What's Wrong With My Voice
When doing humming exercises, going up and down in pitch, there is a range in which it feels like something at the back of my throat vibrates, feels irritated and causes me to start coughing. When I sing, i often find I start coughing, is this an indication of a problem?
Hey there, Steve!
I’m going to answer your question the way I do with my singers. It may get a little crazy. Just stay with me.
First, I’d like to invite you to try this:
1) Feel where your Adams Apple is (the bump in the middle of your throat)? (ladies don’t have these so lucky you….I guess)
2) While putting a few fingers on your Adams Apple, swallow big.
Did you feel it move? If you’re not sure, try again.
Here’s what’s happening:
That lump that’s moving is called he ‘Larynx’
They larynx is the house where your vocal cords live.
The reason your larynx is popping up when you swallow is because it needs to in order to allow the Epiglottis to open and close (that flap that keeps stuff from ‘going down the wrong pipe’).
What’s this got to do with singing?
There are 2 groups of ‘vocal muscles’ that work your vocal cords.
In the body, there are no other muscles that are required to make sound…not your butt, not your shoulders…not even your furrowed brow. You may have heard differently but I have it on record from one of the top two vocal surgeons in the US (& I’ve done some ‘amusing’ experiments with singers to prove it to them)
In fact, the reason the most common voice irritations, strain and pain, even exist is because we are enacting ‘non-singing’ muscles that just get in the way of that good thing you had going on.
Here’s what happens when your voice does that thing you hate:
When we ‘aim’ at those notes (in the way 90% of teaching will tell us to), we naturally engage some of those ‘non-singing’ muscles.
And because they’re not meant to be in the singing process, they just try to look busy, like they belong there.
They usually start by tugging on your epiglottis.
But you’re epiglottis is like, “HEY! Leave me alone! I can’t sing if you guys wanna play up in here.”
And it happens over & over…& over until we‘ve taught our brain to always invite some UN-neccessary muscles in as part of the job.
It can start from bad training, mixing together different singing tips, copying other singers or just plain ‘guessing’ how to get to the notes.
Your brain says. “Dude, you can SOOOOO sing these notes.” So it sends the work order to your vocal muscles, who’ve by now gotten used to ignoring the tagalong’s.
The Larynx fires up the vocal muscles to do what you gotta do to make it happen, when….
…those little party crashers start tugging on stuff and gum up the whole works.
“How can I stop that from happening?”
In order to STOP THE MADNESS for good, we first need to know:
1) WHICH buggers are bugging our specific voice,
2) WHY they’re getting in, and…
3) HOW our voice should feel and sound without them. That allows our brain to reprogram who it let’s in when it’s time to nail those notes.
But wait….there’s more.
THEN we need to know:
4) How to identify the signs that they’re sneaking back in (trust me, they will keep trying)
5) What action to TAKE when they show up again, and…
6) How to train JUST the vocal muscles without allowing any outsiders into the process of singing again.
….but…the solution is dependent on completing ALL steps.
How Do I Do That?
This is where I just gotta tell you the ugly truth…the truth it took me over a decade to absolutely, positively confirm (because I didn’t want it to be the truth either):
Unfortunately, it is very uncommon even for a vocal coach to know what the heck I’m even talking about.
Even the ones who charge the most. (sigh…..falling tear for the $$$$ I wasted)
Why More Scales Will Never Fix Your Singing Problems
Because our vocal potential depends on using the vocal anatomy the way it was actually designed to work (which most of us don’t), the best way to understand what we really need to sing great without pain or strain is to think of it like any other muscle building activity.
Take getting in shape, for instance.
If we’re feeling a little heavy, most of us will start trying to fix it with the ‘quick fixes’: anything that’s simple, easy, fast, or…tasty!
And sometimes we start to see results. But it always ends the same way with quick fixes: either the results don’t last or it just can’t do what we need it to.
So we go to a gym!
But even going to a gym isn’t a guarantee of getting fit (anymore than taking singing lessons guarantees we’ll sing better. I learned that one the hard way too.)
If we don’t get a trainer who really knows what they’re doing…someone who uses a proven system that trains both your brain (habits) AND the muscle (vocal muscle), we’ll never really change those habits or learn what we actually need to make your results permanent.
Making permanent, positive changes in the way your voice works takes the exact same process. There just aren’t enough real gyms. And there are even fewer good trainers.
That’s the reason we get stuck, feel worse about our voice and start to feel like singing LESS might be the only answer.
But not YOU! Because now that you know WHAT’s wrong with your voice and HOW it’s going wrong, you’re two steps further than many singers will ever get with this same problem. (Yay!)
So the next question is “Am I ready to fix this issue for good?”
If the answer is ‘yes’, your LAST question is, “Who do I know that really KNOWS how to help me fix this for good?”
That’s sadly where many singers give up.
Most people don’t realize that we aren’t a typical ‘singing instruction place’. I built The Voice Club to be an advocate for singers like you because I know what it’s like to try so hard and look so long and NOT have access to the answers only a few upper crust singers do.
I live for those ‘Ah-HA’ moments we can help a singer get; that second they realize they can master something they didn’t even know they had in them. (aka ‘mind-blown’). Yeah. THAT’s what we do.
Can My Voice Honestly Get Better?
I know there’s a lot more potential in your voice than you think. I know this because we get to help make it happen for singers who are so shocked. That’s that only reason we keep doing what we do.
Your voice has more potential than you realize. But even better, singing could be so much more enjoyable than you ever realized. And what’s life without having a song to sing and not being embarrassed about how it sounds? 😉
Ask yourself, “what if “X” & “Z” weren’t a problem anymore?”
Don’t give up. You can check out The Voice Club Academy if it’s the right time for you. There are answers. And the right ones all work for your voice.
Is there something wrong with my voice?& why ‘singing scales” might be the problem
Ever feel like something just isn’t right with your voice?
I’ve been there too. I recently answered this question with some helpful information that’s true for your voice too.