For the Professional Voice

For those who rely on the voice for their profession—from singers and actors to teachers and clergy—voice injuries or disorders can result in temporary loss of income or even loss of employment. At the Center for Voice and Swallowing, our highly trained staff includes Michael Pitman, MD, Chief of the Division of Laryngology and Hayley Born, MD, along with two voice therapists and singing voice specialists. Our goal is to help you through your vocal recovery as efficiently as possible.

If you rely on your voice for your employment, schedule an evaluation with a voice team within two days if you experience sudden changes in any of the following areas:

  • Increased throat pain
  • Sudden onset of hoarseness
  • Abrupt changes to voice sound quality
  • Changes to vocal range
  • Straining or increased effort when talking or singing

The Broadway Prehabilitation Program

The Broadway Prehabilitation Program ™ was developed, after the COVID-19 pandemic, by Michael Pitman MD, Holly Recker’s CCC-SLP, and Evan Kennedy CCC-SLP to help Broadway performers safely return to performance-level voicing after a prolonged time off. This is now used for any performer returning to high-voice-demand work.

What You'll Find Inside

We've devised a comprehensive reconditioning program to help you get your voice back in shape. You'll find inside:

  • A four-week reconditioning schedule, outlining daily practice goals, exercises, and incremental return to repertoire (if not yet in daily rehearsal for a production)
  • Video discussions outlining the fundamentals of vocal reconditioning, vocal health, and training
  • Video demonstrations of vocal exercises included in the reconditioning schedule
  • Written instructions for the vocal exercises included
  • The process of vocal reconditioning is a personal one - feel free to use this program as a framework to reach your own goals. If you have different exercises or content that feels valuable and important to your process, feel free to adjust or replace them as necessary.

If you're having more difficulty than you'd expect, don't hesitate to reach out. The team at The Center For Voice and Swallowing at Columbia Doctors is here to support you in any way we can.

Tips for Care of the Professional Voice

Voice professionals are vocal athletes whose whole body needs to be cared for to support the voice. In addition to an overall healthy lifestyle that includes good sleep, exercise, and dietary habits, our specialists recommend the following practices for maintaining professional voice health.

  • Baseline Exam: We recommend that you see us when your voice is healthy so we can perform a videostroboscopic exam at baseline. This allows us to examine your voice when healthy and to identify the normal appearance and function of your vocal folds. If you then experience a voice change or injury in the future, we can determine what changes have occurred, which allows for better diagnosis and treatment.
  • Allergy Management: Allergies can result in post-nasal drip or other irritation to the throat and the voice. This can cause inflammation, chronic coughing or throat clearing, or changes to voice sound quality. Suggested management approaches include:
    • Nasal steroid sprays (such as Flonase, Rhinocort, and Nasonex)
    • Nasal saline sprays
    • Nasal saline irrigation or Neti pot
    • Inhaling steam for two to three minutes, multiple times each day
    • Glycerin throat lozenges (such as Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops, Lakerol pastilles, and Fontus Green Apple lozenges)
    • Some allergy treatments should be avoided until you know how they will affect you because they can have a drying effect, which can increase risk of voice injury. These include antihistamine medications (such as Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec) and menthol or eucalyptus cough drops.
  • Naturopathic Options for General Vocal Health: Many of these remedies have not been scientifically tested, so we only offer them as supplements to your treatment plan that may help promote hydration, reduce inflammation, and lessen acid reflux symptoms.
    • Glutagenics for mild reflux and gastric discomfort: This is a powder of aloe, DGL, and glutamine. Aloe has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties; DGL decreases aspirin-induced gastric ulcers; and glutamine can aid in the repair of the gut and protect the esophagus during radiation.
    • Gould’s gargle: This mixture is hydrating and clinically soothing to a sore throat. It contains: 1 cup water, .5 tsp kosher salt, 5 tsp baking soda, and 5 tsp light corn syrup or maple syrup. 
    • Aloe manuka honey slurry:  Aloe has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Manuka honey also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Both may be helpful in wound healing. This mixture contains 2 oz aloe vera juice with manuka honey mixed in. Gargle and swallow with this several times per day.