Finding one's voice

I wanted to ask if anyone out there has difficulty with voice production and control and what you have found that helps
I’m a long term survivor, 6 years and counting.
In the very early days I wasn’t affected too badly vocally although voice production was effortful. I was referred to a voice therapist who found by using an internal inspection camera, a device on a flexible tube that goes in through your nose and down your throat to inspect the vocal flaps in action, that there was a weakness on one side.

After discharge as an in patient I went to some outpatient voice clinics where they did the same procedure rather more expertly than the one as an inpatient. It sounds revolting but if the Dr is experienced it is not an unpleasant experience.
They told me that the vocal action on the weak side had recovered somewhat, this was after about 2 years, and this was evidence of neuroplasticity.

I was much encouraged and diligently did the exercises I was given.
The results were unpredictable and sometimes I felt a good connection with my voice and other times could hardly connect at all.
The improvements over the years have not been linear and recently I’m finding that while I can more reliably connect with my voice, I tend to get a bit breathless when talking. I’m not a big talker so it isn’t a great problem. I’m mildly asthmatic, and have got quite unfit largely due to my mobility impairments stroke left me with severe left sided weakness.

I have found both stroke fatigue, which I still get, though not nearly as much, and not paying attention to hydration both lead to voice production being more difficult. I’ve had my heart checked out so breathlessness isn’t due to that. I think it’s probably a fitness issue, but wonder if anyone else had any similar experiences and could share insights?

Hi Tony. After my stroke, I could speak but was given mouth exercises. I have always been rather proud of my voice and had voice training in my youth. I am aware that if I am tired, my voice is consequently weaker and not as concise. If I sense this I talk a little more slowly and that helps. I also still get post stroke fatigue. Not as bad as in the early days of recovery, but still lingering.

My stroke, about the same time of yours messed up my speech badly. To help overcome the problem I practice whistling while out walking, this may help. Covid restrictions have been very bad for my system because I used my walks as an excuse to drop into local opshops and chat to the the helpers who are all unpaid and only do the job for sociality. Restrictions made it difficult to chat wearing a mask!
Even the odd person I met had to converse with across a road and that can be tricky! Things have eased a lot now but the damage has been done and will take a lot to recover from.

I used to enjoy singing, but now I feel like my singing voice sounds like an old frog. I’m hoping with practice some of it will come back. Jeanne

Thank you Deigh
I was given an exercise at the voice clinic, which involves blowing through a narrow straw while vocalising, probably has a similar effect on breathing to whistling.
I can only envy your happy walks! My walking is very bad , and hasn’t recovered a great deal much to my dismay as it used to be a great pleasure.
Anyway we keep going
Thanks for taking the trouble to reply, and I wish you many a happy walk!

Slowing down might be part of the answer, and I will try going back to the exercises the clinic gave me.
My son was a drama student and has given me a few tips from his voice coaching lessons.I used to have some facility to mimic accents and the like, which I enjoyed greatly, not sure others did, but it was fun for me. Was your voice work in music or drama?
I feel if I can get the breathing managed things will improve. The most tiring aspect is trying to get your word in edgeways in a lively conversation. In the past I would just have to butt in, because I wasn’t picking up the turn taking cues. That’s improved with time.
Hope all is well with you

God luck with the singing
Similarly I would enjoy singing but find it hard to know if I’m in tune, I was assured I was, even though it sounded pretty frog- like to me, so maybe you sound better than you think. Thanks for sharing
your experience

Hi Tony. A long time ago I trained as an actor before getting a degree and doing teacher training, so I would be mortified if I couldn’t speak clearly. I do find conversations difficult though, especially when people go off at tangents instead of getting to the point. Life here is not too bad, but yesterday we went to a garden in the Cotswolds which was not disabled friendly at all. This meant I had to be helped a fair bit, which makes me feel stressed. Slept like a log though.

A friend took me down to Kent before the weekend for a day out. My new powered wheelchair folds up easily and fit into his boot fine. I wouldn’t have been able to manage walking around the gardens we visited, but with the wheelchair it was great. The paths were mostly ok, jus one moment where the gravel path was a bit soft but otherwise ok. It was nice not to have to rely on someone else to push me. I’ve been using a wheelchair more often over the last couple of years, and while I can walk short distances there’s no way I can enjoy a stroll as I used to, sadly, but I’m still working on it.
Similarly I was pretty tired after my day out, but glad for the change.

With voice I guess I have to plumb whatever reserves of patience I have and believe that things can improve if only very slowly.

