A voice expert walks into a bar and says…

Accent Reduction, The Brain-Voice Connection(tm)

cheers_intro_logoHello Everyone,

Welcome to my first blog! I am thrilled to connect with all of you, and I look forward to your comments. Please feel free to post any questions regarding your voice, communication skills and accent reduction here, and I will answer them in a future post. For more information about me, please visit www.brain-voice.com. I am located in Seattle, and work with clients via phone and in person.

So, a voice expert, eh? What in the world is that? Let me answer by telling you a story about a client.

A gentleman came to me with an unusual problem. He normally speaks in a baritone-range voice. Every once in a while, without warning, his voice came out high and squeaky – VERY squeaky! Think Alvin the Chipmunk! He could not control when it happened, or stop it while it was happening. Since he is planning to become a personal coach, he knew he needed to get it under control. He had consulted several doctors, but no one could tell him the problem.

I listened to him for about 20 minutes. I determined that he did not have any vocal cord damage. I could also tell that he was not suffering from vocal spasms, since those wouldn’t result in such a high pitch. I realized what the problem must be: too much weight on the vocal cords! Now, I know this sounds exciting to you all, so let me explain what I mean.

Think of your vocal cords as muscles. You add weight to them, not by lifting a barbell, but with volume. The more volume you produce as you speak, the more weight this feels like to your voice. While everyone has about 25 separate pitches in their vocal range, each pitch has an individual profile. This profile includes how much volume, or weight, that pitch can handle. You may have two pitches right next to each other, and one can get quite loud, but the other can only handle a whisper.

I realized that the reason my client’s voice was jumping from his baritone register to this high pitch was the amount of volume he was exerting. He was speaking louder than normal, sort of belting for speakers. Because this volume was beyond what his voice could handle normally, 23 of his pitches could not emerge. But the 24th pitch, this high, squeaky pitch, could handle the volume (he was a boy soprano, so that may have helped). When he wanted to move to a higher pitch for emphasis, the only pitch that could handle his exaggerated volume level was the high one!

I helped him by demonstrating a softer volume to use while speaking. As he practiced this, wouldn’t you know it, about 23 pitches emerged! They were there all along, waiting for a volume level that they could handle. After his first session with me, he didn’t squeak again. Now he uses lots of pitches when he talks, which makes him an entertaining speaker. I will discuss how you can be an entertaining speaker, too, in my next blog.

Till next time,

Anna Bernstein


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