One of my VO friends, Barb, is adding a speech therapist to her care and support team. And I totally understand! She has a very intense and high energy personality away from the mic. This has led to constricted vocal cords becoming her normal speech habit. I think a massage therapist is also on her team because she says her muscles are as hard as concrete slabs. She’s also skinny which makes sense. It takes a lot of calories to maintain those tight muscles!
We all know vocal health doesn’t have to be this big mystery. VO’s have to be voice athletes as well as actors. Just imagine that your throat is the home of so many people you create and they want to know you care about them!
Those two vocal cords residing beneath your sinuses are money makers! Like rich relatives, we tend to take them for granted. Show em some love and gratitude by NOT squeezing them like a tube of toothpaste in the middle. Make the cords enjoy their home environment, meaning your neck and shoulders, by relaxing that tension. Give them some space to just hang out! I’m a high intensity personality too, so this is hard for me.
Another thing. Be a good housekeeper for those cords! Lots of water, bottled or tap, washes away all the dirt, germs and grime and makes their surroundings soft, fluid and comfy. Since humans are both a string instrument and a wind instrument, it makes sense to treat the whole body with respect. The characters who are waiting to come into the world can be horribly wounded by smoking, screaming, yelling or talking incessantly. You wouldn’t leave a priceless guitar out in the rain and screams, drugs and cigarettes are like a tornado storming in and out of your throat. Ring a cowbell if you want to cheer and make noise at that football game. Hint: Try gum as a substitute for smoking. It’s a lot cheaper.
One of the most important things to remember is that nobody likes to be micro managed. The vocal cords don’t either! They really resent being forced to do all the work when the diaphragm is right there below to work the deep and relaxed air flow and breath management. Give the cords a break so they can do their string thing while down below, the wind thing can be working freely.
If the vocal cords stay tight, tense and grouchy they aren’t going to let many of those characters you want to introduce get passed them and out your mouth. The cords will simply poop out and lock the door. Maybe you can wave at them if you open your mouth but there is no money in that.
I applaud Barb for being pro active with her vocal health because she is very talented and plans on a long term career. She makes me feel guilty because I get careless with my own vocal health. I don’t often drink enough water, warm up properly or exercise regularly. Allergies often play havoc with me but luckily, I keep those under control.
Like Barb, I have my coaches, my agents, my tax guy and my ENT doctor but the next member on my support team is going to be a puppy! And maybe, a referral from Barb for her message therapist!