"All human energy is breath. Every inhalation takes in energy from the world and attaches you to it. On exhalation, you send what is inside you out into the world, and in so doing you touch and change the world..." ~ Patsy Rodenburg
Tuesday is World Voice Day
Established in Brazil on April 16th in 1999 by speech-language pathologists, singing teachers, and physicians, World Voice Day has gained momentum, moving toward a celebration of everything the human voice can do…
There is a story to the sound of your voice...
an amalgamation of the physiological structure of your body, your life experiences, your physical environment, & every thought you think.
Breath powers the body and every sound we utter. Words spoken will always matter... some linger in our memories longer than we wish they would, while others we wait our entire lives to hear... And yet, the healthy human voice has amazing communicative powers beyond singing and speaking. It can croak, howl, cackle, yodel, hoot, and call across great distances...
Unless you’re a performer or public speaker, you may only think about the sound of your voice when it's hoarse. Growing up, there is so much focus on our language, and unless your career path or hobby requires lessons, little to no attention is paid to the health and sound of your voice. But, what if every time you speak in daily living, your sound reveals as much about you as your words?
I remember an interview on NPR awhile back. I was driving somewhere or other, I’d turned on the radio and was catapulted into a news interview about sexual assault awareness on campus, I listened as two women commented on a particular situation with football players at a university in the midwest.
Moving beyond my response to the content of the interview, I found myself focusing on the disparity between what the women were saying and the sound of their voices.
Both women had vocal fry - that low gravelly sound that happens when there isn’t enough breath to support the thought. Tone broken up by little pops of air, often heard in twenty-something females… though now I hear it in women in their 30’s, 40’s and even older… Voices that do not carry, command, or convey with conviction.
Generations of women who have much to say but cannot speak.
These days, it’s quite rare I hear a woman of any age speak with her whole self. The voice is the body, and every time we speak, it's an athletic event. Sound conveys not only our physical health, but also our individual truths. I am not suggesting women should imitate the sounds of men or that there is an ideal female (or male) sound to emulate. We shouldn't all sound the same. Each voice should be as wildly unique as our DNA. Our voices can be as large as our lives, released out into the world, and supported without apology.
The intent of World Voice Day is not just vocal health, but a vibrant celebration of raw sound that expresses the fullness of what it is to be human...
To have a voice is a gift. To speak with authenticity, a divine birthright.
So how do you access your own authentic and unique sound that is free to respond to all that life brings? The same way any full-body skill is developed: desire, dedicated practice, deep play, and unfettered willingness to soar beyond what is familiar.
On this World Voice Day (and every day), may you celebrate, trust, and explore the edges of all you are through sound...
If you'd like to speak with a voice specialist in your area, check out VASTA (Voice and Speech Trainers Association).
Always in motion,
p.s. If you'd like either of these stories as reminders: