Extending your vocal range

Sep 17 2015 by Janet Howd Print This Article

Imagine that you need to tell people who are halfway across a football pitch something they need to hear. How could you get that message across without shouting? As every actor knows, itís a question of technique.

The first thing you need to do is to focus on your listeners. The second is to intend to be heard.

Then itís a question of breathing in more deeply than usual and opening your jaw a lot wider than you are used to doing. Try pinging every single consonant much more strongly than you are used to doing and lingering longer than usual over every vowel sound. Imagine your words spinning from your mouth, arcing towards their target and hitting the ground just in front of your listenersí feet.

Speaking like that will seem false and overly-emphatic. Thatís because it is false and overly emphatic to any listener who is close at hand: but, hopefully, doing the following exercises will help you realize how genuine it would actually sound to any long-range listener whilst also extending your vocal range in general.

1. Start to read out loud, and then cup one hand over one ear. Notice the difference in resonance you hear? Quite nice isnít it? Quite flattering.

Carry on reading at the same volume but then cup both hands over both ears as you continue. After a few sentences, snatch your hands away very quickly.

You will probably be a bit disappointed at how thin and diffuse your voice now sounds. Nevertheless, keep going without any change of volume so you can realize how your voice sounds to others out in the open.

2. Cup your hands over both ears and speak or read out loud. Keep speaking and uncover your ears. After a little while, place your cupped hands over both ears once more as you continue to speak. Then, again, after a little while, uncover your ears.

Each time you uncover your ears the volume of your voice may surprise you because it may not be as loud as you expected it to be. If that is the case, increase volume until it reaches the intensity you recall from when your hands covered your ears.

Continue to speak at that higher volume and at some point, cup your hands over your ears once more

The loudness of the voice that greets you will probably be too much for you to enjoy with your ears covered in this way. You are likely to experience uncomfortable pressure, but please keep speaking at that same volume for a phrase or two before taking your hands from your ears as you continue to speak.

3. Even though you are likely to feel that you are now shouting, keep going at that same volume but say the words in a sexy, exciting, languorous, friendly or generous way.

The outcome is often really amusing. Laugh at yourself inside but keep going, because this method will teach you how to add variety and warmth to the tone of your voice even when speaking at very loud volume.

Remember, never shout!

Shouted words blasted out at one insistent, toneless pitch, positively prevent understanding and quickly wear out even the keenest of listeners.

If you seriously intend an audience to feel your ire - saying what you want to say in harsh, demeaning, brutal or derogatory tones will produce a more meaningful impact than the most forceful shouting ever could.

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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.