In March of ‘08 I had a vocal nodule removed from my right vocal chord. After more than a year there are times when, after I warm up for over an hour, I can reach my high notes. However, most of the time, I am very limited when it comes to singing and speaking. I’m frustrated. I have been under a lot of stress due to my job and filing a claim against the doctors through my attorney. After warming up I can still sing, but the process is so grueling. I can hardly sing at all when I wake up and when I start the vocal exercises I sound horrible. The process throughout is very hard. Singing is hard for me. I am 46 years old and I had a phenomenal voice. I refuse to believe that my best days are over. I still sing at funerals and church, but I’m not called upon as often as before this problem began. I thought about seeing a neurologist. I am tight most of the time in head, neck, shoulders and throat. I’ve had vocal training and I try and make sure that I am breathing correctly. What else can I do? Please help.
If you do not have a polyp or some other physical threat that requires the nodule be surgically removed, the laryngologists I know recommend shifts in vocal practice as the most desirable way to overcome vocal nodules.
The first step for anyone is to determine the cause of the nodules:
— excess pressure on the instrument; vocal fatigue
— post-nasal drip
— acid reflux
— thyroid disease
— other physical tension
— poorly formed cords
— other laryngeal or vocal cord conditions
— emotional issues
— mental imbalance
And more! As you can see, there are many potential causes for vocal dysfunction, and all that are relevant to an individual have to be addressed for complete and lasting healing.
Once you have had surgery, you need to realize that along with removing the nodule, a portion of the vocal cord has also been removed and there is now scar tissue.
Vocal practice now has to recondition the cords so that there is not excess muscle built to vibrate the scar tissue. Instead, the work you undertake has to make the scar tissue as flexible as the healthy tissue. This can be done but it takes a profoundly advanced, discerning ear and the tiniest vocal tones you can imagine.
Once the tissue has been made flexible, the rest of the vocal range has to be calibrated to match the tiny, pure sound that is made by the recovering portion of the vocal cords.
Once the entire range is liberated and congruent to this very refined function, using only breath management and resonance, NOT in any way increasing the engagement of the vocal folds, it is possible to begin building volume and color back into the tone.
You have to find a voice teacher with experience in supporting this kind of vocal recovery. If there is no one local, then don’t be afraid to work long distance over the phone or skype. If someone is really in the know, they will be able to guide you using these technologies.
DO NOT DO ANYTHING THAT CAUSES DISCOMFORT.
DO NOT SING FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME – ONLY SHORT, REPEATED PRACTICE SESSIONS.
STAY WILLING AND OPTIMISTIC, NEITHER FORCE NOR WITHDRAW. JUST AS PRESSURE CREATES DIAMONDS, THIS PRESSURE CAN HELP YOU REALIZE THE VOICE YOU KNOW YOU HAVE INSIDE OF YOU.