A Tense Body Creates a Tense Voice

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on September 18, 2012

Here’s a second look at one of my most popular blog posts:  One of my Tweeps recently asked on Twitter about the effect of facial tension on your voice. That’s a topic I’ve worked with clients on for years. There are two areas of the head that harbor lots of tension: the forehead and the neck.

Tension in the forehead is a sign that there’s tension cascading down from there into the jaw and neck. Two places you don’t want it to be. Wrinkle up your forehead right now and observe how the rest of your head feels. Most likely you will find that your jaw is tenser. If your jaw is tense, it’s going to affect your resonance (the richness and fullness of your voice) as well as your articulation. To learn more about these two areas click here to read my post on resonance and here for articulation.

When the tension hits the neck it has the potential to make our pitch rise. Not what you want happening every time you’re in front of a microphone. The vocal folds (cords) are tiny folds of muscle and ligament in our throats (to watch them at work click here). Adding or reducing tension in the vocal fold area creates our vocal pitch. The greater the tension, the higher the pitch. I often tell my clients who are television reporters or anchors to watch their work and look at the tendons in their neck. If those tendons look like steel cables, they can be assured that their pitch is elevated.

Want to reduce tension?  Try these simple shoulder rolls: Roll your shoulders, moving both at the same time. Begin by pulling them up toward your ears. From this position, rotate them back so that your shoulder blades are coming together. Now relax them down. Finish by rotating them forward as if trying to make your shoulders touch in front. Continue this rotation 4 times. Change direction and rotate 4 times. This simple exercise done a few times a day will eliminate tension from your upper body.

Special Announcement! My new e-book, BROADCASTER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE, is now available for only $4.99.  You’ll get great information in this e-book on how to deal with stress and keep your body healthy so you can sound your best!  And don’t be fooled by “broadcaster’s” in the title.  It’s great for voiceover artists, too.  Ck it out on the “Stress Guide” tab above.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Scott September 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

Great advice as always Ann. Thanks for sharing!

Ann S. Utterback September 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Great to hear from you, Marc! I really appreciate your support.

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