Improving Your Vocal Technique: Tip 2

Voice Training

As a voice coach it’s my job to help people rediscover the vocal freedom, flexibility and fitness they were born with. I often ask my clients to observe babies and toddlers for inspiration. Look at how they use their bodies and notice the variety of sounds they make. Ask yourselves why a screaming baby can cry (and cry and cry) and never go hoarse, yet as adults we can lose our voices by quarter-time at the footy, or after a day in the classroom. These provocations lead us to Tip Two in How to Improve your Vocal Technique:

Think about your alignment.

The habits we develop as we grow up have a significant impact on our ability to use our bodies and therefore our voices optimally. While many habits are necessary for our survival, there are lots of things we do unconsciously that inhibit good alignment. We’ve all caught ourselves sitting hunched at the computer, or slouching on the couch, and thinking ‘I must improve my posture’. But many of us aren’t aware that the hunching, slouching, or overcorrecting we do by ‘standing up straight’ and stiffening in the shoulders, chest and neck is directly affecting the way we speak. So in short: good alignment is essential if we are to improve our vocal use. Here are a couple of things to think about:

  • A long spine allows the postural muscles to work only as much as necessary, which helps the ribs to swing more freely so you can have a fuller breath to support your voice and the intention behind what you’re saying.
  • A collapsed spine will lead to tension in the throat, which will put unwanted pressure on the vocal folds and potentially result in vocal damage. Equally, pulling the shoulders back and lifting in the sternum in order to ‘stand up straight’ can cause the same restrictions.

To realign your spine, and to increase your awareness, practice lying down in the semi-supine position for fifteen minutes a day. Notice any subtle shifts in how your voice feels before and after these explorations.

Happy voicing!

About me:

I’m an experienced voice and acting coach based in Sydney, Australia. I work with performers and non-performers alike, applying vocal techniques and principles of actor training to help people rediscover their innate vocal freedom.

I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Voice from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Melbourne. I’m also a graduate of the Atlantic Acting School’s Professional Conservatory in New York City, and have worked extensively as an actor and teacher both here in Australia and overseas.

My experience includes residencies at some of the world’s top acting conservatoires, such as NIDA, Yale School of Drama, and Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. When I’m not coaching privately, I teach voice, text, and acting on the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) and Master of Fine Arts (Voice) courses at NIDA.

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