though Alan Lindquest was not trained specifically as a vocal therapist (the
profession was in it's infancy at the time.), he did become a very important
pioneer in that field. His unending dedication and hard work toward helping
those with vocal damage inspired many to study the effects of these vocal exercises
on the damaged voice; including my friend Dr. Barbara Mathis of Lamar University
in Beaumont, Texas. I remember not too long ago, I was listening to a tape of
Lindquest working with an extremely damaged voice. This woman literally could
barely phonate at the beginning of the session. He continued to be positive
yet diligent in his work with her throughout the hour. Even though it was extremely
difficult for her to execute the exercises throughout the first half of the
lesson, miraculously she began to find a solid tonal quality toward the middle
of the tape. Lindquest's love of people and convincing positive attitude inspired
this woman to succeed.
My friend, Dr. Barbara Mathis, performed her doctoral research with the use
of the Lindquest exercises on extremely damaged voices. She documented the vocal
progress through the use of the fiberoptic camera. It was in the office of Dr.
Van Lawrence, then laryngologist for the Houston Grand Opera, that Dr. Mathis
made such groundbreaking discoveries using Alan Lindquest's vocal exercises.
She is now respected as one of the finest vocal technicians in the country.
I acquired this particular tape of Lindquest working with a damaged voice in
1993 while visiting his widow, Martha Lindquest, in Virginia. I had contacted
her many years after my study with Lindquest and she was gracious enough to
have me come and visit her. She shared many photographs and tapes of Lindquest
both teaching and performing. There were several aspects of Lindquest's teaching
on this tape that struck me as exceptional. The first aspect of his teaching
that impressed me as exceptional was his great patience with the client. This
woman suffered extreme vocal damage, yet his supportive kindness was present
throughout the tape. Another aspect of his attitude was his determination that
she could definitely be successful if the exercises were performed correctly.
This belief became more and more contagious as the hour progressed. You can
actually hear this woman's attitude change during the hour greatly because of
his positive input toward the work plus the undying belief that success was
inevitable. Lindquest beautifully executed his exercises using Garcia's 'coup
I have worked with many damaged voices in the 30 years I have had access to
this vocal work. I have not once found a voice that could not benefit from these
exercises. Recently, I had the opportunity and experience of working with two
young singers suffering from the same vocal dysfunction; diplophonia. Diplophonia
is a condition whereby the vocal cords produce more than one note at the same
time. It is defined as a double or multiple tone, usually associated with differential
tension of the vocal folds. As you will read later, these two singers were both
successful in solving their vocal difficulties.
Case Study #1
Lyric Tenor: Diagnosed 9 years ago. The original vocal dysfunction subsided
after a short time until 3 years ago. Throughout the last 3 years, this young
man has been to multiple voice teachers, voice therapists, and laryngologists.
He has had abdominal surgery to tighten the valve just above the stomach in
order to correct the condition of reflux. Also, he has had vocal cord surgery
for the realignment of the right vocal cord. Neither of the surgeries was successful
in solving his vocal dysfunction called diplophonia.
This young man contacted me several months ago through this web site. He asked
several technical questions and I was able to answer him with some concrete
solutions that have proved to be successful. The primary reason that I was familiar
with the condition was due to the fact that I had worked with a young mezzo
with the same condition. He immediately contacted me regarding his success at
practicing without the diplophonia interfering with the purity of tonal quality.
It was at that time that he decided to come to New York and study in my studio
for 4 days. Within the first 5 minutes of vocalization I was able to see much
of the problem. His jaw was thrusting forward which was causing incredible pressure
at the root of the tongue. He also suffered from a high larynx. (See article
on damaging vocal techniques.) The resulting vocal difficulty was several pitches
sounding at one time caused by muscular diplophonia. At the end of his previous
therapy, he was told that nothing else could be done. In fact the singer was
basically blamed for the condition. The vocal therapist simply said you are
'doing something' (nothing was explained in terms of a solution.) and until
you stop, the condition will continue to be a problem. At this point, this singer
was at the end of his rope and was desperately seeking solid vocal help that
would allow him to recover his beautiful tenor voice. It was timely that he
found my web site and we had the opportunity to work together. In a matter of
4 sessions this young tenor could vocalize to high E-flat above high C. Through
the use of the Caruso scale he was able to realign his passaggio without any
interference of the high larynx. The thrusting forward of the jaw was yet again
the culprit of major vocal trouble for this young singer. Dr. Barbara Mathis
has proven through her research that the vocal cords do NOT approximate closely
when the jaw is thrusting forward out of its socket. We are all fortunate indeed
that she spent so much time and energy performing her vocal research through
the use of fiberoptics.
Upon his return to Michigan, this young tenor began to develop problems yet
again. At first, I was concerned that I had missed a piece of the puzzle in
his vocal distress. He returned to New York for a second set of lessons and
the problem was completely solved. I took him to Dr. Anat Keidar, voice pathologist
for Dr. Anthony Jahn's Laryngology Office. Indeed she gave him a clean bill
of health and confirmed that the problem was a direct result of a high larynx
accompanied by tremendous tongue pressure. The next few lessons were life altering
in that the voice began to open beautifully from working toward a lower larynx
position. The registers began to blend and the voice had NO sign of diplophonia.
