Tag Archives: talking tips

What is Sound?

What is sound? If you watched this video from earlier posts, you know, and could see that it’s air in motion.

When we’re talking about voice and sound, we mean either talking or singing – right? (Luckily, they use exactly the same parts of our bodies.)

First, let’s talk about getting our bodies to do a better job of putting air in motion when we’re making sounds!

Anybody ever heard of a body-part called a “diaphragm?” Many choir directors will tell their singers to “breath from your diaphragm,” (but possibly don’t explain further).

Here’s a simple exercise to help you feel exactly where your diaphragm is, and what it feels like when you make it work.

WARNING: Do NOT Do This Exercise More Than Once Or Twice. If you feel light-headed STOP IMMEDIATELY! It just means you’re not used to getting so much oxygen!

  1. Sit down on the edge of a solid surface like a chair or sofa.
  2. Scrunch forward so your elbows are on your knees and your chin is in your hands.
  3. Now make one or two emphatic “HA’s” like you’re panting.
  4. You should feel your midsection make quick movements every time you say “HA.”
  5. That’s your diaphragm lifting up to expel the air out of your lungs to make the sound.

Now try standing up, putting one hand on your midsection, and saying “HA.” You should feel the same movement. If not, get into your crouching position again and do one last “HA.”

REMEMBER: Do NOT Do This Exercise More Than Once Or Twice.

Why? Because your head may not be used to so much oxygen getting into your body and you may feel light-headed. (The same reason why beginning woodwind and brass players of any age are told the same thing!)

Here’s a moving model of a working diaphragm

talking tips #2

How many of you have called a friend and known from the minute they said “Hello” that something was wrong?

That shows you how instantly and unconsciously peoples’ voices can change.

The violinist’s instrument is a violin, the drummer’s instrument is a drum, the singer’s and actor’s instrument is . . .

Their entire body, not an entirely separate, inanimate object.

So what can they do when something goes wonky and they have to perform?

The violinist or drummer can send out their instrument for repair, and carry on with a substitute. But singers and actors can’t send out their throats for rehab, and carry on with a sub.

“Wait! You can’t equate singing with speaking!” I hear someone say.

Yes, you canit’s the same instrument. I repeat: It is the same instrument.

What makes one sound better can make the other sound better, too.

It takes learning new habits to replace the old ones, and practice-practice-practice!

We’re not talking astrophysics, folks! Just replacing old habits with new.

Just like better sports practices have passed from the pros to the general public. (Think stretching before jogging instead of jogging without a warm-up.)


Don’t like the way you sound?

  • Wish you sounded better on your vlog?
  • Wish you sounded more confident in public?
  • Wish you sounded better every day?

You can.

If you didn’t watch the video, “Say it with sound,” in the previous Talking Tips, please follow the link to see it. The video introduces concepts and terms you will need for Talking Tips #3.

talking tips #1

Spring/Autumn has started in both hemispheres. 🌷🍂🌺🍁 Maybe now’s the time to think about basics.

Many of us take our speaking voice for granted until we have a problem. Here are some ideas to think about and try. They should help you keep talking. 😉

❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Below is an exploration of sound — what it is, and how animals make it and use it to communicate.

Please have a listen and let me know what you think.

The Royal Institute’s Christmas Lectures, 2017 began with the lecture, “Say it with Sound.”

To tease you a bit, here’s an outline of what’s covered.

  • 0 min. The recording Voyage carried.
  • 2 min. Making Mold, the rat, laugh.
  • 5 min. Crickets’ wing sounds.
  • 7 min. Structure makes a difference.
  • 8 min. Seeing sound with a giant slinky.
  • 13 min. Sounds inaudible to humans.
  • 19 min. Mosquitos’ love duet.
  • 24 min. How cockroaches hiss.
  • 27 min. A camera and a working larynx.
  • 33 min. Why the audience is blowing raspberries.
  • 34 min. Balloons, a shower curtain and a leaf blower.
  • 37 min. Why Resonance?
  • 38 min. Christmas baubles and breaking a wine glass.
  • 43 min. Strings and tea chests.
  • 45 min. How tea chests are like vocal tracts.
  • 47 min. Male deer and mens’ voices.
  • 51 min. Reeps* demos plosive sounds (think consonants).
  • 54 min. Beat boxing meets Verdi.
  • *** GRAND FINALE ***

*Reeps One is an extra on beat boxing, in case you’re interested.

Giving Voice,” The New Yorker, 2013; by John Colapinto If you really wat to get into some details, here’s an excellent article.

A note to parents of young singers:

The human voice doesn’t mature until approximately 30 years of age for women, and later for men, which helps explain why so many men’s voices seem to fluctuate between tenor and baritone for so long.

Remember that boys’ voices shift downward during their teen years. Young women have a much less noticeable shift, and consequently reach vocal maturity sooner.

A note to maturing singers:

Both men and women may experience a deepening in vocal quality as they mature, but this does not mean an inability to sing higher notes. Sometimes the physical technique may need to shift slightly to accommodate body changes, but if the technique is solid to begin with, it should be a matter of slight adjustments.

Talking tips #2.