Resources for a Healthy Voice

Articles by Barbie

Articles by Barbie Scott, Speech Pathologist

Voice Use and Influence: Complementing the Message

Do you need to persuade or influence the people you work with? As a voice coach, I’m convinced that how you use your voice is just as important as the words you speak. Your voice needs to convey the metamessage that will complement—not undermine—your message.

Computer Voice Recognition Users

Computer voice recoginition can often place computer users in double jeopordy; they already suffer from repetitive stress injuries from using the keyboard and/or mouse, and may develop a voice injury as well. In this article, Ms. Scott addresses the most common voice issues for those using computer voice recognition.

Resonance Is Paramount in Getting Your Fem Voice (Transgender Vocal Feminization)

To have that decidedly feminine sound each time you speak, sing, cough, laugh, or clear your throat—to list the most obvious uses of your voice—you must be adjusting your vocal tract so that it is woman-dimensioned. A shorter, smaller vocal tract amplifies the higher overtones; this is the crux of getting that decisively feminine ring or quality to the voice. 

Recommended Books

Boone bookIs Your Voice Telling On You?
How to Find and Use Your Natural Voice.

Boone, Daniel R., (1991)
Singular Publishing Group, San Diego

This book was written by a speech pathologist, famous and highly regarded in the specialty of voice therapy, who is a truly relational clinician. It was written for the lay person, for anyone who wants to improve his/her voice. IYVTOY covers the essential voice anatomy and physiology, then takes you through the various components of voice— pitch, breath support, resonance—one at a time, helping you to arrive at your best/most natural voice. Specific, natural-voice facilitating exercises are provided for pitch, breath support, and resonance.

Additional insights/advice for using your natural voice are provided in the chapters “;Keeping Your Natural Voice Under Stress,” “;Stage Fright and Related Fears,” and “;Telephones and Microphones and Your Natural Voice.” I list it as book #1 for good reason!

Keep Your Voice HealthKeep Your Voice Healthy. A Guide to the Intelligent Use and Care of the Speaking and Singing Voice.

Brodnitz, Friedrich S., (1988)
PRO-ED, Inc., Austin.

This book was written by an ear, nose, throat physician who is a musicologist as well. In my opinion, and in the opinion of Leontyne Price, who wrote the foreword, this is a must-read for singers and actors but is also recommended for those in other lines of vocally demanding work. Dr. Brodnitz discusses voice anatomy and physiology [not a yawner if you really care about your instrument!], gives voice hygiene advice for keeping your voice healthy, including “;Colds and How to Treat Them,” and explains how nodules (nodes) appear because of abuse of the voice (wrong force, or wrong pitch, or wrong breathing).

Change Your Voice--Change Your LifeChange Your Voice—Change Your Life.

Cooper, Morton, (1984)
Harper and Row, New York.

This book was also written by a speech pathologist specializing in voice therapy. Like book #1 it addresses finding your natural (i.e., healthfully produced) voice. Despite the author's sensational style (as the title suggests), I recommend it for its overall content value. It offers a good description of the “;mmm-huh” technique for finding the best pitch range for your voice (one way in which many people strain their voice box muscles is by habitually speaking in an artificially low pitch—a very unhealthy voice behavior).

The Voice Book The Voice Book: Caring For, Protecting,
and Improving Your Voice

Devore, Kate and Cookman, Starr Chicago Review Press

Co-authors Kate Devore and Starr Cookman have written an excellent book providing the how-to for voice improvement. Kate and Starr are both speech pathologists who specialize in voice coaching. Their book is supremely accessible in its format and depth of instruction.

They include clear instruction about alignment, explaining with photos and drawings the importance of freeing the jaw, neck, and shoulders. They show how the power of the voice, which is the breath, is to be summoned. From there, they explain the sound source of the voice, the larynx, followed by the resonance tract of the voice: the throat and the mouth. Well written, to-the-point exercises are found in each section of the book. An audio CD of exercises comes with the book.

The Teaching VoiceThe Teaching Voice

Martin, Stephanie and Darnley, Lyn (1996)
Singular Publishing Group, San Diego a (1-800-521-8545)

This is a “;must read” for teachers. A speech pathologist and a teacher of singing - both British - wrote this book. Over a seven year period they jointly conducted workshops in Britain for teachers experiencing vocal difficulty. Their book “;grew out” of their workshops. The authors deliver on their promise to offer a mix of theory and practice. They discuss the external factors that affect the teacher's voice: the classroom's acoustic friendliness (does the room absorb too much sound? not enough?), the room ventilation (too dry? too warm? too cold?), ergonomics of classroom voice use (e.g., primary grade teacher bending while talking to small children on low seats can be harmful to voice), the physical/mental/emotional stressors teachers face which show in the voice (overwhelming paperwork, extra-curricular responsibilities, discipline problems—do what is possible to contain/manage these stressors).

Many practical exercises are given: 1) head/neck/shoulder/trunk posture exercises (head, neck, shoulder/trunk posture directly affects voice), 2) relaxation exercises, 3) healthy shouting exercises, and more.