The sound-isolating headphone and voice

Recently, a reader asked me, why she would be feeling a lack of movement in her temporomandibular joint when speaking while wearing headphones.
I was surprised to hear this and “yes, that is by many, very common!”
Generally, head phones are made for listening to music.
The headphone manufacturer is not mindful of the consumer’s speaking ability while using the product,
I investigated the condition of phonation by using several headphones, and applied several tests.
And found there were two major factors which could cause this effect and discomfort.
The first factor is, the headphone’s style or type, most commonly being a tight head band with pads or firm ear buds.
The second factor is the placement of the product on the ear. It should be located near the temporomandibular joint or cover it.
Those 2 things can obstruct the joint, when opening and closing the mouth.
In fact, I recorded the phonation results, both with head phones and without head phones. .
1. The zone of audibility dropped.
[The wave form of the power spectrum:Left…w/o   headphone Right…w headphone]
2.The articulation rate decreased.
3.Made a boxy sound.
4.Aperture rating and speed slowed down.
Which makes it difficult to use the voice properly and facilitate its full ability.
When recoding in a studio, you cannot move and take your headphone off because it will create a leaking sound from headphones, and possibly throw the artists vocals off, or distract the artist with background noises.
That’s why, sound-isolating headphones are a must!
Use these tips as guidelines before singing while wearing any headphones on your ears:
1:Use a soft ear pad.
2:Choose a headphone that fits your specific build
3:Choose an ear cup that will not obstruct the movement of your temporomandibular joint.
4:Stretch your jaw before wearing headphones.
5:Massage the cheek muscles, digastric muscles, and lateral pterygoid muscles.
This may be possible to loose your great voice, and please be careful for singer or voice actor too.

Please see the following figure displays a skull while wearing sound-isolating headphones. As you can see, the headphones clearly effect aperture and phonation.

[the orange circle is the ear cup and the red circle is the porous acoustic]


The voice and air travel

Nowadays, singers/professional vocalists travel all over the world to perform and promote their vocal gifts. I often notice or hear of a deteriorating, tired, tone of voice after a long flight, or road trip. Many singers struggle with maintaining the condition of their voice after long trip, or concert tour.
This issue is most commonly related to swelling.
The swelling occurs when water/moisture is stored or collected in the soft tissues under the skin. This moisture/water build up is caused by a depressed circulatory function. Which is from sitting in the same position for a prolong period of time combined with decreased pressure during air travel.
You generally only notice the swelling of the hands or feet, but actually it swells the vocal cords too. Vocal cord swelling is defined as increased mass and thickness to the vocal cords. As a result,the oscillation rate will get worse and the voice will suffer and become more low-pitched.
The mucosa of the vocal cords is receiving a higher moisture content than the vocal cord muscles. As the mucosa of the vocal cords thickens, it will become more and more difficult to sing high notes.
Even if the person is a highly-skilled professional singer, they will encounter this issue at some point in traveling. If you notice your voice sounds shattered or gravelly, this is because the glottis opens and causes breathing breaks and air leaks. You would need enormous power to overcome this issue, like that of an opera singer!The swelling of the vocal cords is never a good thing for singers to encounter. I have personally labeled this, for reference, ”The Aerial Voice Cord Effect”.
How to prevent from Aerial voice cord swelling during a flight.
First, periodically stretch your body, legs and arms during the flight. This will improve blood flow and is a good way to recover from vocal cord swelling as well. The superior laryngeal artery and vein predominantly affect the vocal cords, and these control the stress and swelling of the thyrohyoid membranes (which is between the hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage) of the larynx.
Those of you who have LDP(larynx Deep Position) will be more prone to suffer from poor blood circulation. The Superior laryngeal artery and veins are being pressed/strained by the narrow space between the hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage. The veins especially have a low inner pressure and will continue to swell due to the reduced circulation of the blood. I advise comforting or stretching the area between the upper thyroid cartilage and hyoid bone using stretching techniques or supportive pads/foam padding: first and middle(Please see the following figure). Practicing this will increase blood circulation, and prevent the issue altogether! Be mindful each individual’s results will vary due to length of flight, altitude and physical conditions.

Achieving a more beautiful voice and breathing exercise techniques for a mother and her baby, during pregnancy

I often hear good news about singers or vocalists who become pregnant, at my salon. I congratulate you all!
I do not recommend following my basic healing exercises during pregnancy, if you suffer daily morning sickness or if you have been diagnosed with a disabling physical condition.
When the pregnancy enters a stable period, I would recommend you to be mindful of ”the special pregnancy program and its helpful techniques”.
The program was created to inform pregnant women, how to improve phonation and sound, through voice training, while pregnant.
Depending on what you seek for your voice and your specific pregnant condition. The main goal of the program is to give the fetus good vocalism, and comfort it through the sound of voice.
As I have said in previous posts, if you keep hearing tone-deaf singing for a long time, you are going to be tone-deaf too. This condition is a, mirror effect.
The person has a disposition which in turn is subconsciously imitated, without even realizing it, due to daily routines, surroundings, or just repetition. The same is true with the growth and maturing of a fetus.
You know, we generally hear of common comforting prenatal training through sounds, such as playing classical music or reading a book to the fetus. What I am going to share with you is more advanced.
The baby basically has good vocal characteristics, such as fatigue endurance and a carrying voice because they need to quickly convey requests and emotion through voice.
Their pitch is an “A” and that is equal to 440Hz.
When I talked with an affiliated phonic researcher, he said that, “The same key sound is not always an A, and this can vary due to the individual physical condition of the fetus”.
I believe, the vocal pitch is decided by length,thickness and hardness of the vocal fold, resonance, and chamber.
Furthermore, the size of resonance chamber(1.laryngeal ventricle 2.piriform recess 3.pharyngeal cavity 4.oral cavity 5.nasal cavity) also affect the pitch.
A smaller resonance chamber will create a higher pitch. (the size, the figure,the component and the moisture levels of mucosa are slightly relevant to pitch too)
A baby can easily produce the sound of ”A” because their resonance chamber is small.
Of course, frequency changes, depending on height and weight, might not necessarily be 440Hz. I do not aim to make the baby vocalize an ”A” properly.
My purpose is to give mother a better voice which in turn will effect the fetus.
A vocalized good voice in a pregnant woman/mother without stress, will result in a mirror effect to her fetus/child.
sometimes it’s just unbearable. So practicing and educating in the early steps of pregnancy can help teach tips on what stepos to take to make that baby’s cry/voice easier to handle daily. Every mother, at some point finds it overwheming when their child constantly cries, I hope they have a beautiful initial cry/voice!
Imagine surprising the doctor or midwife, when hearing the initial cry, and thinking ”How beautiful voice of a cry/voice they have!”
So, try not to breathe shallowly too often while growing a fetus during pregnancy.
This decreases the exchange rate between oxygen and carbon dioxide and is not good for fetus.
To fix this issue, take long deep breaths, while singing your favorite lullaby. Remember train in the comfort zone of your home or in a stress free environment for best results.
This technique will also improve blood circulation and will help relax you mentally as well.
Good luck and I am Wishing you all – A Safe Delivery!

Training of pressure breathing

The first rule of thumb is to remember that the breath is the driving force for the voice. Especially,exhalation.
If you take a deep breath when someone presses your costovertebral joints from your back, you can control exhalation and improve exhaling ideally,this is supposed to be good training for the voice.
Press the costovertebral joints safely and carefully, otherwise the effect is decreased by half.
You can train breathing techniques ideally, if the pressing completely matches in sync with the breathing.
For the goal of hitting high registers, the target is to press lower Cervical spine to upper Thoracic Spine. For the goal of a mixed tonal voice,the target is the thoracic vertebrae from Th3 to Th12.
If you want to improve hitting low registers,the target is from the lower Throacic spine to upper lumbar spine.
Again, remember … breathing is the driving force and strength of the voice!

Work assistance:Kenichi Sato
Producer:Shigeki Aida
EDIT1:The diaphragm also helps you exercise your voice by using the
internal intercostal muscles and external intercostal muscles.

Using these tips & techniques to achieve brilliant breathing exercises will help you greatly in creating a good performance using the art of voice.

Good news for people having small thyroid cartilage!

Röntgenaufnahme - menschliche Kopf mit markiertem Kehlkopf
Recently, I ran into a man who has very small thyroid cartilage.
He had been made fun of for having a strange singing voice since he was a student. Every doctor said ”nothing was wrong.” He went to many otological hospitals for the phenomenon so far. Consequently, he was referred for a psyche evaluation at a local medical department,for suffering from depression because of his voice.
After countless dead ends he reached out to me and made an appointment, with high expectations!

He showed up and said, ”Please help!” as soon as he arrived to see me … and admitted we were his last hope. When I heard his voice and saw his throat, I immediately recognized the issue. His strange voice is caused by a failure of sound because his thyroid cartilage is uncommonly small. No doubt about it, he had a thin, boxy and weak voice.

