“Words spoken with malfunction are like brain teasers, thrown unintentionally at an audience who must decipher them later; not the true meaning of what you said, but the mumble jumble that came out. However, words that flow straight out of the mouth like a fresh spring originating from a hilltop will make many stop and take notice. Such is the bewitching power of words that if spoken with clarity and much conviction penetrate deep into the conscience and affect us in the most extra ordinary of ways.” (source: www.speedupcareer.com)

July, the 7th month, the 7th step, and…
…the seven-strategy solution to mumble jumble speech.

What’s more feminine to you—looking elegant and lovely or having mellifluous words flowing sweetly from your soul?

The essence of your feminine soul may be expressed in your manner, your voice and your words.

This month we will explore the element of articulation and you’ll be encouraged to make use of these seven strategies.

Strategy One:  Feel the air flowing through on every single sound.

You are already aware of that your voice is an aerodynamic system (see Step 2 Breathing, that the airstream drives the oscillation of the vocal folds.  This concept, and being mindful of sensing the flow of air across your tongue, through your teeth and between your lips creates a power set of codes (like software codes) that anchors both the respiratory mechanics and articulation techniques.

Strategy Two: Talk as if you’re speaking to a hearing-impaired person – move your mouth more.

Imagine that you want someone to read your lips as you speak. This simple strategy encourages you to engage and connect with the consonants in each word you speak.

Strategy Three:  Talk so your listener can hear each initial consonant sound.

Have you ever considered how speech sounds can be categorized?  Linguists have a fantastic system, but for most of you, simple will be better.  Consider a simple binary categorization of stretched consonants–that take longer (in time) when spoken, versus quick consonants–which are produced quickly.

  • Stretched consonants: f; v; th; s; z; r; l; w; m; n; ng; h; sh
  • Quick consonants:  p/b; t/d; k/g; ch; j

As you speak, notice the initial consonant sounds; feel the difference between the stretched consonants and the quick consonants.

Strategy Four:  Speak so your listener can hear each ending consonant sound.

Word boundaries are an essential element in any language.  As an adult, have you tried learning a foreign language?  I’m in the early stages of trying to pick up a little French (for a trip we have coming up).  I can hear individual words, but when strung together in a phrase or sentence I lose the word boundaries and it all sounds “Greek to me.”

This strategy (similar to the one above) is asking you to just focus on the ending consonants when you speak.  Be aware of word boundaries and enunciate the ending consonants more clearly than usual.

Strategy Five:  Speak so you can feel the tip of your tongue as you talk.

There are consonants that are only produced with the tip of your tongue.  Can you guess which ones they are? By focusing your attention on these tongue-tip consonants you are likely to produce them more clearly.

Strategy Six:  Speak so you can feel your lips move when you talk.

There are also consonants that are only produced with the lips.  Again, can you guess which ones? Bilabial consonants (the few of them that there are) are very frequently occurring sounds (English).  Notice how often your lips come completely together when you say words that contain bilabial consonants.

Strategy Seven: As you speak, feel the flow of one sound to the next.  Speak each consonant clearly, not forcibly.

Flowing, blending and gliding through a phrase are wonderful things to hear.  As you become aware (metacognitive) of speaking each consonant more clearly, it will probably cause you speak in a more halting or staccato manner.  It’s maybe like patting your head and rubbing your belly–hard to do both at first with smooth, fluid movement.

BONUS:  For You Wonderful Word Women

Aren’t words wonderful?  What are some of your favorite words?  Are they favorites because of their meanings?  Their sounds?  The flowing way they glide through your mouth?

Here’s my list of (a few) marvelous mellifluous words.  I like them because they feel delicious to say.

  • Hoi palloi
  • Parable
  • Cacophony
  • Palindrome
  • Panache
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Chicory
  • Serpentine
  • Marmalade
  • Bougainvillea
  • Amaranthine
  • Mellifluous
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Sorbet
  • Velvet

Homework: practice the seven-strategy solution with these (or your own) words.  Practice is necessary for you to acquire the motor memory of speaking clearly so you can apply it to your everyday speech.


Step 7:  Articulation

For the month of July, your goal is to play with these seven strategies. Spent some time each day working with this word list (or your own). I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 7. I’dxs love to hear some of your marvelous mellifluous words.  Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

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One Genius Method to Shape Your Feminine Voice.

June – the month of solstices, weddings, gay pride, Venus transit and … RESONANCE.

This month we will explore the element of resonance and you’ll learn to play with your mind and experiment with your thoughts as a method to shape your resonators to sound more feminine.

