December 31, 2007

Voice care #2 - how's your pitch?



As a follow up to my post about voice care from the other day, I want to talk about something that is a typical bad habit of speakers in the US, yet many are completely unaware of doing it.

Are you a low talker?


Many of us speak at a lower pitch than is natural for us. Speaking at an unnatural pitch can be damaging to our vocal cords, yet speaking in a low voice is considered "authoritative" for men and "sexy" for women, so there isn't much incentive to change the habit.

As a theater major in college, I developed nodes (aka nodules) on my vocal cords, a common problem of actors and singers who are not using their voices properly. This is how I discovered that I was speaking in too low of a pitch, and got help from a voice coach to remedy the problem.

Voice workout

Caring for your voice is a lot like caring for your muscles. You don't just go to the gym once and suddenly your body is healthy and strong. You have to keep up your warmups and workouts to keep your body at its peak.

Your voice also needs regular care, especially before a presentation: warming up your voice, neck, face, mouth and shoulders, consuming the proper foods and beverages, using your breath properly, and not smoking or clearing your throat. There are lots of tools you can use to keep your voice healthy.

I've been exploring the Voice Academy site for teachers I mentioned in the last voice post, and I recommend getting over there and checking it out for yourself. There's so much good information and downloadable resources to help you care for your voice, and it's applicable to anyone who uses their voice a lot, not just teachers.

Here's something on vocal pitch from the auditorium.

"Rediscover pitch that's perfect for you

Speaking in a pitch range appropriate for you is not only more effortless, it's healthier. People can get into real vocal trouble by imitating a voice that doesn't "fit" their natural vocal makeup. So, how do you find your natural pitch range?

The way you spontaneously say "mm-hmm" (as if you are agreeing with someone) is usually in about the middle of a person's natural pitch range. Vocologists sometimes also recommend a recommend a natural yawn or laughter as a mid-point marker for a person's range.

However, habitual pitch and natural pitch aren't always the same. Habitual pitch is learned, while our natural voice is innate. We may move from natural pitches to a habitual range of pitches due to social upbringing or peer pressure.

So, does this mean teachers should speak at a monotonous tone all day? Not at all. The natural way you "mm-hmm" is, rather, a springboard for your spectrum of vocal pitches. It's healthy for your voice to vary pitches."

My voice teacher also recommended saying "hi," as if greeting a friend, as a way to determine your natural pitch.

Check out the voice books I recommended the other day, and visit the Voice Academy to start giving your voice the care and nurturing it deserves!

How do you care for your voice?

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