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Singing – Softening a "Hard Glottal Attack"
As a singer, you want to control your voice and treat it with care. A “severe glottal attack” is a very abusive way to treat your vocal cords, which can cause damage. Here’s how you can find out if you have it and the good news – how you can change it.
What is a “severe glottal attack”?
Without getting into too many medical definitions, it’s basically the beating of the sounds together, before you speak or sing. It can also happen when you clear your throat or cough. It is very hard on the vocal cords, and most people with this habit end up with a dirty voice in their normal vocal practice by the time they are in their forties and fifties. However, you can change it at any time, provided no damage is done. You can have a clear voice again if you are willing to put in the time and effort.
How do you know you have it??
When you get together with friends and talk more than usual, do you feel like you’re a honey? Do people say you have a particularly loud voice? What ethnicity are you? Some nations are known for speaking in the throat, and it usually appears with a “severe glottal attack”.
I had a throat problem, my background is German, they also speak throat. Once my poor throat was damaged, it couldn’t regain a nice balance because my normal usage was so abusive. I had no idea. But when my singing got in the way, I found myself in the office of a professional who deals with vocals. Luckily, no damage was done. But my poor throat was raw. So it was talk therapy for me.
One way you can determine if you have a “severe glottal attack” in normal speech is to record yourself. My speech suggested this to me. At that time I was teaching groups of children to play the electric guitar. I groaned at all the sounds. I recorded my lesson, and was horrified by the way I used my voice, cleared my throat, and coughed. It was all so very, very hard. You can just hear how hard it was. I didn’t know what I was doing with my voice.
Register yourself on the phone, and find out what you’re doing. When you say “look”Hi, How do are you?” Is there a slight crackle on “Hi” and “How?” If so it’s a “severe glottal attack.” If you’re hoarse, that’s something you want to change.
Put an air “H” before the vowels
This is a very good exercise to soften the attack. It should be done slowly and very carefully. Think of a sultry, sexy actress, like Marilyn Monroe, and talk about it that way.
Put a silent “H” before vowels
Another is to imagine saying “H” but keeping silent. What you’re doing is sending a little bit of air through the vocal cords before it makes a sound, thus eliminating the harsh attack.
If you have been doing this for a long time, you have to be patient. It is possible to change it, I know. But you have to keep going.
Practice single words
After vowels, move on to individual words. Record some more, learn when and where you use “hard glottal attack” and use these words.
Add small words, small sentences
Start adding “the” and “to” or a few words until you get to long, long sentences. It is a good idea to record your entire process.
Try the sentences
After sentences, move on to sentences. It helps to avoid repeating the same sentences over and over again. Choose affirmations or inspirational readings. You will get more benefits from voice therapy.
Feel free to read it out loud
A good thing is to read aloud. It’s a great way to practice once you’ve had some success. You can even volunteer, go study some prisons, and do your own voice therapy at the same time.
Some other things to try
Try putting “m” at the beginning of vowels. Before you make a sounder, it pushes the sound forward into a hum and lets it explode into a powerful attack.
To make a voice that goes to the nose, as a question. “Hmm” is a good way to develop a voice. My therapist did that to me, before any voiceover, to get my voice out.
If you are abusing your voice in this way, and it has done no harm, you can change it if you really want to. As a singer, that was something I wanted. You may want to seek the help of a counselor, who has many tips to help you.
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