When was the last time you thought about your voice? Chances are, it’s been quite a while. Perhaps it was while hearing a recording of yourself or when you had to make a public address or read a book aloud to your children or grandchildren. More likely, it was when your voice wasn’t quite right. Perhaps it was in the midst of a bad head cold, or after yelling and screaming your favorite team to victory in the playoffs.
Your voice, much like your senses of hearing or sight, isn’t something you usually think much about until there’s a problem. To most of us, these events can be annoying, or even worrisome depending upon the severity. However, for many who rely on their voice for their livelihood, these events can be utterly devastating.
Professional voice users make up over 30% of the workforce and include those in fields as diverse as education, sales, medicine, law, and the performing arts, just to name a few. But regardless of your profession, your voice is a huge part of how you interact with the world around you: having a conversation with friends; talking on the telephone; ordering dinner in a restaurant. In these circumstances, and numerous others, loss of voice can very much be a loss of self-identity.
Your voice is actually one of your most unique and identifiable qualities. Unique enough to serve as a secure password for access to even high-level security systems. The quality and character of your voice are fundamentally determined by the length, tension, and thickness of the vocal cords. Those basic sounds however are shaped throughout the rest of your throat, mouth, and nose to produce the voice that you recognize as your own.
World Voice Day is Saturday, April 16th. This is a day observed annually on which we are encouraged to celebrate the wonders and beauty of the human voice. The theme this year is “Explore Your Voice.” I would encourage you to take some time to do just that. Explore your voice. Think about it. Is it as strong as it was twenty years ago? Are you still able to sing in the choir? Does it last through a busy day of teaching six consecutive periods of world history to noisy adolescents?
If so, then celebrate your incredible instrument! Sing a song. Recite a poem. Record a message for your grandchildren. If, however, your voice isn’t quite up to par, I would encourage you to take this opportunity to make a commitment to further explore what might be causing the problem. See a voice specialist such as a Laryngologist or a Speech Pathologist who can listen to your voice and your history and, most importantly, perform a thorough examination of your entire vocal system in order to help diagnose the problem. By direct visualization of the vocal cords through high-definition videostroboscopy, we are now able to diagnose even the most subtle of vocal disorders. We can then formulate an appropriate therapeutic, medical, or surgical treatment plan to ensure that you can celebrate your voice for years to come.