Musicality after stroke

After singing in a good choir for 40years+, I failed a recent reaudition. Since my stroke in 2018 from which I recovered well, I have been aware of difficulty sometimes pitching notes in the lower half of my range.
Is there any research on strokes affecting that part of neurological processing?
I am particularly interested in finding solutions to this very specific and niche legacy.

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Hello @Flamenco. I used to be pleased with how I could sing, never professionally but just for pleasure. Since my midbrain ischaemic stroke I find that I cannot hit the right notes but am aware of it. Less processing and possibly more a direct issue from neural damage controlling laryngeal muscles? In truth I don’t know, I had problems with swallowing initially but not any more.
Still can’t help singing sometimes but just make sure no one is in ear shot. I hope you can still enjoy it, Julia

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@Flamenco just popping by to say hi & welcome to the forum.

Hope someone on here can help with your specific issue.

Best wishes

Ann

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Actually, it’s not amusia which I first thought so have deleted that post now.

It’s Apraxia which is what is preventing you from producing those lower notes. It’s only after considering my own condition, with a little help from my daughter (studying phsychology) that I realised my mistake.
So your issue is more likely with your voice box, for which there is help for in Sound production treatment for it…or even some formal singing lessons I suppose might help if you wanted to continue with your singing. Practicing loads is all you do really until your brain makes that connection stick.

The Amusia which I posted earlier is a problem with perceiving sounds, so you’d have more problems with listening to music. I don’t think that’s your problem is it?
I am sorry about the confusion, I’m no expert, so I’m just going to blame it on my stroke and aphasia…hope you don’t mind :laughing:

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Thank you so much for your reply. My experience is, at the moment, finding it sometimes hard to produce the matching pitch in my voice of a note I hear from a piano or guitar, so there is a connection issue between the hearing and the making of the sound. It is so very odd, because for 50 odd years I’ve done it without thinking and been accurate. My GP also thought it might be a voice box thing and suggested an ENT specialist, but the time lag would mean a wait for consultation and then perhaps 2 years for any action…. Way too long.

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It is weird I know. I can start a sentence at a perfectly normal pitch but by the time I get to the end of the sentence it’s almost a whisper. It’s like turning the volume down as I speak, and I’ve no control over it other than to give a little cough to waken it up again :roll_eyes:

I guess in the mean time, there’s lots of youtube videos for sound production treatment, apraxia and even for singing exercises you could try to retrain your voice, it’s what any therapy is going to have you do anyway and it’s going to take a lot of time and practice. So the sooner you get started the sooner you get back into it.

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@Flamenco I’m the lead singer and keyboard player in my band and am one year since stroke. It took three weeks after hospital to swallow again (feeding tube was put in and now out thank goodness). Since then I suffer from hoarseness at times and yes it is hard to hit the high notes, but during our practice sessions, my voice warms up and gets back to normal. Just sing as much as you can everyday.
Like exercising your muscles.

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My voice, then, is much like yours. The doctors did not consider this as a stroke issue although swallowing is still a problem as well. They attributed the cause as possible vocal cord damage from ventilator. I don’t know, but I do know the ventilator made my throat burn for about 6 weeks afterward like the worst strep throat one could possibly get. Inflamed and burning, but I was no food or drink at that time, so no relief.

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I was never on a ventilator, so all just stroke related. I had difficulty swallowing, chocked even on my own saliva :roll_eyes: Anyway, it’s all good now…though still have to be a mite careful with swallowing, and still have a permanent tickle at the back on my throat which can drive nuts at times :unamused:

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Thank you all for your replies.

My situation in 2018 was arriving in Newcastle for a social weekend with my choir friends (yes, same choir) on a Friday evening about 5pm. Going up to the hotel room and my wife asking me why I was talking in an Irish accent. Didn’t think I was but she quickly decided she wanted assistance. Phoned down to reception who phoned for paramedics who arrived within 10 minutes. Took me to ambulance and blue lighted into RVI where I had an MRI and then almost immediately a clot buster injection “this costs over £1k so you’re getting every drop” next day had another scan - all were amazed that the (large) clot had almost shrunk to nothing.

That was Friday night. My wife was brilliant and was in and out every day till they let me go on Monday. Monitored every hour and given the all clear. Very, very lucky.

