How a Charlotte doctor helped a singer get her voice back — twice

How a Charlotte doctor helped a singer get her voice back — twice
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Produced in partnership with Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates.

You might know Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates for things like allergy and optical care, but its spectrum of services extends into more niche fields like voice and swallowing care.

That’s how Sherry Blevins was first introduced to CEENTA following a traumatic injury over 25 years ago. Just this year, she returned to the same doctor for something new.

We chatted with Sherry about her years of experience with one of Charlotte’s most prominent ENT providers.

Why did you first see Dr. Gerlach? 

I had a stroke when I was 26. As a result, I lost most of my speaking voice and the ability to swallow. I first went through inpatient rehabilitation and then was referred to Dr. Terri Gerlach for outpatient rehabilitation.

The background: At the time, I was teaching elementary general music, giving private voice lessons and conducting.

  • Music was my life, and I really needed my voice to be functional.

What does vocal therapy entail?

Initially, the exercises weren’t vocalizations you would hear from a singer. I had to start by building strength and just getting my vocal cords to vibrate together properly.

Next steps: As I got further along, I progressed to singer sounds and techniques for using my speaking voice in a healthier way.

You recently saw Dr. Gerlach again. Can you tell us about that? 

Recently, I caught a violent cough that lasted over three weeks and caused vocal nodules and a lot of inflammation. Plus, I already had vocal weakness on my left side due to the stroke that I had many years ago.

  • Remembering my great experience with Dr. Gerlach years ago, I decided to return.

It was quite the challenge for Dr. Gerlach because she was addressing several issues at once. Her process focused on rebuilding my vocal strength as well as developing new habits when I speak and sing.

  • Some examples: Breathing properly to get the right support for your voice and pitching your voice higher and with more resonance so that you don’t fatigue your voice.

Why did you want to see Dr. Gerlach again? 

One of the first things that she said to me after my stroke was, “You can and will get better.”

  • She offers hope, and not just the touchy-feely kind: It’s hope because she knows what she’s doing and she’s the best at it.

The results: Since starting to see Dr. Gerlach most recently, my range has increased by an entire octave, and it’s all due to her fantastic, teacher-like approach.

How it’s done: Every visit, she gives “homework” based on the issues you’re encountering. At the next visit, you evaluate how the homework went, and she gives detailed feedback.

  • She helps you tweak your exercises so that you can be successful and continue your growth in between visits.

Would you recommend CEENTA to someone going through something similar?

Absolutely. So many professionals rely on their voices for speaking or singing. So whether it’s for rehabilitation or general maintenance, it’s a great idea to be evaluated, and CEENTA has nothing but fantastic professionals.

I think CEENTA is the most prepared to deal with very specific vocal issues, especially with singers. So yes, I would definitely recommend CEENTA to everybody.

Ready for a check-up? Schedule your appointment at CEENTA.

Produced in partnership with Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates.

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