This is Elissa, and today I wanted to do something slightly different with our bi-weekly blog post and share with you my personal story about my voice. You probably know David as the founder and creator of Vibrant Voice Technique, but my story helps me explain why I’m part of this too.
Back in 2007, I lost my voice.
Essentially, I woke up one morning feeling that I had shards of glass in my throat. It was difficult to swallow, let alone to speak. To paint the picture of what led to this event: it was my senior year at the University of Southern California, and though it might have been smart to stay at home nursing the cold I had, instead I was on a retreat with my a cappella group. So I was singing all weekend, and of course we were practicing my solo over and over – a song that was beyond my range and which I was pushing to belt. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll also admit there was some alcohol consumed that weekend…
Basically – have you seen Pitch Perfect? I was doing that.
Anyhow, I woke up in pain and unable to speak. Two days later, I got in to see an otolaryngologist (aka an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or ENT) to have my vocal cords scoped. He saw general inflammation and signs of acid reflux on my cords, and prescribed acid reflux medication. Soon afterward, I got a second opinion from an ENT who specialized in seeing vocalists and singers. His diagnosis was acid reflux and vocal ‘trauma,’ and he recommended a month of vocal rest and referred me to speech therapy. In retrospect I now understand that I had created the perfect storm of laryngitis, acid reflux, and muscle tension, but at the time I remember being scared and very confused about what had happened.
I dutifully went on vocal rest for a month, carrying a small notepad with me everywhere so I could write down the things that I wanted to say. In the following months I started pursuing lots of different voice lessons and training. As I did, I quickly realized that I wanted to become a voice teacher so I could understand what had happened to me and help others going through similar situations. I became certified in Fitzmaurice Voicework and yoga, and began my own practice as a voice coach in Los Angeles.
Fast forward to 2012: I was considering beginning my MFA in Theatre Voice Pedagogy at the University of Alberta, so I scheduled a trip to Edmonton. Once there, I had a meeting with one of my two mentors, David Ley. The meeting went something like this:
(After some conversation):
David: “I’d like to share my research with you.”
Elissa: “Of course.”
David: “Great. So, I’m playing with external vibration.”
Next thing I knew I was vocalizing with a Lelo Siri on my neck. Very quickly, I was impressed with the sense of energy and ease that I felt, as well as with the power of my voice. I said to David, “This is really exciting. You ought to share this!”
Fast forward again to today, and David and I are working together and teaching Vibrant Voice Technique, reaching people far beyond the University of Alberta. As I teach I constantly encounter people who share stories similar to my own. They’re having vocal trouble, may have gone to see the ENT (we strongly recommend you do if you’re having an issue), and they’re confused about what’s going on and frustrated that they don’t have a solution. I understand – I know how terrifying it is to feel like you can’t communicate or rely on your voice.
Now at this juncture in the story, I want to say that I believe there are many, many ways to address vocal problems and improve your voice. There are countless methods, techniques, and exercises, and as a voice teacher trained in a broad range of pedagogies, I believe in and teach many approaches. But I think the thing that is remarkable about Vibrant Voice Technique is, for those of us who have trouble feeling our tension or having a sense of letting it go, the vibrator is an incredible tool that can help bring awareness and encourage release.
It’s been an incredible tool for me.
Here’s the essence of my experience:
When I arrived in Alberta I began practicing Vibrant Voice Technique on a regular basis. At the end of 2013, nearly seven years after I lost my voice, I reached a milestone where I finally felt that I had regained the vocal stamina and power that I had before I lost my voice. It took me nearly seven years, and I attribute a huge part of my recovery to learning and practicing Vibrant Voice Technique. I believe in this technique and this tool, and that’s why I’m making it my work to share it with others.
If you want to follow Elissa’s private coaching practice too, check out www.VoiceBodyConnection.com.
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