Dr. Terri Gerlach was my voice therapist when I had a stroke at the age of 26 that affected me in many ways, but one of the most devastating was that I lost my singing voice. I have a degree in voice and was a choral-music teacher and director at the time, so not being able to sing more than five notes was particularly difficult. Through therapy, Dr. Gerlach patiently worked with me to rehabilitate my voice. I ended up better and stronger than before my stroke!
More recently, at the age of 52, I developed a violent cough from a virus. That cough persisted for three weeks and left me with inflammation on my vocal cords as well as nodules. Having remembered Dr. Gerlach, I requested her again for voice therapy and everything I remembered about her still holds true:
Dr. Gerlach is an amazing diagnostician. She zeros in on the cause of the vocal issue and prescribes exactly the right exercises to heal it.
As an experienced educator, I know good teaching when I see it, and that is what she does. She empowers the patient by giving us exercises tailored to our exact needs and then models, explains, shows pictures, and gives rationale for how and why this will work. Then she guides the patient as they attempt those exercises. She holds us to a high standard and knows exactly what performance will result in the most progress. She also provides us with detailed instructions along with pictures of how to repeat those exercises at home, thus ensuring that our progress continues. And on each return appointment, she revisits what was done the week before so that she can check for progress and then move us to the next step in our healing.
Dr. Gerlach is not only a voice specialist, she is a teacher, and a mentor, and a cheerleader for those of us who are struggling to find our voices. I'm also a composer and these lyrics I wrote remind me of what she does for all of us:
When I can't find my voice will you help mereveal the words I'm longing to say?Tear my threads of doubt; unravel them away.When I'm enveloped in silence, will you break it?Find my shattered pieces on the ground.Gather up the shards, then scatter light all around me.Then my life will be a tapestry of music;All my tattered threads now redeemed.And in the cloth I'll find a world that I desigwith patterns more colorful than I dreamed.