Vocal Hygiene Program

Vocal Hygiene: How to Get the Best Mileage from Your Voice

Don't Abuse Your Voice: Do:
Don't clear your throat or cough habitually - Sip some water, swallowing slowly.
- Yawn to relax your throat.
- Hum: concentrate on resonance sensations.
Don't yell, cheer or scream habitually. - Use non-vocal sounds or visual cues to attract attention.
- Find non-vocal ways to discipline children.
Avoid prolonged talking over long distances and outdoors. - Move closer, so you can be heard without yelling, or use a vocal amplification system.
- Learn good vocal projection techniques.
Avoid talking in noisy situations: over loud music, office equipment, noisy classrooms, in cars, buses, airplanes, etc. - Reduce background noise when you speak.
- Always face persons you are speaking with.
- Position yourself close to your listeners.
- Wait until students/audiences are quiet.
- Find non-vocal ways to elicit attention.
Don't try to address large audiences without proper vocal amplification. You should be able to lecture at a comfortable loudness. - Use a high-quality vocal amplification system for public speaking.
- Learn good microphone technique.
Don't sing or vocalize beyond your comfortable range. - Respect your vocal limits.
- Seek professional voice training.
- Always use an adequate acoustic monitor during vocal performances.
- Never sing high notes you can't sing quietly.
Avoid vocally-abusive nervous habits during public speaking: throat-clearing, breath-holding, speaking quickly, speaking on insufficient breath, speaking on a low and monotone pitch, aggressive or low-pitched fillers ("um..."; "ah...") - Monitor and reduce vocal habits that detract from your presentation.
- Learn strategies for effective public speaking.
- Prepare your presentation well so you can relax and attend to good vocal production.
Don't speak extensively during strenuous physical exercise. - Avoid aggressive vocal "grunts" while lifting weights, or during martial arts.
- After aerobic exercise, wait until your breathing system can accommodate relaxed voice production.

Information obtained from: http://pvcrp.com/vocal_hygiene.php

Questions/Answers About Voice Problems

What is voice?

Voice is the sound produced by the larynx (LAR-inks), commonly called the voice box

Where is the larynx located?

The larynx is located in the neck. The "Adam's apple," seen most prominently on men, forms the front of the larynx. The vocal folds extend back from the Adam's apple.

Larynx    Image obtained from: www.mauderli-hno.ch/ Lexikon/Lex_larynx.html  

How is voice produced?

Air passes from the lungs through the larynx when you exhale. Generally there is no sound made by this simple act of breathing. By closing the vocal folds like a valve, the air passes gently between them, vibrating the folds and producing voice.

Larynx

              

Air flow from the lungs

What is normal voice?

A normal voice is judged according to whether the pitch, loudness, and quality are adequate for communication and suit a particular person. A person may use a pitch which is too high or too deep, intensity that is too loud or too soft, or voice quality may be too hoarse, breathy, or nasal. Sometimes a voice may seem inappropriate for an individual, such as a high-pitched voice in an adult male.

What is a "problem voice?"

Voice is a problem when the pitch, loudness, or quality calls attention to itself rather than to what the speaker is saying. It is also a problem if the speaker experiences pain or discomfort when speaking or singing.

What causes a voice problem?

There are a variety of causes of voice problems. People can become hoarse temporarily by cheering at a baseball game or can sustain an injury that causes a paralysis of the vocal folds. Misuse of the voice, such as talking too loudly or using a pitch level that is too high or too low, results in a voice problem. So can an improper breathing pattern or excessive smoking. The most common voice problems from vocal abuse are vocal fold nodules and polyps. Other voice disorders occur without apparent cause. These include spasmodic dysphonia and paradoxical vocal fold movement. 

Can voice problems relating to misuse result in cancer?

Although smoking has been identified as a cause of cancer of the larynx, faulty use of the voice is more likely to cause nodules, nodes, polyps, or contact ulcers.

What is an early sign of a voice problem requiring professional help?

If you have hoarseness, voice change, or discomfort that lasts for more than ten days in the absence of an allergy or cold, you should have an examination by a medical doctor. This examination will help you decide whether your problem will require professional assistance.

How can voice problems be helped?

Many problems improve dramatically with the help of a speech-language pathologist. Some problems can profit by a combination of medical or surgical treatment and speech-language pathology services. When faulty use of the voice has caused a condition requiring surgery, the help of a speech-language pathologist will be necessary to avoid a recurrence of the problem. With some conditions, such as cancer of the larynx, a laryngologist (ENT) may recommend surgery and presurgical counseling with a speech-language pathologist.

What is a speech-language pathologist?

A speech-language pathologist is the professional who is trained at the master's or doctoral level to perform the non-medical evaluation of a voice disorder and, when indicated, execute a plan to improve voice. The speech-language pathologist will hold certification (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and, in almost all states, a license to practice.

How can I decide which is the most appropriate kind of help?

You will want to consult with both the laryngologist and the speech-language pathologist since lasting voice improvement is generally the result of a team approach.

Information obtained from:  http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Voice-problems.htm