News & Reviews
Anatomy of A Disaster
this email was sent out on: 10:58:24 AM Mon., November 7, 2005
QUESTION:
G'day from Australia Melissa!
I have been using your techniques for the past two - three months and they have done wonders for me! Before I was constantly hurting myself and wondered how I could ever go on tour. My vocal style is based on the hardcore scream but I vary from death growls to high-pitched screaching every now and again.

The problem I had was last week when I got the flu three days before a Friday - Saturday support stint. I took two days off work and slept (as well as doing your speech exercises. I managed to shake the flu on Friday and had a good show. On Saturday night, I managed to finish the set before I lost my voice.

Our next show was on Wed night and I had plenty of time to get it back, right? WRONG!! I got my voice back 100% on Tuesday, buuuuut could not distort my voice. I did the Wed show but all I could do was yell in my talking voice and do the low death stuff it sucked!! That has never before happened to me. That was a week ago and I still canít scream... only yell, but I can talk perfectly. What is wrong with my beautiful scream?
Please help

ANSWER:
M: Good morning, Australia!
So what I am understanding is that you got the flu three days before a show and took off work. Were you in good vocal shape before that?

C: Before the flu? I was in good shape. The flu started with a sore throat but I managed to shake it with some time off work. I was in good shape for the show on Friday (my voice felt fine) and I think I would have been ok (thanks to the warm ups) if it werenít for having to play again on Sat. night.

M: Did this ďfluĒ involve chest congestion and coughing?

C: There was a little congestion but not too hectic and there was a little dry coughing that I usually get after a flu it only started on Saturday morning

M: Did you do vocal rest before the Friday show?

C: I did rest yes but I didnít do complete rest. I spoke when necessary.

M: Did you network and talk with friends after show on Friday?

C: I did talk after the show on Friday.

M: Flagrant foul! Strike One! And you went to the penalty box! Did you sleep 8 hours on Friday night?

C: I did not get eight hours on Friday night.

M: Flagrant foul again! Strike Two! And you stayed in the penalty box! Iíll spare you the question about whether you were you on vocal rest all day Saturday before the show.

C; Thanks.

M: So, on Saturday, you completely lost your voice? .

C: On Saturday night we played the 2nd show.... I did not completely lose my voice but it was in a bad way.. and I did talk after the show (Iím bad I know)..

M: Three flagrant fouls? Three strikes. You were sooo OUTTA THERE, dude (and looking at league suspension)! Seriously though, very interesting that you have lost false cord ability but not true cord function (you say that you can speak perfectly). What happens when you attempt an "above the pencil" falsetto note"

C: The above the pencil falsetto is 100% . I can sing perfectly and talk like nothing has happened. This is the main reason I contacted you. I found it very strange that I have no negative symptoms but have lost those false cords.
One thing that may have contributed could have been a throat spray I used "Difflam" an anti inflammatory. I used it after the show on Fri, before the Sat show and again during the Sat show. So maybe that was a bad idea.

M: You betcha it was! NEVER use throat sprays like that**. Thatís like using novacaine on a sprained ankle! Youíll just walk on it and think youíre fine until you fall down and injure it further! I am not saying the Diflamm is the culprit here in terms of the loss of your false cord function. (Although I did have a client completely and permanently lose taste and smell from a zinc nose spray!) I AM saying, donít use oral spray NSAIDs ever again! Throat sprays that lubricate are OK (although since water is cheaper and equalIy effective, I personally think they are a waste of money.) But anything that numbs or is anti-inflammatory is potentially dangerous. They obviously have not done studies on false cord production and the possible side-effects of throat spray NSAIDs- but it would make sense if there were instances of negative effect. I tell my clients or tour not to take ibuprofen or aspirin- only Tylenol. The NSAIDs and aspirin have an effect on the bloodstream that is counter-effective in the vocal healing process. Throw out that throat spray!!.

Hereís what I would do now:
Continue vocal rest (that means complete silence) as much as possible for 5 more days. Stay hydrated. Sleep 8 hours.
The first 2 days should be complete vocal rest if possible. If not possible, go to Day 3 and continue for additional 2 days.
Day 3-5: Do the speech warm-up first thing in the morning. Say as few words as possible on these days with proper voice production exemplified in the speech warm-up.

On Day 5, relearn false cord production. Go to this link:
http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/programs/index_20051022.html
(scroll to the bottom).

(I am actually teaching my radio host interviewer how to scream from scratch- itís hilarious and could be helpful.) Also, review Heat & Fire section on the DVD. If you are unable to do the tasks in the radio interview- call your ENT for exam for possible tissue damage from Diflamm. Let me know how it works out! It could be a lot of other things that we can discuss.





***Please note I am not talking about steroidal inhalant treatments that are effective for bronchial issues like asthma, such as Advair, Singulaire, Pulmicort, etc. These are highly effective meds when used under the supervision of a doctor and should be followed by a mouth rinsing to avoid yeast infection




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