It is sad that Mariano Rivera underwent surgery on his vocal folds (cords) recently. The Yankees’ closer was diagnosed with severe vocal abuse in which polyps had developed on his vocal folds. A month prior to his surgery, he noticed a decrease in his ability to speak which was characterized by a raspy, whispery quality. What is interesting is that, with the right training, he could have prevented it.
Vocal abuse is a problem for many people, including teachers, coaches, soccer goalies, trainers, ministers, politicians, speakers, actors, and singers; however, it is not just people in those professions who can experience vocal abuse. Anyone who yells a lot – for example, rooting for your favorite sports team – or who speaks for great lengths of time is a candidate. Even if your business is just talking on the phone for 8 hours a day, you may find that you have a persistent sore throat, chronic hoarseness or even loss of voice by the end of the day.
While surgery may be the answer, if you continue using your speaking (or singing) voice in the same manner as before, then the vocal abuse will return. The only answer is to learn to place your voice properly.
We have 5 resonators responsible for voiced sound. They include the cavities of the chest, voice box, throat, mouth and nose. Most people, however, use only 4 of those 5 resonators. The one that is not being used happens to be the one that has the most power and is the largest in size. That, of course, is the chest cavity.
Without this large cavity as your primary sounding board, you are relying primarily on your throat and voice box to power your sound. That is the mistake and that is why vocal abuse is an ever-increasing problem today. We are using our voices more so than any other generation. While singers often experience vocal abuse at some time in their career, there are many others who are suffering including Anthony Robbins and Hillary Clinton.
If you are noticing problems with your voice, you need to learn to power your sound by means of your chest cavity. In doing so, you will not only eliminate the vocal abuse but you will also discover a richer, warmer, more mature-sounding voice that has the ability to be projected. Projection is the increase in volume without shouting.
You will be amazed at the difference in how you sound and how your voice feels when you let your chest do your talking!
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Nancy's Voice Training site at Voice Dynamic and discover The Power of Your Voice or watch as she describes in more detail The Truth About Vocal Abuse.