GARY R. WOOD BSC (HONS) MRCSLT

Principal Speech & Language Therapist [ENT], HCPC registered SL02029

    Contact Details:
    
    Speech Therapy Department (ENT)
    The Royal National Throat, Nose & Ear Hospital
    330 Grays Inn Road
    London
    WC1X 8DA
    Tel: 020 3456 5106
    Email: Gary.Wood1@.nhs.net
    The Harley Street ENT Clinic
    109 Harley Street
    London
    W1C 6AN
    Tel:
    Email: info@voicetherapy.co.uk
Welcome...
   

... and thank you for visiting my web site.  My name is Gary Wood and I am a HCPC registered Speech and Language Therapist specialising with Voice, Head and Neck Cancer.

 
   

In addition to working with a lot of pop singers, I am one of the UK's leading experts in Transsexual voice and am an international advisor for voice restoration and Blom singer valve.

 
   
   

Below is a basic guide to voice problems which you may find useful:

 
   
How is Voice Produced?  
   
Using three main structures:  
   
  1. Lungs
  2. Larynx (Voice Box) - containing the Vocal Folds
  3. Resonating Tract: Throat, Mouth and Nose
 
The functions of these are:   
   
  1. Respiration (Breathing) - Air taken into the lungs is exhaled.

  2. Phonation (Sound) - The air being exhaled passes through the vocal folds causing them to vibrate.

  3. Resonance - The "raw" sound is produced by the Vocal Folds. When this "bounces around" in the throat, mouth and nose, it is amplified, so a louder sound is made when you are able to make the best use of these spaces. Resonance also changes the "quality" of the voice.

 
What Causes Problems?  
   

Voice production is basically an aerodynamic process. It should use little muscular effort within the larynx. If too much effort (pushing or forcing) is used to produce the voice, things can go wrong.

 
   
  1. The voice gets tired quickly and it becomes a strain to keep talking. It may feel or sound weak at the end of the day.

  2. Vocal Fold damage; causing irritation, swelling, reddening, nodules.

  3. The vibration of the folds change if they become swollen, this leads to a weak breathy voice with a harsh sound due to forcing the voice.

 
How Do Problems Start?  
   

Problems are often as a reaction to one of the following:

 
   
  1. Trying to increase your volume by forcing rather than using the resonating cavities (Throat, Mouth & Nose)

  2. A habit developed to compensate for acute infection such as colds or Flu.

  3. Irritation from excessive smoke, dust, fumes, cigarettes, alcohol, not enough liquid, etc.

  4. A general increase in your stress levels which can lead to specific muscle areas of the body being used in a tense manner, i.e. Neck, Shoulders, Larynx.

 
How Can Problems Be Avoided?  
   
Vocal Hygiene  
   
  1. Drink plenty of liquid ( not including tea, coffee, alcohol, or Coca-Cola). Aim to have 8-10 drinks per day.

  2. Get enough sleep, as being tired will affect your voice in the same way that it would affect any muscular performance.

  3. Eat regular meals and try to eat a balanced diet.

  4. Avoid irritants such as spicy foods, tobacco, smoky places, excessive dust, alcohol.

  5. Avoid eating late at night as this encourages indigestion, which may affect the voice.

  6. Keep your bedroom and lounge humidified appropriately. If you have central heating on this dries the atmosphere. Put a bowl of water near radiators or a damp towel on them.

  7. Do not suck medicated lozenges unless you have a "sore" throat. These numb the throat allowing you to do more damage, the menthol also has a drying effect.

  8. To keep the mouth moist suck ordinary pastilles or chew gum.

 
If you have an acute infection try to:  
   
  1. Increase your fluid intake.

  2. Take steam inhalation twice a day (with nothing added to it).

  3. Rest the voice or use it as gently as possible but Do Not Whisper.

  4. Do not gargle with aspirin.

 
Mechanical  
   
  1. Avoid "pushing" the voice to achieve a louder a volume. This is avoided by correct breathing, relaxed use of the larynx and resonating the voice sufficiently.

  2. Pause to breathe appropriately. Good phrasing helps you slow down the rate of speech.

  3. Increased use of the open spaces in your oral cavity ( opening your mouth when you speak!) with a slower rate of speech will improve resonance of the voice and thus enhance projection.

  4. Avoid pitching your voice too low. Everyone has a note around which their voice works most efficiently.

  5. Avoid throat clearing. This is a harsh practice and irritates the throat. Try to sip water or swallow instead.

  6. Try to keep your posture upright and balanced. Avoid slouching as it makes it difficult to get correct breath support for producing the voice.

 
Environmental  
   
  1. Use amplification wherever appropriate (e.g. A Microphone)

  2. Open windows if your office is stuffy or overheated.

  3. Keep the air humidified.

  4. Keep water nearby for drinking at work.

  5. Reduce background noise if possible. If not, avoid long discussions in the noisiest places.

 
Emotional  
   
  1. Try to identify the things which cause you the most stress and worry. See if you can change or avoid them.

  2. Become more aware of the signs of stress in your body i.e. clenched jaw, raised shoulders, bunched tongue, clenched fists. Try to correct these changes and relax.

 
Summary  
   
Remember:  
   
  1. Pay attention to your Vocal Hygiene.

  2. Your voice should be produced easily. Minimum effort = Maximum Output. You will produce a better, louder sound if you learn how to do so without forcing.