Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Resolutions? Bah Humbug!

So how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Or like me, did you stop making them years ago? In January of every year we are accosted with ways to lose weight, exercise more and expand our brain by learning a new language. Here is a new one – how about working on your vocal image?

According to Kate Peters, singer, actor, speaker and voice coach, vocal image is “how you are perceived by the sound of our voice”. First impressions are important on many levels and when there is no visual, your voice and what it says about you takes on a higher priority. Is it too high, too low, raspy, breathy? Does it exude confidence, create interest in what you are saying and keep people’s attention?

Here are some tips: to find your optimal speaking pitch range, repeat those everyday fillers we often use, uh-huh or mm-hum as naturally as you can; next, extend it into a short greeting and eventually into a sentence (ex. uh-huh – good morning everyone). If this pitch area does not feel familiar, you may be speaking in a range that is not the healthiest or most efficient for you.

Finding your best pitch range is a good start, but you also need to develop a voice that has some variety. Especially when speaking to a group, vary your rate of delivery, use a variety pitches (but not sing songy!), respect the “luft pause” (literally-air break) and use your breath to fuel your vocal sound.

Singers are trained to “choreograph” their breathing to ensure they make it to the end of a musical phase without running out of air. Although speakers do not necessarily need to phonate for long stretches without a breath, taking the time to breathe slowly and deeply not only relaxes the throat and a possible racing heart, it keeps the voice and body energized and provides a nice break for your brain, your voice and the ears of the audience, allowing them to absorb WHAT you are saying.

Singers also learn how to adjust their vocal tract (the channel from the vocal folds to the mouth) to make the most of their own personal resonating system. They can “project” their speaking voices by applying the same technique they utilize in singing, resonating their sound to the back of an auditorium without amplification.  Being heard is not about being loud, but knowing how to use your vocal mechanism to propel your thoughts into words out into the world clearly, energetically and with confidence.


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