1. How the voice works
Air source system; all the breathing bits like the lungs, diaphragm, ribs, chest muscles, and abdominal muscles.
Where the vocal folds live. You can find your larynx by putting your hand on the front of your throat and swallowing. The bit that moves up and then drops down again is the larynx.
God of the wind, don’t you know. Yes, I’m very smart. Or maybe my son is heavily into Greek mythology and I’ve been waiting to use this niche reference for a long time. Anyway, please revel in my wit and intelligence then get back to the book.
2. The Head
Lip trills are a voice exercise you may already be aware of, in which case, well done you. Now back to the learning, please.
Developed by M Broadwell and later Noel Burch. https://rider- ed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Four-Stages-of- Competence.pdf
“Pants” is casual vernacular for utterly terrible e.g. “I’m pants at running” means “I’m utterly terrible at running.”
Welcome to Irish slang. Feck has a few meanings. It can be used to express annoyance, replace the word “throw” or just help you sound passionate about something. For example, “I’m fecking Irish, so I am, so I am. Feck that potato over here. Stay the feck hydrated” etc..
3. The Body
Goyder, C., (2020) Find Your Voice, Vermillion, pg 26
Irish vernacular for old used in various contexts including to refer to age and as an alternative to that eg look at the auld fella over there can be look at the old fella or look at that fella. It’s not confusing at all.
What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo and My Grandmothers Hands by Resmaa Menakem are remarkable books on this topic.
Irish klaxon. Wee means little, or small, where I come from.
If you are unable to stand for any physical reason, do the exact same exercise from your habitual resting pose. Exploring the locking and letting go of the knees is an important observation when seated or leaning too.
Yes, I think I made this up. But now it’s in a book so that means it’s a real term. It’s a fun way to refer to your vocal mechanism, thought isn’t it?
If you are unable to stand, you can explore this exercise by shifting your weight around whatever seated position you are habitually in. Lean forwards, back, to the sides and notice how the rest of your body and breath respond.
“The Alexander technique is a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body.” It’s a hugely complimentary practice to voice training. For more information visit https://alexandertechnique.com/at/
Shout out to the inimitable Dane Chalfin for this mini alignment check. https://danechalfinvoice.com
This sequence of stretches was introduced to me by Dane Chalfin at various workshops. Thanks again, Dane.
Hilarious UK toy reference, worth a google. We have the best traditions.
Houseman, B., (2002) Finding Your Voice Nick Hern, pg 7
You can find this via the QR code if you want to join the party. Please provide your own hydration.
4. The Breath
Kristin Linklater talks about impulse a lot. There’s a great article here to get you started https://www.linklatervoice.com/ resources/articles-essays/161-the-embodied-voice-pevoc-019 I’d also highly recommend her book Freeing The Natural Voice.
I first heard of this from James Clear in the book Atomic Habits. Well worth a read if you struggle with building new habits.
Shout out to Dane Chalfin for my introduction to primal sounds many moons ago.
Houseman, B., 2022, Interview for The Voice Coach Podcast with me, Nic Redman
The origins of this exercise, and variations of it, can be linked to various practitioners: Linklater, Alexander Technique, Estill, Clifford Turner, Barbara Houseman so, although I can’t place who shared it with me first, you know it’s a good one that many master teachers use!
5. The Sound
“Tension murders vibrations” was a phrase that came out of interactions with Kristin Linklater herself and various designated Linklater practitioners based off her understanding that “muscles tension diminishes the ability of the voice” Linklater, K., Freeing The Natural Voice, pg 24
I picked this up from The Vocal Arts Workbook by David & Rebecca Carey but there’s a version of it in Barbara Houseman’s book too, Finding Your Voice. I think every voice coach has a version of this one!
This exercise an adaptation of the Elf/Diva/Duchess exploration, taken from Richard Armstrong of the Roy Hart Theatre. It was introduce to me during a workshop at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
“jollies” is slang for holidays here in good auld Blighty. “Blighty” is slang for Britain. I’ll stop now, this could go on…
Irish vernacular for ‘silly person’. Stop that, you feckin’ eejit is an excellent way to use it in a sentence. I’d highly recommend you use it in a conversation today.
