Everything about the voice makes sense in the end and it is paradoxically a frustrated relief to know that Acid Reflux is still at the heart of some of my vocal problems. What has been confusing to me throughout this ordeal is that over the last 18 months that I have gotten off of Reflux medicines, my voice has improved continuously. My modal range became consistent up to C5# and my full-closure falsetto extended nearly an octave to E6b (one step below Queen of the Night high F). I sang a couple of concerts and read through three tenor roles during this time–something I could not have done before.
On a rare clear day (little or no Reflux symptoms) I felt my voice do amazing things. I have had the flexibility to sing Ecco ridente, Una furtiva lagrima, Every Valley and right after that Celeste Aida, Chénier Arias, Nessun Dorma, etc. I began to believe that my issues were more technical than health related. I will not say that I have not had serious technical work to do in the past 18 months, but I believe that if I had been fully healthy that my technical issues would have been dealt with much more quickly.
To make a long story short, after I experienced my easiest day of singing in months, touching on high Eb full-voice for the first time, I realized that my voice was inconsistent because the state of the mechanism was inconsistent. So I visited my doctor and confirmed my chronic reflux. The inflammation and mucous build-up, the redness in the arytenoid area, the difficulty closing the folds in the extremes, which would explain the raspy tendency in the lower voice, the husky bassy quality and the difficulties above B4b. My doctor was direct. Either find a combination of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and Acid Reducers or have the Endoscopic Fundo-Plication Surgery. I have decided to go back on the acid controllers until such time as I find a more natural solution. Surgery is not something I would elect when there are other choices. If I exhaust all options, then surgery may have to be addressed.
In the end, I can no longer be cavalier about my own vocal output. I have always said that my technique rests with me. I have successfully trained a large number of singers with serious vocal issues to balance. However, as a singer myself, it will always be reflected upon me, as to whether my viable technique holds water. The day I post a high quality clip on this blog is the day that all doubts are cast aside. I also know that my own success is crucial as a model for my Posse of Ex-baritone Tenors, who have undergone the transition from baritone to tenor with me.
I wanted to find the source of my Acid Reflux and deal with it naturally. I still have that hope. In the mean time, it is necessary to deal with the symptoms well enough such that the true quality of my voice can emerge.
A student of mine who had suffered terribly with reflux recommended Prevacid (a PPI) and Zantac (acid reducer). She finds the combination very successful after she had tried other similar drugs that worsened her symptoms. Another student recommended Acupuncture. I am investigating that as well. My dietary changes have been considerable over the past few years, but now I have to be even more diligent in dealing with the issue. Eliminating the intake of carbonated drinks (including my San Pellegrino) I believe will be considerably important. Furthermore, not drinking water before sleeping is also crucial. The water comes up easily and accompanied by stomach acids can cause serious harm during the night.
The logic of my process is obvious to those who have taken time to understand it and as a result my studios have flourished. I have begun to realize that posting clips of a voice hampered by inflammation gives a bad impression. I don’t know how long it will take before I am clear enough to post a clip of considerable difference in quality. I hope I will be able to post something in the next couple of weeks. In the mean time, your prayers and good energy is welcome in the fight against this extremely inconvenient and insidious disease.