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Gradual loss of falsetto & top of connected head voice. Should I forget about range extension?

jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
edited February 24 in Vocal Health and Wellness
In my late 20s I used to be able to sing in falsetto up to an E5 or F5 without any forcing in a disconnected breathy falsetto (like Emotional Rescue by Mick Jagger). Sometime in very early 40s, I discovered I could only get to a D5 in a disconnected breathy falsetto. Over time, this has very gradually reduced further in range, so that I'm lucky if I can even barely eek out a C5 in disconnected breathy falsetto when experimenting these days. Also, my falsetto, in general, has a much greater chance of cracking than regular connected head or chest voice.

My regular non-falsetto connected head voice has gradually decreased in range as well. In late 20s/30s, after understanding the concepts, I could get to a B4 or C5 in a CONNECTED non-breathy head voice when warmed up but never really could sustain those notes and they were thin-sounding. Now, lately A4 is roughly the top of my connected range in some exercises, but the A4 is not all that usable/reliable and I can't sustain it.

Bottom line is while I do think I'm a better singer overall than I was in 20s/30s, the top of my range has gradually decreased. I often wonder whether I would be better off forgetting about singing anything above a G4 and not even bothering with an A4 even in exercises unless it's a good day and totally effortless (probably very rare). I'm just not seeing any improvement in getting back the top of range, and I do think I understand the singing concepts like support, head/chest/mix, vowels, etc.

Put it this way, I don't think I'm doing much of anything wrong other than not being blessed with the range potential of a Ken Tamplin or Axl Rose or Steven Tyler. I often wonder if It's not even healthy (mentally or physically) for me to focus any more on extending range. So far, nothing has worked. (even when I was in my 20s/30s I still wasn't an "incredible range singer" like AXL or Ken) . There doesn't seem to be any magical exercise that could help extend my range back to where it was in 20s/30s (even though it wasn't all that great back then either because the higher connected head voice notes were thin sounding)

I'm almost thinking of making YT videos of myself doing exercises (and singing some songs while playing guitar) and asking any vocal instructors out there willing to watch the videos if they REALLY think they can help extend my range. I'm highly skeptical. I'd seriously consider taking lessons, but I'd expect real/actual results. (I don't want to be strung along and eventually discover my range isn't actually improving from those lessons). I've taken lessons in the past, and they did help, since I didn't yet understand the concepts, and I was a lot younger. Again, I think I fully understand the concepts involved in singing but I just am not blessed with range potential. Something occurred over time to decrease my range as I got older, but that likely is beyond my control (or any instructors control). I don't think it's my "fault" if you get my drift. Just saying.

Would I better off (mentally and physically) by forgetting about range extension anymore due to simply not physically having a voice that has that potential? Again, It really does look like my upper range is PHYSICALLY limited and not my "fault" if you get my drift.

J.

Comments

  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,068
    edited February 24
    are you training regularily? what is your daily routine?
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    edited February 24
    I sing regularly. I do warmups/exercises with scales/slides on various vowels up to a G#4 or A4 on a good day. I also sing at least a few songs per day. In addition, I'll also try to sing on vowels in breathy falsetto a little bit for a minute or two (or less) at a time, just to see how high I still can go in a breathy falsetto, but can barely sometimes get to a C5 in breathy falsetto.
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,068
    alright, since you said you are considering recording your exercises, this would actually be the best option to give you some advice on what is happening.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    Ok will work on that. Thanks.
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,068
    make sure to tag me when you uploaded it
  • Ken TamplinKen Tamplin Administrator, Moderator Posts: 444
    edited February 26
    Thanks for stepping in on this Klaus.

    What I'm about to say I promise I don't mean in any caustic or sarcastic way. But you're already ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater and you haven't even attempted to do the course.

    No offense but that's a really silly statement and comment. Yes, you can find all kinds of personal trainers that will tell you to run up and down that street and keep doing scales, but if you're not doing the scales correctly, if you don't have the correct support, if you're not training correctly, then how can you possibly expect to advance? In fact, you'll not only not advance if you're singing scales incorrectly; if so, all you're doing is wearing yourself down and you'll never get good at it, and you will lose range over time, just like everyone else does. You're no exception.

