On a recent webinar, I listened and watched a coach leading us into a relaxed state of finding our energy points and centering our focus. He really knew what he was doing, and his exercises were effective.
However, I found myself somewhat distracted by his high and quiet tone level that made him seem tense. It seemed to be out of sync with what his purpose and demonstrations were about. So, in today’s blog I want to address how to center your mind and vocal tone level.
To go from a high pitch level to a more natural comfortable level, you must be aware of two things.
First, take notice if your body stress is manifested in your neck and back shoulder areas. When this happens, it is common for your jaw and back of your throat to tighten, which can lead to your emitting vocal sounds through your nasal passage and less through your mouth or oral passage.
To remedy this, you must exercise your mind and focus on loosening the muscle tightness, and on directing the tone to escape through your mouth. The sounds that include: /m/, /n/, and /ng/ are English nasal sounds that which should resonate in your nasal passage; but all other sounds do not.
If these other sounds are nasal, then it could be a result of a lazy velum closing off close the passage of your mouth. Since the velum at the back of your throat is flexible, exercising this particular part of your mouth can strengthen its capacity to be more agile and close off your nasal passage from your unwanted nasal tones.
The second thing you should notice is where your breathing action is before you begin to speak or after pausing. Your breathing must initiate from under your rib cage by applying the diaphragm and intercostal muscles to act as a holding tank for your breath; and to allow your breath to move up and out through your mouth as you speak.
You can decide if you want to let your air escape slowly and gradually; or, if you wish to shoot the air out like an arrow flying up and out through your mouth. In either case, you will run out of breath at the end of this process; then you’ll need to take in more air.
The advantage of using your diaphragm for all this support is that it can hold more air than just using your upper chest area. Also, you will have greater control manipulating reserving some air, or letting it go quickly. This is all done with very little effort on your part. It’s your diaphragm that’s doing all the work.
Another benefit of using the diaphragm is to make your sound project louder and farther to your listeners’ ears. Your voice will be heard by all without your doing any shouting or straining of your vocal folds.
You might want to follow-up with recording yourself to assess whether your tone is misrepresenting your best voice to your listeners. If they can’t hear you, or are tuned out to you because your voice sounds nasal, monotone, or on a high pitch level; then check the basics to determine changing in your breathing method and your resonating process.
If you would like specific exercises to follow up on, you will find more in my book, "Breathe...Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches" or simply contact me.
Brenda C. Smith