voice needs to ‘be there’.

 

 

HOW CAN YOU OPTIMIZE YOUR PEAK VOCAL PERFORMANCE?

 

 

Be PROACTIVE – learn how you can take control of as many of those challenges as you can. We can figure out the best ‘how to’ for you, given your lifestyle and specific needs.
Your body IS your instrument and your speaking & singing voices use the same muscles; Developing awareness of your habits – good and bad- is the first step towards achieving Vocal Health.

 

 

SOME VOCAL HEALTH TIPS**

 

 

** Please note that if you have any voice-related symptoms for more than 2 weeks, you should have a videostroboscopy (‘strobe’) exam with a laryngologist. Laryngology is a SUB-SPECIALTY of ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat), therefore many ENT’s may NOT have the equipment or expertise in interpreting these exams or maintain the relationships with therapists who work with serious singers on a regular basis. Seek out an MD who SPECIALIZES in working with Professional Voice Users, even if you are a beginner. If you have to travel a distance, it is well worth your time and effort to ensure that you receive a proper diagnosis.

 

Similarly, be aware that Voice Therapy is a SUB-SPECIALTY of Speech-Language Pathology. Not many Speech-Language Therapists specialize in Voice. Be sure to inquire whether the Speech Therapist you are contacting specializes in Voice. Some Speech Pathologists are also Singing Voice Specialists.

 

Below is a sample of some general ‘tips’, and is by no means an exhaustive list of what you can do for your voice. This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to replace medical attention or to be taken as medical advice. If you have a voice problem that lasts more than 2 weeks, consult with a laryngologist who specializes in working with performers.

 

  • Avoid or address the situations mentioned in the ‘CHALLENGES’ section above. Discuss these with a Voice Therapist or Singing Voice Specialist who is familiar with your history and has seen the report from your laryngologist.

 

  • Stay hydrated. Drink more water than you think you need - the general guideline is “pee pale”. If you wait until you are thirsty, your vocal folds are already working harder than necessary in order to vibrate.
     
  • Always do your own, individualized warm-up before singing, acting or extended public speaking.
     
  • Use singing support muscles when you speak.
     
  • Breathe through your nose throughout the day, whenever possible.
     
  • Pace your breath and speech – slow down your talking and breathe!
     
  • Avoid singing on swollen cords i.e., when your voice is tired or raspy for ANY reason. TIRED VOICE? REST it. CONSERVE.
     
  • Limit talking in noisy places – change location, talk later or e-mail/text!
     
  • Be aware of emotional and physical stressors that can cause tension in your upper body and jaw. Self-massage (neck, shoulders, etc.) throughout the day.
     
  • Do not ‘belt’ unless you have been trained by a teacher who has expertise in doing so.
     
  • Avoid imitating other singers (i.e., with recordings, etc.).
     
  • Consult with your Laryngologist, Voice Therapist or Singing Voice Specialist re: the possible drying effects of any medications you currently take. Most doctors do not know how medications affect the voice specifically. Educate yourself about the seemingly harmless over-the-counter meds that can adversely affect the voice.
     
  • Keep room environment moist.
     
  • Minimize caffeine, alcohol and other foods & beverages that dry the vocal fold tissue, making your vocal folds work harder than necessary.
     
  • Get sufficient sleep.
     
  • Wash your hands and/or use alcohol-based sanitizer throughout the day.

 

 

Establishing healthy habits is one of the best ways to take care of your instrument.
Cherish your voice – it’s the only one you’ve got!

                  

 

 

 

 

 


Lisa Rochelle · 212.724.3470 · Lisa@LisaRochelle.com
Singing Lessons · Audition Preparation
New York City · Upper West Side