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Oh dear, I’ve lost my voice!

Have you ever lost your voice? It’s a bit of a professional hazard as a teacher.

Over the last few months I have had several viruses and laryngitis. I have had little or no voice for seven weeks. Then things started getting worse, a tight strained throat reminded me each day how much I use my voice when teaching students. I lost an octave from my singing range and couldn’t sing without pain. I hoped it would get better. It didn’t.

So last week saw me visiting the doctor again. This resulted in a specialist visit to an Ear Nose and Throat Doctor. It was a very illuminating visit! Not being one to get squeamish, I watched as the doctor put a camera down my nose and throat to look at my vocal cords.

It seems that during the initial viruses my body adapted to use the false vocal cords and other throat muscles to compensate for the true vocal cords not closing properly. Then as the rest of my body started recovering, my vocal cords and false vocal cords just kept on doing the same thing, they have mal-adaptation. This meant I was consistently straining the muscles in my throat and has lead to the difficulties I am currently experiencing.

The bit thats not working vocal cords

Closed vocal folds and open vocal folds. Mine just aren’t closing all of the way.

Outside of vocal lessons I have had little reason to think about the way my throat works before. I use my voice considerably in my personal and professional life, being without it these last few weeks has been a very good lesson in the value of looking after it. As the specialist said to me “if you sprain your hamstring you see a Physiotherapist, if you strain your throat you see a Speech Pathologist.”

So next week my journey to find my voice with the Speech Pathologist begins.

I look forward to sharing the journey and any gems of wisdom with you all about ways musicians and teachers can protect their vocal cords and not end up in this predicament.

Have you experienced an “injury” that has impacted on your teaching?

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