Ingo Titze has a good video on YouTube that demonstrates straw exercises.
Arthur Lessac has written a book on “The Use and Training of the Human Voice: A Bio Dynamic Approach to Vocal Life,” this can be purchased at Amazon.ca
My third vocal therapy session revolved around maintaining my “forward focus” or whipped cream voice and knowing that I am in a good position rather than allowing my voice to fall back at my throat (bad practice).
The goal is to constantly keep your voice in a good place and there are some techniques my doctor shared with me to check in with my voice.
Exercise Set 1
Feel the “seasoning of sensation” behind your nose on “y” and long vowel sounds. For example say the following words:
These words help to give you the reminder that you are in “forward focus.” Memorize some words and say them when you need to check-in with your voice.
Exercise Set 2
Say sentences with “y” and long vowel sounds to help reset your voice:
Exercise Set 3
Straw exercises help to balance the air pressure in the vocal tract and allow the vocal folds to oscillate with less effort.
Using two (or one) cocktail straw carry out the following exercises:
The large the diameter of the straw the easier it is to practice the vocal exercises. The smaller the diameter the bigger the benefit.
“You should not do a lot at once, but rather do something often” – Voice Clinic
For my second therapy session I learned about my “whipped cream” voice. When I am speaking I need to use my “whipped cream” voice! This voice is airy, light, carefree, easy…just like whipped cream.
To produce a rich whipped cream voice I was instructed to sit tall and hum so I could feel the voice in my face and tickle my lips almost. Basically what this does is move the voice from the throat area (bad) to the face/lips (good). This is where the voice needs to be felt at all times and anytime it goes in the throat, it should be re-set by humming.
Here is the set of exercises I am required to do (on top of the bubble blowing – which my children love!):
I was instructed to practice a few times in a day for a couple of minutes at a time. And also to include practices during showers where the steam helps the vocal folds.
“It is more than just your voice” – Voice Clinic
My first vocal therapy assessment session was over two hours and very informative. The purpose of the first session was to get a glimpse of the inside of my vocal area and to establish some baselines to determine four components of my voice: quality, soft phonics, amplitude, and sub harmonics. The doctor used mostly a microphone to get an “image” of my voice in the four categories and then placed a specialized scope with camera in my throat area to see the quality and function of my vocal cords in real time. It was quite interesting to see how the vocal folds move while I talk!
Once the preliminary work was completed, the doctor went through a series of exercises with me. The exercises for my voice are to help balance the air pressure at the vocal cords. Having balanced air pressure makes the vocal folds more flexible and unload tension in neighboring muscles.
If the bubbles stop that means you are not using proper technique. There must be bubbles blown out at each attempt of speech.
One interesting fact the doctor shared was that kindergarten teachers and high school chemistry teachers are most prone to losing their voice. ARGH! What are the chances that for once I am not the outlier – I am actually on trend! Honestly I was thrilled when I heard that – explains a lot 🙂
Every September and February I am accustomed to losing my voice for a day or two due to the amount of talking I do to get my new semester classes set up and ready to go. In fact, I thought it was normal to lose my voice a couple times a year in my profession as a teacher. These past two and half years however, I noticed I lost my voice for longer and longer periods of time. So I not only did not have a voice in September and February, but December and June as well.
In early 2016 I noticed things were getting out of hand as I lost proper function of my voice for several days. I had minimal function of my voice for two weeks near the end of January, and from June to mid-July I still did not have my full voice back. So I was actually afraid to start in September as I did not have a properly functioning voice. Well September started and my voice was back to being a mess and I just could not understand what was going on.
Not only was I nervous to start work with an unreliable voice I was actually starting to fear that I might lose my passion to teach chemistry (without a voice how can I share my enthusiasm?). During this time (Sept-Dec) I also did not want to socialize or go anywhere where I would be talking to anyone – for fear of losing the little voice I had and for having to explain my situation each time to everyone.
