Help! Where’s My Optimum Pitch???

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on May 13, 2014

This post is for my friend, Mike, in honor of his retirement last week:

I love it when a pearl of wisdom falls in my lap via email.  This happened last week when I heard from Mike Kronforst.  Mike has had a long career as a voice over artist, professor, counselor, and radio announcer.  Along the way he’s perfected some vocal exercises that work well.  I want to pass along the one he shared with me that relates to optimum pitch.

Here’s what Mike offers:

Speech books will sometimes spend a whole chapter on optimum pitch and get way more technical than necessary.  Here’s what I have students or someone I’m coaching do:  Sit up straight, or, as you suggest, stand and completely relax, especially in the upper body.  Next, breathe comfortably for a few seconds and then hum “Happy Birthday.”

After they’ve done this, I tell them that two things just happened:  first, this is probably very close to their optimum pitch because it’s pretty hard to lift your pitch and hum “Happy Birthday.”  The other thing that happened is they relaxed. I ask them to do it again and notice how their throat feels because this is about as relaxed as they can be and still produce sound.

It’s a simple exercise, but I’ve had good success with this technique.

Thanks, Mike, for this great method.  I hope all you readers are out there humming “Happy Birthday” right now!

If you read my blog regularly (which, of course, I hope you do!) you know that I recently wrote a blog on this topic: The Ups and Downs of Vocal Pitch.  Between Mike and me, you should find a technique that works for you to find your optimum pitch.

And if you have any pearls of wisdom about voice, please leave me a comment below.  I’d love to share them!

Want more voice tips?  Click on the blue Facebook “My Page” button above to “Like” my new Facebook page at Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D., Broadcast Voice Specialist. You’ll get info to improve your voice right on your Facebook page!

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