    Again, I don't mean this to sound mean, but your whining about what you can't do and yet you haven't even taken the correct steps to do what you're supposed to do. You can post all day long on YouTube and try to get people to tell you what you need to do and yet at KTVA we prove it every single day. You have to learn the actual correct methods to correct the problems you are complaining about.

    The upper range, in falsetto, mix, or belting chest can be expanded and healed by applying correct techniques, on into advanced age. Continuing to take random, unproven information and try to get professional results won't solve the problems you are experiencing.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    edited February 27
    I wasn't actually expecting a reply from the man himself. :smile: Are there any singers on the forum who were in a similar situation to me? We'll call the age range late 40s or older, where they gradually lost the top of their normal-breathy-falsetto and a maybe few notes off the top of regular connected head voice, and the loss of range started gradually in early forties, and they did take singing lessons before. It wasn't strictly atrophy because they did sing regularly (not necessarily professionally), but they did understand concepts like support, placement, vowels, etc. but just weren't able to get those top notes back on their own by working the top of their range. Then they bought your course and were able gradually get those top notes back? I'd like to hear from these singers, or please give me examples of these singers. These singers, if they were actually able to get those notes back as a result of buying your course, could be the proof that there's a chance it could work for me. But I'd like proof they do exist. (and I'm not trying to be a wiseguy)

    I don't really think my loss of range is the result of singing incorrectly. It may be due to other factors outside of singing like cartilages simply getting more rigid as a result of aging (and maybe it happens more to some singers than others due to no fault of their own), or reflux, or even snoring (if that affects the voice). It probably doesn't help that I tend to speak near the bottom of my range when I'd probably be better off speaking in more of a mix.

    Someone could buy an online or DVD singing course from the greatest instructor in the world, and still do the exercises wrong because, for example, they're forcing the top notes. If something doesn't feel right one needs to not force anything. Switch to another exercise or take a break.

    BTW, I was going to upload a video of me doing some warmups, and was even going to upload a video of me doing one of your Laye warmups. The 1-3-5-1 arpeggio that spans an octave. I was able to get up to a G#4 at the end of the first attempt on the Laye warmup (likely got that high because I did my own warmups on a ooh first) but I decided to record it a 2nd time, because I thought I was too heavy when starting out on the lower notes (at the beginning of the entire exercise not on the beginning of each arpeggio). On the 2nd attempt at recording the Laye video I was cracking even on an F#4 (ether because my voice got tired or my throat needed clearing or whatever). At that point I was able to do it without cracking by doing "laye-laye-laye-laye-laye" instead the L only on the first note. I then took a break. My warmups are usually better on an ooh, although I realize other vowels need to be worked (but never force when it doesn't feel right on top notes).

    Best,

    J.


  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 4,856
    Take the first step, up load your video and then we can discuss whether your understanding and application of correct technique is in fact correct.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    If I upload, I plan on uploading a bunch of videos including some cover songs. I got the impression that KT didn't think my uploading videos would be something worthwhile toward helping solve my range issues, or did I misunderstand?
  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 4,856
    If you read the post,

    "You can post all day long on YouTube and try to get people to tell you what you need to do and yet at KTVA we prove it every single day. You have to learn the actual correct methods to correct the problems you are complaining about."

    The last sentence is what uploading will help us figure out. It doesn't need to be a whole bunch of stuff, just a simple triad scale using the AH vowel trying to stretch your chest voice. A full exercise is best, not just a 5 second clip.

    There is no magic scale or exercise that will make you get your range back. No quick fix, no sudden my range has come back. You have to prepare for possibly months of hard work and diligence just to get them in a scale, then possibly double or triple that time frame to be able to use them in a song. Its true as we get older we can lose our range through the simple ageing process, but if you train correctly you can keep your range strong for a very long time. Ken wasn't blessed with massive range, he was constantly told in his early years to NEVER sing above I think a G4/A4. He worked up his range like 95% of us have to do, and he has kept it strong though all the techniques he talks about on YT and KTVA.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    I just uploaded some YT videos, recorded on iPhone. They're currently unlisted, but the links below should work. I'll add that I've tried various exercises to get back lost range but, so far nothing has worked. I'll add that I used to take lessons, buy books/courses on extending range, and have read books on vocal pedagogy and
    how the voice works etc. I think the reason someone, like, for example, Axl Rose, can sing high notes that I can't is due to a difference in physical limitations, and not him being a genius in understanding singing compared to me, if you get my drift. :) I think it's just that, based on my experience, I happened to have a limited range potential, even with training. I also think age affects some singers range more than others. But I'm open to suggestions on getting back lost range. Thanks.

