Singing Voice Rehabilitation

What is Singing Voice Rehabilitation and who needs it?

Every singer at some point in their career will have a problem with their voice. This may be anything including:

Loss of stamina
Increase in recovery time
Loss of upper range
Gaps in the range
Problems with loud or soft singing
Aching in throat
Voice routinely groggy in the morning

 

If you are worried about your voice, it’s important to have a diagnosis from an ENT consultant who is a voice specialist. This will normally be followed up by some speech therapy work. Then the singing voice rehabilitation specialist steps in. I am one of the few Voice Rehabilitation Coaches to be endorsed by the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine. In order to be accredited by them, one needs to have an in-depth knowledge of functional anatomy, vocal pathology, endoscopic observation, counselling skills, palpation skills, regular participation in Voice Clinics and regular supervision. Every one of these competencies is backed-up by training and certification so it is unsurprising that there are so few of us.

“Jenevora’s expertise was exactly what I needed through a difficult period. Her calm professionalism combined with her caring demeanour helped me see through the issue at hand and help me rebuild stronger through to the other side. I highly recommend her.
Brenden Gunnell, Tenor

My philosophy and ethical framework

In the training that I provide for Singing Voice Rehabilitation Specialists, and in my work within the Voice Care Centre, we are entirely client-focussed in our approach. The areas of study are broad and deep, and we encourage a curious and inclusive approach to knowledge acquisition within a biopsychosocial framework. We work with a network of professionals who contribute a variety of specialist training; these include psychotherapy, osteopathy, ENT, SLT, RTT, psychology, spoken voice, singing voice, manual therapy, physiotherapy, nutrition and other associated specialisms. We have a non-hierarchical, inclusive philosophy where every voice is heard, and the client is central in all conversations.

Collaboration – working together to help the voice user

Much of my rehabilitation work is carried out with singers who already have a regular singing teacher. They may also be having rehabilitation sessions with a Speech and Language Therapist. Sometimes the singer may feel they are getting confusing or conflicting messages. Although I may reframe some of their perceptions of vocal function as we work together, it is never my intention to confuse the singer or undermine their therapist or singing teacher.

The best way to ensure a creative environment for development is to open up channels of communication. I am always happy to share my process with others. This is done through the singer, with them at the centre, not the periphery. Just get in touch and talk to me. I would love to know your process too, what your perceptions of the issue are and the triumphs and frustrations you’ve had in working through this.

I have found that confusions can arise from the use of language. We all use different metaphors to describe vocal function and perceived tone colour, if we can agree on the least ambiguous ones then we can communicate clearly. Imagery is great until it’s confused with reality!

Some of the terms I find ambiguous are these:
Support, Placement, Posture are all implied fixed or held positions
Make space, Tilt, Lift, Deconstrict all imply a movement that may or may not be occurring.
Named anatomical parts may not be what’s contributing, for example, diaphragm or stomach.
Relax can mean collapse
etc

Where would you come for sessions?

I am based in Guildford, UK; I also have a studio in Soho, London; or you can book a session online. They are all the same price and you can choose what would be most helpful for you.

“Thank you for our session it has really helped with my confidence. I had stopped trying to really sing out loudly, and so I hadn’t been aware of how my singing voice has improved since my operation – it was a real joy to do those exercises with you and then sing along to the Rock Choir recordings at your piano – I hadn’t attempted that particular song, which is probably my favourite, so it was really wonderful to a) sing it and b) find that I could :-)”
Samantha Corner

What is a Voice Rehabilitation Coach?

Singers may come for rehabilitation work either through referral from a voice clinic, or you may self-refer.
If you have come from a clinic, you will:

Have had an endoscopic examination of your larynx and vocal folds.
Have had some sessions with a Speech and Language Therapist.
Already know some of the nature of the issue with your voice.
You will have had some guidance for looking after your health and for changing some of your habitual usage. 

At your first session with the Vocal Rehabilitation Coach (VRC), they may already have some information from the clinic or the SLT. However, it’s probably better to assume that they need to hear your story again. A full history is essential in order to form a complete picture, and to devise a holistic pathway for your vocal recovery. 

If you have self-referred to a VRC, they will need a full history and to listen carefully to your voice. If there is any suggestion of pathology, they will recommend a voice clinic appointment. What will the VRC do?

Talk to you about your voice problem to find out more about you and what’s been going on.
Listen to your voice, speaking and singing
Advise on techniques and exercises to address vocal habits, these are not necessarily genre-specific
Plan to have three or four sessions with you
Communicate progress and suggestions with your current singing teacher, the SLT or your musical director; if this is appropriate.

The aim of vocal rehabilitation

To enable you to achieve the sounds that you wish, in the easiest way possible for you.
To give you the tools and techniques that will help you to relearn any unhelpful habits of voice use.
Equip you to return to your work without fear of a recurrence of the initial voice problem.

Voice Rehabilitation can be for anyone, any singer of any age or vocal genre

“I just wanted to say a big thank you for helping J on Saturday. Your approach with him was spot on – he is normally very shy so the fact that he spoke to you and made jokes says a lot about your skills with children! 

We are so pleased to hear that his voice is ok – we will now communicate this to his singing teacher. I have put a mirror next to the piano now so that he can practice the tummy breathing that you showed him.”