Episode Transcript

Do you hate your voice? Or do you have a lot of opinions about how your voice sounds? Or maybe you think that you need to change your voice to sound more American, or British, or Australian when speaking English? If that's the case for you, and you feel that you are not happy with how you sound in English or in your native language, then this video is for you. Because today we are going to talk about the voice.

We're going to talk about how it is formed and created. And then we're going to talk about placement and answer the question whether or not English has a specific placement. And then finally, I'm going to give you a few tips on how to find your optimal voice, where your voice is most comfortable at and most expressive. And you don't need to work hard to be heard. And maybe, maybe you'll start liking your voice and even loving your voice. Are you ready for that? I mean, are you ready ready for that? Okay. I hope so. So let's get started.

By the way, if you're new to my channel, then hi. My name is Hadar. I'm a non-native speaker of English, and I am here to help you feel amazing when speaking English in your own voice, speaking authentic English. And authenticity is definitely something that we talk about when we talk about communicating in English. And definitely, when we talk about the voice.

And if you want to find out more about me, then you can find me at hadarshemesh.com, that's my website. And I have a lot of free resources to help you get to where you want to be when it comes to your English journey. Oh, and you can also follow me on Instagram at @hadar.accentsway.

So let's talk about the voice. Why is it so important? The voice is such a fundamental element when it comes to communication. And not just in English, in your native language as well. The voice is the first thing that people hear. And a lot of times, people form an opinion about someone based on the sound of their voice before even hearing what they have to say. And we all do that, by the way. Whether or not we like this person, or we feel like we can't trust them, we are engaged or bored when listening to them.

And even beyond this idea of, you know, how you are being perceived when you speak. Because it's definitely not about that. It's more about you feeling comfortable and confident with your voice. Because a lot of times I hear my students saying that they don't like their voice. And even that they hate their voice, which is a horrible experience. Because your voice is how you speak. It's like you hear it all the time.

And if you don't like it, and if you even hate it, then you probably don't like anything that comes out of your mouth. Or you constantly feel that other people feel the same thing. And they don't like your voice, and they have the same opinions about your voice as you do. Which is not the case by the way, but it doesn't help our self-esteem, and it doesn't help our confidence, and it doesn't help our communication abilities.

Also, when you know how to use your voice, you feel a lot more expressive. You feel like you're able to express an idea in a compelling way. You can express your feelings, and when you think about things without using words – right? – by using your tone or your intonation. And all of that is a skill – using your voice. You just need to understand how it works. And unfortunately, no one teaches that. I mean, you're born learning how to speak, so that's it. But then with time, we learned to manipulate the voice. Maybe we have opinions about being too loud or being too quiet, or speaking a certain way. Or if I want to sound American, I need to be higher in pitch, or lower in pitch, or louder, or softer.

So all of these ideas that we have about how we should sound causes to manipulate our voice, sometimes not to our advantage. No, I'm not saying that you can't use your voice in a better way, in a more optimal way. But you want to understand what is right for you and what is healthy for you. And also learn that the way you sound is probably how you need to sound, and be comfortable with that. Even if it's not this idea or ideal that you have about the voice.

So let's begin by understanding how the voice works. So, the voice needs three elements to exist. One is the power source or the energy, and that is the breath. Without breath, there is no voice. Then we need the vibrator where the voice is actually created, and that is the vocal folds or vocal chords that are right here, I'll talk about that in a sec. And then we need the resonators – the space for the voice to enhance, and become stronger and louder.

So, we start with a breath, we need to inhale. And the more breath you have and the deeper the breath is, the stronger the voice is. Think about it, that's the energy source. So, if you tend to take shallow breaths, let's say, just to your chest, or very short breaths, then you're not going to have enough power to support your voice. So breath is such an important element when it comes to using your optimal voice.

I recommend practicing belly breathing. Now, I'm going to link to a few videos that teach you how to do that. But if you've ever done yoga or meditation, you should know what belly breathing is, where you breathe into your belly and not into your chest. In fact, I have a full interview that I've conducted with a friend of mine about breath, and I'm going to link to it below.