In addition to my voice issues, I dropped 15 lbs when I was actually trying to gain weight. This confused me further as no matter how much food I was consuming I just could not gain any weight. In fact I just kept losing weight. My work outs had not increased in intensity but, I had gone through a food change and was not eating gluten containing foods, cheese, or drinking milk. I do not feel this change was so drastic that I would be pulled down to 103lbs. This scared me and I started drawing up conclusions about what could be going on. This was definitely not healthy, as I was not happy, I was very confused and scared, and I did not want to talk to anyone. So I closed myself off from everyone, but kept a smile plastered to my face – since that is all I could do on the outside was smile (not talk). But it was tearing me up inside. I did not like it one bit but I felt like I did not have a choice. I would come home from work and not have a voice to even sing my children their favorite lullaby let alone read my them a bedtime story.
During this process, I had my family doctor look into things further and recommend I follow some steps for “vocal hygiene.” He also had me see an amazing ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) Specialist/Surgeon who used a specialized scope to see what my vocal cords looked like.
Apparently, I was not using my vocal cords properly and it was a mess in my throat. Instead of using my vocal muscles to produce a “voice,” I was using too many other muscles just to produce a sound and that is considered bad practice! So he recommended I start voice therapy to get some techniques to bring my voice back. While all that was going on, my specialist found some lumps in my throat which appeared to be swollen lymph nodes. He had me go in for some ultrasounds and the lumps turned out to be nodules and after further ultrasound analysis, they were back to being lumps on my thyroid gland. Now I am waiting to get scheduled for a biopsy to make sure they are benign.
Here are the vocal hygiene tips recommended by my family doctor from DukeHealth:
I will be sharing a lot more tips and strategies on voice therapy!
For the past year my husband and I have been having discussions about personal grocery shoppers and groceries delivered to our home. I was not 100% sold on someone else shopping for my groceries since I wondered: 1) how can someone properly choose my groceries 2) would the quality of produce suffer 3) how close would the expiry dates be for the perishable food items?
Recently in our neighbourhood many of the supermarkets such as Save on Foods, Fresh St Market, and Superstore have started an online grocery shopping experience. So we went ahead and tried Suoerstore’s click and collect and have been so pleasantly surprised by the process that we have not had a full in-store shopping trip since mid December 2016.
– can start the shopping process days before you actually head out to get the groceries
– can add items throughout the week before you checkout online (in this way you never forget items when running around the store, you can calmly add products as you remember them!)
– even when you” close your cart” online the day before you actually pick up your order, you still have until midnight to add any forgotten items
– get a priority parking stall close to the store entrance
– once in the stall, you call the click and collect number
– payment of products is only when you have arrived outside the store and you can select from various options
– wait 3 – 5 mins maximum and the grocery shopper gives you the receipt and loads the groceries in your trunk
– save almost over an hour
– can literally be “in and out” of the store in less than five minutes
Set up an Annual Household Budget
Just before the start of the New Year, I always set up a projected budget for my household based on numbers from the current year. So to keep myself organized, I save all my household bills, house/car/ personal insurance policies, dental/medical receipts, children’s sports & activities, credit card statements, and anything else I have paid in cash.
Then I take all those receipts and tally up everything for the year end and divide by 12 months in a year. This gives me monthly totals. Once I have those numbers, I download this amazing spreadsheet plug in the numbers and I get an exact overview of where every dollar is coming from and is being put towards. I also get a breakdown of how much of my income is going towards
4) debt and
If you do not have receipts saved, use your best projected values. Then moving forward into the next year, just set up either large envelopes, or a mini-file folder system to organize everything and you will get a better picture of your finances. The important thing is taking that first step and trying to setup a budget. Trust me when I used Gail’s spreadsheet the first time a few years back, I was a little discouraged with all the detailed information I needed as I did not have all the receipts and numbers needed – however the following year I was diligent in keeping everything and it was that much easier plugging in numbers. By the end of it I was able to track every dollar and feel confident knowing where the money was spent and how much was saved.
This worksheet has been put together by the one and only Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Gail for those of you who do not know, is the guru of money and budgeting and has her own TV show! She has sound advice, published articles and books, and easy to follow interactive online worksheets to get your finances in order, to get you out to debt, to plan a wedding and so on. Be sure to check her site out and get a better picture of where your money is going!
Also, she has a lot of tips on various money saving topics such as how to save money on clothes, bank fees, RRSPs, and the list goes on. Her site is definitely a one-stop shop and one of my favorite sites to visit regularly.