Thursday, 30 April 2009

Singing the praises of voice coaching

By John Humphries, Training Consultant, Maven Training (as a follow-on from Singing Lessons for Trainers, posted in this blog by another of our Training Consultants, Joe French).

Voice lessons are invaluable. When I started freelancing I met a voice coach from a drama school. In three one-on-one lessons I had learned:

1) how good body posture (incorporating Alexander Technique exercises) helps projection
2) how better breathing helps volume, pitch, modulation and projectio
3) some hints on relaxation and that drinking water at room temperature rather than chilled is better for quenching your thirst.

By the fourth lesson I’d made dramatic vocal improvements and increased in confidence.

I now take refresher lessons every couple of years as a ‘voice health check’ and to work on improving articulation and diction. This is vital for ensuring that audiences can make out the words I’m saying, which is critical on our international classes and when delivering webinars. A single voice lesson takes about an hour and can be quite exhausting, but also strangely relaxing. There are many good voice trainers around. They represent really good value in terms of the benefits you’ll reap. There’s usually no commitment to engage in a series of lessons and you’ll know pretty quickly whether you’re both going to get on. That’s important when you’re expected to do some stuff which is going to put you well out of your comfort zone!

The learning and the exercises need to be embedded into your routine. Just be careful when you’re preparing your voice just before a class – you don’t want to unduly scare your students (or fellow passengers!

Singing ability isn’t on my CV. My voice is somewhat flat and I’m tone-deaf (which is odd, because I’m from Wales) so I don’t do karaoke. For me, the benefits of voice training are validated when I’m training with international audiences who are pleased that they have understood everything I have said (which is also odd, because I’m from Wales!).

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