Hello everyone! I'm Howard Yates, voice talent and massage therapist. Back in November I was rehearsing for the role as George Bailey from "It's a Wonderful Life" and I became plagued with a series of throat problems. At first I thought it was nothing more than just usual sinus/nasal problems, drainage, etc, but one thing that made the theater experience hard was the dust in the theater itself due to renovations backstage. Then, sore throat and vocal restraint became the next problem. As recording time for the radio drama segment came close, I thought I was getting not only a sore throat but maybe strep throat. Fortunately, as a massage therapist and concerned voice actor, I decided to study up on muscle-related issues that may improve my vocal health along with having a good diet (and plenty of water, as usual).

There is a book every voice actor should check out called The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies - get it at Barnes & Noble for $20. To learn more about it, visit it on the web www.triggerpointbook.com and check out the symptoms index link. Trigger Points cause a multitude of physical problems that are common, everyday things we suffer from, including migraines, tension headaces, TMJ, jaw/tooth pain, throat pain, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, etc.

After researching the book due to the fact that herbal teas, pills, and Dr. bills were not fixing the problem, I found a muscle that gave symptoms of a sore throat and when I spent time working on it (self-treatment, which is taught in the book), my sore throat went away and on the same day I was able to record the radio drama for the on-air Christmas broadcast. The muscle was the big one on the front side of the neck, on both sides, called the Sternocleidomastoid, or SCM for short. Look it up and check out the book/'website. This little muscle problem was the difference that allowed me to perform, whereas, if not for this little bit of knowledge, I may not have ever been able to do the perfomance in the studio or onstage either!

Just wanted to share this with you,
Howard Yates.

Views: 27

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Howard,

Thank you sharing your experience. The self-treatment you described is likely mirrored in or is based on the teachings of David Blair McClosky and his wife Barbara, with whom I studied voice. There is also another great book, now out of print, which is a wonderful source for singers, actors, and speakers. i have given an Amazon link above.

Best of luck,


Hello Howard.
Thank you for sharing this information. It's unfortunate that the physicians you saw weren't aware of muscle tension pain that can develop during heavy voice use. The SCM's and the strap muscles can all produce pain and one's voice fatigues and these muscles are recruited to help stabilize the larynx.
I am a big fan of massage and muscle therapy, so this is important work.
Steve Sims


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