    Lah demo: 1,3,5 arpeggio -

    Simple warmup, 1,3,5. Ooh vowel, D consonant:

    Discussion of loss of upper notes in falsetto/head:

    Cover song examples recorded with iPhone, no editing. Might even sound better listening to
    them on an iPhone since, to me, it seems there's too much low end when heard on bigger speakers.
    Not perfect, just examples:

    Example cover song #1 -
    Example cover song #2 -
    Example cover song #3 -

    @Klaus_T @Wigs
  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 4,856
    I listened to your lah demo, your discussion and your first cover song demo. I can tell that you know how to sing, your demo was pretty good, you know how to shape and sing vowels that it sounds like you are actually singing not just saying the words in pitch. There are many technical things you can improve though that will help you get back some of your lost range.

    3 of the biggest things are support, breath control and shedding the weight of the vowel as you go higher. You keep mentioning magical scales or exercises to get back range and that some people are more anatomically adept at achieving high range. No scale will help you get higher range unless you use the correct technique, and singers like axle did have high range before, but lost it due to incorrect technique over time. We hear this alot with many famous singers, even current ones. If your mindset is stuck on these things, you will have a very hard time pushing through what is more a mental block rather than trying to improve on your abilities.

    Starting with support, you need to engage your support more the higher you go, and also the more chest voice you intend to use. Support is the first pillar and you should always sing with support. As you go higher you are forgetting about your support and are concentrating most of the sound in your throat, it sounds like you are actually reducing the amount of strength you should be aiming for as you get to the top.

    You need to learn the concept of using less air to phonate, we can control how much air we use to sing, sometimes you use a breathy tone for texture in a song, but for training your voice you should always aim for a bright tone with ping. Training with too much air doesn't grow your voice, you aren't overly breathy but I can hear more being used than is necessary. High head voice notes will use a bit more air than lower notes by their very nature of the amount of air pressure needed to make sound, but if you dont control it, you will default to a breathy falsetto and are back to square one.

    Vowel modifications are necessary as you go higher, trying to maintain the original shape of the vowel through your entire range means you are trying to bring too much weight up into your higher range. The throat cant deal with this load so you need to shape the vowel into something smaller while still sounding like the original vowel.

    These things are all technique related. The way that KTVA teaches you to grow your voice and range starts with good technique and growing your chest voice. The higher you can grow your chest, the higher your potential head voice will be since head voice doesn't require as much strength in your support. You want to always train for and maintain a bright ping with good cord closure, this means through your entire range you should aim for no breathiness in your scales, only add breathiness for effect in singing, dont make it a default in your upper range. Another thing that we train for early on is to CONNECT our chest and head voice without a register break. Support plays a major role in all of this, and even having all these tools and knowledge at our disposal doest mean everyone is magically better in a matter of a few months. Some will be able to apply this sooner than others, but the work you put in yourself is what dictates how your voice will grow.

    Here are a couple of Kens YT videos to get you started.



  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    edited March 7
    Thanks for checking out the demos and for the reply. I will check out those two videos. I'm a little bit confused about growing the chest because, to me, it seems that, above a certain note (and it varies depending upon the intensity, but we'll call it an E4 or F 4, for me, it always seems there has to be some kind of head voice (a mix containing SOME head resonance) or there's a more of barrier to singing any higher than that. I can get to roughly a G4 in a moderately loud (80 to 85db at around a few feet) somewhat chesty-feeling sound, but the tone does get thinner/lighter near the G4 and to get above the G4 would involve it getting even more heady sounding and then I top out at an A4 which I can only really sometimes sing on mostly an ooh or eee vowel but it's not reliable. My G#4 and A4, even though they are connected, seem mostly head-voice to me Not falsetto, but very little chest resonance.

