Ahead of Supercharge Your Vocal Confidence on 8 October, Michael Hill writes about finding freedom of expression and vocal confidence.
Unlike other instruments, we can’t see our voice and this can be a worry for performers. I get asked lots of questions by performers, including:
“How do I know my voice is healthy?”
“Am I projecting my voice correctly”
“Is it ok to feel X/Y/Z when I’m using my voice on stage?”
“Am I using my diaphragm correctly?”
“What even is my diaphragm?”
If you’ve ever had questions like these, or doubts about your voice or vocal technique, I would love to meet and work with you at my workshop ‘Supercharge Your Vocal Confidence’. I work with actors and singers of all styles and backgrounds and care deeply about helping them find freedom of expression and vocal confidence.
From personal experience, it has been a great comfort and source of confidence to me that I can rely on my voice to deliver whatever message I’m conveying, be that through singing, broadcasting, presenting or teaching voice. But that confidence in my voice didn’t come easy! I spent many years searching for answers, never quite knowing whether I was on the right track, always battling with the spectre of performance anxiety.
Discovering books and courses on how the voice works was a huge revelation for me and voice education became my great passion. I even managed to become one of the UK’s first authorised Complete Vocal Technique teachers, training for 3 years at one of the world’s biggest voice research institutes, CVI in Copenhagen. I continue to research vocal techniques, attend courses and keep up-to-date with the latest vocal technique and health literature and I love translating this information into practical, reliable approaches that you can add to your ‘toolkit’ as a performer.
So, before we meet at the workshop, I thought it would be helpful to give you some vocal tips to keep you in good vocal shape:
- The vocal folds need moisture to work effectively. Try to keep hydrated throughout the day. How can you tell that you’re well hydrated? Check your pee! If it’s pale, you’re probably well hydrated. You can find out more here: https://www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/hydration
- If your voice feels a bit groggy in the morning, or you feel like you have a lot of mucus, you can try steaming your voice. Fill a bowl with hot water, place a towel over your head and breathe in deeply for 5-10 minutes. You can repeat this 2/3 times a day.
- To get your voice going before performing, to ‘reset’ it during a day of heavy voice use, and to cool down after a performance/at the end of the day, try semi-occluded vocal tract exercises (SOVT). It sounds very lofty and academic, but the exercises are very simple and can include: humming on an ‘mmm’, feeling lots of vibrations in the mouth and nose - try to keep this same forward resonance when you speak or sing; making a ‘vvv’ or ‘zzz’ sound feeling a buzz in the face and lots of energy in the abdominal area and; speaking/singing through a straw. Sounds crazy, but there’s lots of research to show that it’s a great way of getting your voice feeling clear and resonant, without strain. You can read more online and see some demonstrations here, for example: https://www.ceenta.com/news-blog/how-voicing-through-a-straw-can-save-your-vocal-folds
- Rest, rest, rest! The voice is capable of incredible things, but it can only do what you have the energy for. We can hear physical fatigue in the voice, so it’s important that you get the right amount of sleep for you and take regular ‘vocal naps’ during the day. You could tie these rest periods in with some calming breathing: Place your hands on your lower ribs and exhale fully. Then, inhale deeply and calmly through your nose and feel the ribs expand. Repeat a few times, making sure you take your time. This action stimulates the Vagus Nerve (sadly not the Vegas Nerve, which ought to be a new sell-out show on the Strip!) and can reduce stress and anxiety. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-athletes-way/201705/diaphragmatic-breathing-exercises-and-your-vagus-nerve
I hope you enjoy these tips and I look forward to helping you supercharge your vocal confidence!
Supercharge Your Vocal Confidence is a four-week course, beginning on 8 October. For more information, as well as booking links, please click here.
About Michael Hill
Michael Hill is a voice coach, singer and freelance broadcaster. One of the UK's first trained Complete Vocal Technique instructors, he has continued to pursue research into how the voice works and how best to translate this into safe and effective tools performers can trust. He has worked with a range of performers and styles - from teaching singing and accents to TV actors, coaching West End singers, helping lawyers with public speaking and even training international metalcore bands to grunt safely on tour!
Recently, he has been working as a Senior Lecturer at Leeds College of Music and has presented research on the musicality of accents at the World Voice Consortium.
Back to articles