Eleanor Martino Voice and Speech


My Background

Voice therapy is an area in which many speech pathologists receive some training but few specialize. Even fewer are trained to work with the singing voice. This subject is fascinating and close to my heart, as prior to becoming a speech pathologist I earned my undergraduate degree in singing and proceeded to lose my voice. I was chronically hoarse as a graduate student in speech pathology and was finally sent to an ENT and given an initial diagnosis of atypical adductor spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological voice disorder, which turned out to be incorrect.

I sought a second opinion and was then diagnosed with muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) associated with laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD) and chronic rhinitis with post-nasal drip. I also had temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ/TMD) with excessive jaw tension. In other words, my voice disorder was due to a combination of severe acid reflux, allergies, teeth-grinding, and muscle tension.

It took me years to regain a healthy speaking voice, and even longer to sing again.

I learned from personal experience that some singing teachers know proper care of the singing voice (including suitable repertoire for voice types) and understand when to refer students to specialists, but many don’t; that medicine, diet modification and stress reduction can control acid reflux, but you may be left with debilitating muscle tension which often develops from squeezing your voice out over swollen, unhealthy vocal folds; and that stress affects all of us, very often making it difficult to breathe, speak and sing in a relaxed and healthy manner.

Voice therapy is an art and a science, and having experienced it firsthand as a student, patient, singer and clinician has given me a thorough understanding and a compassionate perspective.