Storytelling Voice Care
By Barbara Effron
The proper use of your speaking voice can be as important as finding your artistic voice.
The techniques that I learned years ago in voice lessons provide good reminders in the effective use of voice in storytelling performance.
One of the most common complaints I hear from storytellers is that their voices become strained, tired, or even hoarse during a storytelling program. Here are some things that I do to help modulate and save my voice during a performance.
(1) Keep hydrated. You lose a good deal of moisture doing all that talking. Sip some water from time to time during class and avoid coffee before you teach (a tall order, I know, for those of use with early morning classes).
(2) Avoid “forward neck.” Forward neck is a type of poor posture, and it looks like this: Aside from being the cause of upper back problems, forward neck puts a lot of strain on your vocal chords, and your voice tires out very quickly when you stand with your neck angled down.
(3) Keep your larynx low in your throat. A normal human tendency is that when we try and speak louder, the larynx rises higher and tighter in the throat. This also happens when we are nervous, excited, or energized. Not only does this strain your vocal chords, but it leads to that “edgy” tone in the voice that we’d like to avoid.
Here’s how to keep your larynx low: Touch your fingers to your vocal chords. Now swallow, and notice the drop. That is where your larynx should be when you speak to a group. Keeping it there will take some practice, but it’s worth it.