6. The Speech
Morrison, A (2022) The Moment of Speech: Creative Articulation for Actors RADA Press (pgs 193 & 6)
Merriam Webster https://www.merriam-webster.com/
Knight, D., (2012) Speaking with Skill
If you’ve been diagnosed with any specific jaw issues please
seek additional guidance from your care provider before
delving into the jaw manipulation work
Linklater, K., (2006) Freeing the Natural Voice pg 131
This is influenced by the isolation work I learned when training with Knight Thompson Speechwork. That lot can do some seriously impressive stuff with their articulators! Check out their book Experiencing Speech: A skills based, pan-lingual approach to actor training for more face contorting fun.
If you’re still a bit dubious about the legitimacy of the yawn as a vocal tool, I’ve linked to a couple of great articles on it through the QR code.
“Mrs Puggy Wuggy has a square cut punt, not a punt cut square but a square cut punt. It’s round at the back and blunt at the front. Mrs Puggy Wuggy has a square-cut punt.” This was a drama school classic that students enjoyed. I’ve no idea who to credit for it but whoever you are, thank you. Not suitable for children…
This means fun or news/goings on in the Irish language. E.g., What’s the craic? How’s are things going? or That was great craic means gosh what a lot of fun that was.
A claim made by The Guinness Book of World Records via the episode of NPR linked in the QR code.
Thanks to audio whizz Rob Bee at BDoubleE for this wave form image.
Misophonia is when someone is “affected emotionally by common sounds —, usually those made by others, and usually ones that other people don’t pay attention to”(https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/misophonia-sounds- really-make-crazy-2017042111534)
This exercise is inspired by one in the brilliant Finding Your Voice by Barbara Houseman.
The Vocal Arts Workbook by David & Rebecca Carey
Check out https://jamesclear.com/deliberate-practice-theory for a great bit of theory on deliberate practice.
7. Putting it all together
This 45/5 suggestion comes from Dr Andrew Huberman, Professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine. https://hubermanlab.com/maximizing- productivity-physical-and-mental-health-with-daily-tools/
The Efficacy of Cool Down Exercises by Kari Ragen (originally published in the Journal of Voice) 2018 https://www.nats.org/_Library/JOS_On_Point/JOS-074-5- 2018-521_-_Efficacy_of_Vocal_Cool-Down_-_Ragan.pdf
The Impact of Vocal Cool-down Exercises: A Subjective Study of Singers’ and Listeners’ Perceptions 2016 https://www.jvoice.org/article/S0892-1997(15)00227-1/ abstract
The Value of Vocal Warm-up and Cool-down Exercises: Questions and Controversies by Rima A. De Fatta and Robert T. Sataloff, (Journal of Singing) 2012 http://www.vocapedia.info/_Library/JOS_files_Vocapedia/ JOS-069-2-2012-173.pdf
The term creak comes from the Estill voice training methodology. https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/cgi/ viewcontent.cgi?article=4383&context=etd
8. On the Mic
Check with a doctor before using a nebuliser if you have any existing respiratory conditions.
The exception to this is the Annie Morrison bone prop which is designed to stay in your teeth easily – shout out to Annie and her book The Moment of Speech whilst we’re here.
9. Vocal Health
[Disclaimer. This advice is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing but vocal health knowledge changes a lot, so do keep investigating.]
These myths were debunked for me by various practitioners including when I trained as a Vocal Health First Aider with Vocal Health Education https://www.vocalhealth.co.uk/
Alginates and the treatment of LPR https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2040622313503485
Hydration in the management of reflux https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6582892/
Academic article on hydration https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2925668/
Northern Irish dialect for Happy as Larry or Sorted, fine, contented.
Duncan Rock, nutritionist and singer via Vocal Health First Aider Training with The Voice Care Centre.
Here is an example of a nebuliser designed for vocalists.
A great podcast episode on steaming v nebulising https://www.thenakedvocalist.com/upgrade-your-vocal-steamer/