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This is the third chapter of a series of helpful information geared towards professional voice users, presented by Otolaryngologist Dr. Reena Gupta, Director of the Division of Voice and Laryngology at the Osborne Head & Neck Institute.
Tip # 3: Play on a Team
Dr. Reena Gupta, laryngologist at OHNI’s Division of Voice, was recently invited to speak in London, England, at the annual meeting of the British Voice Association. This meeting, Choice for Voice: 2010, was geared towards professionals who care for voice users. This includes singing teachers, speech language pathologists, and laryngologists (voice doctors). It stressed the critical importance of having a member of all three groups on your voice team. By bringing together all these groups, the attendees were able to learn outside their own discipline, improving the care they are able to provide.
Dr. Gupta’s talk focused how thyroid disease may affect the singing voice. Several vocal coaches and speech pathologists approached her afterwards, interested in this connection. Had they not attended this conference, they may never have known about this link between thyroid disease and voice problems.
As a voice user, you have probably had advice thrown at you from everyone around you. Your fellow voice professionals, the internet, even your friends and family! But how do you filter all that information; what can you believe?
This is a challenge that most vocal performers face. The best way to get solid, trustworthy answers is to form a team of professionals that are invested in your voice.
Who should be on your vocal team?
- A laryngologist – an ear, nose and throat doctor who has completed further training to specialize in the care of the voice
- A speech language pathologist – a professional who can use the diagnosis discovered by a laryngologist to design a voice treatment plan
- A singing coach – a professional who has experience in musical instruction and singing anatomy
Be cautious about going to a singing coach who does not recognize the importance of this team approach. This suggests a lack of knowledge about the depth of experience needed to care for the voice. Choose someone who appreciates the benefits of a team to enhance the vocal outcome that you can achieve.
Dr. Gupta had a patient sent to her by a voice coach who recognized the importance of working collaboratively. This patient was a young actor and singer and had recently had some pain in his throat when singing. Though he had worked very hard with his voice coach, Dr. Gupta was able to uncover a medical problem that was responsible for his pain. Now he is treated, pain-free, and enjoying voice use much more!
A message from Dr. Reena Gupta, laryngologist at OHNI’s Division of Voice
I have found working with a team to be the most important part of voice care. My philosophy is to do only what I am good at and that includes the diagnosis and treatment, medical or surgical, of voice disorders. However, a large component of treatment involves voice use technique. That is where I rely heavily on my team of expert speech language pathologists. Difficult problems, when diagnosed correctly by a laryngologist, are often cured with good speech therapy alone! Singing therapy or voice lessons are also critical to translate the good speaking technique into the performing voice.
Many of my performers come to me and are concerned about the cost, especially if they are starting out in their careers. Can you put a price on having a long career? Once my patient is plugged into the full team, they never regret it. Their performing lives change and it is thrilling for me to see a patient improve, often without any surgery. Investing in a team is an investment in your voice.
To learn more about Dr. Reena Gupta and voice care, visit: http://www.voicedoctorla.com/