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Feeling like you are always pushing from your throat? Here's a tip to help you stop straining your voiceemail: info@thevoicecoach.be

Mental images that improve the sound of your voice - "Space"

In voice training – especially for singing – we work a lot with mental images. They help us create the sound we are aiming for. Mental images can influence the quality of the sound of our voice – if we imagine something beautiful or standing on top of a mountain, our voice will sound different than when we imagine something ugly or being stuck in a small box. Even though the creation of a sound is a mechanical act of pushing air through our vocal chords, letting them vibrate and resonate in our mouthswhat we imagine while doing so, has a big influence on what our voice will sound like once the air gets pushed through. I have written 4 blog posts on this topic, because I think it is very useful to use images to improve your voice – today's topic is «space».

Little space causes strain
From my experience in almost 99,9% of the times when we strain our voices, it's because we are trying to create a sound by pushing from our throat and keeping our mouth only open to a minimum. We feel that this way we can control our voice. Your mouth is the place where your voice resonates – if you open your mouth wider the sound will change and become stronger and «rounder». You can try this by saying a long «eeh» and then change it into an «aah». To produce an «a», you have to open your mouth more than when you are pronouncing an «eeh» – this changing of the shape of your mouth is what changes the sound and the resonance in your mouth.

I think there are two reasons why we don't give our voice enough space: lack of experience or technique, and shyness or insecurity

Lack of experience or technique:
When we never sing, or try to sing. Never talk loudly, never need to raise our voice so a large crowd (or very noisy little crowd) can hear us. We are inexperienced. If all of a sudden, we have to shout or sing – it doesn't work. Or it might work somehow but we strain our voices and feel disappointed by the effect and discouraged to keep on trying. So we don't and we stop – leaving us again with neither experience nor technique. Or we keep on with the wrong technique, potentially hurting our voice by doing so.
So in order to save our voice, we have basically two options:
  • avoid all occasions where we might have to sing or shout.
  • train our voice, so that our future singing and shouting occasions become smoother experiences.
Shyness or insecurity:
Imagine someone who is shy in front of a group. What will their body language look like? Probably arms crossed, legs crossed, looking at the floor (ok, that's the most closed a person can look like, but I am trying to create an image here – so bear with me). Since we are talking about images, this is exactly what your voice is doing, too in such an instance: closing your throat, closing your mouth, and making your breathing very flat, cutting off your connection to your core.

When we are shy, we don't really want to take up a lot of space physically. We are more comfortable sitting in one corner, going unnoticed by everybody else. This way we might save ourselves from making a mistake or making a fool of ourselves. When we don't dare to speak up, we also keep our mouths open to a minimum, making sure we don't take up space acoustically.

When we feel confident on the other hand we can take up a lot of space, without feeling self conscious about it – physically AND acoustically. This makes it actually easier to create a healthy sound of our voice.

How to use the image of space for your voice:
I am going to repeat my last sentence here: It is easier to create a healthy sound when we are imagining that we have a lot of space. Next time you feel nervous or self conscious: stand up straight, spread your arms (you can do this in a public restroom before a speech or a performance) and imagine having a whole valley, field or the sea for your voice to sound in. Breathe into your belly, stand up straight, let the air flow naturally and just imagine that your throat is wide open, letting air flow through freely.

You can practice this at home, doing exactly the same pose and saying a loud and self-assured «Yes» or «Ha!». You can also do this before or while you rehearse a song or your speech. (It's completely normal to feel silly doing this in the beginning, so maybe do it when you are alone.) The more you do it the more experienced you will get with you voice. Over time you will feel more comfortable taking up space acoustically, because you feel more comfortable taking up space physically. It's like spreading your wings – go ahead and try it!

I hope these tips were useful. If you would like to get more tips like these or tried them out, please let me know. You can also subscribe to my newsletter, like my facebook page or read my other blog posts on tips about voice training and feeling confident as a public speaker. You can even join one of my workshops or sign up for individual coaching. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sonja Nannan




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