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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

On straining the vocal cords,
with Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Alice, I have never had any vocal training, but I love to sing. I keep on forcing my voice until I hit the note I want. Of course, it may not sound great but hitting those high notes makes me feel good. However, recently those high notes aren't working.

Do you think that I have damaged my vocal cords?

I have another problem, I cannot drink water ... I don't like the taste. Is there any alternative to keep my vocal cords moist?

I love classical singing, and I am afraid I have harmed my voice permanently ...

Gilbert, CA

Dear Gilbert,

I've never heard that it's possible to wreck the vocal cords permanently (though it certainly is, short-term, as I think I've done it, singing through a bad cold!!!!!!)

I really don't think you've done this.

I have two pieces of advice:

  1. Rest your voice and don't even TRY to sing for two weeks, maybe three
  2. Then get hold of a REAL opera teacher, who can have a listen and give you some good advice about how to get to the high notes without straining the voice

Believe me, you have no idea how much more pleasure you'll get out of your voice once you're using it properly. After I'd had two lessons, my range had expanded from around five notes to an octave and a half, and the quality improved ten times, or basically from pretty lousy to not-too-bad-at-all.

Voices naturally deteriorate with age (which is why sane opera stars retire before their audiences wish they would) so:


With regard to the water (I assume you've tried bottled still water and still don't like it) I'm v sorry and all that, but it IS the best lubricant for the vocal cords. If you really hate it, put a little orange-juice in it (or cranberry or similar). I still remember how upset I was when my teacher condemned both coffee and alcohol in singing terms ... especially red wine (my favorite ...)


Ask Alice

From anonymous of Chicago, this comment on my last (rude!!!!!!!) column about the French:

At a French airport ... A group of American retired teachers recently went to France on a tour. Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, was part of the tour group.

At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry-on.

'You have been to France before, monsieur?' the customs officer asked sarcastically. Mr Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

'Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.'

The American said, 'The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it.'

'Impossible!' barked the officer. 'Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France.'

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained. 'Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in '44 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find any Frenchmen to show it to.'

Ask Alice

And now, the news you have all been waiting for:


Muzicke & Fission PLC is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of the following companies :

Agony Aunt International
All Risks Musical Ltd
A Maserati Driving School, Sicily
Associated Bored Muzicians
City of Berlin Ham Philharmonic
ESO (2006, not-quite-deceased) Ltd
The European Union
Farnborough Tennis Club
French Spiders Fan Club
Griffiths Slime Rock Cellos
Landsnails Reunited
Malvern Hills District Council
Orion Computer Consultants Ltd
The Republic of Mauritius
Sick (often Dead) Goldfish Society International
Society for Prevention of New Musicke
The State of Louisiana (what's left of it)
Stoatgobbler's Black Death Vegetarian Café
Volker Hartung Inquisitions
Wa-Shing-Ton Post (currently outsourced Hong Kong)

A new, larger holding company, Muzicke & Fission Inc, has been created, and taking advantage of the latest in global electronic communications, the company's head office will be located in Nuuk, Greenland. Chief executives and key staff of the above companies will be expected to relocate to Nuuk within the next twelve hours.

Since the formation on 1 January 1999, Muzicke & Fission PLC has been gradually building a reputation for the range and quality of its acquisitions. Our buyers, many of them business professionals, come from more than ninety different countries, and in particular from Greenland, Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands.

Chief Executive Bazil Ramzey (previously manager of The Buziness Times and before that, Buziness and Acquisitions) and his staff take the quality of the companies they buy very seriously. They adhere to a strict daily acquisition schedule, which includes weekends and all holidays. New companies are professionally checked, and acquisitions must also be checked by the company in question before purchase.

The daily addition of new material, the high quality and international nature of our ventures, and the unique policy of webcasting company acquisitions and staff dismissals in high quality video, are rapidly building a large, fascinating and valuable resource, and continue to encourage new investment. In July 2006 alone the organisation aquired nearly fifty companies, and by September 2006 the total number of companies bought had reached five thousand.

Muzicke & Fission won second place in International Buziness America's February 2000 survey of the world's fifty fastest growing companies (FGC50). When the same organisation revisited the online business scene in 2003, this time featuring only a handful of companies, Muzicke & Fission held its place.


Copyright © 22 September 2006 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

Ask Alice



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