I know you all want the secret trick, the magic juju, the single strategy that would blast you into a perfect feminine voice.  But…

…it doesn’t work that way.

In my experience, slow and steady wins the race.  Motor patterns or habits are developed and perfected over time.  It will likely take you a year or more to:

  1. Fully understand the concepts and mechanics of the skills,
  2. To set aside time for your daily practice routine; and
  3. To actually practice twice daily, every day.

A Simple Definition for Resonance:  reverberation of sound in a medium.

When the vocal folds are set into motion (remember the aerodynamic nature of phonation) that sound reverberates in the chambers of the throat, mouth and nose.  These three chambers are of particular importance when you endeavor to feminize your voice.

A thought experiment (Gedankenexperiment; from German) considers some hypothesis, theory or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences or outcomes. The common goal of a thought experiment is to explore the potential consequences or outcomes (actions) of the principle in question.

Einstein was famous for his thought experiments.  He is said to have begun them at the age of 16.  Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity was derived employing this method.

While you don’t have to be an Einstein to make use of this strategy, you can use this logic to weave your way through the complexities of voice feminization, specifically our discussion here of resonance.

Our Thought Experiments

Let’s begin with two assumptions or problems:

  1. Size DOES matter.  The resonating chambers of your mouth and throat are larger than those chambers of a GG (genetic girl) who is your same physical height.
  2. Bright vs Dark Tone Focus.  You already know that creating a feminine voice is more than just speaking in the “right” pitch register.  The perception of voice femininity is perfected by how you shape the resonant frequencies of your voice.

Virtual Piano: You’ll need to provide yourself the A3 pitch for these experiments.  Try this [CLICK HEREvirtual piano.

NOTE: These are thought experiments; try to work them out in your mind.  Listen to the A3 pitch before working with the experiment (unless you’re very experienced with pitch tuning).

Experiment One: Sensory Perception of Space and Resonance.

In Your Mind: Sit tall with your lips together.  Now clench your teeth, pressing your tongue hard to the roof of your mouth (hard palate) and hum at the A3 pitch (for just a few seconds).

Question: What happens?

Answer: The sound comes out your nose.  The sound /m/ is one of the three nasal sounds (in English).

Question: What else happens?

Answer: The resonance is restricted or muffled (dampened) because of the constriction in your throat and the tissues in the nose.

Question: What would happen if instead of clenching your teeth and tightening your jaw and constricting in your mouth and throat, you were to hum the A3 pitch while keeping your lips together, yet your mouth wide and your throat open (as if you were yawning with your lips together; I’ve heard it referred to as a “corporate yawn”; what you might do if you were trying to suppress a yawn during an important meeting at work)?

Answer: There would be lower resonance frequencies (compared to the clenched condition) even though you are still humming A3.  Can you hear (in your mind) that the sound is lower or deeper and that there’s a slightly different vibration in your throat?

Experiment Two: Sensory Perception of Space and Resonance.

In Your Mind: Sit tall with mouth fairly wide open.  While “singing” (in your mind), the syllable “ha” on the A3 pitch.  Play the pitch again on your virtual piano if you need to. Your mouth should be wide enough to fit the thickness of your first two fingers between your upper and lower teeth. Now sustain “ha” A3 pitch (for just a few seconds).

Question: What happens?

Answer: The resonance frequencies for the “ha” are quite different than for the “hum.”

Question: What do you imagine you would feel?

Answer: The sound is coming out of your mouth, not your nose.  There’s not much of a sensation of vibration (or buzz) in your face or lips and certainly not your nose.  It’s difficult to feel anything in the mouth.

Experiment Three: Sensory Perception of Space and Resonance.

In Your Mind: In this third experiment you’ll repeat the steps above combining the hum and “ha” sounds with tight/clenched and wide open jaw positions.  As in Experiment One, clench your teeth, press your tongue hard to the roof of your mouth (hard palate) and hum at the A3 pitch for just for a few seconds, then open your mouth just slightly and sustain “ha” at the A3 pitch.  Now, repeat the hum and the “ha” in rapid succession like this:

mmm-haaa; mmm-haa; mmm-haaa

Question: What happens?

Answer: Your soft palate lowers for the /m/ and the sound it directed out of your nose and you and feel the buzz in your lips and nose (and eyeballs and forehead).  Your soft palate raises for the “ha” and the sound is directed out of your mouth. The buzz sensation is less obvious, but with practice you’ll learn to use this image of buzz to direct the resonance of your voice forward.

Question: What would you hear?

