We had the good fortune of connecting with Christine Schneider and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christine, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I started off as a professional singer, who had gone through a life-saving thoracic surgery when I was 15 years old. For the first several years of my singing career, I would try and convince friends to become a manual therapist specializing with singers, and no one seemed interested. Finally, after 2 long contracts and being out on the road, I thought ‘maybe it should be me. maybe I should be the one to help take care of singers!’ So I enrolled in Massage School at the Swedish Institute College of Health Science without telling anyone. My agent was the first person I told, so that he could weed out a lot of auditions.
I worked 3 jobs to put myself through school, and still performed, leaving one semester and returning the next to continue my training. I finished the massage program and immediately left to rehearse for a show that I ended up doing for 3 years. It also happens to be the show in which I met my husband:).
I was blessed to have that experience for several reasons- meeting my husband, making great friends, performing in NYC and all over the world, and…having a cast that I could practice on. I knew that I wanted to specialize with singers, so I took every CE class I could find. I studied hard with my greatest mentor and dear friend, Joan Lader. I went to London and met another mentor and now another dear friend, Jacob Lieberman to study laryngeal manipulation. I studied several other modalities, all while having a cast to practice on.
I got really lucky. It can take about 5 years to build a full time practice. I had built mine in one, while continuing to perform 8 shows a week. My cast mates told their friends, who told their voice teachers, and the word began to spread. I started to network with speech therapists, laryngologists, voice teachers, company managers, and several other people in the field. I now considered several of them not just colleagues, but good friends.
I remember in my business class, we had to write a paper on the demographic we want to work with and why we want to work with them. I obviously did mine on professional voice users. My teacher asked to see me after class. He told me that this demographic was far to small and to rewrite my paper for a different, more diverse group. I couldn’t believe it! I ended up writing another paper on runners, but I am glad that I didn’t listen to him.
What should our readers know about your business?
I have a private practice, LifeLight Massage Therapy PLLC, in New York City where we specialize in laryngeal, TMJ and medical massage therapy. We primarily see Professional Voice Users which range from broadway performers, opera singers, sports broadcasters, fitness instructors, lawyers, and teachers (there are many vocal athletes that don’t even know they are until something goes wrong). At LifeLight, we provide the manual component for voice rehabilitation and voice maintenance.
I also started a company, The Visceral Voice. It began as a podcast and has expanded into so much more. I have hopes and plans to continue with the expansion. As of right now, I have The Visceral Voice Podcast, The Visceral Voice Self-Care Membership (which is an 18 week online membership with anatomy lectures, self-care for the voice and body, as well as movement classes), several workshops with some of the best in the field, and an annual MT voice pedagogy /body conference in collaboration with Penn State called OneBody/OneVoice.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hands down – Tea and Sympathy! I lived in Europe as a child, and it is hard to find a good scone. I can get yummy European scones here. I am gluten-free, but i will deal with it to have scones at Tea and Sympathy. I also love going to City Vineyard, Chelsea Market and the High Line. In Midtown I will take a trip to The Press Lounge rooftop bar at the Ink48 hotel for cocktails before taking in a Broadway show. And of course, you can’t miss venturing into the amazing Central Park.
Sadly, my favorite restaurant closed. It was Meske Ethiopian in midtown. It didn’t survive the pandemic.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have so many people that have helped me along my journey. First, my husband. He has whole-heartedly supported my career, even at the expense of his own. I couldn’t have done everything I do without his love, support and administrative assistance.
Second, my daughter. She is only 7, but she is always full of encouragement giving me positive affirmation every day.
My family has seen me through the good and bad, and have loved me unconditionally through it all.
I am grateful for all of my colleagues and mentors, especially Joan Lader.
And of course – all of my friends, with a major shout out to JoelB, Joey, and Leah, not just for being amazing and supportive friends, but for opening up their apartments to be my ‘homes away from home’ several times a year, because I commute into NYC from the Poconos.
Instagram: The Visceral Voice
Facebook: The Visceral Voice
Artistic drawings – Aleksandra Petrukhina, The Visceral Voice Illustrator. Clinic Photos – Michael Alicia, The Center for Advancement of Therapeutic Arts