Muscle Tension Dysphonia…I’d like to share with you a short story. In 2018, A lady named Janine contacted me explaining how she had been diagnosed with Dysphonia:
“Excess or dysregulated activity of the intrinsic and extrinsic layrngeal muscles…” In other words, the muscles of the voice box have been hammered and weakened either by mis-use (too much strain with not enough recovery time), or by an already weak vocal-muscle constitution, which may be due to ones make-up or past vocal ill-health.
For the past 12 months, Muscle Tension Dysphonia had taken hold of Janine, a full of life, bubbly and enthusiastic teacher. Janine’s lack of understanding about her voice constitution and knowledge of maintaining vocal health, meant she was having to have to step down from work for weeks at a time. During this period of rest, her voice would heal enough to return to work only to find herself in pain after just 30 minutes of teaching some days.
And so the cycle would continue…
Having been to numerous doctors throughout this time, eventually one of them said to her, “You might like to try singing. I’ve heard the techniques can help…”
“I have Muscle Tension Dysphonia and even after one session I can feel the tension release.”
– This was Janine’s review after her first session with Hummingbird Coaching.
It was wonderful to go on Janine’s journey of vocal recovery with her and to witness how, through her tenacity to practice and the support she gained from the children she taught, her laryngeal muscles (to quote the science term) were beginning to heal and strengthen. She was learning how to work with, recover from and prevent Muscle Tension Dysphonia, whilst also learning to maintain her fragile instrument. After a few weeks, Janine found she was able to go from 30 minutes of teaching to at least 2 hours in one day, 2-3 times a week. This was real progress!
As Janine continued to grow in the nurture of her voice, the winter season approached and something happened to me. I caught a virus. This virus attacked my vocal cords and for days, I had virtually no voice. I began to get concerned when a couple of weeks down the line although I was getting better physically, vocally, my voice was still very beaten.
I had taken for granted how easy it was for me to produce sound, let alone speak and sing with strength and power. In fact, I hadn’t ever really thought about it until a couple of weeks turned into a few more…I had to come to terms with the very real possibility that a career change might be on the horizon. To my own understanding, I had developed Muscle Tension Dysphonia. As soon as I would begin to speak, let alone sing, my voice would feel sore. It’s as if my voice box couldn’t handle any measure of airflow touching the vocal cords at all.
I revisited my mentor Per Bristow and his teaching on vocal recovery. His technique combined with my own experimentation and understanding as a singing teacher, nurtured my voice back to vocal health. However, it was to take a lot time and patience. A few weeks into January of 2019, there was a marked difference. It took the best part of 6 months to significantly notice a difference.
It really was the experience one might have of losing all vital in a normally fully-functioning muscle, where it needs to be built back up to strength from scratch. Step-by-step… Two years later, my vocal muscles are at a better place than they have ever been! As a result of my experience, I have gone much deeper into how to care for my voice, how to apply preventative measures and importantly, the steps to vocal recovery.
There may be voice issues that some people have that are outside of my remit. However, if you’d like to contact me for a free consultation, then I’d love to see if I can help.
The very best of vocal health to you!