Recently I spoke to a client named Bryan who I hadn’t had contact with for several months. Had he not emailed me in advance to schedule a time to speak, I would not have recognized his voice on the phone when I answered. His higher-pitched, nasal voice was gone. Instead, I heard his ‘real’ voice, a deeper, resonant sound which was not traveling through his nose!
Bryan still has an issue however. He finds that there are times when he is unable to hold on to his real or true voice as he feels it going back up to his throat. I recognized one of his problems immediately while he was discussing this with me.
As he was talking, he would start speaking faster and faster. This can make your pitch rise unless you are aware of it. (Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of sound – not the volume which is loudness or softness.) I hail from New Jersey where we drive fast and talk even faster! But I am conscious of my pitch when I start to speak more quickly. Bryan was not.
This brings me to Bryan’s 2nd problem.
I asked Bryan if he had a trim waste and he said, yes. While Bryan has not consciously been aware of this, his trim waste has been keeping him from making the breathing a habit. When you breathe properly, your diaphragm will move down and out, thereby slightly expanding the mid-torso region. With shallow or lazy breathing, on the other hand, the diaphragmatic region is sucked in, pushing the mid-torso region up and out. (Yes, it is great for the figure but bad for the voice because it places undue stress on the throat and vocal cords.)
What does all of this mean regarding Bryan? In teaching voice and breathing, I have found that those who were most conscious about the process of diaphragmatic breathing and what it could do to their waistlines were the men – not the women.
Bryan’s difficulty with the breathing is allowing for this expansion. What he needs to realize is that the amount of movement correct breathing involves is slight…very slight. This brought to mind the phrase, “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.”
What does the overweight individual have over those who are thinner? Often they are more relaxed in body. They are not trying to hold in their abdominal region. That is why some have voices which can soar with such breadth and depth and power.
Bryan then realized what was happening and will work on allowing for the slight expansion of his midriff. Kudos to Bryan who also admitted that the more relaxed he is, the easier it is to speak. Why? Because he has taken the pressure off his throat and vocal cords.
Which brings me back, once again, to the fact that if you want to find your real voice, it isn’t going to happen unless you learn to breathe with support. Your dog is doing it; your cat is doing it; and, every other mammal on earth is doing it. It is only the most intelligent of the mammals who stop the practice of deep breathing and revert to upper chest breathing sometime during childhood development!
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