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Managing neck/larynx swelling - rest or no?

snyder6snyder6 Voice Repair Posts: 3
Hi guys,
I have a question about voice recovery. I have swelling in the neck (SCM) and larynx, and I wondered if I should sing through it or rest my voice to get the swelling down. Here's what happened. I used to sing basically out of the back of my throat and didn't understand the concept of singing in the "mask." I've been going through Ken's voice recovery course regularly with some success.
Well, somehow I slipped back into doing the exercises without the "brightness" for awhile, singing lightly with the back of my throat (the concept of head voice has always been hard for me to grasp). I'm kicking myself because I knew better, but old habits die hard. After doing this for awhile, I lost some of my vocal volume and high notes became harder to hit. I corrected my technique, rested my voice a couple days, and the volume came back. I still had some neck swelling though. Then I went back to singing the exercises out of my throat again and my voice box swelled up real bad. I lost some of my volume again when singing and speaking. I'm convinced it must be extra sensitive from a couple months of singing this way... This time I rested my voice for 2 days, then started doing the recovery course again, very careful to stay bright and not sing out of the back of the throat. My volume returned, but I still feel some swelling in the larynx and quite a bit in the SCM muscles. I sing at a church for my job and also have to speak a decent amount throughout the week. My question is this. In order to recover fully and quickly from the swelling, should I continue singing and speaking like normal (with brightness this time), or do I need to rest my voice until the swelling goes down? I just don't want to make it worse, and need my speaking voice to be well for a presentation in a couple weeks. If it's still bad in 2 weeks I'll go to an ENT, but it doesn't sound bad right now. Range is good too. It's just moderately swollen. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks,

Nathan

Comments

  • codeowlcodeowl 2.0 PRO Posts: 303
    edited April 19
    @snyder6,

    Prob @doc_ramadani can give you his take from the medical side of things.
    While I am not qualified to give you advice on this, I can share my experience with you. You can read my background story to see that in my first attempt at the course I failed, going horse all the time and having strain in my throat. Like you I felt like my voice was stuffed in the back of my throat, and the only way I could move up in pitch was to push a heap of air and raise my larynx.
    In my second attempt at the course I learnt about lifting the soft palate and using that as a tool to move up in pitch and in comparison to what I was doing, it made it effortless. I could do all of the scales in chest voice, no problems. This went great for 4 weeks practicing every day, and then I started getting very croaky after workouts, this is like the precursor to going horse for me. I had got more confident and started singing harder, and practicing 6 nights a week it doesn't take long for wear and tear to become cumulative. I decided I needed to understand support better, and so I did a stack of research here and learned how to do it properly. This went great for a while, but then I started to get croaky again, it was like always on the edge of happening. I then learned about breath control, and started applying this, and that coupled with good support has solved the problem. But, I have to really focus on it. I went back to the starter exercises in volume one as they are a bit slower than the main audio workouts and I don't have to allocate as much focus to the more rapid pitch changes, and just really focused on support, and breath control. In my first attempt I would have little breakthroughs and then not be able to replicate them another day, so in my second attempt I started an analytical approach to training, recording myself and making notes about observations I made, and then making a checklist of things to focus on for each exercise, warm ups and vowels. I read the checklist before starting each exercise. Even if I knew what it said, just as a re-enforcing reminder before I started. I found if I didn't do this I would get through half a scale and then start going croaky as I had not focused on the things I should have, and that ruined that nights practice, so I just made myself look at it every time. Sticky notes and a mirror are also good.
    As I had new breakthroughs I documented how to replicate them straight after I worked them out. I took notes on things like the aspects of mask I used, the placement of the resonance, jaw position etc... I did it all in a way that someone else could read it and be able to replicate it. Phone videos are also useful for this as you can demonstrate what you have leaned and narrate all the aspects of how to replicate it.
    This totally accelerated my learning and gave me a deeper working understanding of the things I learnt.
    In my profile there are a number of links to posts where i have discussed stuff I have learned from Volume 1, along with some cool experiments to try etc... you may find some value in it:
    https://forum.kentamplinvocalacademy.com/profile/codeowl
    (start with the one on support!)

    For myself, (so this is not advice, just my experience) I opted to keep doing the workouts each night, but if my voice started going croaky I would take a break (10 - 15 mins) and then keep going and just be hyper focused on technique: support, breath control, lifting soft palate, lowering back of jaw and singing lightly etc...

    I started my second attempt over the 2020 Christmas holidays and so I am about 4.5 months in now, and I have resolved 90 % of my problems, and it continues to get better.

    As Ken says: "Perfect Practice makes Perfect", so I would recommend you take an analytical approach to training and really focus on technique to build in that muscle memory of good technique. This approach will really compound your breakthroughs as you will have full replication steps for each one, and a deep understanding of them.

    And of course follow the guidance of your ENT :wink: .

    Good luck my friend.

    Oh, the other thing I should mention is that in my second attempt at the course I found that all the stuff I had not done correctly is actually covered in the course, but in my eagerness to get to the singing part, I didn't pay close enough attention to it. So the one piece of advice I can give you, is to get the course, as all this stuff is covered in detail in the course, and you get access to the student areas, and there is a huge amount of value in there in regards to solving problems and listening to the experiences/demos/advice of others.

    Regards,

    Scotty


  • snyder6snyder6 Voice Repair Posts: 3
    Thanks for the reply. It's encouraging to hear most of your problems have resolved. I think my technique is improving, it's just a matter of getting the neck swelling down and increasing resonance. I tried something interesting this past week. I kept reading about straw exercises for people with issues like me. Ken told me via e-mail that straw exercises are good, but that the Ah vowel would be more effective. I agree, but I do have somewhat of a unique issue because I'm going through a TMJ treatment to realign my bite, and I just can't keep doing long vocal workouts right now re-irritating my neck. I'm not opening up too extreme as far as I can tell, so I decided I'd split my workouts between straw exercises and Ken's method in the voice repair course. Interestingly, I first tried singing through a straw into a bottle of water so I could see whether or not my airflow is consistent. As I go up into my range, I realize my air stops. Then I bought a product called the Sing Ring by Oovo. I would go through some of Ken's course using the Sing Ring with my hand at the end of the straw so I could see if my airflow was consistent. Again, almost no air came out when I switched into head voice. So apparently I also have a support issue, in addition to my issues using too many throat muscles to sing. It's weird... I did not feel like the air pressure was any less, but obviously it is when I try to measure it with the straw. It's good to know. If I concentrate long enough, I can keep the pressure consistent, feel my diaphragm engage, and hit my high notes with ease. However, I lack coordination right now and could not sing a song this way. One question I still have about my own technique is if I am cutting off the air when I go up in chest voice or if it's just when I switch into head voice. I think I am good at not using too much air, but I don't support my high notes. I wonder if the same high note in chest voice needs the same amount of air if that note were sung in head voice. Not sure. I'll keep experimenting with it, but 20 minutes of scales with good diaphragmatic support showed good results. Then when I took the straw away and sang Ken's exercises as normal, I could sing higher than I previously could on a normal day. Weird. Now to work on the muscle memory. This could take awhile!
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