I’m going to give it to you straight: Singing and speaking, at their core, ain’t that different.
I know, I know … many of us like to think of singing as some magical unicorn of a skill. But in its simplest form, singing IS speaking … of course, with finesse and pizzazz (aka. training, practice time, consistency and well … pizzazz!).
The speaking-singing concept makes good logical sense—after all, we use the same bodily system to make sounds, whether singing or speaking—but how many of us have ever really stopped to think about the full implications of this relationship, and what it means to our singing journey?
As a singer, it’s important to examine your speaking habits. These habits—both good and bad—are transferable and either augment or counter the work you’ve done on your singing voice. In other words, “bad” speaking habits can negatively affect a trained singing voice; good speaking habits positively complement a trained singing voice.
(Bonus: your singing exercises can be applied to your speaking voice!)
So let’s take a second & get to know your voice!
The following is a lovely exercise adapted from The Alchemy of Voice by Stewart Pearce. (I’ve added a few extra q’s for you singers out there.)
Getting to Know Your Voice
Spend a day listening to your speaking voice. Notice your tone, volume, use of breath, effort, word choice. Alternatively, record yourself speaking while you discuss a life issue with your family or friends. Afterwards, take time for reflection by answering the following questions objectively.
[P.S. The key here is to be objective in your observations, aka non-judgmental. Notice when the inner critic answers, and start over, instead opting for your impartial inner scientist/reporter; we’re looking for FACTS. This is how we can build a firm foundation AND create lasting change.]
- Does your voice sound dull or flat?
- Are you expressive or do you seldom change your tone?
- Do you mumble, speak fast, hesitate, seldom stop?
- Are you loud or soft? Do you often sound angry, uncertain, timid, bossy or confident?
- Do you shout, plead, or give orders?
- Do you get the response you would like from others, without raising your voice?
- Do you leave out final consonants in the words that you choose?
- Does speaking more loudly feel as though it strains your voice, takes a lot of effort?
- Are you holding your breath while you talk? Or barely exhaling while speaking, speaking off the vocal fry (raspy, crackly, tired voice)?
- Do you use your face/mask for volume, or do you throw extra air out your mouth?
- Are you clenching your jaw? Do you open your mouth?
- Do your sentences end in an up-tone (a higher note, resembling a question)?
- Do you feel self-conscious about your voice?
- What do you like about your voice?
Bonus question: How do these habits show up in/affect your singing voice?