If you’ve been experiencing ongoing vocal fatigue or dealing with long-term muscle tension, chances are it’s limiting your voice use. You may feel like you have to give up singing, stop attending social gatherings, or even change your career.
When we don’t trust our voice - and especially when it hurts to make sound - it deeply affects the choices that we make and our overall happiness. But the good news is, if your voice issues are related to muscle tension, there are many exercises and techniques that you may not yet know which can help you recover your vocal power.
I’ve dealt with my own case of muscle tension dysphonia since 2007 (you can read my full story and check out my bio here).
Even before I began to experience voice issues, I was very interested in vocal training. Since then, I have made a career of teaching how the voice works and how to heal it.
If you’re ready to learn all the information I’ve gathering over the past twelve years of research, I invite you to join me in class!
I entered class with two issues: a chronic cough left over from a 2017 virus and habitual throat clearing also related to the virus. Over the first month, Elissa’s exercises proved to be incredibly effective. The vocal and breathing exercises have helped relax and open up my throat, reducing the coughing. One of her primary meditation exercises has been extremely useful in controlling the urge to clear my throat, which ironically, also reduces the cough. Elissa’s class is always interesting and informative and Elissa is consistently cheerful and entertaining.
I was drawn to Elissa's online class because I knew already of her experience and style as a voice coach. There is very little out there which specifically addresses a condition such as MTD, particularly from a self-help perspective. The class is a holistic exploration of different elements, such as breath support, and emotional blockages. I am glad to be taking the course, and recommend Elissa as a voice teacher.
Elissa truly impresses me with her expertise, combining the best of Western science and Eastern wisdom with anatomy lessons, energetic theory, videos, reading and practical, effective exercises. Just in a few weeks new ideas and practices are sinking in and after years of trying, I'm already feeling real results! She has particularly helped me understand breath support and I am beginning to re-pattern my stressed, unnatural physical expressions. After unsuccessful surgery I had pretty much given up on finding vocal ease before this, and I didn't even realize MTD was common. I'm so grateful to Elissa for putting this class together so that we can support each other and share our progress!
Program launch date:
2019 classes began Wednesday January 30. The 2020 round will begin in February (exact date TBD).
When the class meets:
We meet online using Zoom:
Every class is recorded.
What if you can't attend class on Wednesdays?
While you’re strongly encouraged to make the effort to attend class live, it’s not required. If you have to miss the live classes, you can still get the full benefit of the course by watching the recordings, engaging in the community forum, and submitting questions for the Q&A sessions.
How we meet
The entire class takes place online on Zoom and in our online portal on Kajabi. The relevant links will be sent to you upon registration.
Will there be homework?
Yup! But in fairness, I often like to call it “home-play!” I will never give you busy work, but I will give you assignments to self-reflect, practice all the exercises we’re covering, and share your thoughts and progress in our online community forum. Habits only change with consistent, repeated practice!
What if I want to join class late?
If you're joining class now, it's after the regular enrollment period. However you'll be able to work through the recordings in your own time with weekly reminder emails from me.
You’ll learn how to energize your voice to be strong and powerful. We’ll cover posture, breathing, and when to engage or release the belly for optimum vocal support.
You’ll identify where your muscle tension is causing the most rigidity, and learn exercises to release tension in these areas. We’ll specifically focus on the neck, chest, jaw, tongue, and larynx, and use approaches that include self-massage, active release through movement, and Vibrant Voice Technique (vibration for your voice).
You’ll learn how to create more space through your vocal tract for a more resonant tone. We’ll play with acoustics and intoning to enhance your resonance, and you’ll learn how to articulate with more space, freedom, and ease.
You’ll apply all of your knowledge to real-life situations. We’ll play with chanting and singing (both pop and classical), discuss health and diet, and answer any of your remaining questions!
|Week/Date||Module & Details|
|✪ WEEK 1
Wed, 30 Jan
> This is a big deal
Today we’re going to talk about the emotional component of your voice, and why reclaiming it is important. We’ll also set the tone with meditation and anxiety-reducing techniques, and some theory about habit-changing.
|✪ WEEK 2
Wed, 6 Feb
> Clinical considerations
Melanie Tapson, Speech Language Pathologist and Vocologist will join us as our guest instructor to cover what you need to know about your vocal medically, and when it’s important to head to the doctor.
|✪ WEEK 3
Wed, 13 Feb
> What the heck is breath support?
