From Singin' in the Rain: Phoebe Dinsmore coaches Lina Lamont

From the 1951 MGM musical, Singin’ in the Rain Kathleen Freeman as voice coach Phoebe Dinsmore attempts to help Jean Hagan as Lina Lamont. Alas, Lina appears to be beyond help.

How do vocal image consulting and voice coaching work?

Ms. Scott works with clients individually on an hourly basis. Call her to discuss your concerns about your voice or speech. Schedule an initial session. At your initial session Ms. Scott will evaluate your voice or speech, and she will recommend the appropriate goals for you. In the case of singers, voice coaching from Ms. Scott is not intended to replace vocal pedagogy. The purpose of voice consulting for the singer is to identify any unhealthy singing or speaking behaviors the singer is using and to train the singer to shed these behaviors.

How many sessions of consulting or coaching will I need?

Because people are diverse individuals, the number of sessions varies from person to person. The total number of sessions partly depends on the kind and the number of voice or speech behaviors which you need or want to change. And it partly depends on how consistently you can practice the new voice or speech behaviors after you have learned to do them. Given this variability, the number of sessions can range from a few to fifteen. (The number of sessions for Transgender Fem Voice coaching is much greater and very rangy: from 20 to 40.)

Will I be given exercises to do?

Yes, although they are not “exercises”as you might think of physical workout exercises. Voice or speech "exercises" are stepping stones to get from point A to point B, to get you “from”your current habit to a new, better habit.

At first you will do “exercises”only in set aside practice time. You should not yet expect this practice to suddenly yield a change in your ongoing, spontaneous talking (or singing). When you master the new voice or speech behavior at the starter level, you will practice the behavior at more difficult levels. The levels will ultimately approach longer, more meaningful, kinds of talking (or singing). Eventually you can expect to use the new voice or speech behavior habitually, whenever you speak (or sing). From that time you won't need to do “exercises”because you have mastered the new habit(s).

Can I change my voice so that it sounds less nasal?

If your voice sounds nasal, it is likely that you use limited jaw movement when you speak. That is, you probably open your mouth rather limitedly as you talk. When you speak or sing, the sound waves coming from your voice box are influenced by the spaces of your throat, mouth, and nose (think of the spaces as auditoriums). If you speak or sing with limited mouth opening, you diminish the pleasing effect which your mouth space can have on the sound waves, and, in turn, you emphasize the effect your nasal passages are having on the sound waves. You can lose the nasal quality and achieve a brighter, fuller voice as you learn to move your jaw generously as you speak (or sing).

People tell me that I sound like a little girl. Can I change my voice so it sounds more adult?

If an adult woman “sounds like a little girl,” it is due to one or two things. She might be carrying her tongue too far forward in her mouth as she speaks. That is, instead of letting the tongue move in a relaxed way from the middle of the mouth, she literally pushes her tongue toward her front teeth as she talks. It is definitely possible to alter the tongue-too-far-forward habit and to begin speaking with the tongue oriented to the middle of the mouth.

She might be holding her voice box high in her throat. Instead of letting her voice box (larynx) have a relaxed/neutral placement, her throat muscles keep it high. This makes for a shorter resonance tract. A shorter resonance tract selectively amplifies the higher overtones, making her voice sound like that of a child (who does have a shorter resonance tract than an adult woman!). It is definitely possible to learn to keep the larynx from being too high in the throat.

Don’t some people naturally have bigger, louder voices than others?

People with relatively big vocal cords and throats can have relatively “big,”easily heard voices. The key to having an adequately loud, lasting, and pleasant voice —whatever your voice size may be— is to use healthy voice behaviors. A petite woman who uses healthy voice behaviors will project a sufficiently loud, enduring, pleasant voice. Conversely, a large man who uses unhealthy voice behaviors will present a voice which is, at least, not as “big”as it could be. At worst, his voice will be unpleasant and poorly projected.

Is there a class or seminar about healthy voice use?

Ms. Scott has designed and conducts When Your Voice Means Business: How to Have a Vital Voice for Your Voice-Dependent Work. Ms. Scott leads this seminar for groups of people who are in the same kind of vocally demanding work. Examples of these groups are: a company's stand- up training staff or sales personnel, a college's faculty, a choral group, or a theater organization, etc. The seminar is customized to the group and their particular vocal demands. If you are interested in having Ms. Scott conduct When Your Voice Means Business for your company, professional organization, etc., please contact her via email or phone.