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Linda Dessau : Taking a look at voice problems in singers

OUCH, it hurts when I sing (but please don't tell me to stop)!

Taking a look at voice problems in singers

By Linda Dessau

When I first set out to write this article about voice problems in singers, I was looking for two experts from contrasting fields of medicine — "medical" and "holistic." What I found, instead, in the first practitioner that I interviewed, was a delightful mixture of the two.

The following biography of Dr. Brian Hands was taken from the website VOX Cura, his Toronto clinic. There is a link to the website at the bottom of this article.

"Dr. Brian Hands, M.D., FRCS (C), is a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in his field of laryngology, sits on the Board of the Canadian Voice Foundation, is a member of the Voice Foundation in the U.S. and is on the editorial board of The Medical Post.

Brian Hands' life-long passion for the arts, combined with his medical practice as an ear, nose and throat specialist, has led to a growing practice among performing artists of all disciplines. He is voice consultant for the Canadian Opera Company, Stratford Festival, the major theatrical companies, Mirvish Productions and the former Livent as well as major record labels."

I hope you'll enjoy reading about Dr. Hands and his work treating singers with voice problems.

Linda Dessau: Why did you decide to focus on the voice problems of singers?

Brian Hands: As an ear, nose and throat resident, options for training in taking care of voices is limited. After a few years of practice, a board member of the hospital where I was working offered me the position of voice doctor to the Canadian Opera Company. I quickly became fascinated and passionately excited by performers who use their voice — the purest sound a human can produce. I loved doing it. At that time, in Toronto, CATS and the Phantom of the Opera were beginning their production. Touring singers from all over the world would call the Canadian Opera Company for referrals if they had voice problems while they were in Toronto; eventually rock singers, movie people and theatre people from Stratford all started being referred. This is the work I get the greatest enjoyment from, and I try now to limit my practice to only voice problems. I identify with the strong emotional aspects involved in performing; I love the creative arts.

I believe in taking a mind/body/soul approach and use elements of energy work, chakra therapy, color therapy and yoga. I find the performers find these approaches easy to relate to.

I start with a Western medical method of taking a patient's history and doing a physical assessment. And once that's done, I deal with the emotional and spiritual aspects of the person.

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