A friend of mine is a professional guitar player. One day, he told me about his hobby of fixing up old guitars – he calls it “waking up sleeping guitars”. Upon hearing this, I immediately thought of my own guitar, which was in a box in the cellar where it had been for the last 10 years!
The “sleeping guitar” is a good analogy for the human voice. Most of us don’t think about our voice very much, except when we have a cold or experience hoarseness. Mostly we just “speak” without putting any thought into our voice or how it functions, let alone to consider it as an instrument. Singers and actors are more conscious of their vocal instrument since they experiment and play with their voices while learning vocal techniques, but most people don’t acknowledge the enormous potential they have in their own voice or realise that they can change the way they use it for their own benefit.
Is your voice like the sleeping guitar? Are you aware of its full potential and how it could serve you?
We were all born with a marvellous instrument that allows us considerable range in pitch, volume, pace, colour and which functioned with ease and power naturally and instinctively from birth. During the course of our lives we alter the way we use our voice and adopt some bad habits affecting our posture, breathing and resistance to stress. As a result, most of us end up using only a limited part of our voice or vocal capacity and inadvertently putting strain on our vocal chords, while a significant portion our vocal potential lies dormant.
The voice is like a muscle. The more you exercise it by applying healthy vocal habits, the stronger and more versatile it becomes.
Consider these points:
- Your voice is an expression of your personality.
- The quality of your voice combined with your body language accounts for about 80% of your impact!
- A more focused, intentional use of your voice gives you self-confidence and helps you to connect more deeply with others, captivate the attention of your listeners and actively influence the people in your world.
- Some voices are difficult to pay attention to. (Have you ever struggled to listen to a voice that was too monotone, too soft, too loud, too shrill, too slow or too fast?)
We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.
By choosing to build awareness around your vocal and body language habits, you can identify your needs for improvement and intentionally alter those habits. Several practices have helped me to wake up my voice and to keep it in shape: classical voice training, giving talks, yoga (for posture and abdominal breathing), coaching clients, and reading and animating bedtime stories for my children. These activities give me space to play and experiment with body and voice and to observe the impact on my audience.
Is it time to wake up your “sleeping voice” or at least the part of it that is asleep? I invite you to take it out from where it has been kept away and play it! Let its chords resonate! Take singing lessons, join a choir, read and animate bedtime stories for children. Infuse your speaking with emotion and let your voice go higher and lower than it usually does. Share your own stories with the people around you. In waking up your sleeping voice, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If you’re ready for a change and willing to make space for it in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I will be happy to answer your questions or offer you my support as a voice and speech coach.
If you liked reading this post, feel free to send your comments to Allison@VoiceForLifeCoaching.com. I’d love to hear from you!