speaking like I’m singing

Yesterday (Sunday, August 3rd) was another big day for me in my recovery from surgery to remove a polyp from my left vocal fold. You see, it was last October after teaching on Sunday morning two weeks in a row that I knew something was seriously wrong with my voice. Yesterday, I taught again in both services and my voice felt clear and strong!

My speech pathologist is pretty convinced that it was my speaking voice that was my downfall. As a high tenor, I’ve always spoken at the bottom of my range and speaking for a long period of time has always tired my voice out. So, that has been the focus of my post-op speech pathology regimen. In short, I need to learn to speak the way I sing. Engage the diaphragm, support my tone with lots of air and make sure my face buzzes with a natural resonance instead of falling back into my throat. I know, I know. It sounds crazy, but it actually works!

I shared a bit of what I’d learned in the intro to my message. People laughed when I told them I was just going to sing my message just to be safe! But, I am happy to report that I was able to speak my message–not once, but twice–without my voice feeling fatigued!

Once again, I am so thankful for the healing that God has brought to my voice through the wonderful professionals at the University of Michigan’s Professional Voice Center. It is a huge answer to prayer to know that I can both sing and speak normally once again!

And, in case you’re curious, you can listen to my message below. It is part of a series we’re doing at The Well called “Hollywood Theology 2” where we use clips from movies as a teaching tool. My message was on the full armor of God and the movie I used as an illustration was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Remember who the real enemy is! You can listen to it here minus the copyrighted video clips.

back in the saddle

I’ve written the last few blog posts about my journey of dealing with a vocal polyp. You can read all about it in previous blogs: “thoughts before my surgery,” “thoughts after my surgery,” “let my words be few,” and “eight long months.”

On June 29th, 2014, I returned to the stage to lead worship for the first time since my surgery on May 12th, 2014, and boy did it feel great! My voice was so strong and stable. I didn’t realize how much vocal gymnastics I was doing to work around the polyp on my vocal fold to keep my voice from breaking! Now, unencumbered by that nasty polyp, singing takes so much less effort! In fact, some who have had this surgery liken it to a retired NFL quarterback getting his high school knees back! From my experience, I’d say that is pretty accurate! I have my full range back and it is rock solid!

I am so grateful to God for healing and that I had access to the incredible level of care that the University of Michigan Hospitals has to offer. In fact, the U of M has one of only 4 professional voice centers in the country! My surgeon did a phenomenal job and my speech pathologist has helped me learn how to sing and speak more efficiently.

As a high tenor, I have always spoken at the bottom of my range for reasons that need no explanation! However, speaking (or singing, for that matter) in that low of a register has always tired my voice out quickly. Today, I had another follow up speech pathology appointment and we are now working to strengthen my lower register. I don’t have aspirations of singing bass any time soon, but I do hope that I am able to strengthen my lower range and keep the sound “more forward” (more efficient) so that I am able to resume teaching on Sunday mornings and leading discipleship groups without tiring my voice out.

Thanks for everyone who have prayed for me across the past 8-9 months! I am also grateful for those in my worship ministry, including my wife Suzanne, who have stepped up to lead worship when I was unable, and to the leadership of The Well for their patience during my incapacitation.

It sure feels good to be back in the saddle!