It is critical that voice therapists (i.e. Dr. Anat Keidar) and teachers realize
the importance of a lower larynx position and the vocal healthy benefits that
result. I am speaking of a slightly low larynx without pressure in the root
of the tongue. It is important that both the tongue and larynx pressure be addressed
simultaneously and corrected. This singer was soon singing arias with great
beauty of tone and vocal alignment. Muscular diplophonia is quite easy to correct
if the focus of instruction is directed toward tongue and larynx release. I
have encouraged this young singer to work toward becoming a master teacher,
especially considering that he has had a lot of vocal problems himself and knows
the journey back to vocal health. This is another situation whereby a young
singer was encouraged to 'lighten the voice' by raising the larynx. It is critical
that university and conservatory teachers address this chronic problem which
occurs repeatedly in young singers. In this case this attitude of 'lightening
the voice' artificially has almost cost a young man his voice permanently, calling
for great extremes such as unnecessary vocal cord surgery and abdominal surgery
for reflux. I would hope that vocal therapists, teachers, and laryngogists would
become more aware that muscular diplophonia is correctable and it need not cost
someone their voice.
Case #2 Mezzo Soprano
In the summer of 2000, a young mezzo from the Western region of the United States
first contacted me. She had received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees
as a performance major from a prominent university. Yet she was still suffering
from this condition called diplophonia. When she explained it to me on the telephone,
I remembered that I had once worked with a Broadway singer who suffered this
condition years ago. She wished to make the trip to New York to study with me
and see if anything could be done about the diplophonia. I agreed that I would
be happy to work with her even though I could make no promises for success.
It is a continual shock to me to hear what some singers are told by professionals
in the field. When this mezzo was only 26 years of age, a laryngologist had
told her that she probably would not be able to become a singer. One vocal cord
was shaped differently from the other. (Most singers do not have two perfectly
aligned vocal cords.) At her first session in my voice studio, I noticed a thrust
of the jaw yet again accompanied by a high larynx. Also, there was absolutely
no body support under the voice, so the singer was beginning the tone (see article
on onset or attack.) with the lifting of the larynx instead of resisting the
breath pressure with the lower body muscles. We began to work diligently and
within the first few minutes this singer could begin to phonate without the
diplophonia (multiple pitches). At the moment clear phonation began to happen,
the singer became completely shocked and surprised to be able to make a clear
tone without the condition of diplophonia presenting itself. She has returned
for multiple sessions and the progress has been steadily moving in a positive
direction. This singer also fights the condition of reflux (stomach acid under
the vocal cords.) and when this condition is controlled along with the release
of a slightly down and back jaw position and lower larynx position, the diplophonia
disappears. This is yet another testimony of the work of Alan Lindquest that
was passed on to me by him in 1979. I also studied with Virginia Botkin, student
of Lindquest, at the University of North Texas. Having multiple exposure to
these concepts has given me the ability to help singers with this condition
and I am grateful for the study, which has offered me this knowledge.
During the vocal sessions with these two singers, I realized the great benefit
of the Flagstad 'ng'. While instructing these singers in this exercise it was
extremely important to help the singer release the root of the tongue 'wide'
instead of 'bunched'. When the root of the tongue is bunched, the diplophonia
was much more present and it became a common part of instruction to help the
singer past this vocal difficulty. I usually had the singer visualize the root
of the tongue as 'wide not bunched'. This never failed to work during these
sessions if accompanied by a lower larynx position. Usually tongue pressure
is a partner of breath pressure and contributes to the vocal problems mentioned
The Fear Reflex: Physical Reaction
The fear reflex in singers is a fascinating part of human behavior to observe.
If a singer has had a specific vocal difficulty, then the minute the fear reflex
happens, the old problem comes back almost immediately. This is where Alan Lindquest
was brilliant. He was convinced that the emotion of joy combined with laughter
could help almost any singer overcome vocal difficulty. In actuality, it is
a distraction from the old neurological reflexes that are stored in the muscles.
Overcoming the fear reflex through the use of the 'joyful surprise breath' and
other images aligned with this emotion helps the singer to overcome the old
vocal habits through bypassing the 'fear reflex'.
The psychological factor is critical when working with vocal damage. While the
desire for success is there, the old fear reflex can return and distort healthy
I am now in the process of documenting these case studies on recording and I
believe that the Lindquest exercises can help many singers with such vocal damage.
If one has this condition of diplophonia, it does not mean they will never be
able to sing again. When major tongue pressure is present at the root of the
tongue, the body has to push breath pressure to force phonation. However, the
result is usually lack of clear phonation.
For those who are suffering from diplophonia, I suggest they contact Dr. Anat
Keidar in the laryngology office of Dr. Anthony Jahn in New York City.
Characteristics Accompanying Muscular Diplophonia
(1) Bunched and tight tongue which sits pressure on the larynx.
(2) Tremendous breath pressure to try and force phonation.
(3) Absence of register blend.
(4) Vowel distortion.
(5) Jaw forward.
(6) High larynx position.
(7) Inability to sing soft.
(8) Difficulty in taking a low and relaxed breath.
(9) History of 'placing' the voice too forward.
(10) Emotional fear reflex, usually starting at one given pitch. Usually accompanied
with a sudden push or breath pressure resulting in a severe gag reflex at
the root of the tongue.
(c) David L. Jones/2001