A University Student recently asked me,” Is the cricothyroid muscle part of the pharyngeal constrictors?”
My reply to the student was, “the cricothyroid muscle exists as an extension of the pharyngeal constrictors and is where the line of muscle merges.”
There is in fact a strong possibility that the cricothyroid muscle is a part of the pharyngeal constrictors. I realized this after I reviewed a video of the anatomy of the larynx, which I recorded at the Mayo Clinic. When I touched the cricothyroid muscle and the pharyngeal constrictors carefully, I noticed that both of those muscles seemed to be connected to each other.
I cannot say for sure, because although we live in modern times the science behind this area of muscle groups is still vague, in determining as well as knowing how the soft tissues are classified and move.
Note1:If the cricothyroid muscle is the same muscle as the pharyngeal constrictors, that means that the pharyngeal constrictors are also very important in controlling tone and pitch in vocalization.
I recently conducted a study about how smartphones effect an individual’s ability to focus, specifically when listening to music. This study consisted of two groups, A and B, with 5 people in each.
The first task of the study groups was for them to listen to a song for one minute and try to memorize both the music and lyrics at the same time.
Group A was permitted to hold smart phones, whereas group B did not hold anything.
I didn’t tell Group A not to look at or use their smart phones, ideally they were free to make that choice.
After they listened to the music, each individual from the groups was brought one by one into a private room and asked to recollect and sing the same song they just heard. Their responses were then compared to the original song, determining whether they could sing
it correctly or not. The scoring was based on their ability to recite the lyrics and the melody.
As a result, one of team A and four of team B could remember and sing the song correctly.
In next task of the study, group A did not hold anything and group B held smart phones, while again listening to a song with the goal being to memorize as much of the lyrics and melody as possible.
This time a slightly shorter song was used.
As a result, three of team A and two of team B could recite and sing the song correctly.
In regards to the above reasons, I have concluded that if a person holds (even if they are not using it at that moment) a smart phone, they will defocus on listening to music.
To confirm this conclusion, for the third task I asked both groups to all hold pens instead of smart phones or nothing. They listened to a final song. Surprisingly every one of them could recite and sing the song correctly.
My guess is that the individuals in this study group as well as most people when holding a smart phone, unconsciously always think that they will receive a call, text, e-mail or social media alert. Those thoughts whether worrisome or not are enough of a small distraction to affect the individuals’s ability to focus.
Please do not hold your smart/mobile phone if you really want to focus on listening to or memorizing music.
There are roughly two types of commonly known vocal microphones. The first one is a condenser microphone, and the second is a dynamic microphone.
The dynamic microphone generally costs less than 100 dollars. The condenser microphone usually costs more than 500 dollars.
The sound quality of a condenser microphone also depends on the quality of a pre-amplifer. This is because you need a pre-amplifier to supply the power to the condenser microphone.
A condenser microphone is of superior quality in comparison to a dynamic microphone, and can really pick up and duplicate the sound of an individual’s natural voice. On the other hand, it is also easy to pick up other noises as well.
However, if an individual can use the noise well in conjunction, they can showcase and use the noises to enhance and blend well with their voice.
The most common way is to use the voice’s ability to produce a raspy or hoarseness effect when singing.
If you leak a little air while singing when you use the condenser microphone then your voice will still sound rich and that leaking of air sound will not be picked up or noticed by the microphone.
However, if the amount of breath is too much and/or the leaking air makes a gasping sound, the microphone will pick it up (making it noticeable) and your singing voice will not sound as good.
Note:If you cannot control the amount of leaking air when singing, please try the following to gain more control: Stick out the lower portion of your jaw to pull the genioglossus muscle. Then, move the hyoid bone and the larynx to a more forward position. The obturator muscle and the dilator muscle will widen, making it easier to control the amount of exhalation going through vocal folds.
If you try to stick out your lower jaw too much or too far, the muscles are extended and become stiff, and will negatively effect your vocalization. Always be careful and aware to what degree you are applying to your muscles when extending or contracting.
Some Singers have asked me, ”If I had a previous throat condition for example, LDP or Hypertonic Phonation, would it reoccur if I did muscle training of the throat?” .
