Your voice is the main means by which you communicate your thoughts and opinions, wishes and desires. It plays a major part in the way you present yourself both professionally and socially.
What can go wrong?
Most of us are born knowing how to use our voices freely and easily. As babies and young children, we knew instinctively how to use our voice to communicate our need for food, warmth and comfort, spontaneously and tirelessly, without stress or strain. Our body and voice responded naturally to our needs and to what we wanted to say without our thinking about it.
As we grow up however, we become shaped by our environment and life experiences. School, college and the workplace all leave impressions on us which, if negative or restrictive, can slowly rob us of our natural freedom of speech and expression, cutting us off from our feelings, limiting our communication and performance abilities, as well as diminishing our confidence and self-trust.
As a result, many of us arrive at adulthood with voices that are compromised and tied up by different physical and psychological tensions that block the free flow of breath, and in turn, affect the quality of the sound we produce as well as the ease by which we communicate and express ourselves.
Our voice may feel tired, sound hoarse at the end of the day, for example, or we may experience tightness or discomfort in the muscles around the voice box and neck. Some of us may find it difficult to project our voice and so to make ourselves heard, we push in an effort to force our voice out leading to further strain and tension.
We can also experience problems with speech sounds – finding it difficult to pronounce certain consonant sounds correctly and, as a result, lisp, stutter or stumble over words. We may feel we are running out of breath when speaking in public or giving a presentation, be told we mumble, speak through the nose, or sound too high or too low.
How can a voice teacher help?
Historically coming from a theatre background, the voice teacher’s job traditionally focuses on helping actors develop their voices to the level where they can meet the demands of a professional performing career. Actors need to be heard and understood in a large space, to be articulate and to have the strength and stamina to sustain speaking for long periods of time. They also need to be capable of expressing a wide dynamic and emotional range without tiring or straining the voice.
These skills, however, are available and achievable for every voice, and working with a voice teacher can help you develop your voice and speech to the highest possible level, as well as increase confidence and improve oral communication.