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Vocal Help

Dear Colleagues - I am looking for some help with a former student/singer of mine.  He was severely injured in a bicycle - van accident about two years ago.  While he has had therapy for many of his physical issues, and has had some speech therapy, he needs to strengthen his speaking voice. I’ve been asked to give him voice lessons.  His vocal folds have not been injured, but at this time he can only speak in a whisper.  He is very bright and can read and respond in French as well as English.  But at this time his brain doesn’t seem to send the correct signals for speaking strongly.  If you have experience with similar issues perhaps you have effective exercises that I might use.  I am planning to start with abdominal / diaphragmatic exercises.  Any suggestions would be most welcome.

on September 29, 2014 5:12pm
Whispering is not phonating. Does he hmm? Does he have a speech therapist/pathologist?  If so, can you get permission for access to specifics. Unless ther is phonation, you are just giving breathing lessons. Something else is going on if there is no natural phonation. Smile and Stop. Get him to a speech pathologist. 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 30, 2014 9:34am
He does have a speech therapist.  I will try talking to them and see what they are doing.  I'll also check on if he can hum.  Thank you.
on September 30, 2014 2:16pm
I do this kind of work, and it is very tricky, and requires special training.  If he approached me, here's what I would suggest to him BEFORE seeing him for lessons.
1) Get a videostroboscopy from an ENT specializing in voice.  You can find the best person in your area by asking for a recommendation from the voice department of the nearest big conservatory.
2) Get a written report from the doctor, along with recommendations for treatment, and if possible, a video recording of the exam.
3) Have him go for a series of sessions with an SLP who is interested in phonation.  (There are many sub-specialties of speech language pathology.)  Ask for their report as well.
I would then read the reports, study the exam, and then (if the doctor said it was OK for him to have voice lessons), I'd design a vocal exercise program for him.  But I've gone through a special program that trains people in how to do this.  I guess what I'm saying is--BE CAREFUL.  You don't want to proceed without having enough information and risk hurting his voice.  
Applauded by an audience of 1
on October 2, 2014 7:35pm
As a survivor of a traumatic brain injury, this does not sound like a "voice" lesson.  He needs therapy.  I don't know your qualifications, but his brain is not communicating properly with the rest of his body yet.  He needs to "reboot" before he tries to grow.  I wish you ALL the best of luck.
Paul Townsend
small-brained music and drama teacher
Scottsdale, AZ
on October 3, 2014 8:36am
I want to thank you all for taking the time to respond.  I am sharing your information with the family.  Hopefully down the road I will be able to report back on Tristan's progress.
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