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Magic Choral Trick #98 Speaking Voice Placement

Sorry women – that very low, husky, back of the mouth, sexy, or no nonsense “even though I’m a woman, I need to be taken seriously” vocal placement may be costing you your singing voice. And men – that “I am tough and unemotional, and an expert on everything”, pressed down placement may be costing you yours.

Our culture seems to be hardwired to dismiss the opinions of people who have high speaking voices. So those of us whose natural range floats a little higher than the socially accepted norm tend to press our voices down, and speak from the back of the throat. A much healthier placement would be the one we use when we’re speaking French or Italian.

“I’d like a beer please”

“Una birra, per favore”

If you know just enough Italian to be able to read this, try saying the two phrases several times and noticing the different places in the mouth that they’re produced.

When I say these phrases my voice dips down in pitch to a low ‘E’ at the end of the English phrase, and a good Perfect 4th higher than that at the end of the Italian one. And I’m a soprano! I’m ending even the Italian phrase down near the bottom end of my singing range. The English phrase is off the charts – I don’t sing low ‘E’.

So any evening when I get carried away with storytelling, and jokes and laughing with a group of friends, I can expect to still feel some roughness in the voice the next day.

If our daily lives require that we do a lot of talking (especially in English) this can add up to vocal damage.

I realize however, that it takes a great deal of courage to allow our voices to sit in their most natural and free place. It feels as if we have no emotional shield – and our vulnerability shows.

However, if we free up our speaking voices a little more, we are pracising vocal resonance even when we’re not singing. And our vocal cords will be grateful.

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