My son’s wedding in Budapest was coming up the next month. I made that, thankfully.

Thought I’d got away very lightly, and I know other people have had different experiences.

So a bit selfish to want the choir thing, but it has been so crucial in my life, it feels important to want it back, if I can get it.

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I completely understand! It is something that must bring you joy to do it all these years. It is not too much to ask. I am certain we all with nothing but the best for you, no matter the differing number of affects to us, or the scale of those affects. We are here to help each other and ourselves, and support one another. I will send some good energy your way, or vibes, or prayers (all the same to me, but whichever you prefer).

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Yes! I choke on my own saliva often, and still need to slow down and remember to tilt my chin forward, etc… Swallowing pills is easy peasy most of the time, until I don’t think carefully, or think too carefully, about it. LOL. In other words…the choking still happens, along with the hoarseness, can’t sing at all anymore, but doesn’t keep me from trying.

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Perfectly understandable and not selfish at all. In my view it’s more selfish to give up on life after every effort has been made by so many so that you can live, regardless mind to cost. That’s selfish :wink:

My father-in-law was is a choir too, after he developed Alzheimer’s he still couldn’t give it up, managed to stay with it until about the last year of his life.

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@DeAnn
@EmeraldEyes
I was told to watch out for aspiration pneumonia. Even now, after a year when I casually swallow things like nuts, cereal, grains etc. If I don’t drink a beverage afterwards, I can choke a bit after eating these things. I have excess saliva at night and have to sleep on my side.

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That is helpful information! I was told the same about aspiration pneumonia. I have a recent diagnosis of COPD but I am suspicious of it and have not started using the inhaler. I tried it a few times, just makes me cough. I read COPD is very often misdiagnosed and it is dangerous for other conditions to use the medication if one does not have it. I believe I may have aspiration pneumonia. The pulmonologist did not do an x-ray, used an old CT scan from when I had actual diagnosed pneumonia, and the scores from my testing were in the normal range. So diagnosis is based on that old CT and my complaint of fatigue. I could be wrong, but honestly believe he is.

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I would request that X-ray for sure.

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If you have COPD and an inhaler you should use it. The last few years my inhaler was changed to a mild steroid based one to be used morning and night, as a preventative medicine. It seems to work well. Book an appointment with the asthma nurse at your GP surgery. You might be using the wrong inhaler. Regards.

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Thank you! Once I have a second opinion, I will certainly follow recommendations.

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Hi @Flamenco
Wanted to add my welcome to the forum to those you’ve already received .
We put together some initial stuff in this
Welcome post tap here

I guess you need speech and language therapists (SALT) to help with your challenge.
You’ll face a complication if trying to look up any self-help - of which there is probably plenty distributed across YouTube & the internet - because singing is often used in salt as a exercise to bring back muscle control. Searching here with a magnifying glass above is also worthwhile. There are little nuggets scattered everywhere on this site

you’ll find plenty of help the other way around easily - IE using singing to improve speaking. Together with almost everybody here I’ve not got any medical training so don’t know the ins and outs of it enough to state the opposite regimes!

Just looking casually on YouTube I found lots of post-stroke vocal exercises, tongue exercises etc. Extrapolating a little from all other exercise basis I’m going to suggest that having a strong core of basic movements will be the starting point. These are going to contribute to your discretionary muscle control. It’s quite possible there’s also a cognitive element involved in the sound processing maybe you will need to look for sources on neuro audiology?

Something with all of us, to a greater or less extent weve found is that you have to be your own recovery director - that involves researching aspects of your condition and integrating across the different disciplines so you can direct the health professionals about the help that you need because they’re not very good at visceral understanding of ‘whole person’ needs.

Another place to look would be one other research sites such as academia.edu, Google scholar, Microsoft scholar, researchgate, Et Al.

I wish you well on your recovery journey

Ciao
Simon

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@DeAnn , music both singing and playing was a huge part of my life before stroke and my operation. Afterwards my speaking voice improved but I could do little more than croak like a frog when it came to singing. It will be a long time before I can play again and my voice is still not like it was but yesterday I took a big step and I went on stage and sang with my band mates. Don’t give up trying, keep working on it and your voice will listen and return. Best wishes.

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