The best way to vent your feelings

Jun 24 2015 by Janet Howd Print This Article

Our fingers can do an amazing variety of things. But beyond their dexterity, they can also identify us. We all have distinctive fingerprints. So each one of us has our own, completely separate, unique identifying pattern.

We also have distinctive voice prints and our tongues can be dexterous in an amazing variety of ways. Let’s take a look at the human voice, how we use it and how we can best access the range of skills it places at our disposal.

Inside every one of us is an enormous energy store. We take air in and we let breath out, and that exchange takes place inside us every moment of every hour of every day of our lives.

The chest cavity is the store house for that energy. It has expanding walls, floors and ceiling which can, when necessary, hold a great deal more air than is needed just to keep the body ticking-over.

The only entrance or exit to the store is via a vent about half way up the front flue of your two flued ‘chimney-stack’ neck.

Lying from front to back across this vent is a one inch-long valve capable of sealing the store of air IN to give strength for weight lifting, shock absorbtion, defecation or preparedness for combat or flight. It also controls the OUTLET of breath for everyday breathing, panting, puffing or blowing, not to mention sighs and gushes that relieve tension or shock.

Very importantly too, this vent can clamp instantly shut to prevent food or liquid finding their way chokingly down the front flue rather than entering the rear flue leading to the digestive system.

Yet another, quite magical, property of those Teflon-tough valve edges is that if the brain has so dictated, breath pulses through in such a finely controlled way that reverberations are set up in the inner structure of the valve seal itself.

When this happens, the edges - no longer merely safety clamps - become sounding cords. And so our voice begins.

Were you to hear voiced-breath the instant it pulsed through those undulating edges, it would be like the squeak created when blowing through a slit in a blade of grass. But as those pulses of squeaky breath rise upwards over the tongue, through the throat, into the mouth and out through the nostrils and open jaws, a remarkable transformation occurs.

Driven by the brain, the tongue (that arch articulator) will manipulate some of the squeaky pulses into resonant spaces behind the face to be toned and tuned into vowels. The rest will be kneaded by the tongue against any hard boned surfaces, or the teeth or palpating lips and percussed into consonants. Once all those pulses combine to form well-honed words, our voice is fully-formed.

Now that you’ve read all that, you can easily see that if you allow your core muscles to sag - if you push and pull your neck and brain- filled head about whilst speaking - the vocal cord edges will be pushed and pulled out of alignment so that they cannot initiate good quality vocal sound.

But, if you use core support, and hold the back of your neck upright so that your head is always firmly centred over the T-frame of your shoulders, breath will always be able pulse unhindered through the valve’s vocalising edges, interact easily with your tongue and create clear voiced words and phrases.

That done, (as long as you make sure your jaw is open) those phrases will fly out as clear as a bell to any and every intended listener.

more articles

About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.