“A general guideline. If you have been unfortunate enough to be around me lately, I must have driven you crazy when we watch the television and encounter someone speaking off her vocal cords- usually resulting in a harsh and dry, hoarse and airy, -floaty- tone. I immediately grab my throat… You wonder, -What’s the big deal?-…”
The Speaking Voice
A general guideline
If you have been unfortunate enough to be around me lately, I must have driven you crazy when we watch the television and encounter someone speaking off her vocal cords- usually resulting in a harsh and dry, hoarse and airy, “floaty” tone. I immediately grab my throat, cover my ears, or utter a sound indicating my at-the-moment low tolerance level – or, all of the above! You wonder, as you quickly push the TV remote to change the channel, “What’s the big deal?”
The big deal is that I know the voice- I know how to use it as a classically-trained singer, which I have been doing professionally for some 20 years. On top of that, in my “day-time job as a director of a sales&marketing company,” I used my speaking voice as the means of making a living through giving speeches & lectures, and teaching for many years. I am aware of the voice, and the voice knows who its boss is!- so it bothers me when people take it for granted and have failed, therefore, to give it the proper attention and care it needs in order to prevent injury and damage down the road.
We are taught to take care of our bodies. We stay away from fatty and junk food because we want to prevent potentially dangerous diseases, for example. We do warm-up exercises before we run or perform other physical activities, and we even warm down when such activities come to an end. We’d rather prevent than take risks with cure-methods.
But it’s never brought to our attention, at anytime through our lives, that the voice is also as important as other bodily functions- at least not until we get into trouble from NOT being able to use it. And by that, I don’t mean the occasional and gradual abuse due to lack of knowledge, but the end- when drastic measures must be taken to fix the vocal mechanism. Unfortunately, in such cases the voice is never the same. Now, that’s no prevention!
The voice is the means of communication. Now, why is it that we take for granted something that is obviously so very important? Why is it that we are aware of the brain, the heart, the kidneys- and the list goes on- but we don’t even know, or are even curious, about the vocal cords and all the vocal tissues?
Of course, we are taught about how the heart works, for example, for the obvious reason that without its constant beating, we no longer live. On the other hand, you can still survive with damaged, broken, or even permanently shut-down vocal cords (and their surrounding cartilages and tissues): but without the voice!
Being here without being heard is a real disadvantage!
When a new student joins my studio, the first two things I bring to his attention are: preparing his posture for the breath, after which I’ll move on to reminding him “how” to breathe.
I wish this matter was as funny as it sounds; when, in fact, there’s nothing to laugh about. Again, just like the voice, breathing is something we take for granted