An anatomical journey from the diaphragm to the larynx, and everything in between.
|✪ WEEK 4
Wed, 20 Feb
> Why your posture matters
You know your posture affects your voice. Today we’ll focus on why and what “good posture” really means.
|Sun, 24 Feb||Q&A SESSION|
|✪ WEEK 5
Wed, 27 Feb
> Why an effortless inhalation is key
An effortless inhalation is one of the primary reasons people’s voices remain tangled with tension. Today we’ll cover how to release your muscles to allow for an easy inhalation.
|✪ WEEK 6
Wed, 6 Mar
> Your belly and your voice
The gut/voice connection is HUGE. We’ll focus today on when and how to release the belly, and when and how to engage them.
|✪ WEEK 7
Wed, 13 Mar
> Tension in the shoulders, back of the neck
On our first day of tension release and movement work, we’ll focus on some of the biggest culprits: tension in the upper shoulders and the back of the neck.
|✪ WEEK 8
Wed, 20 Mar
> Tension in the sides of the neck and chest
You may not realize that you also have tension in the sides of your neck and along your chest under your collarbones. Releasing that tension will be the focus today.
|Sun, 24 Mar||Q&A SESSION|
|✪ WEEK 9
Wed, 27 Mar
>Tension in the jaw
Many people deal with jaw tension. Whether you grind and clench at night or over-exert your jaw during speaking, these exercises will help you release excess jaw tension.
|✪ WEEK 10
Tues, 2 Apr
>Tension in the larynx and front of the neck
Today’s the day we visit the area around the vocal cords themselves! You’ll learn various versions of laryngeal massage that can help you release tension at the epicenter of your issue.
|✪ WEEK 11
Wed, 10 Apr
> Tension in the tongue
Tongue tension is extremely common, and surprisingly difficult to overcome. Today we’ll focus on releasing tension the dorsum and root of the tongue.
|✪ WEEK 12
Wed, 17 Apr
> Resonance day #1
We’ll start our journey into the “Space” portion of class with an experiential full-body exploration of how to change the shape of your vocal tract.
|✪ WEEK 13
Wed, 24 Apr
> Articulation day #1
On our first day of articulation work, we’ll focus on creating more space and ease with your vowel sounds.
|Sun, 28 Apr||Q&A SESSION|
|Wed, 1 May||NO CLASS - SPRING BREAK|
|Wed, 8 May||NO CLASS - SPRING BREAK|
|✪ WEEK 14
Wed, 15 May
> Resonance day #2
Today we’ll focus on practical exercises you can do to refocus your resonance when you’re feeling stuck and tired with special guests Laurel Irene and David Harris of Voice Science Works. (Really cool stuff!)
|Sun, 19 May||Q&A SESSION|
|✪ WEEK 15
Wed, 22 May
> Articulation day #2
On our second day of articulation work, we’ll focus on creating more space and ease with your consonant sounds.
|✪ WEEK 16
Wed, 29 May
> Health, acid reflux, and holisitic wellness day
Guest instructor: TBD. We’ll have a comprehensive conversation about how your overall health, and especially your gut health, affects your voice.
|✪ WEEK 17
Wed, 5 June
> Chanting day!
Today we’ll pull out the harmonium and do some traditional Sanskrit chanting in order to explore moving into extended sounds and singing.
|✪ WEEK 18
Wed, 12 June
> Singing day
Claudia Friedlander, singing teacher and founder of the Liberated Voice will help us focus on singing technique, and also how to apply the concepts we’ve been learning during your fitness routine.
|✪ WEEK 19
Wed, 19 June
> Text day
Today we’ll focus on delivering text, whether it’s a speech, a toast, an important presentation, or a performance.
|Sun, 23 June||Q&A SESSION|
|✪ WEEK 20
Wed, 26 June
> Wrap up day
It’s the last day of class!
This course is being offered by a voice coach, not a clinician. Though we do have guest instructors who are clinicians and are happy to help you find someone in your area who is a good fit, the course itself is not meant to replace clinical treatment, and Elissa is not qualified to diagnose or advise on medical conditions. Release Your Voice is offered for educational purposes, and to share tools and techniques that may help you release vocal tension. There is no guarantee of results.
If you are concerned about whether you should participate in this course, you must consult your doctor.
