What do you think of the sound of your voice?
Do you like it? (Most women have some complaint about their voice.)
Does the sound of your voice startle you when you hear yourself on a recording? (Is there a chorus of “That’s not what I sound like!”)
Let’s explore some ideas about the voice by using a story of a young woman named Angie.
My first conversation with Angie was on the phone. With her first words, I thought I was speaking to a little girl, but in fact Angie was an intelligent and self aware young woman in her twenties.
Except her voice didn’t match her age.
No one took her thoughts and ideas seriously so Angie decided to come to my studio for singing lessons to help her voice grow up.
This is just one of many stories I heard as a voice coach, and the stories convinced me that looking beyond the sound of your voice to attitudes, beliefs, history, and perceptions is as important, or even more so, than learning good vocal technique.
In this post, I want to share three different ideas related to the voice that are brilliantly illustrated by Angie’s story.
1. A Whole Voice is an Embodied Voice
Anyone who is terrified of standing up and presenting to an audience knows the pitfalls involved; dry mouth, shaky hands, sweaty palms, fear of memory loss at strategic moments, and more.
That doesn’t even take into consideration the possibility of being a dynamic speaker, having the ability to modulate the pitch and volume of your voice, and having a presence that captures and keeps the attention of your listeners.
Those abilities set the best speakers apart.
I’ve listened to many speakers and spoken to audiences myself, and I know from both experiences that the sound of your voice coming from your whole body is an essential facet of good communication – even when your audience is one person.
Yes, the instrument is in your throat, but your whole voice is in your whole body.
Angie’s voice was tiny and her voice’s relationship to her body was a very limited one.
As the weeks passed, her voice became stronger and dropped more into her body. It was working; she could feel it changing and she was excited.
2. You Can’t Think Your Way to a Whole Voice
You have to feel your way there.
A coach’s job is not to be a know-all guru. A coach’s job is to guide someone into awareness of when the voice is working well and when it’s not.
There are a surprising number of voice coaches in the world who don’t teach good vocal pedagogy. They can be very good singers themselves, but don’t know how to re-create that in their students, so they approach it by trying to explain in words how to support the voice and have resonance and power.
I was fortunate enough to have a voice coach for many years who understood technique but didn’t talk a lot about technique. He instead focused on helping his singers feel and experience good technique.
I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand.
So with Angie, I wanted to first give her the experience of a full embodied voice. She began to feel her diaphragm supporting the sound of her voice. She could feel the resonance in both head and chest.
As her voice started to grow into adulthood, her world started to get bigger. It was wonderful to see.
3. Looking Beyond the Sound of Your Voice Means Looking at Your Choices
I worked with Angie for a few months and then she came one day and said she was going to quit singing lessons.
I was shocked.
Everything had been going well, her voice was getting stronger and more balanced every week. What was going on?
I said in the beginning that Angie was self aware. By her words, ideas, and actions, she demonstrated frequently that she was on a spiritual and personal journey to become more of who she could be.
Then Angie hit a wall.
The wall she ran into was her parents and her boyfriend. Once they noticed the changes in her (and not just in her voice), they had formed a team to convince Angie that singing lessons were a waste of her time and money. She didn’t need them, her voice was fine!
She was quitting singing lessons because she couldn’t take the constant conflict.
And being the self aware young woman she was, she said, “I have to make a choice between them and my singing lessons and I’m choosing them.”
I could see that Angie even understood what they were saying without actually saying it – that they liked her as a little girl and didn’t want her to grow up into the powerful woman she had the potential to be.
Never Miss the Weekly Post
As she left, I wished her well and said she could always make another choice in the future if she wanted to.
Celebrate the Sound of Your Voice – It’s You!
No one else in the world has your voice, and within the sound of your voice is your purpose, your creative expression, your role in conflicts and power struggles, your statement of your life vision – in other words it’s how you communicate everything about you.
The following affirmations are for practising the heart of it all – your beliefs about your voice. Say each one out loud and notice how you feel in response.
Does it seem true? Is there a conflict between what you’re saying and your thoughts about what you’re saying? Look honestly, and you will know the ones that you need to practise more by how much you disagree with them!
“I am a powerful voice in the world.”
“I am a complete expression of my wisdom, emotions and vision.”
“My voice is a true reflection of my passion, compassion and power.”
“I make my choices with a clear sense of knowing what is right for me.”
“I boldly say YES to life.”
Tip: if you are ever looking for someone to guide you in improving the sound of your voice, look for someone who can help you view the world and your place in it in a much more expanded way.
For more on the topic of voice….