Neck Tension & Vocal Pitch

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on July 20, 2015

There are some things we do that sabotage good pitch and make it hard to master speaking in our optimum pitch range. One of them happens when breathing incorrectly.

When most people are tense, their breathing moves into their upper chest instead of staying lower in the torso. I see this all the time when watching television reporters doing live shots or stand-ups. Some of them heave their shoulders up with every breath.  I can watch the tendons in their neck protrude, which tells me right away that their pitch is going to be higher than it should be.

When you lift your shoulders to inhale, you’re initiating a lot of tension in your upper chest muscles. Try lifting your shoulders and feel the tension.  That tension moves right into the neck area, and your vocal folds get some of that tension. Bingo! Up goes your pitch.

Watch yourself in a mirror reading copy and monitor your neck tension and your shoulder movement. They will tell you where the tension is. If you don’t like what you see, check out this video where I am working with a client on proper breathing for speech.

Want to learn more about pitch? Check out my book, BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK.  You can download it instantly!

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