Archive for Is it really possible to feminize my voice?. . . important answers to your ultimate questions.

Melodic Intonation – contrastive stress

“Speak with enthusiasm,” was the common feedback to speakers of my local ToastMasters Club.  I was a member for some time ,and I not only gained additional knowledge and experience as a public speaker, but it was very reinforcing to learn more about how important our voices are in communicating our message at a public level.  You might be interested in learning more about what ToastMasters says about our speaking voices.

Melodic intonation, or vocal inflection, is the pitch variability we use to communicate the meaning of what we say.  Professor Albert Mehrabian (psychology, UCLA) has been a pioneer in the field of human communications and has provided a wealth of empirical data about how we relate to each other via verbal and non-verbal language.  In 1967, Mehrabian and Wiener examined the effects of vocal tone on the meaning of three single words spoken with three different emotions. They found that tone carried more meaning than the individual words themselves.

This makes intuitive sense, of course, yet these frequently sited studies have often over-generalized the findings to conclude that vocal tone added more than the actual words we speak to convey meaning.  Regardless of how the data may be interpreted, we can be confident that melodic intonation does convey important meaning about what we’re saying.  It is with our use of vocal inflection that others gain insight into how we’re feeling or what importance specific  words lend to what we’re saying.

Let’s consider the problem: flat, lifeless, boring expression.  Check out the video below. Do you want to listen to this guy for more than 20 seconds?  I watched for about a minute and realized this was the perfect video to show an example of a flat, lifeless, boring voice (and what he’s talking about isn’t at all riveting either).

Flat, Lifeless, Boring

Here is a great example of a professional speech coach who speaks very well (and has great tips).  Do you like her style?  Would she be a speaking role model?

Professional Speech Coach

Exercise:

One way to speak with enthusiasm is to emphasize or stress certain key words.  Let’s consider this neutral phrase:

The cake is great and the rainbow is beautiful.

Its meaning invariable comes alive depending upon which word is emphasized. Record yourself saying this phrase (be sure to first tune your pitch & resonators) in three different ways.  For example, emphasize the word cake.  What message do you think the phrase now conveys–maybe that the cake (not some other thing, like possibly the cookie) is great. We use this type of constrastive stress frequently in our day-to-day conversations to communicate (or constrast) differences in how we feel toward one thing compared to another.

Now, try emphasizing the word rainbow. Your vocal tone should convey a contrast—that you mean to communicate that the rainbow, not say, the clouds, are beautiful.  Can you hear the contrast?  Can you feel the difference (think proprioception)?

If you were ordering a cup of coffee at a coffee shop and wanted decaf, you might emphasize the word decaf or the flavor or roast of the coffee you want, to be sure they get your order right. Personally, I love cream, not milk, in my morning coffee. 

Step 10:  Melodic intonation

Your goal is to focus on word and syllable stress (or emphasis) to speak with enthusiasm.

Stay in touch. I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 10.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

. . . important answers to your ultimate questions.

Q:          A very common question I’m asked is, “Can I really feminize my voice?”

A:         The simple answer is, yes, of course you can.  The vocal folds (vocal cords) consist of two shelves of muscle and flexible tissue, which lengthen and contract to increase and decrease pitch.  The strap muscles of the neck can be trained to keep your larynx raised in order to create a smaller throat space.  A smaller resonating chamber increases the resonant frequencies (formant frequencies), which will give you a feminine ring and enhance your voice tremendously.  These two elements (pitch and resonance) among others (articulation, melodic intonation, fluency, etc.) can be trained over a period of time.

Q:        How long will it take to feminize my voice?

A:         As you know, this is not an overnight matter. The coding/programming needed to feminine your voice is achieved by paying close attention to the specifics of each technique and practicing a little every day.  You’ll want to create a goal for yourself to build up to practicing for 30 minutes twice each day.  In my experience it usually takes 6 months to a year to achieve a passable feminine voice.  It might take more than one year to create a beautiful feminine voice.

Q:        Why do some people (like Rachel and Marion on your YouTube channel) achieve a beautiful voice so quickly?

A:         Excellent question!  It can be very frustrating when others zoom ahead of us while we’ve been slaving over our tasks and working hard.  Individual differences account for some of this.  Some people have inherent/innate skills that allow them to train their voices (or anything) easier than others. However, you cannot get anything without working for it.  If you don’t practice you won’t improve.  Even people with above average innate skills must practice. You must PRACTICE-PRACTICE-PRACTICE. Simply “trying to speak in a feminine voice” won’t do it.

Q:        What might slow or hinder my success in feminizing my voice?

A:         There are a few critical factors for you to consider.

  1. Your general physical health will affect the sound of your voice.  The vocal folds reside in your body, so when you’re not well, they aren’t either.  People who suffer from allergies, asthma, or acid reflux (to name a few) might have trouble adjusting their pitch, vocalizing without tension, and breathing effectively.
  2. 2. Emotional well-being is another factor.  Let’s face it; transitioning can be (and often is) difficult.  When you’re stressed, many things can happen—some may include holding your breath or tightening your jaw, throat and shoulders—and this muscle tension affects your voice.  Sleep, hydration, what you ingest, how much you talk (or don’t talk), all affect your voice.  Most voice therapists provide a vocal hygiene program for their patients.  I provide FRIDAY’S FIVE FINE V FEM TIPS on my website Ask Kathe Perez.

Q:        If I really can feminize my voice, how do I unravel the complicated maze of things I read on the Internet?

A:         Those of you who are excellent at Internet searches, will want to pay attention to sites that provide a structured, systematic approach. Because there is so much to sift through, begin at the beginning.  And where exactly is that?  I am currently providing my beloved clients with “A Year Through the Steps” on Ask Kathe Perez.  January provides you with Step 1 — Feminine posture — and each following month I’ll provide another step.  By the end of the year, if you have gone through the steps with careful, thoughtful attention, you will achieve a passable feminine voice.

Thanks for your questions; I always love hearing from you!

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

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