There can be a variety of different sensations connected to muscle tension in your throat. You may feel habitual tightness, clenching, a block, like it’s hard to swallow, or like it’s an effort and you have to push to get sound out. You may also feel tension in your jaw and cheeks, or in your shoulders and the back of your neck. If you find yourself feeling vocally fatigued at the end of the day or refraining from using your voice as much as you’d like to, chances are you’re experiencing some muscle tension issues.
If you experience a sudden change of voice - either total voice loss or onset of hoarseness - then it is imperative that you make an appointment with an otolaryngologist (ENT). Two good resources for finding a clinician near you in the United States are: the Johns Hopkins database and the UIowa voice team locator.
If you have experienced a sudden change of voice - either total voice loss or onset of hoarseness - then it is imperative that you make an appointment with an otolaryngologist (ENT). Two good resources for finding a clinician near you in the United States are: the Johns Hopkins database and the UIowa voice team locator.
If you are experiencing clinical voice issues, you must see an otolaryngologist and/or speech therapist (SLP) before enrolling in this course.
Our students report feeling more vocal freedom and power after following the routines and exercises shared in this course. To check out some student testimonials, scroll up to close to the top of this page!
Most students find that it takes some time to untangle vocal tension issues and to create new habits. This is often proportional to the length of time since the issues started. This is the reason the Release Your Voice course is twenty weeks long… to give you a really solid foundation and enough time to truly start re-programming your muscle tension issues.
The more often you practice, the sooner you’ll start to feel more freedom in your voice. It's recommended that you spend ten to twenty minutes a day doing exercises when you’re first starting. As your body and your voice start to re-pattern their habits, you can practice less often. But more repetition at the beginning is always best for re-programming a habit.
That’s a great question! It’s hard for me to say exactly, because I was thinking about it all the time, and studying and practicing non-stop. But it wasn’t until I encountered the information I’m sharing in this course (which was five years after my voice loss episode) that I started to improve more rapidly. I remember a day seven years after I lost my voice when I suddenly thought to myself: “Wow! I have more vocal stamina now than I did before I lost my voice!” That was in the middle of graduate school and I was performing in a play again for the first time 😊. Everyone’s story is different and there’s no prescription for how long it will take. But I can say from my own personal experience that finding vocal freedom again is totally possible.
Yes and no! I will give you homework assignments (I like to call them “home-play”), and you have the option to submit them in our community. If and when you do, I will absolutely look over them. However the assignments are not required.
Even though I like to joke that this is the equivalent of a university class on steroids, it’s not happening at a university for a reason! I want you to be the primary evaluator of your own progress. I am here to reflect for you, to respond when you share your work and questions, and to coach you when you volunteer for spotlight coaching. But there are no grades in this class and at the end of the day, your learning belongs to YOU ❤️.
Our resident SLP is Melanie Tapson. Melanie is a professional singer, Singing Voice Specialist, and speech-language pathologist whose practice focuses on voice assessment and therapy, primarily for professional voice users, performers, and transgender voice and communication training. She holds a fine arts degree in jazz performance in both voice and drums, an education degree in senior level vocal music and drama, and a Master of Science in SLP. Melanie maintains a variety of professional designations and holds a Certificate in Performing Arts Health from the Performing Arts Medicine Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. She joins us at the beginning of the "semester" for the Clinical Considerations day.
Our resident singing and exercise expert is Claudia Friedlander. Claudia is a voice teacher and fitness expert based in New York City. She has presented workshops on vocal fitness for The Voice Foundation and the Performing Arts Medicine Association, and was an invited panel discussant on health and wellness for OPERA America. Her students have performed on Broadway, and at leading opera houses including The Santa Fe Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. She is the author of the monthly column “Musings on Mechanics” for Classical Singer Magazine as well as a widely read and cited blog on vocal technique and fitness, The Liberated Voice. In 2008, she joined the faculty of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, where her most recent project was the development, in collaboration with Joyce DiDonato, of The Singer’s Audition Handbook, an interactive online career development guide for young singers. Claudia will join us in the "Applications" portion of the course.
The diet and acid reflux expert is to be announced.
Upon successful completion of the course and all “home-play” assignments, participants will receive a certificate of completion (it’s a PDF that looks like a diploma and you’re welcome to hang it on your wall and be super proud of it! 🤩). However this course is not a certification program. We do understand that certifications can be important for people, especially in certain professions. However at least for the time being, the Voice Body Connection courses are geared towards self-education and edification.