Our amazing voice
Let us remind ourselves first of all how we speak. The basic sound is produced by vocal cord vibration. To make that sound we breathe in through nose and/or mouth and the air enters our lungs From there the air passes across the vocal cords and out through the mouth. The sound made by the vibration resonates throughout the body in varying degrees (or at least can do so if we permit it to).
It is this resonance that is the heart of your voice - resonance contains the secret of the great voice. The vibration of the resonating cavities is the result of our intention and different resonances hold different meaning. Listen to the sounds of people speaking and you will hear the different energies.
The high-pitched resonance of the head comes into play when we are excited or enthusiastic. "Wow, that is brilliant!" we exclaim, and the voice comes out high and bright resonating in the bones of the head. The chest bone resonates strongly when we express our opinions and beliefs. "I am convinced that it is the right thing to do." we assert, and the sound resonating in the chest sounds confident and trustworthy.
A lower softer resonance is engaged around the area of heart when we express feelings - as opposed to talking about them. "The island is an amazing special place," we tell someone, and the sounds are subtle and low as we feel again the emotions we associate with our visits there.
The deepest resonance is the sound of unconditional instinctive belief which resonates in the gut. The sound resonates from deep in the body as we speak some fundamental truth, "I trust you." "This is what it is about." The sound goes beyond opinion or feeling to express deep knowing.
Thus, the way the voice resonates has an amazing story to tell. The voice has the capacity to express simultaneously many different aspects of a person in a wondrous interweaving of different resonances. This gives glorious nuance and variation to our expression, as subtle and revealing as the visual fleeting passing of an emotion across a face, or the change in the reflective shine of an eye.
Our amazing voice...
...except when it is not.
What stops us from expressing ourselves in sound?
This miracle of sound does not happen if we introduce tension into the process. So, if we stiffen our shoulders, grit our teeth, tighten our jaw or narrow our throat none of that subtle resonance happens. The sound that emerges is constricted, hard edged and without variation - dull in a word. Tension in the throat, jaw, neck, mouth or tongue blocks the free flow between head and body and this blockage causes our voice to have to choose: resonate in the head or resonate in the body?
Some of us with tightness around the narrowing between head and body make sounds which resonate from above the neck. We make high sounds or light sounds. The voice is able to rise a little in pitch when we get enthusiastic about anything, but lacks any depth of resonance. We have no auditory way of expresses deeper shades of feeling. The voice may sound nasal, throaty, shrill, shallow, piercing or lightweight but always monotonous if listened to for any length of time.
Some of us in tensing the narrowing cut ourselves off from resonance in the head and all our sounds issue from below. As a result we are unable to sound excited or enthusiastic. "That was fantastic" we exclaim in a low unvarying voice with enthusiastic sounds entirely lacking. But equally we are unable to use the deepest tones. Our voice resonates just below the throat and sounds flat - so flat in fact that people often doubt the truth of what we are saying!
What causes that physical tightening?
Sometimes we tighten physically because of stress. For example, we have been tussling with awkward emails on the computer when someone interrupts us with a question. We turn to answer it with the physical tension of the previous effort still gripping our shoulders and 'mouse' arm and our voice comes out constricted. An example of tension of the moment is performance anxiety. When we stand to speak at a podium on an important occasion we may hold our shoulders and upper body stiffly and as a result our voice cannot resonate below that tight area. The sound comes out constricted and high which so troubles us when we hear it that we stiffen even more and the voice comes out in a squeak!
Some people regularly hide their inner energy from the world so that it cannot be expressed in the voice. They have a tightness in neck, shoulders, jaw or tongue that is a familiar way of being. When I work with people on these issues they find that increased ease in the body allows increased resonance in the voice. And as soon as they hear the fuller sound their confidence grows. Then it is a real win-win all the way.