I ensure you that LDP or Hypertonic Phonation would not reoccur if you have had those issues or similar issues in the past, and would now like to start training your throat and vocal muscles. In fact, it would benefit you to keep a better condition of your throat, because training would improve your muscle’s ability to make accurate movements and build/keep overall strength.”
You need power and strength, more than most necessarily need, if you try to let out your voice with the LDP or Hypertonic Phonation. Once a person has overcome such vocal conditions, keeping your throat muscles strong with a few exercises should be a weekly or even daily routine.
Keep in mind that having some flexibility of the muscles relating to vocalization is very important before doing any muscle training. Training stiff or severely weakened muscles has many risks and should only be done at at slow approach, gradually and gently.
The voice improves by having flexible muscles!
If you have enough muscles from doing suitable training after acquiring flexibility relating to vocalization, you can let out your voice easily as much as you want.
Our voice care salon has a muscle training of the throat program with many options of different exercises to assist vocal coaches and both professional or non-professional/aspiring singers to create routines. Recently I shared one from our program on this blog. > Cick the following hyperlink to view that exercise, LSE(larynx Slide Exercise)the
Note: The training of the cricothyroid muscle does depend on the condition of your larynx. Be gentle and especially careful not to damage your muscles, if you train without a vocal professional assisting or guiding you, please follow the training methods accurately.
LSE stands for: Larynx Slide Exercise.
This exercise slides your larynx by way of using your fingers to activate muscles relating to vocalization, specifically moving the larynx into the right position. (See photos below)
Start the exercise by slowly sliding your larynx in all 4 directions: left, right, up and then down.
At first, slide your larynx 5 times for each direction.
Next time move up to 5 times x 2 reps if you have gotten used to it.
Finally when you are comfortable with the exercise, aim to do 10 times x 2 or 3 reps.
You will increase the strength you use to slide, little by little.
With the above training, you can exercise the muscles relating to vocalization. As a result, you can improve your pitch, have a more durable throat, and be able to sing for a longer time.
Note1:You should generally already have soft and flexible muscles of the throat such as less than 20 tone if you want to take LSE training. If you do LSE training with stiff muscles, soft tissues within the muscles, the fascia or the ligaments might be damaged.
In fact, many people visit me at my voice care clinic who have damaged their muscles, after doing similar exercises starting off with stiff muscles.
You need knowledge to know which muscle you aim to train and experience to control how much strength you have to slide the larynx.
Note2:No one feels well or confident doing LSE exercises in the beginning. This is because the muscles relating to vocalization are voluntary muscles. For many people it is really difficult to gain the confidence to control them by yourself, due to the fact that you can not always sense which muscle is moving and/or if it’s moving in the correct direction. However, if you keep doing LSE training exercises, you will become able to master it gradually with great rewards for your voice and singing.
After surgery of the larynx or thyroid gland, an adhesion and/or scar on the musculus extrinsic laryngis or the fascia of the skin forms and obstructs vocalizing.
One year after surgery, the scar or the adhesion is healed, thus becoming difficult to treat or repair further.
Therefore, I recommend you begin to take treatment within 3 months after surgery.
After the initial 3 months recovering, the scar or the adhesion is partially healed. From my experience in voice care, you will be able to get your original voice back again if you take a treatment that specifically focuses on improving the motor skills of the muscles relating to vocalization.
I hope and wish that individuals overcoming such surgeries will have a speedy recovery and be able to restore their ability to sing once again.
The scar after the surgery to remove the thyroid
Measuring the thickness of adhesion
If you feel choking or if it’s becoming hard to let out your voice, commonly at the halfway point of singing a song, then you are suspected to have hypertonic phonation or LDP (Larynx Deep Position).
This is not relating to the skill of singing. This issue is relating to the muscles of the throat. The muscles become stiff and in turn, cause the larynx move into a deeper than normal position.
This is a muscle habit which adversely affects singing.
It is better to treat this condition in the early stages of discovery. When gone untreated can cause more, depending on the degree, or even permanent damage to the throat’s muscles.
Note: Hypertonic phonation, as mentioned above, is not a disease. It is a treatable condition.