Voices of today

Voices of today
"What's happened to the voices of today? I am here today to address a health issue. Its importance is not generally recognized....Such lack of awareness often leads to a failure to give proper attention and care..."
Pradichaya Gafaae Poonyarit-The Voice Station-Core Melody Voice Studio What's happened to the voices of today?

We are in a new age of media and provided with more than a handful of a variety of reality shows, such as reality cooking, reality singing, reality looking for future spouses, and all sorts of reality dramas (huh?) for our nightly entertainment.

My topic is not about "voices" as used in politics and/or the right to do something we believe, nor is it about voicing my opinion of any particular reality show (although, should I go that route, there would be a series of articles on that topic, alone). Instead, I am here today to address a health issue. Its importance is not generally recognized, however, and because it is has to do with something that everyone across the nation and globe does naturally, it is quite alarming. Such lack of awareness often leads to a failure to give proper attention and care; and, in the long run, this can potentially become a risk factor.

I am referring to the use of one's voice, the end product of the employment of various important body processes, which involves varying the speed of one's air exhalation and using various muscles, making possible person-to-person communication. Without the voice we will not be heard. Since it comes to us so naturally, though, most of us have never given any thought to what it takes to make these sounds nor how and why we should care for the mechanism involved in the process.

Sadly, for some, they think it's just the throat.

We watch everything from the news, sports, and all daytime-nighttime shows. We hear different voices from news reporters, sports commentators, talk show hosts, and reality show participants. These are anyone and everyone- people just like you and me. Listen to how they speak, and please pay attention to the tones. I'm not talking about whether they speak with perfect grammar (almost never, but that, also, has its own series in "Saving English One Word At A Time" section on our Website), but instead about the quality of their speaking voice- their vocal production. By that, I don't mean how pretty they sound, either. Not only is the speech of so many not produced evenly, making them somewhat difficult to be understood- as we often say, with "bad diction-" but he or she also often speaks with a harsh and/or breathy tone, the result of swollen throat tissue that causes the vocal cords to lose their flexibility in closing and opening as they normally and automatically do when we talk. When these people emphasize a certain phrase you will hear an increase in the volume of the sound, showing an even harsher, drier, and- I must admit- quite obnoxious tone. It reminds me of the phrase, "full of hot air": not so much as to what the idiom means, but because the self-inflicted injury on the person's throat is so pronounced that I visualize hot steam, and even fire, coming out of his throat when he muscles up all his strength just to produce the sound, one syllable at a time.

Now, can prolonged swelling of the vocal cords and surrounding throat tissues be bad for a person? Yes. But can the condition be reversed before it's too late? Most likely, in most cases.

People who give speeches and lectures for a living understand the importance of keeping their voices not only intact but also healthy, for the simple reason that they must be able to deliver the goods that they sell or risk losing their clients. But, do they know how to protect and preserve their voices? Some of them, when the first sign of trouble hits, immediately back off the sound by stopping their air, and rely heavily on the wonderful technology of amplification, aka body mic. One needs to understand, though, the difference between being handicapped by the microphone, and using it just to add effect in order to keep the audience interested.

Talking is communicating, something that you and I have already been doing. We wake up and immediately have something to say. We talk to our spouses and children. Then the phone rings and we talk. We arrive at our workplace and we talk. You get the gist. As I said, talking is natural. You are the lucky one- and I am very happy for you- if your speaking voice is produced evenly day-in and day-out, and your communication continues smoothly. This means you are not doing anything wrong and are not mistreating your body. But, if you feel that you have to work your body so hard to get out what you need to say, and without the expected result, or if it feels as though hot air punctures your throat when you try to speak- yet your speaking voice is weak, almost inaudible, and by the end of the day you feel all your energy has been spent trying to be heard- then you are vocally fatigued, and the way to healing your voice is only through adjustments made to your habits and even your lifestyle.

This goes for singers, too. Do you ever wonder why it is that most sound so bright and clear when they start out as You Tube sensations, then, within a year or two following their discovery by agents, their singing voices sound hoarse and tired? It's especially obvious when they address their loyal fans!

We love our icons, but at some point we only see them. We don't hear them anymore. Please, take a listen, and do not accept broken and damaged voices as powerful- your contribution only hurts them. Yes, they're on the road working hard and staying up late all the time, and this makes it hard not to let their voices slacken as their bodies become run-down. They burn out so fast, and without the understanding of how to take good care of their voice - their money maker. I, for one, cannot be impressed by those once favored icons whose voices have become damaged through the course of their careers.

In most cases, this damage is self-inflicted, due to the lack of knowing how to give proper care.

I am definitely for the cure, but not without the prevention first. If we know the proper measures to be taken to prevent any type of damage to our body, then we may not need the cure. Meanwhile, if we have already injured a certain part of our body, it is necessary to find the right cure to be applied. Yet, at the same time, we have to recognize what we did to inflict or cause such injury, so that we can avoid it and not let it happen again. The vocal mechanism is just like everything else: we need to seek the how and the why factors in order to understand how to keep the lines of communication flowing, and, therefore, live a healthy life.

Our voice is our body- please treat it with TLC.

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