    As a game plan should I grow the chest by singing scales in a moderately loud tone (but comfortable and not shouting) on LAH and any other vowels Ken recommends, but not worry about "head voice" placement when doing exercises for a while? If so, then at what point would I focus again on head voice in exercises? Would this be when (or if) I could get above a G#4 or A4 in a much fuller tone, or at some other point?

    Or is "growing the chest" the same as being able to sing in a mix above a G4, but just not too heady?

    I was also thinking about support today, and if the sound is very light (like a very light but still connected head voice but low in volume), then consciously activating the abdominals doesn't really do much. If the sound is a more full sound then activating the abdominals does give the sound a boost, especially on higher notes, but it doesn't really get me past my barrier of A4 as the highest non-disconnected note I can sing on certain vowels some of the time.

    Also, if a song is out of my range (even when transposed down 3 half-steps) like, for example, "No more Lonely Nights" by Paul McCartney, with its high chorus (I don't have a demo of me attempting that one), do I attempt to sing the song when practicing by myself as an exercise at whatever key I can manage to sing it in (3 half-steps lower than the original key), even if it still doesn't sound all that great? It seems like it takes a lot of effort, because I'm near my limit in terms of sustaining those high phrases. Or, should I avoid a song like that, even as an exercise, because maybe it could be doing more harm than good if it feels like a lot of effort overall just to sustain the notes. How do you determine worthwhile effort when singing a song that's near a range limit vs. it may be doing more harm than good? I could try transposing it down 5 half-steps but then the verses won't sound all that great due to being transposed so low. That song has almost 2 octaves of range (an octave and 10 half steps) from the bottom note to the top note in the song. If I play back a recording of myself practicing and the song sounds too high to perform in public (because it sounds like too much of an effort) then do I abandon the song even as an exercise if I can't lower the key any lower?

    J.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    Also, wondering if there's a way to grow the chest above E4 and beyond at a normal speaking volume or do the exercises always have to be moderately loud (but without shouting)? Seems to me if it's too quiet in volume it gets too heady.
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,068
    edited March 7
    imagine the voice to be a group of muscles that can be trained/stretched. if you haven't put in the training, there is no way you can get the results. can someone bench press 200kg? yes. can i do it? no. same with your voice. the course runs you through all the checkpoints and exercises you need to work on in order to make the most of your voice. you will have to put in the hours yourself. but you won't have to "backwards-engineer" singing. Ken has done it for you. all your questions are justified, and they can be answered, but the answers won't help you that much. because when you speak about "engaging your abdominals", for example, i cannot say for sure if you are using proper support. maybe you do, maybe you don't. i can't tell you to which note you will be able to grow your chest voice, because evryone is different, and it depends if you put the work in or not, but i can guarantee you that you will grow your chest voice if you work out properly.

    the course guides you through the growth of your chest voice, and only very late (maybe 1,5-3 years in if starting the course at zero, depending on the effort) will you do head-voice exclusive exercises. if your chest is not kept strong, head voice will atrophy your chest voice, meaning you will need to resort to head voice lower and lower in the range, until there is no chest voice left.

    there are lots of different mechanisms at work, and it is normal that you don't know about them, i was pretty amazed what a complicated thing the voice really is. before i started the course i thought it would be a matter of a few tips how to do this and that, and that's it. without understanding the concepts, and knowing what to look out for, you can do a lot of exercises, but potentially you would just go through the motions, and waste your time. i never knew that vowel mods even existed, for example, but without them, you can't really grow your chest voice, or sing properly. or maybe you can, but you could either try to figure that out yourself (the hard way), or find someone who teaches it. Ken is surely not the only person who can teach you how to sing properly, but he is certainly a great source both in terms of the information and success rate (given the student applies themselves), and in terms of the cost of the course. the bad news is, you will still need to learn and practice a lot, because knowledge of the concepts is only the start, application, and building muscle memory, that's the long-term stuff.

    regarding the key of the song: you can bring it down to where it is more comfortable, and then incrementally go up while you get better. if a song is way too hard, then it would be better to get good at easier songs first. if you overload your brain (and voice), it is not good for the learning curve, and also it will frustrate you.

    and lastly, yes chest stretching is normally a bit louder to make sure you stay in chest, once you get better the volume can be reduced, and it will be easier to stay in chest at lower volumes
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    I agree the voice is very complicated. Almost anything anyone can say about the inner workings of the voice is likely an oversimplification. Is there an easy way for the student to confirm that they are correctly staying entirely in chest when doing an exercise versus switching a mix which still contains too much head?

