Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Throat Nodes - How to Avoid Them

Throat nodes, also known as vocal nodules, might not top a singer's list of things to worry about. Or at least that is not until the problems start turning up. The condition of a singer's throat is very serious business.

Many singers advance to a certain point in their career where they begin to experience success; they’re singing great and they start making great records. Immediately other demands start to intrude and their lives change drastically.

They begin a heavy tour schedule. They have a public to cultivate. They already sing well enough to get picked up by a record label so they think, “Okay, the voice is fine, I’ll worry about these other things now instead." Understandable, but still, a bad decision. Life on the road combined with all the other demands of a successful career are hard to handle. Too many singers lose the healthy voice that brought them success in the first place.

This is exactly what happened to Kim Wilson, lead singer of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. You may be familiar with their hit song from the eighties, Tuff’ Enuff’.

Kim is a very energetic blues/rock singer. Singing from his throat for years had damaged his voice and he opted to have surgery to remove the throat nodes that had formed. The surgery cleared up his problem -- for a while.

But he hadn't really changed anything about the way he sang so he developed the same condition again a couple of years later. Only now, the scar tissue from the surgery compounded the problem. Kim was at the height of his career and not eager to have another surgery, only to possibly be faced with the same situation again two more years down the road. He began to wonder if he should start thinking about a new profession.

Austin singer Toni Price told him about my work. We decided he should come to Nashville for a few weeks where we embarked on an intensive rehabilitation program that included:

Passive Breathing
Passive Breathing is as relaxed and easy as falling down a drain. Quite literally. Simply open up your throat and let the air fall in, like water going down an open drain. Never fill beyond your resting capacity, It forces you to tighten your throat to control the flow of air.

Lower Body Support
Think Elvis. Tuck your hips forward and put the power of your lower body under the sound, like lifting a heavy chair. Relax your knees and support the sound with strong legs. Imagine you are sitting on your tailbone.

Freely-Vibrating Resonance
Direct the resonance to almost any part of your body other than your throat. Do not tighten your jaw and lift your chin. Again, think Elvis and keep your head rounded over the microphone. Try feeling the sound resonate in your collar bones. Imagine that they are hollow resonators.

Heed Your Body
If you think something is wrong, it probably is. A raspy voice, a throat that's irritated after singing, and the constant need to clear your throat, are all signs of trouble.

Heal Your Body
Try putting yourself on complete vocal rest. No talking, no singing, no whispering. Then start back gradually, using the physical concepts above to get your voice back on track. For throat nodes that persist -- call a good Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.

Kim worked hard to learn to sing with more of his body. He decided against the surgery and went back on tour and never did have to have another operation on his throat. If you follow the suggestions above you should manage to avoid falling victim to throat nodes. 

Click here to see part 1 Vocal Nodules: What Are They Really?

Nashville vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams reveals the trade secrets that have already helped hundreds of aspiring singers become celebrities: Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, Miley Cyrus, Huey Lewis, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Christina Aguilera...

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