• Dr. Heather Nelson

On the fourth day of vocal health, my true love gave to me....four vocal nerds.

If you're a professional singer, or even just a busy amateur, you need a team to help keep your voice in shape and growing toward its full potential. Here are four people you should keep in your corner:


1. Laryngologist

A laryngologist is an ENT that specializes in the voice. Not every ENT is a laryngologist, however, so it pays to ask some questions when you are looking for the right doc to visit. Ask if the doctor was fellowship trained in laryngology (you might be able to find that in his or her bio online) and if he or she regularly works with singers. You can also ask if you can be scoped during your visit, and whether the doctor prefers a rigid or flexible scope. For many people, visiting a fellowship-trained laryngologist may mean that you need to drive to a major city to a voice center. Personally, I think the drive is worth it when your livelihood is in question.


2. Speech-language pathologist

We use the same larynx to sing as we do to speak, so keeping our speaking voices in good shape is just as essential as working on our singing voices. For many of my clients who are having trouble with their singing voices, the root is often found in their speech. Working with an SLP can pinpoint some strategies to speak well. This is especially important for teachers, pastors, lawyers, actors, and just about anyone else who speaks in public or in front of groups regularly. Not all SLPs are familiar with the particular demands of singing, so you should also have a.....


3. Vocologist/Singing Voice Specialist

This might also be an SLP, but it could also be someone like me who is primarily a voice teacher. Besides having intricate knowledge of the vocal mechanism, a vocologist or SVS will understand the particular demands of a singer. We can also help fill in the gaps when a longer rehabilitation is needed, but insurance or scheduling difficulties make appointments with SLPs in the clinic difficult or impossible. Your vocologist or SVS might also be a voice teacher, but if not, you'll need a....


4. Voice teacher or coach

Your need for ongoing regular lessons may change as your career changes. However, having a trusted individual that you can call on to be an objective listening ear while you are working on repertoire or technique can be invaluable. A good teacher will be able to hear what you are doing, diagnose possible sticky spots, and offer solutions for making those sticky spots easier to navigate. Choosing a teacher can be as much a matter of personality as much as the knowledge and reputation of the teacher, so don't be afraid to check around.


Having all of these types of vocal nerds on your team can make your vocal journey easier and more successful. Of course, it is up to you, the singer, to both build your team and implement the strategies the team gives you in order to really reach your potential. I'm here to help you, too! Even if you aren't my client, I'd be pleased to talk with you about how to build your own team and what to do once they are assembled. I'd also be pleased to talk with you about the possibility of joining my studio. Give me a call and let's get your vocal nerd team around you!


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