So, to make a long story short, you want to practice belly breathing and to breathe into your belly, so you have more breath in your body every time you take a breath. Okay. So you take a breath, you expand, and then you exhale it or you release it. And the breath goes through the vocal cords.

Now, the vocal chords are right here inside the vocal box, also called the larynx. And the vocal box is right here. You can feel that little bump here. For men it's more noticeable. And you can put your fingers here and even hum, you can feel it moving. A lot of vibrations. And the breath passes between the vocal cords, that are muscles that open and close the vocal cords. And the vocal chords vibrate and create this sound.

The sound is not very loud when it's created in the larynx. And the vocal chords vibrate. And when the frequency is really high, when they vibrate really fast, the pitch is higher. And when they vibrate a little slower, then the pitch is lower.

Now, the voice then moves up the vocal tract and start resonating in different spaces. So, for the voice to enhance and to become louder, it needs to bounce around in an empty space. Now let's think, what are the empty spaces that we have in our mouth or face? We have the throat right behind the vocal box. It's called the pharynx – the throat itself. The back of the throat. The mouth itself, that's a big space.

So this is why when you open your mouth for the open vowel sounds, for example: ‘ah' and ‘aa', you create more space inside your mouth for the voice to vibrate, which changes the quality of the sound. Right? So when you drop your jaw and you create more space in your mouth, your voice is usually a little louder because it has more room to vibrate.

More places for the voice to vibrate: we said the mouth, right? Nose. Nasal passages. Now the sound waves are created here, but then they move around the body, and they bounce against hard elements. In our case, the bones, right? We have the cheekbones, and the skull, and the chest – chest bones, the ribs. So these are bones that also vibrate with the voice.

Now, lower notes, lower frequencies, tend to vibrate with the chest bone. So the chest tends to vibrate with lower notes, while the head and the cheekbones and all the parts here tend to vibrate with higher notes.

Where your voice is at, whether it's your chest, or your mouth, or your nose, or your head, that's your vocal placement – where you place your voice. And when it resonates and enhanced. Okay? So it resonates in the spaces, but it's enhanced by adding higher notes, right, like that high pitch. And then it's more head voice and mask resonance. Or if you add lower notes, and then it's more chest voice, and that's a deeper quality of the voice.

Now, a lot of times people talk about English as if it has a certain placement. A language doesn't have a placement, people have placement. And here's the thing, I might use my placement differently, based on what I'm saying or the context of the situation. For example, If I'm speaking to my friend on the phone and I want to be funny or sarcastic, I might just go lower in pitch. If I want to be flirting with them, I'm going to go to my lower notes.

And then if I need to call my friend from across the street, I might move to my mask resonance so they hear me better. “Hey, how are you doing?” Or sometimes I might use my head voice. “What? What are you talking about? No way!” Right? And I use that to express an emotion and my tone. So we constantly shift between placements based on the situation, based on our tone of voice, and based on what we want to say.

Also, every person has their own natural placement, where their voice is most comfortable at. For some people it's a little lower, for some people it's a little higher. Because this is also the structure of your vocal chords and how thick they are, and the shape of your mouth. So, you definitely don't want to compare yourself to someone else when you're exploring the voice, but you might want to take some elements about how they use their voice maybe, or how expressive they are. And not try to imitate someone else's voice, because it might not be aligned with your own voice.

People have different voices. So you want to understand what feels right for you, what feels right when you are using your voice. And how can you use your voice so that you are effortless and expressive. That is the most important thing. Even if it's a little higher than what you had intended it to be or what you had thought that your voice should sound like, or even when it's lower than what you had planned. Right? So, the most important thing is to be connected with your voice and with your sound.

Now, how do you find that optimal voice? Here's the thing. Let's begin with the fact that if your voice is too high or too low, you're going to be a little less expressive because you'll have less play. English is a very varied language. You use your pitch continuously, whether it's about going up or going down when trying to say something, or up when you want to stress something.