    Wondering if there are some examples of famous singers who used to go higher in chest but then it atrophied and they they had to resort strictly to head for those same notes?
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,068
    edited March 7
    in the beginning, the safest way is to submit a demo and confirm with more experienced students. the forum here is a great environment for learning to sing, and you don't have to fly blindly. later on you will become more and more experienced in identifying different vocal phenomena.

    there are definitely some examples, Ken has lots of videos on famous singers, and i saw some that had that issue of atrophying their chest voice. can't remember now who it was though. maybe @Wigs can help us out?
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    I just posted another comment, but when editing it it somehow disappeared. I'll make this one more concise. When doing 1,3,5 and 1,2,3,4,5 lah scales, it seems that, in order to get to a G4 I have to shift gears into a mix or I'll go flat on the G4 and it will feel too tight. Also, the G4 seems safer if altering the vowel toward an O or awe. I don't think I've ever been able to sing a G4 without it being a mix since my early 20s. It would be nice if I could sing at least a G4 without resorting to shifting into a mix, but that's always been necessary for me.

    Is the goal, when doing lah scales, to be able to sing a G4 (or higher if I can go higher) without having to shift gears into a mix at all or alter the vowel at all?
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    edited March 11
    I'll add that my chest doesn't seem to have atrophied, meaning that it was (in my own opinion) ALWAYS weaker above say an F4, hence the need for mixing. What seems to be the case is my HEAD voice has atrophied (or affected in some way), meaning my breathy/hooty falsetto is way more limited in range (as many as 5 half-steps off the top gone) and way more unreliable (high chance of breathy/hooty falsetto cracking when not warmed up and still not that reliable even if warmed up) and my connected head voice or mix used to go at least a few half-steps higher as well.

    I'd like to work the chest voice to see if that helps improve range, but wondering why, to me, it seems the head voice is what has been affected compared to the way things used to be.
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,068
    if you are not doing regular workouts for your voice, the range and power will deteriote, it is all muscular activity. if you don't stay on top of the training schedule, you will lose previous gains, and not achieve new ones.

    higher notes need lots of support, and yes, the vowel modifications will help you to manage airflow up top. over time, we grow the ability to go higher in range without needing the modification, so the point where you have to modify will shift.
  • MarkHMusicMarkHMusic 2.0 PRO Posts: 11
    following this thread... Klaus, when you say "more support" how exactly do you mean? Do you mean making sure you have taken more of a deep breath or do you mean more engagement of the core? Just want to clarify..
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    edited March 14
    Another question is how many minutes (or seconds) of actual attempting to sing the top couple of notes in scales/arpeggios should be occurring per half hour of doing vocal exercises? If you're doing a half-hour of exercises, how many seconds should actually be spent on the top 2 chest notes in one's current range in order to grow the chest voice and extend it higher?

    When I to get to my top couple of notes in chest, and they're not perfect I might go back down a few of half-steps and then work my way back up to give it a 2nd or 3rd try at the top. Should I just work my way back down and start the next exercise instead?


  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,068
    @jaynews i don't know the time, i just trust it will be enough to run through the whole exercise. surely, repeating a high note to perfect it is good, as long as you don't oversing. you can always hone in on some parts that you think need work.

