Lesson 5 – Exercises – The Perfect Voice

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Avoid All Strain.

In these instructions strength is frequently mentioned, but it must not be understood from this that there is to be any great physical effort used in performing the exercises. On the contrary, all apparent effort must be avoided. This may astonish you, for when you lift a weight, for example, you experience an appreciable effort. But this is because the muscles of the arm are firmly attached at each end to a bone; they contract strongly to move the bones either toward or away from each other, and therefore you feel the tension in the arm and shoulder. With the muscles of the larynx the case is quite different. These muscles are attached to a solid bone at one end only. The other end grows into one of the three parts of the larynx, and as these parts move freely, they rise and fall with the contraction of the muscles and therefore, furnish no resistance against which the muscles can be felt to contract and stretch. The majority of singers and speakers use too much effort in speaking and singing, thereby unconsciously use and strain the masticatory and throat muscles. As a result, the tones, though strong, are hard and sharp and lack attractiveness and convincing beauty. If the use of the wrong muscle is continued, the voice grows ever harder and worse, and finally it is lost.

Too many singers resort to the use of these false muscles to get increased power. They pay a terrible price for the temporary assistance, for every time they use these muscles they interfere with a part of their real vocal organism. Then comes a day when the voice fails entirely and does not recover, except through a special course of correct training. Even among speakers there are many who depend upon the help of the masticatory muscles, thereby produding a short, clipped tone. The use of these muscles is also to blame for a throaty or pinched tone. Such conditions need not exist, for if the hyoid muscle is trained and strengthened there will be no temptation to use the masticatory muscles. When the natural muscular balance is established, one instinctively chooses the easier and better way of phonation, and then throaty speaking disappears.

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