What you say is important. But you also have to be careful about ‘how’ you say it. If not, the whole point is lost. Some of us are born orators. For the rest, voice training is here to help.
Why is voice training important?
Our voice is one of our greatest assets. A good voice makes an excellent first impression and helps to hold the attention of the listener. We all have favourite voices that we love to hear over and over again. These voices can be of singers, actors, radio jockeys and even news readers.
Similarly, a voice can also attract unwanted attention. For e.g., if one is talking too softly or too loudly. A loud voice is considered rude and a nuisance whereas a feeble voice is a sign of low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Voice lacking in rhythm may sound monotonous and boring.
There are professions that have always depended heavily on their voice for their success—actors, singers, dubbing artists and radio jockeys. But now, more than ever, knowing how to use your voice efficiently is a valuable skill regardless of your profession. Hence taking care of your voice is of utmost importance.
The first step in voice training is to be aware of how your voice sounds like to others. Let’s understand the mechanics of voice.
How is voice produced?
Voice is an additional function of our breathing apparatus. We breathe in through our nose. This air goes through the nasopharynx into the oropharygnx and enters the lungs through the windpipe. During exhalation the air makes its way out in reverse direction. While passing through the larynx [the voice box] the passing air vibrates the vocal folds and voice is generated, which is further shaped into different sounds by the position of the oral structures like the tongue, lips and mouth opening.
Why does every voice sound different?
Each person’s voice is unique and is often used as a personal identification in many software programs. Voice is characterised by its pitch [frequency], loudness [decibel level] and intonation [rhythm]. Men have lower frequency as compared to women; children have a very high frequency. This is the reason the voice of man, woman and child sound so different. It is embarrassing if a man’s voice starts sounding like woman’s and vice versa. Also, if the voice of a boy does not change post puberty to a manly sounding voice, it can become a source of embarrassment.
What can go wrong with your voice?
An abnormal pitch, loudness, or poor voice quality are some of the problems people suffer from. Certain medical conditions can cause structural changes in the vocal tract and lead to voicing problems. These structural changes can be vocal cord paralysis, cancer of vocal cords, vocal atrophy, injury or trauma, vocal cord infections, etc.
Voice disorders can also be a result of misuse of voice, which can be prevented effectively. Symptoms of voice disorders due to misuse of voice are:
- Pain or difficulty while swallowing
- Feeling that there is something stuck in your throat
- Frequent hoarseness
- Voice loss
- Vocal fatigue towards the end of the day
- Voice cracking or pitch breaks.
Here are a few tips to take care of your voice
- Since voice is dependent on our breathing, deep breathing and voicing techniques greatly affect how our voice sounds
- Avoid frequent and long-term exposure to noisy environments that force us to raise our voices while talking
- If you prone to throat infections, get them treated promptly and make the necessary lifestyle changes to avoid repeat infections. Avoid cold foods and drinks. Also avoid too much coffee, tea and colas as they tend to dry the mouth and vocal cords too
- Always prefer to use a microphone when addressing a group of people—this will prevent your vocal cords from being overused. Keep your vocal tract constantly hydrated, especially if you are in a speaking profession
- Be attentive to signs of vocal fatigue and give your voice rest promptly. Hoarseness of voice, needing to clear the throat frequently, sudden drop in voice quality are signs to watch for
- Your posture can have a huge impact on your voice. Make sure you maintain the right posture while speaking. Your body should be relaxed but not slouched, shoulders should be drawn back and neck should also be relaxed.
Keeping a track of how much do you use your voice throughout the day is a good idea. Take care of your general wellbeing by eating healthy in order to avoid acid reflux.
In short, love your voice and it will love you back. Take care of your voice for better voicing and to prevent voice disorders.
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