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April 9, 2014
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Vibrator massage holds the answer to vocal cord bliss

Search for larynx massager leads University of Alberta professor to discover solution for vocal cord tension, fatigue or over-use

Alana Willerton
Managing Editor
Mar 13, 2013

Holding a sex toy to your throat could be the answer to improving vocal power and reducing tension in the vocal chords.

David Ley, a voice and dialect coach at the University of Alberta, has developed a revolutionary voice technique in which he massages the vocal chords of people who suffer from vocal tension, fatigue or overuse with a small, handheld vibrator.

The toy reaches a frequency of 110–120 hertz, matching the range of a human voice and effectively reducing the tension that causes these vocal problems.

The technique works on a wide range of people who, by virtue of the needs of their occupation, tend to overuse or stress their voice.

Ley says this could apply to anyone from performers to teachers to coaches, who often don’t realize the strain they are putting on their voice.

“When people think of their voice, they don’t seem to think about it in the way they would think about their leg. It’s really muscle, a ligament; it’s all these things that respond in the same way to overuse that any other part of our body would,” Ley said.

“When we’re running, tension will often stop us from running. But tension in our throat never stops us from speaking.”

Ley originally discovered the effectiveness of the vibrator after a friend came to him suffering from throat issues, and he attempted to find a solution for her over-taxed voice.

Looking for a handheld vibrating object that could massage her larynx much like a laryngeal massage would, Ley unexpectedly found the solution to his query in a local sex shop.

The results were immediate for Ley’s friend, and ever since then, he’s diligently tried the technique out on more than 100 people.

Ley says everyone has responded “incredibly positively” to the technique, which acts as a quick and effective way to warm up the vocal chords and release tension.

“I can get what I get out of a 25 minutes warm-up in six or seven minutes with the vibrator,” Ley said. “It just seems to really stimulate a lot of the same kind of things.”

Ley is currently working with the U of A’s Speech Pathology department to discover the long-term medical implications of his technique, which he says is an unusual relationship.

“I don’t know of any other drama department which has that relationship with the speech pathology department,” he said.

“I think it’s really great because I can wander around and say I’ve got this really great idea and that’s fine if I just want to work with actors and singers. But if (the technique) wants to be something more than that, then it really has to be explored in that world.

“Being able to connect here to that department is really important, and it provides me with a level of scientific and theoretical exploration that is really helpful in supporting how this is going to be used and what I’m going to be able to do with it.”

Ley will be presenting his findings to the world’s top voice scientists at the Voice Foundation Symposium in Philadelphia this spring, and hopes to eventually overcome the negative connotations a vibrator brings by developing a specific device for the technique.

“I did this with my 85-year old father because his voice was starting to deteriorate and he thought it was great and he wanted to get one. But there’s no way he’s ordering a (sex toy), even online,” Ley said.

“So I think were there to be something which was a device that was devised for and specifically engineered to do this, then it would both make it maybe a little more effective, but also make it a lot more easy for people to accept it.”



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