Looking forward to more days out.
I have a holiday coming up in July, just a few days in Cornwall, booked through an agency called Byway, who so far have been brilliant.
It will be the first holiday for 6 years, so very much looking forward to it. Taking my wife and my son, partly as a thanks for all they’ve done an all I’ve put them through. I was pleased to be able to find a company that would do all the organising for me and all the checking out for accessibility. I was fortunate to have been given a bit of money towards it. So my long suffering family won’t have to worry about the cost. First time in years I’ve been able to properly give them something. That’s been a big thing.
I hope you can get to enjoy more days out also as the summer opens up.
Resting now.

1 Like

I have the same problem, when I try to sing along my voice is terrible! I am hoping it will come back one day. Anne

When I first learned to play guitar I would use it to accompany my singing, Yep, even performed on stage on amateur night. It used to be handy at parties too and had some great renditions of ‘Ghost riders’ . This all came to an abrupt end when I bought my first tape recorder and heard what I sounded like! I think the audience must have been laughing at me rather than with me. After that I concentrated on developing my guitar playing and have played for some big bands.
The stroke stuffed up my right arm and hand and it was some time before I managed to handle guitar and keyboards again. I’ve got back to playing but nothing like as well as I did in the old days and the thought of playing in bands is out of the question.

Anne-- I think there are some singing exercises on the internet. I’m going to try that. Meanwhile I’ll try laughing alot. Maybe that will help. :blush: Jeanne

1 Like

Love the cartoon!
I might try the singing daughter is grade8 singer, when she’s home next I’ll ask her to give me some help. I think I’ve tracked my recent issues with breathlessness to a bit of asthma, I’ve lived with that all my life so I know what to do there. The stroke induced weakness fluctuates but the voice has definitely improved since the worst days, and with a bit of perseverance could still bring some joy, well… at least to me!
All the best TONY

It’s great you got back to music especially after issues with your right side.
I also used to play guitar, and when I was much younger played and sang with my brother’s band. He’s now a pro musician, sax player, far better musician than I ever was.

Stroke completely knocked out my left hand and arm, and these haven’t recovered. The only change I can report is a welcome reduction in spasticity, so my hand doesn’t t fist up continually like it used to. I maintain hope that even after so long I will get a little movement back but for now, any fretboard wizardry is far beyond my capability. In the light of that I had begun to wonder about instruments that could be played one handed.I have not pursued this. I initially thought about the Celtic harp, normally played with two hands but it seemed to me one could get a decent sound with one hand. Haven’t found an opportunity to try it but have had the pleasure of listening to lots of trad harp music which I love.with guitar there’s always the tapping technique which I have yet to try partly because my son has adopted my guitar and amp. The great exponent of the one handed method is a guitarist called Bob Gifford, who is awesome, far better with one hand than I ever was with two!
Might try picking a tune out on piano, I have one in the house just waiting for me to give it a try.
Might help with voice things to follow a scale or a tune if I can pick one out
Great that you can enjoy playing even if not with bands, who knows where it will go.

Nice to chat, thx for responding
All the best

Hi Tony,

Yes my lost my voice on both occasions but the second time was worse, when I talk I hear it is slurred and feel embarrassed as to what those I am speaking to are thinking, ands I have said in the past I am not drunk it is one of the after effects of the stroke. saw a speech therapist but didn’t seem to help in the slurred speech. I was told to speak out loud when reading yet to try.
All the best John

Thanks for the reply John, your experience sounds very distressing, my own voice issue is minor by comparison more to do with the reliability of voice production than anything else. My recent experience of breathlessness I’ve tracked down to a bit of mild asthma which I have had all my life not stroke related. So in a funny way was a relief as it was something known and not yet another stroke effect to work on.
I hope yore exercises bring some relief. My grandmother had a stroke in her 60s and had very slurred speech for a long time. It did improve after a while that was back in the day before neuroplasticity was known about and stroke survivors were pretty much left to fend for themselves, which she did for years, lived to ripe old age of 97.

Wishing you all the best

I lost use of my right side plus a lot of strength on my left, so when I started to learn to play again I realised that the left hand was more important than the right. The finger positions to form chords need both strength and dexterity, without this playing would be impossible. The main use of the right hand was to strum and hold a plectrum. I gradually built up the strength of my left but the right was never going to hold a plectrum and it took me three years to plan and a build my first “Deighpick” which loops around the thumb and prevents dropping. I put pictures of this on the internet and it went global.

The material is kangaroo skin leather glued to a standard pick.


Hi Annie- I’ve enclosed a link to a site I found that had vocal exercises for singers. I’ve been trying them. If you like to sing, maybe you would find them of interest. I’m not real computer savvy, so maybe this link won’t work. If not I apoligize in advance.:slightly_smiling_face: :heart:Jeanne

1 Like

Loving the Deighpick ingenious!

Necessity truly is the mother of invention!! Great idea, Deigh!