In a recent video, I mentioned the problem of unconscious physical habits and how they can hinder your voice training. You can diligently do all the right exercises, but those habits can still be there, hidden under the surface, undermining your progress.
Whenever I do a follow-up session with someone who’s completed a self-study program, one typical habit that often needs to be corrected is that of pushing, using too much effort to make sound. Students without supervision often wind up working too hard.
In any voice training program, you probably want to a) get the desired result, b) as quickly as possible. When you want to get the end result faster, what’s your instinct? You push toward the result. You put more effort into the exercises. You work harder.
Suppose you want to develop a stronger voice. Your instinct is probably just to push harder and make more sound. Or perhaps you want to have a deeper voice, so you just press down on the sound.
When you work harder, more muscles get involved. What do muscles do? They contract. That makes everything smaller and tighter. Less space produces a voice that’s small and shallow. It also fatigues more quickly because you have to work even harder to overcome the tightness and that’s wearing for your voice. Furthermore, you end up with a voice that’s less engaging. It lacks warmth, richness and vibrancy, because it’s based on force rather than ease.
I sometimes hear this in broadcasters’ voices. In an effort to sound strong, authoritative and credible, they work harder and bear down on the voice. That makes their voice sound pressed. It becomes flat rather than vibrant, one-dimensional rather than rich, and, rather than powerful, it just sounds forceful. It makes you want to turn down the volume.
The secret to finding your optimal voice does not involve working harder; it actually lies in working less, getting out of the way and allowing your whole voice to emerge rather than pushing and making it happen.
In any vibrating system‚ and this is a very simple vibrating system‚ there’s a point where just the right amount of energy put into the system produces the maximum vibration for that system. Go under that amount of energy and you don’t get optimal vibration. Go over that amount of energy and you don’t get optimal vibration. There’s a sweet spot, just the right amount of energy, maximum vibration.
Your voice has a point where just the right amount of energy produces optimal vibration. This is the aim of voice training, maximum sound for a minimum amount of effort, not too little and not too much. Most keen students of voice are using too much. They assume more effort produces more result. That’s a trap.
Begin with the amount of effort you’d use for a sigh of relief, hay. By sigh of relief, I don’t mean breathy, hay. By sigh of relief, I mean easy, hay. There should be a feeling of release. You’re not pushing, but you’re not holding back, either. You’re just letting go.
When you learn how to get out of the way and work with your voice, rather than pushing and over-driving your voice, you discover a voice that’s powerful without being forceful, present without being pushy, a voice that sounds good, feels good and truly engages others.