    @MarkHMusic it is both really, proper breath and proper support cannot really be separated. but yes, you need lots of strength from the abdominal area for the high notes.
  • MarkHMusicMarkHMusic 2.0 PRO Posts: 11
    @Klaus_T makes sense and thats what I assumed but I just want to make sure I'm understanding properly. Also, with going to some of the higher notes for me requires a little extra support but also a little extra "push" ... think of say the Ataris cover of boys of summer on the chorus... I need to "push" a little harder at least to get to the notes where they sound like the song with a little bit of aggression as opposed to just hitting them in straight head voice (which wouldn't sound right). So my next question is really what is the difference between "belting" and "over singing" as you mentioned not to "over sing" the notes to @jaynews ... apologies if this is a little off topic but to me it all kinda ties in because I can relate to what Jay is saying here.. Thanks in advance!
  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 4,856
    @MarkHMusic Over singing is generally thought of as using much more air than is necessary or relying too much on volume (as in shouting). A healthy belt will be controlled, supported and allowing your resonance to help project the sound.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    UPDATE: I have an appointment with an ENT for the first week of May. I've taken a few private vocal lessons recently with a vocal instructor to see if there's any way to regain my lost range. On the 3rd lesson, he recommended that I see an ENT because he thinks something is going on that is capping my range and preventing the folds from stretching beyond a certain point. Whatever it is, this is something that's been gradually occurring and not anything sudden. He mentioned a couple of ideas on what it could be, but he doesn't know for sure. Should be interesting to see if the ENT is able to figure out what is going on.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    What's unique about my situation is that I can't even access normal falsetto at all unless I'm warmed up with regular head/mix singing. If I try to access regular falsetto without having done any warming up it can crack back into chest or the tone is broken up. However, when NOT warmed up I can access this other register, which is some kind of "squeak register" or "flageolet register" which is NOT breathy but a squeaky tone similar to falsetto and can only by produced very softly. It is not a whistle per se, but suspect similar to a whistle configuration. After I'm warmed up with regular singing I can access regular falsetto (but it's not as easy/reliable as it used to be when I was younger), but after I'm warmed up that other "squeak register" can't really be accessed reliably.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    edited May 5
    UPDATE: Went to the ENT. My folds are physically normal without any damage, according to the ENT. Only thing he found was that when I switch to my falsetto, the folds don't come into contact at all and there's too big a gap, and the gap when singing falsetto is oval, like the folds are bowed. (He says normally, in falsetto, the there is a gap between the folds, but it's a smaller gap than mine, and normally in falsetto the folds are straight and do still make some contact but mine don't.) My cord closure and fold movement is normal in regular non-falsetto voice. He doesn't know the exact reason why my falsetto has the bigger oval gap occurring or why my regular upper range has decreased (COULD potentially be due to thinning of the folds). Based on the ENT's recommendation I'll be doing voice therapy with a licensed speech therapist who has experience working with professional singers.
  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 4,856
    Its good to hear you are making progress by getting things checked out and eliminating bit by bit what the problem might be. Ill be very interested to hear the thoughts of your speech therapist.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    Thanks. Will keep you posted.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    edited July 9
    UPDATE. Well, first of all, I just posted a lengthy update and decided to edit it after I posted it, but after editing it whole thing vanished and now I have to start over again. This isn't the first time this happened on this forum.

    As for my update, the bottom line is that in a couple of weeks I will have taken 9 voice lessons with a vocal instructor for 4 months with zero improvement in upper range. I'm sure he is a great instructor and great singer, but so far nothing has resulted in any upper range improvement. I'm not expecting miracles but so far no improvement in increasing upper range.

    Also, I've had 5 sessions with a voice therapist (licensed speech language pathologist) who is now recommending I get a 2nd opinion with another ENT, because she thinks my ENT is conservative and if I were a professional singer (which I'm not) then other options would be discussed like vocal fold augmentation. The voice therapist says my folds are thin, based on watching the video of my folds, and because I have a thin build. My ENT did say I could have thinning due as I've gotten older. He didn't find anything physically noteworthy other than when I sing in falsetto the folds don't touch and are bowed, but that's not the case in regular voice. He said my folds are physically normal and have no damage.

    The voice therapist thinks it would be a very low probability of another ENT finding something that my ENT missed, but she thinks I'm not being informed of other options (like fold augmentation). I'm not looking to go that route, but may just get the 2nd opinion just to hear what another ENT has to say about my situation. The voice therapist admits she is pressuring me to get the 2nd opinion because she feels it's the right thing to do in my situation. She's also making me feel like we're getting close to the end of voice therapy because I think she really feels I should be getting the 2nd opinion if I want to continue, even though she isn't saying that outright.

    In the most recent voice therapy session (today), she gave me some loud Ahs on sustained notes and on slides up, and slides down, because she thinks that could help slightly bulk up my thin folds.