Answer: There would be no change in pitch, but you would hear a different sound. That different sound is a shift in resonance.  As you train your voice, and learn to notice these subtleties, you’ll arm yourself with the tools to make a huge difference in your voice.

Experiment Four: Bright vs. Dark Tone Focus.

There are ways to “brighten” your tone. Listen to this song from the Little Mermaid TV show before beginning this thought experiment.

The Little Mermaid TV Show – Daring to Dance 2

In Your Mind: Sit tall and draw upon your imagination to sense a buzz in your lips, nose, cheekbones, eyes and forehead.  Pull sharply into the focus of voice of the actress/singer from this video and hear (in your mind) youself singing as you “sing-count” the words “one, two, three”.  Repeat (in your mind) as many times as you need to so that you’re imaging that you sound like this singer.  Listen to this song as many times as you need to memorize the sound (in your mind).

Question: What happens?

Answer: The brightness of this voice is a result of a very forward placed voice.  A dark voice is produced in the back of the throat, like in Experiment One when you opened your throat as if to yawn while humming/singing “ha”.

~~~~

I know it’s very difficult to notactually conduct these experiments, so go for it.  What is your outcome?

~~~~

Step 6:  Resonance

For the month of June, your goal is to play with these thought experiments. Spend some time each day working them through in your mind.  You don’t have to be a theoretical physicist to be successful with these.  And, you’ll find that the mystery of resonance—I get a lot of questions and comments that this element is very difficult, even elusive—is yours to discover.

I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 6. Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

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FIVE Quick Tips for Projecting Your Voice

Here it is–May.  It’s been five months since we began your year through the steps—the twelve essential steps to sounding feminine.

What kind of progress are you making?  Are you more aware of your posture?  Can you sense the flow of your breath when you speak? Have you been tuning your pitch?

I am frequently asked, “How do I project my voice?” People tell me that once they’ve successfully found their feminine pitch register, their voices get drowned out in noisy places like restaurants and nightclubs or recreating outside.

These five quick tips can and will help!  Try them!

Kermit talks with a child and learns the difference between a soft voice and a loud voice.

Five Quick Tips:


Posture

  • As you know, good posture not only looks great, it gives you the added bonus of freeing up your abdominal muscles.  A long, tall, femininely upright posture engages your core (think Pilates LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilates).  The deep skeletal muscles (of the hips and legs) are perfectly designed to hold us upright.
  • Practice standing or sitting tall.  Imagine a string coming out of the top of your head.  Imagine that string being pulled gently upward which pulls your head, shoulders and hips into alignment.  Be aware (metacognitive) of the freedom of movement you have in your abdominals as you practice the quiet breathing exercise from Step 2 – February.

Breathing

  • Sense the activation of your core (hips, legs, spine) as you expand your belly (not chest) for the in-breath.
  • Now, with a reasonably good effort, shout, “hey!”.
  • How did that sound?  Too deep?  Just right?
  • One of the behaviors I’ve noticed over the years, is that men tend to lower their pitch when they get louder and women tend to raise their pitch as they get louder.
  • If your pitch went too low, tune it first (see Step 3-April).
  • Repeat these same steps:
    • Activate your core
    • Expand your belly for the in-breath
    • With reasonably good effort shout:
      • “Excuse me!”
      • “No way!”
      • “Just a minute please.”
  • Come up with a list of other attention-getting words or phrases.

Intention

  • Those of you familiar with my programs, know the phrase, “What you think is what you get.”
  • Bring the sound of your voice forward.  Imagine that you can sense your voice rippling toward the front of your mouth, as you speak, like waves crashing on the shoreline.
  • Your intention, the thought of allowing your voice to come cascading forward, will fill the resonating cavities of your face with a bigger sound.

Move your mouth more

  • Sometimes being better understood is not about getting louder. Speech intelligibility studies suggest that we can be more effective when communicating (especially in a noisy environment) when we move our mouths to more fully shape each consonant.
  • Don’t make your listener work to understand you.
  • Enunciate the consonants more clearly and with more effort than usual.

Face your listener

  • Let them see your expression; use your face to enhance what you’re saying.
  • And finally, smile!
  • Make eye contact.
  • Let your facial expression draw people to you!

Step 5:  Loudness

For the month of May, your goal is to practice these five quick tips frequently. Go out of your way to practice being understood when you’re in a noisy place.  Does one technique work better than another?

I’d LOVE to know how you’re doing with Step 5. Stay in touch over the month.

Keeping you and your voice close to my heart,

Kathe

Denver, Colorado

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Fundamentals of Your Feminine Voice

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