Voice a gift worth protecting

THOSE who have been straining to project their voice across the classroom, or having difficulty hitting high notes on stage, may be due for a bit of speech pathology.

Tomorrow is World Voice Day and although the international day is not well known, local speech pathologist Carmelle Moore says it should not go unnoticed."

“Speech pathologists work with communication difficulties in language, articulation, fluency and the voice,” Ms Moore said.

“People who overuse or misuse their voice sometimes develop a hoarse voice, or loose vocal power. Many people know what that is like if they talk after shouting a lot.

“If too much tension is put on your voice and there is hard contact on the vocal cords one can develop vocal nodules and the voice deteriorates.”

The 45-year-old speech pathologist operates out of the Complete Care Clinic in Alstonville, which offers a holistic approach to speech pathology and attracts the likes of singers and teachers.

But people outside of those professions are also at risk of developing voice damage.

“If you use your voice a lot for work it may be susceptible to damage, especially if you push it when you have a cold,” Ms Moore said.

“I focus on voice difficulties and providing voice training through simple exercises that improve voice production and reduce strain.”

Ms Moore is also a part-time yoga teacher and likes to augment her speech pathology work with yoga techniques.

Ballina Public School teacher Dom Coulthurst, 45, said: “I started speech therapy in 2009 because my voice was very husky from teaching and not projecting my voice properly.

“I had nodules on my vocal cords and I started coming to Carmelle weekly.

“It took me three months and my voice came back and I could speak loudly without straining my voice.

“Now I use certain voice techniques and all the kids ask me, ‘why are you talking so weird Ms C?’

“I even used a Madonna-like microphone and earpiece when I had to speak loudly and the kids loved that.”

An appointment with a speech pathologist is usually referred through ear, nose and throat specialists, who advocate keeping your voice hydrated, being wary of talking above background noise and seeking specialist training if you raise your voice often.

In celebration of World Voice Day, Ms Moore will be holding a workshop exploring voice and yoga in Mullumbimby tomorrow from midday. Phone 0422 360909.

• Don’t smoke and avoid smokey environments.

• Learn to optimise healthy voice production without strain or damage.

• Don’t repeatedly clear your throat and avoid coughing excessively.

• Watch out for certain medications and drinks, like antihistamines, coffee and alcohol, that can dehydrate your voice.

• Look after your voice during allergies and tract infections.

• Drink at least two to three litres of water per day.

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