Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Interesting Development

So yesterday I went to my bi-weekly voice lesson. It was the first lesson where I really dug into my NATS pieces since I'd had two weeks to sink my teeth into them. I felt like I had done really good work on my own. About halfway through my lesson, and as we were working one of the more difficult sections of Bester J√ľngling for the hundredth time, my voice teacher commented on how tense I seemed--that I was carrying my shoulders much higher than usual and my breathing seemed shallow (from the chest & not from the diaphragm). As usually happens when I'm having support issues, she examined my breathing (by feeling how the rib cage grows and expands as a line is sung).

She was stunned to discover a significant weakness on my left side. Basically, I was drawing in all my air on the right side of my lungs. There was little, if any, expansion of the left side. This really unnerved her, which startled me. She explained that it can spell disaster for me if I cannot resolve the problem. It undermines my entire support structure and makes it virtually impossible for me to progress and could, in fact, set me back significantly. She suggested going back to the breathing exercises that I began when I first came to her. This particular exercise allows a slow growth and expansion of the rib cage and builds and strengthens the muscular support structure throughout. When done properly, it really does work. It's how I've gotten this far. And once in a while, I have to revisit this little lesson when needing extra support, which happens as my abilities grow. If I'm not able to resolve this with my four-a-day exercises, I will have to seek treatment from a professional--perhaps a respiratory therapist or physical therapist.

I believe I've mentioned in earlier entries that I had pertussis (aka whopping cough) in mid-November and spent another 2 1/2 months fighting the lingering cough. It could be that all of the coughing caused more extensive damage to my lungs than originally thought. I could have a small tear in a muscle. Or it could simply be that the left side took the brunt of the pertussis and is still exceedingly fatigued. I really haven't given my lungs a rest since being diagnosed. Although I wasn't able to sing for more than a month, once I could, I came back with a vengeance with at least three rehearsals a week. I'm really hoping that it's simply muscle fatigue and that the renewal of breathing exercises will strengthen the left side. I hate to consider the alternative.

On a brighter note, my lesson did go well and the NATS pieces are coming along nicely. I simply don't have the stamina to practice as long as I should when I'm fully utilizing both sides. I'm hopeful the exercises will help, and I'll certainly keep you posted.

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