This past week I have suffered a very distressing loss of voice. After a couple of nights out and a foolishly lengthy rehearsal last Sunday, my voice rudely departed. Not due to tonsillitis, but over-use and, I have discovered, swollen and strained vocal folds. Despite my amusement at the regular use of the word ‘folds’ throughout the week, I am pretty miserable. My voice is my greatest tool – for communicating and of course for singing. Without it, I feel extremely sorry for myself and I find it impossible to really engage in social situations.
This experience has made me realise two things:
1) Kids should learn sign language. We have schools teaching second spoken languages all over the country. When travelling those languages are useful and I think learning languages does wonders for children’s grasp of English grammar, but why not Auslan? It makes so much sense. Firstly, and most obviously, because then everyone could communicate with people in Australia who already use sign language. But that should be obvious. The other reason is that sign language has applications when spoken language is not able to be used. Not only when self-promoting, over-confident singers damage their voices, but also in loud venues, in open-plan offices (think of the peace and quiet!), on film sets, in libraries, when talking behind people’s backs, across crowded rooms…the list goes on. Our bodies can communicate without speech and clever people have developed a structured language, with its own grammar and vocabulary and we don’t learn it unless we choose to specialise and pay for community college or similar. Sign language in schools: make it happen.
2) I do not take care of myself or my passions. I have known I was singing “wrong” for some time. It hurt some days and I push too hard, arrogantly proud of my “belt” and big volume, secretly aware that it couldn’t be good for me (nor my amusingly titled folds). But I didn’t check it out because I didn’t want to be told there was a problem and didn’t want to be told I had to stop. I was lazy and stupid with something I value and now, and for the next year I imagine, I am going to have to unlearn my errors and retrain my voice. It will be ok – usable and better than some people’s best for our performance on Tuesday. And, if I do my exercises and hibernate I’ll be in good form by our Mardi Gras show. In the meantime I will be absent from society and I will have to learn to be a quieter person. I am not good at quiet. I am currently hiding in West Wing and tea but I am going to have to expand my repertoire of distractions. I’ve heard books and hot chocolate are good too. A week without singing – not just rehearsals, but also that incidental happy, pottering in the kitchen singing – and I am truly miserable, prone to bursting into tears and not too pleasant to be around. I need to do this. The exercises that make me sound like a dying puppy, the expensive appointments with the attractive speech path (teehee, she says folds) and the solitary rest. See you in June kids.
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- For maevegobash: yeah, I just like thinking/writing/talking about myself. That's what blogs are for, right? For vegepalooza: I have been vegetarian for 25 years now - so that's always for me. My mothers cooked a storm up in the kitchen and I am carrying the torch filling my friends bellies at every opportunity. I love food and want to share my recipes, tips and tricks here to encourage creative vegetarian eating. There will also be a lot of vegan recipes for my friends with more willpower than me (sorry kids, I just love the cheese). Anyway enjoy, feel free to criticise and most of all Happy Eating!