First, I briefly taught him the mechanics of the voice and throat, and we started investigating.
When I palpated his throat, I was convinced “this is surely a tiny larynx!” As far as I could see there were no physical problems with his talking,singing,breathing,swallowing or eating – his voice was just bad, I mean… not appealing to the ears.
I do not mean that he has a disease or deformity, it is merely an individual variability, and you can even say “it’s just in his character.” Confirming what every doctor had told him before.
I deeply reflected, and decided to focus on how to compliment him, and small explain that defects could be covered or hidden by maneuverability.
It’s possible to fix the hypertonic phonation, the effort-phonation and LDP(Larynx Deep Position).
If thyroid cartilage is already small, it’s just like a small instrument.
For example: the ukulele and acoustic guitar, they both look similar in structure, but the sound is pretty different between a ukulele and acoustic guitar because a guitar is bigger. By the way, I never say ukulele is bad instrument, just small.
Just like a ukulele cannot recreate the same sounds as a guitar.  It is the same concept with the throat.
Do you think it is completely true the change in the strength and volume of a voice depends on the size of thyroid cartilage?
Many doctors debate this.
I do not think it’s big deal, because this is truly not a disease, but I would like to focus on why the sound is slightly different.
There is the thyroplasty type II which is a surgery that’s designed to address weakened vocal chords.
Surgeons aim to cut the median thyroid cartilage and implant a titanium bridge to prevent from glottic closure, and treat the spastic dysphonia.
But now I’m talking about size of the thyroid cartilage, not ”spastic dysphonia”.
In the thyroplasty type II, the width of the thyroid cartilage increases about a 1/2 to 2 inches because of the two titanium bridges.
I’ve investigated the differences of voice quality (tone) between before and after surgery.
Of course, the surgery originally aims to fix the voice catch.
I just heard their voice and I’ve never imposed on patients for the investigation.
I record the voice before and after surgical procedures, and I can judge from comparison.
Although doctors usually check for hoarseness or a cracked voice, I mainly check the quality of the voice.
That is the difference between a medical perspective and an aesthetic perspective.
Many patients showed an improved quality of voice after such surgical operations,because the thyroid cartilage has been expanded and also increased in size.
In conclusion, the size of thyroid cartilage obviously affects the sound of voice. If the thyroid cartilage is large,the voice is more richer sounding than the sound of having small thyroid cartilage would make.
However, if the thyroid cartilage is big, it’s harder to control because it’s also increased in size and weight and might lose sound.
Therefore, I cannot say that big is always good.
I do not recommend the people who have a small thyroid cartilage to take my treatment.
Because the size of thyroid is proportional to the size of  hyoid bone.
The size of pharyngeal cavity is an important factor in whether a voice’s tone can be fixed.
That is why it is difficult to fix the people who have small thyroid cartilage. Until now.
Although at first, it is hard to see a dramatic improvement … I believe I can make a voice better by focusing on training the oral cavity, ultimately improving the kinematic performance.
The point is temporomandibular joint(TMJ).
TMJ is a joint, which the mandibular condyle rolls(hinge movement) by sliding forward.
If you slide the mandibular condyle correctly, you can have a better voice.
I discovered this fun fact, after I thoroughly investigated Joseph Carreras, who is one of The Three Tenors and Diana Damrau who is a popular soprano singer.
I’ll share more details about how to approach TMJ later.
But this is good news, people who have a small thyroid cartilage do not need to give up on improving their voice!

Practicing singing while driving

‘’I always practice singing in the car because cannot be loud in my house.’’
Believe it or not, a lot of people share this issue!
In the car, you are not bothering anybody else even if you shout and yell loudly. That’s why the car is a perfect place to practice.
I am going to explain and share my expert advice about training the voice while driving. And also compare the sound from a soundproof room to a car when singing.

Soundproof:(YAHAMA  AVITECS Dr-35)
We prepared two cars which are Prius G and Porshe Cayman S

1:Paying attention,is going to cause shallow breathing when driving.
2:The breath associated muscle cannot move proper due to the tightness of the seat belt.
3: It is easy to get the wrong pitch when cutting the wheel because it makes you off balance.
4: If it is noisey in the car,vocalizing is going be coarse and reduce the quality of voice.
5: Easy to forget the lyrics.
6: You get a long tempo due to keeping up up with the car’s speed.
7: Practice safe driving,by not letting singing distract you from the road and your responsibilities operating a vehicle.

It is sometimes dangerous to focus on singing too much while driving, so remember this tips or preferably have vocal training in the appropriate area.
Smooth drive

Note 1:
Which do you think is better for singing in the car, driving with your right-hand or left?
The answer is left-hand, because the seat-belt covers your right shoulder,clavicle,right lung, and left pelvis.
The left is opposite, those obstructions.
Generally, left lung is smaller than right lung because the heart is located in the left side.
Therefore,the seat belt limits movement in the car, so you should be free with your right lung instead of the left-lung. Mainly because the right-lung has more volume.
Some newer models of cars have advanced seat-belts and safety features, so some of you might not have this issue.
car chair

Note 2:
You”re probably wondering, did I actually use a Porshe for this test?
Yes. Taking safety into consideration, we went to Ooarai-beach in Ibaragi-pre and performed the test along the beach.
A special thanks to a friend, for letting me use their car in this compare and contrast experiment.

Note 3:
I recently described about how mechanical noises really have an influence on singing and hearing. The performance cars make engine sounds which are comparable to music. It can be especially helpful to listen engine sounds such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, or Maserati to vocalize better.
It’s hard to judge whether this is true or not, however, I remember my acquaintance said that I got better at
pitch shift and vibrato after I copied an engine sound.
I would suggest investing in a luxury sports car, because you can feel the vibration of the engine at the back of your body while listening clearly to the car. Which in turn will help control and variate your pitch and vocals.

Guidance of the larynx News

This article of Nodo-News is a personal opinion and review by Shigeki Aida. Who has researched the human voice, and hands on examined the larynx of over 16,000 people. The content of provided is medically unverified. Therefore, please note that we shall not be responsible for any losses or damages. Everything is taken at your own risk. Also, please understand that we cannot reply to all emails or questions regarding grammar and spelling errors.