    I will probably get the 2nd ENT opinion just to hear what another ENT has to say about my situation, and to put it out of my mind. One of the names she gave me is local and looks like he accepts my insurance.

    I'll also have to decide whether to continue with the voice lessons (different person than the voice therapist) because my upper range hasn't yet improved at all after almost 4 months, and while, again, I'm not expecting miracles, I should be seeing SOME improvement to justify the cost of the lessons and the time spent on the lessons when, as an alternative, I could just be learning new songs in my current range and doing exercises carefully on my own.

  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 26
    Went to 2nd ENT. This ENT's opinion is I have "soft signs" of "mild weakness" (paresis) of one of the vocal folds, probably the right side. He admitted the scope is not the correct instrument to determine which side. He seemed to think when I speak it's throaty, and that I have neck tension. I now have another appointment with speech the therapist to evaluate that. (even though she didn't think I really had much tension in my neck last time I saw her in person).

    This 2nd ENT was very negative about the idea of my being able to get back lost vocal range. His opinion was, because I'm of a certain age, and based on what he thinks is going on, I'm not ever going to have a "killer falsetto" or get back a high C in regular voice. He is saying my singing goals should be modest, like maybe to get to an A4 if I can get to an Ab4 now. His opinion seemed to be that if you haven't done something professionally and you're already of a certain age, then you're not going to be all that good it by working on it later in life.

    Not sure whether I really have a paresis or whether it's atrophy like the 1st ENT suggested, but there's definitely something going on to inhibit upper range. In any case, there's something going on physically, because regular disconnected falsetto used to be so effortless and it gradually got much more limited andunreliable. The 2nd ENT also suggested I could have a paresis involving the cricothyroid muscles because he couldn't feel them activating them when he was feeling my neck muscles to see what was activating. I'm almost starting to wonder if my cricothyroids were always weak (or extremely inactive) and it was always other muscles stretching the folds beyond the middle C area.

    When I was at the 2nd ENTs office, I tried to demonstrate two kinds of falsetto, one of which is my normal breathy disconnected falsetto, which was hard for me to do because I wasn't warmed up. I also tried to demonstrate another squeaky kind of falsetto which is less breathy but can only be done at a low volume and works better when NOT warmed up. I demonstrated the latter because my vocal instructor wanted me to try and work on strengthening that one. I'm skeptical the squeaky type of falsetto can be strengthened, as I had experimented with it previously. In my opinion, from looking at my folds video, the "squeaky" type of falsetto involves the false folds pressing firmly against the true folds which means it's ALMOST like vocal fry except when it's done correctly there's no distortion because that there's still a narrow vertical opening (and a SMALL amount of closure occurring). Because there's such a narrow opening when doing the squeaky type of falsetto, that cord configuration is easier to do when NOT warmed up. When warmed up, my theory is that the blood flows to slightly plump up the folds and makes it harder to do the squeaky falsetto likely because the opening of that cord configuration narrows slightly more, and was narrow to begin with. However, the other, breathy kind of falsetto is easier to do when warmed up since the breathy falsetto has a WIDE opening and if the folds are slightly plumped up it's working in my favor for that type of falsetto.

    My plan is to sign up for several more vocal lessons, but I may discontinue them or switch instructors if I don't make ANY progress toward regaining lost vocal range. So far, no improvement in range after 4 months with the current teacher. BTW, I actually could hit an A4 in a lite mix (but not sustain it much) BEFORE I got involved in doing more vocal exercises but now I can only get to an Ab4. Not sure why, but maybe doing too many exercises is working against me. Almost seems like I was better off just singing songs while playing guitar for enjoyment, rather than doing too many exercises. BTW, The A4 that I could hit earlier in the year wasn't anything to write home about (it was thin, like a very light mix, and there was neck/facial tension involved, but at least the tone was clean.)

    Another issue is that I've NEVER been able to deactivate the chin muscles as I ascend above middle C. Whether it's breathy falsetto or head voice, the chin muscle always got involved, even in my 20s. The only way I can produce higher pitches without activating the chin muscle is the squeaky falsetto discussed above. However, I really think the squeaky type of falsetto will never be turned into a usable falsetto for reasons mentioned two paragraphs above.
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