And you always hear this melody going up and down. And if you stuck down here, there's very little room for you to be expressive with your voice, and to express your feelings and emotions; and even to deliver your message clearly. Same thing if you're stuck up here and you're not using your voice a lot, and you're not playing with your pitch. That's also preventing you from a very essential element of communication.

So ideally, you want to use your middle voice. And your middle voice, by the way, is usually the place where your voice is most comfortable at. And it's called the optimum pitch level. I've already discussed it on another video where I talk about changing your voice in English, and I'm going to link to that video below if you'd like to learn more about the voice. And I have also a video about fun exercises that you can do to feel more powerful with your voice. But back to our story.

What is the optimum voice, the optimum pitch level? Your optimum pitch level is, like I said, the place where your voice is most comfortable at and most effortless. And that is the place where you hum. ‘Mmmmm'. Your hum is usually your optimum pitch level. ‘Hmmmm'. ‘How are you doing?' ‘How are you doing?'

Now, if you hum and your voice that comes out is very different than the voice that you usually use when speaking, this is something to explore, right? Because maybe, just maybe, you're speaking lower than your optimum pitch level, or higher than your optimum pitch level. And again, there's nothing wrong with that, if you feel 100% comfortable. But if you feel that you're not expressive, that you're straining your voice when speaking and you feel exhausted at the end of the day, I would definitely look into that.

Because sometimes when our voice is too high or too low, and we feel that we are not heard and we want to increase the volume, we might strain our voice while doing it. Instead of just placing it in the right placement, where the mouth already does all the work, because you have all the resonators. So why not use whatever is naturally there already, without straining your voice?

So, another way to find your optimum pitch level is by going really low. And then you want to push your belly, your diaphragm actually, a few times. Let's do it again. Go really low. You hear that the voice goes up really quickly. That's the optimum pitch level. So you can try that too, and you can try the hum and see what feels right.

Now, I'm not saying this should be your voice. I'm saying that understanding that this is your middle voice, and this is where your voice is most comfortable at. You can start with that and you can start exploring that. And then, remember, that you can definitely go a little lower and a little higher, and use all your resonators. And when you speak a little lower – not too low, but a little lower – you add all the resonants of the chest, which usually has this deeper, darker, richer quality to your voice.

But sometimes, you might want to use more of your head voice. So ideas about, “Oh, my voice is too high. My voice is too nasal”… I mean, yes, sometimes we use more nasality in our voice. And that's especially the case if you have a lot of nasal vowels in your native language. And yes, you don't have to use them, if we don't have nasal vowels. And understanding how to use your mouth or your chest resonance instead can serve you. But it doesn't mean that there is something wrong with your voice. The idea is to understand how to use everything entirely.

Now, to understand how to use your resonators, like I said, I have a video with a bunch of fun exercises to help you explore the versatility of your voice. And I'm going to link to it in the description.

Okay, that's it. Now I want to hear from you. Do you find yourself having negative thoughts about your voice? If so, what are they? You can share them in the comments and see that, first of all, you're not alone. But also I would be more than happy to support you, and see if there's anything else I can help you with.

Also, I have a task for you to find someone that you really love their voice and how they use it. And start asking yourself question why you like it so much. What is it about their quality of voice? Is it because you feel that they're expressive? Because you understand their feelings? Because you feel that they're connected. So, I want you to ask yourself all of these questions. And then if you have any insights, share them in the comments with us below. Or come on over to Instagram at @hadar.accentsway and send me a DM.

All right. That's it for today. Thank you so, so much for being here. Remember, loving your voice is so incredibly important. Because if you don't love your voice, you will believe that no one is going to love your voice. And that is not healthy, my friend, for anything related to life or communication.

And also, when you start loving your voice, you start enjoying recording yourself and hearing yourself on video. And that is also something that you want to incorporate more into your life, especially when it comes to practicing your English.

All right. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. And I'll see you next week in the next video. Bye.

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