Are we going to sing for the voice doctor?

If you have a problem with your voice, go and see a voice doctor. A voice doctor (or phonitrician) is specialised in the mechanisms and operation of your voice. He will examine the very back of your mouth using a tube fitted with a mini-camera, to check that your vocal folds are still healthy. While he is doing this, he will ask you to put out your tongue and say an /i/: this will allow him to get a better view of the vocal folds. He probably won’t ask you to sing a song: it is difficult with a tube stuck down your throat! But he may ask you to try a high and a low sound, and a loud and soft sound. You will be able to follow the images from his camera on his computer screen. It is possible that the doctor might also want to insert another flexible camera tube into your nose. Once at the back of the nose, the tube bends downwards and can film the vocal folds from a different angle. These nose images are less detailed than the mouth images, but at least it is now possible for you to sing something for him. The doctor will then check how your muscles work when you talk or sing. You will be amazed by the number of different questions he will ask you. This is because everything connected with your general health can have an influence on your voice. He will certainly want to know if you have any idea how your voice problem started, when it got worse, whether or not you have had any other medical problems recently, what you have done so far to tackle the voice problem and to what extent it was successful, whether or not you eat and drink healthily, sleep enough, exercise enough, what your hobbies are, how much and how often you sing, what you want to achieve in singing, whether or not you are satisfied with your voice, etc. Sometimes the voice doctor will work with a speech therapist, who will also carry out various tests to see what your voice can and cannot do. After this, you all decide together what action needs to be taken. If the doctor thinks he can help you, he will make a suggestion. If he thinks that other people can help you us, he will put you in contact with them, so that you can follow the necessary therapy, voice coaching, etc.