Growing Voices: From Roots to Results

A tree with roots and fruit representing the roots of good vocal technique: growing voices from roots to results

Growing voices: from roots to results

Using voices outdoors can be tiring

If your job depends on it, caring for your voice becomes vital.

Anne Leatherland, our Vocal Process Accredited Teacher, was recently invited to a forestry centre to give a workshop to the staff on how to use voices efficiently outdoors. We asked Anne to share what happened:

“The staff give talks to members of the public, including both adult and school groups, on a regular basis. These are frequently based outside, in all weathers, as the groups are guided around the centre. Not surprisingly, this had begun to take its toll on staff members’ voices and they were looking for solutions to vocal fatigue and hoarseness, as well as ways to improve confidence and projection.

As I had about an hour and a half to help them, I aimed to be very targeted. This was a forestry centre, so I modelled my presentation on the growth of a tree and suggested we look at the “roots” of healthy and efficient voice use. Just like a tree, if the roots are not looked after the whole will not thrive!

We started with an overview of how voices work using the Vocal Process short video on YouTube “Looking at a Voice”

I introduced five “root” skills, and we had great fun with a practical exploration:
1. Using the breath to get the vocal folds vibrating efficiently
2. Giving the vocal folds room to vibrate properly
3. Making words clearer by using the tongue, jaw and lips independently
4. Co-ordinating the body and brain and finding an energised, balanced alignment
5. Using the body to aid safe projection

We briefly discussed how these roots need to be “watered” with an effective warm up and good vocal hygiene, and I gave the staff help sheets and ideas to aid future work.
I was able to recommend the Vocal Process Five Minute Vocal Warm Up CD and free resources from the Vocal Process and British Voice Association websites.

And the fruits of all this root nurturing? –

  • Vocal efficiency: Not having to work so hard
  • Freedom: Your voice comes out more easily, with better clarity and projection
  • Sustainability: Your voice tires less, avoiding hoarseness and strain. You have more stamina!
  • Better Communication: You make your point more effectively and enjoy presenting more

Of course, we agreed that all of this takes practice but with guidance, the participants were able to apply the skills and see how they could move forward. We followed the workshop with lunch and a walk (outdoors) around the centre, where some began to try out their new skills in the fresh air!

Feedback from the group showed that they all felt that they had learned something valuable that would help them directly in their work. The main comment made was “more please”! They have invited me back and we are planning a structured follow-up outdoors, to embed and apply the new skills.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow!”