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Arranging flats and cords

January 30, 2020

These vocal cords are resting. Probably a wise move.

January 29, 2020

Today at NOVA theater I rearranged the unused scenery in the shop.  I deeply respect the previous technicians who set up the scheme in the first place.  However, I’m the go-to guy now!  Here’s what I did, after carefully consideration.

The original scheme was to arrange the 9-foot tall flats book-wise on a 7-foot-high shelf on a side wall.  The shelf was elegantly constructed with jutting pipes to keep the flats organized.  I still admire it.

However, most of us are not strong enough to lift the tall flats over our heads to the 7-foot-high shelf.  As a result the recently used flats have been stacked flat on the floor against an adjacent wall where only the most recently placed were easy to get.  None of the flats on the shelf could be gotten without a ladder.

Therefore, I used a ladder to bring down the stored standard-width flats, the one- two- three- and four-foot-wides.  These are now at the back of the room, placed like books on the floor, widest-to-narrow, left to right.  Easy to find, easy to get.  All of this took like, three hours. I didn’t get hurt, either, just dusty and dirty.

At 8 this morning I visited a speech therapist.  Kay.  Kay put a black tube with a camera into my right nostril.  She pushed it until the tears streamed down my cheeks.  I was watching the monitor and I was surprised at the amount of hair in my nose.  

Distant memory:  As a young child I looked up at my daddy and could see lots of red hairs in his nose.  He died when I was four years old.  Yes, I digress.

Back to this morning.  I was hyperventilating and Kay asked me to relax and sniff.  She gave up on that side and tried pushing the tube into my left nostril.  Hurt worse.  Ow!  I sneezed.  She pulled the black tube gently out.  She was successful when she again tried the right nostril.  At last I could see a bunch of white thrush on the way back of my tongue.  Was this a fool’s errand?

Then she asked me to sing, “eeee.”  My vocal cords looked like a pair of white pillars that fluttered like fish gills.  I glissando’ed up the scale but was disappointed that my cords didn’t do anything spectacular.

But Kay was spectacular.  She gave me some photos of that secret place in my body where my voice comes from.  She said I most likely had gastric reflux that bothered my vocal cords, that could cause coughing while singing.  She called this “LPR”: larynx-pharyngeal reflux.  She gave me a list of foods and drinks to avoid.  As you might suspect, they include every refreshing drink and every delicious food.  Also a list of easily done exercises.  She explained that the goal is to minimize the damage that stomach acid can cause, while strengthening the tissues that sing.

If the goal of good theatrical scenery is to enhance the story, the goal of singing might be to enhance the song.  In the first instance, the work of the theater tech might be invisible to the audience.  In the second the audience might enjoy the lyric without being overly aware of the person singing.

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