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Sunday, February 12, 2006

A compliment

Last night I went to see Jonesy's latest show, an awesome Shaw production. Afterwards, as it was closing night, I hung out with her and the rest of the cast downstairs over pizza and Champagne. One of the older company members, upon being introduced to me, shook hands and said, "Lecturess, good to meet you. And what do you DO with that voice?"

To which I replied, of course, that I used it in the service of lecturing the unwilling and the ungrateful about lit-raht-chure. But his remark made me think, not for the first time, that I'd like to take voice lessons. I have a fairly low voice, which I use forcefully when I teach--but I find that in everyday conversation, and even to a degree in the classroom, I often wind up speaking in my higher and weaker register (what I believe professionals refer to as the "head" voice). I don't know if this is a subconscious attempt to sound more feminine, or just a lack of diaphragm training, but I'd like to make better use of my voice. In its proper register it can indeed be very sultry and sexy--but the real benefit, I imagine, of learning to speak with more diaphragm support, would be that it would relieve some of pressure on my vocal chords and lessen the likelihood of my growing hoarse at the end of a long day of teaching.

And hey: if this whole academia thing didn't work out, I could always go into radio.

[UPDATE: So in my ongoing attempt to avoid grading my current set of papers, I surfed around the internet for a while and finally ordered this book. I'll let you know if it in fact changes my life.]

link | posted by La Lecturess at 12:33 PM |


Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. commented at 1:57 PM~  

Ah, the inadequacies of the silent blog, which force us to *imagine* the voice in question--personally, I'm going with early Kathleen Turner, back when they tapped her to do the voice of Jessica Rabbit. But that's me. Given your teaching load, a voice lesson or two might be helpful--if nothing else, it's "a new thing to try," which, we're constantly told, are always good. I know what you mean about getting hoarse--I came from a theater background before entering academia (enhancing my talent for histrionics, which serves me well in staff meetings), so I've had a voice lesson or twenty, and even I get vocally tired after one of those six-hours-on-your-feet-trying-to-summon-life-from-the-corpses-of-25-undergrads-seated-before-you days.

What *kind* of radio? Talk? Late-night jazz DJing? I'm curious.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 3:15 PM~  

I once had elocution lessons, quite helful. Didn't realise how much until my boyfriend said that the only thing I pronounced in a regional accent was the word "later". Random fact for you there, LL.

Blogger jo(e) commented at 6:09 PM~  

Oh, I've totally got to change the way I read your blog now.

It sounds very different in a sexy, sultry voice.

Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. commented at 9:48 PM~  

I was actually working in a bookstore near UCLA when your chosen book came out, and the author was constantly coming by demanding that we display the book more prominently. Kind of a jerk, really, though I can't speak to the quality of the text. One of the standards--the one I and everyone I know in theater was trained on--is *Freeing the Natural Voice* by Kristin Linklater--a little dense, but definitely got the good stuff. Just in case *Change Your Voice* doesn't do the trick...

Anonymous What Now? commented at 11:10 PM~  

I'll be interested to hear how the book works. I'm a little afraid that I've substituted volume for resonance over the years, and I wouldn't mind honing my voice so that it's still going strong at the end of a day of teaching. So please post a review!

Blogger Terminaldegree commented at 11:42 PM~  

Voice lessons are a lot of fun. Give it a shot! :)

By the way, avoid (like the plague!) any teacher who tells you to "support from the diaphragm." This is a myth! It just isn't possible, as the diaphragm is a muscle that works for inspiration (inhaling) only. It drives me crazy that teachers are still using this myth in the music studio!

Blogger centrosoma commented at 12:44 AM~  

I remember when I was a teenager, I used to train myself to speak at a lower pitch, thinking that it would make me sound less feminine and more serious. I think because of that, my voice has become so low that I can't even sing alto anymore! I'm now a perfect baritone. Sigh. I miss being an alto.

Blogger kermitthefrog commented at 5:13 PM~  

terminaldegree -- I was intrigued by your comment, since as you know tons of voice teachers do instruct you to "support from the diaphragm." I found a description (unfortunately not a diagram) of what could be called "properly supported breathing" at http://www.alexanderworks.org.uk/breathing.html - the support comes from the abdominal muscles, not from the diaphragm itself. On the other hand, the instruction to "support from the diaphragm" can be at least temporarily useful shorthand for someone who's breathing in a very shallow way, I think. hope this is somewhat interesting/useful.

Blogger kermitthefrog commented at 5:15 PM~  

Oh, P.S. - lecturess, the sultry voice totally goes with your blog-icon. Ever since you put that up I've been imagining you as a torch singer. :)

Blogger Terminaldegree commented at 6:31 PM~  

Kermit, yes and no! Telling a student to "support from the diaphragm" is like telling a student to "breath from your feet." If it simply can't be done, why teach it? We don't tell student that 2 and 2 make 5. It's just as easy to say, "Support from the abdominal muscles," or "breath deeply," or "take a relaxed, full breath," all of which are more accurate statements.

Try this link instead: http://www.freeyourneck.com/html/breathing.html

Resident Pedant :)

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 1:46 PM~  

Happy Valentine's Day, big sis!


Blogger academic coach commented at 9:06 AM~  

This is making me wish that we could have a little insider's audio visual clip that we'd have to ask for protected passwords for that we could circulate among our favorite pseudonymous acidemogers...

how was the book? I've got to give a presentation on how to give good presentations... sounds relevant.

hope your current conference is as good as the oct one.

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