This is a very interesting article about Adele’s voice problems and a new surgical technique known as microsurgery: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/10/adele-vocal-cord-surgery-why-stars-keep-losing-their-voices
I am trying to get closer to a diagnosis of what the problem is with my voice. I have noticed that when I speak there is a kind of creak or rough sound or croak in my voice particularly at the end of phrases. Having done a bit of googling I have found a name for this, it is called glottal fry. Glottal fry happens when your vocal folds are not vibrating properly and let through air which creates a kind of croaking sound. I didn’t realise that this has become a bit fashionable and that quite a few celebrities particularly female pop singers such as Katy Perry seem to be deliberately speaking with some vocal fry. There is a trick you can do to reduce the amount of vocal fry that you make. What you need to do is raise the tone of your voice a bit at the end of a sentence or phrase. There seems to be contradictory ideas about whether glottal fry is bad for your voice or not. Some websites claim that it is harmful whereas others say that it is simply a habit that your voice has got into. My main issue with my voice isn’t really the vocal or glottal fry, though this is a bit irritating and uncomfortable, it is more that I lose projection in my voice and find it difficult to communicate in noisy environments. Most of the environments where you are interacting with people tend to be noisy environment with a its being in a restaurant, a bar in a noisy workplace on the street where there is traffic noise so it is quite restricting if you find it difficult to speak when there is noise in the background. I guess that the problem with the glottal fry and loss of projection must be connected because in both cases the vocal folds are probably not meeting properly.
I have been given various diagnoses including muscle tension dysphonia but then other ENT specialists have said that I don’t have muscle tension dysphonia, others have said that the problem may be caused by what is known as silent reflux, i.e. reflux which you don’t really feel but which can affect the functioning of your larynx. One of the recommended treatments for this is to take proton pump inhibitors and Gaviscon. However, when I have googled there the doesn’t seem to be much evidence that proton pump inhibitors are helpful for this kind of reflux.
Singing voice specialists seek to rehabilitate vocal injuries by using singing as a therapeutic tool. There is some research that indicates that this can be effective however there is no specific qualification for people who are working as singing voice specialists. I have been doing some research online try to find a singing voice specialist, but so far have only found person who may offer service.
Alternative input devices
i) Voice recognition software
I have started using Dragon naturally speaking again and it seems to be working quite well. I’m using a more natural voice this time and it doesn’t seem to be making that many mistakes. When I say that I’m using a more natural voice I mean that I’m trying to use a bit of variation in tone whilst speaking and also I’m trying to speak in phrases and this seems to make it more accurate as well. I have found that when using the commands it is possible to sing which I think is quite a good thing because it means that your varying the way that you were using your voice therefore not putting a repetitive load onto your larynx.
ii) Handwriting recognition software
I have done a lot of research online into handwriting as an alternative input method, and what I have discovered is that handwriting recognition is not as well developed as speech recognition. Nevertheless, I have found that the handwriting recognition that comes with Windows 10 is quite good. Myscript has got quite a glossy website but there seems to be some bugs in the software and I don’t think the company is focusing on developing this product at the moment. Even so, these handwriting recognition apps aren’t that bad really. Google also has a handwriting recognition app. I think that the main difference between handwriting recognition and voice recognition is that handwriting recognition doesn’t actually learn your handwriting style so unlike voice recognition it doesn’t really improve the more that you use it though I may be wrong about this. I use a Bamboo tablet whilst using one of the handwriting apps. I thought that it was not particularly comfortable because it seemed as if you can’t comfortably rest your hand on the tablet, There I found that if you undock the Windows 10 handwriting box you can move it to a different position on the screen where it was possible to rest your hand on the tablet.There is something called Microsoft surface which uses handwriting recognition but because I’ve not tried it I can’t say whether it’s better or not than just using something like a Bamboo tablet.
So I am currently using a mixture of typing, voice recognition and handwriting recognition. I have been surprised that the handwriting recognition and the voice recognition seem to work recently well on my computer that is almost 10 years old. I am using the premium version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It is also comforting to know that over time these applications will just keep on improving. In addition to this I am using a split keyboard which seems to be a good idea because it means that your hands are in a more natural position.
I have also started using an Evoluent Mouse however despite the positive reviews about this product on you tube I haven’t found it particularly comfortable to use because either you support your arm on an armrest which means that typing is a bit more uncomfortable or you dispense with the armrest and your arm that is holding the mouse feels uncomfortable.
This last week have been very hard due to problems at work. However, I’ve been practicing my sleep routine to help myself – this is i) play guitar for 5 minutes before going to bed ii) when in bed tense and relax at least 10 muscles iii) when I wake up (normally at about 4.30) play music in head iii) visualise putting worries into box by side of bed and leaving them there whilst sleep iv) practice a mindfulness exercise. This seems to help. I went back to my hometown at the weekend and this also made me feel calmer. Maybe it was the familiarity of the place, I don’t know but it put things into a different perspective.
I’ve started doing a Pilates class which involves working on what is called a ‘reformer’ – which looks a bit like a torture device/rack. My back has felt a bit uncomfortable afterwards, which from past experience is a warning sign for injury, so I’m probably going to have to scrape the money together for one to one sessions to start with. I’ve heard so many good things about Pilates that I would like to give a proper try.
I want to start doing some exercises to help my vocal injury. I’ve been singing a bit, which is strange because for me singing within a certain range is easier than talking. I guess it must use muscles that have not been as affected by misuse.