Vocal cords: the instrument you can’t touch or see. Is it any wonder it’s hard to figure out how to do something new?
I once went to an ENT who specialized in serving professional vocalists. He temporarily paralyzed my throat with an aerosol spray, threaded a tiny camera through my nose and all the way down my throat, and then asked me to sing the Star Spangled Banner while we watched my cords move on a TV monitor. (Needless to say, it was not my best performance.)
It was bizarre and illuminating to see what these tiny muscles actually look like in motion. The cords themselves are only part of the entire vocal instrument, but seeing them in action gives you a much deeper, intuitive understanding of what happens when you sing.
Knowing what the cords look like and how they work can help you understand certain voice exercises better, and even help you understand what’s going on when things aren’t sounding quite right. For example, what’s happening when there is breathiness in your voice? The cords aren’t closing completely, all the way along their edges. That may be hard to visualize… until you watch it happen!
Here is a fascinating 7-minute video by Oregon laryngoloist Dr. James Thomas. This video is about vocal nodules, but it also includes helpful anatomical information at the beginning. (Warning: if you’re unusually squeamish, you might not want to watch it.)
The entire voicedoctor.net site is packed with good information about the voice. Check it out!
(c) 2009 Adrienne Osborn
Adrienne Osborn is a vocalist and performance coach based in Colorado. For more free articles and tips, visit https://PerformanceHigh.net.