Breathing is something we do every day. Obviously, it underpins everything we do. We’ve done it since we were born, and it comes naturally…we don’t have to think about it. That is until we think about it! Or when we are stressed, or anxious or panicking. It’s a hugely important part of mindfulness, but also vital for good voice production. Diaphragmatic breathing technique is used in singing but is also fundamental in calm and clear voice production, especially when all eyes are on you. Simply put, to take a deep low breath, which will help with any kind of anxiety you might be feeling, put your hand on your belly. Imagine you’ve got a balloon in your stomach, obviously don’t swallow a balloon, but imagine you’ve got one there and you’re going to fill it up with air as you breath in. When someone says take a deep breath in, the temptation is to lift your shoulders up. All this does is to cause tension across your shoulders! The movement is down low, so breath in, your stomach expands out, blow out and that imaginary balloon goes down and your stomach goes back in. So, do it again, imagine you’ve got that balloon, you’re filling it up with air and blow out. Just focusing yourself on your breathing will bring those anxiety levels down, but it will also prepare you for speaking on Zoom or any of these great pieces of technology we have at the moment to keep us communicating. So, keep in touch with people, but just take that nice deep low breath to keep you calm. Take care.
In my last blog I suggested that it is important to warm up your voice, before you speak in the morning, by humming. I wanted to expand on this as I was asked the question “How do I know how to hum? I’m humming but I don’t know that I’m doing it properly”. So, I want to recommend that you warm your voices up because so many of us are working far more on Zoom, Skype, just on the phone and your voice is one of your most powerful selling tools. So, we warm it up by starting with a nice loose face and massage the big jaw joint on both sides of your face. Keep going, warm it up as you would have a back massage, massage your face. Now to loosen your lips up make a motor bike noise. Hours of endless fun! So, carry on doing that so that your lips are loose. Now, you want the sound to come into, what we call, the mask of the face. So, not including your nose but in the mask of the face, that’s where you want the sound to come from. You do not want to be humming on the back of your throat, because you don’t want to talk there, but also you don’t want to feel it in the nose because then you’ll sound a nasal. You don’t want to cheat, so humming with your mouth slightly with lips apart, you’re just using your tongue on the roof your mouth. That’s not bringing the sound forward it is sending it up which is also where we don’t want the voice to be. So, not on your throat, not in your nose, not up through the roof of your mouth. Where we want the sound is in the mask the face. So, you aim it there, you aim it to the front, as if you’re humming along a piece of string, out of the window to a point on the wall anywhere that’s far away from you. It doesn’t mean you’re pushing the sound out you’re humming gently along that imaginary piece of string. So, “hum”, just lifting those cheeks up. Now, this isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t necessarily something you ever even thought about. I want you to protect your voice which is why I don’t want you humming on the back of your throat. Nice and forward, along that piece of string. The only thing I’d add to that, is that you don’t have to be singing to understand that you have got a lot of notes in your voice, some of them very high, some of them very low. So, again, to warm those up before you start talking in the morning get that hum and take it up five and down five notes. Anywhere in your voice that’s comfortable. Always lift the cheeks because it’s always much better to be smiling, when you do any of these exercises. Enjoy!
As I write this, we’re in the midst of Covid-19 and I imagine most of us now are working from home and therefore we can feel quite cut off. So, it’s important to keep communication open with friends and family, but also, to keep our businesses going. We need to use everything to hand that is there for us to work from home, especially to do with technology and communication. Within that, I would say that your voice is one of your most powerful selling tools, so it’s really important that you do some gentle humming to warm your voice up before you go on a call, or a webinar or a video that you may be doing. Really think about your voice, because you wouldn’t run a race without warming up, you’d hurt yourself. Well, it’s the same with your voice, you can’t utilise all the different notes within your voice if you don’t warm it up. You will be going back to presenting, you will be going back to being with people in person, so it’s really important – practice, practice, practice. As you get out of bed in the morning, just start a gentle hum. The only thing stopping your voice coming out is your lips, so that is where you need your voice to be placed. In the mask of your face. Before you speak, you can wake your voice up by moving the hum up and down your register. Very gently. This will mean, by the time you talk for the first time, you will create a well produce sound and not be clearing your throat or making rasping sounds to your family, friends or clients.