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Using Your Voice

Jennifer Pederson has been a voice coach for about a decade.

Her first workshop on voice and microphone was illuminating. I’ve had to use a mic for work and for readings for 15 years or so but didn’t get the principles. Some things are easier to demonstrate than to describe. Here’s a couple that are easier to describe:

  • To adjust a mic stand, on the lower half is knob to turn. Hold the upper part of the stand while turning the lower part. Lift or lower the mic and re-tighten it.
  • Feedback comes from touching the end of the mic. Keep your hands off the end and move it up or down with a two finger pinch.
  • Keep your mouth about a fist distance away from the end of the mic to be heard.
  • Popping your Ps comes from aspirating and giving a unnecessarily puffy breath with the P. It can be enunciated as clearly without the wind.

Using your voice was the primary focus in part 1. There was principles and practice both.

If you are talking from your throat, your voice is tight and has less range. She explained that people strip their voice as they speak because they talk from the throat instead of on a column of air. Use your diaphragms. You can do this easier if you aren’t squishing the torso forward or to the side. Keep weight evenly distributed across your feet, shoulder width apart.

If you put your hand on your belly, you should be able to feel your voice vibrate in your gut when you are talking in a way that allows you to project your voice. Project doesn’t mean shout. Quiet doesn’t mean whisper. It’s more about controlling pitch and air.

People lose power in their voices as they come to the end of a line of a poem, right where it often has its punch in content, because too much of the air is used up at the start.

For those of you who almost made it to the Tuesday Tree Seed Workshop on voice, or for those who did and mislaid the papers, here’s the homework to do daily for improving voice control until Jennifer Pederson’s January 22nd session on voice and microphone:

  1. Lie on the floor on your back. Place a book on your belly. Take long slow breaths so your rib cage goes wider and your stomach goes out, not in, with each inhale. Make sure the book rises and falls with each breath.
  2. Take a proper deep breath. Shoulders down and hands on ribs, breathe in, expanding your belly. Choose a tone and in one continuous breath, count out for as long as possible during one exhale. Try to use your breath evenly, and slowly. Your count will get higher as you work on it. You should feel the muscles in your lower abs work.
  3. Choose one to two minutes of your work and practice it aloud using proper vocal technique. (Bring it next time and try it at the mic!)

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