finding a voice
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
I’ve always struggled with my voice. It’s been the one consistent note I always get – through rehearsals and often during performances too.
And my heart sinks. Volume. Again.
When I was little, I remember having a huge voice. I remember being told to be quieter never louder. I remember feeling this booming sensation in my chest. As is not uncommon with a lot of teenage girls, I hit puberty and insecurities hit me, and my voice disappeared inside of me. This was compounded by the fact that my family moved around a lot the entire time I was growing up. When you move through different schools, your accent adapts and waves and ebbs. I’ve been told I cycle through three or four accents in a single sentence. I often feel like the only place my accent is native to is the house where my family is: all of us together creating our own little kingdom where our voices make sense.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a poor me post. But it’s been helpful to reflect on this journey when it came to that one note.
I’ve done a few different voice classes here and there. I did some in undergrad and I have seen different people through different productions over the years. Sometimes, they made sense. Most of the time, I pretended to understand and feel what they said I was feeling or notice what they were noticing. Now these methods might work for you. And that’s incredible! But they did not for me. When I was told to picture a big pool in my pelvis and breathing in was like sending one drop into that pool and I should allow my voice to burst forth from that like a fountain rising up to the sky, I rolled my eyes. What pool in my pelvis? How? Whose voice is like a fountain? It wasn’t for me.
Cue the last three months. At RCS, we’ve been working with the Nadine George method and if you struggle with voice and haven’t found this yet, I would encourage you to go explore. What I have enjoyed thus far about this journey (and I am far far FAR from an expert) is how based in the physical and the now it is. There was no visualisations. But there was a lot of this is the shape your mouth should be and you should breathe like this. It was practical. That was something I could hold on to. We focused so much on breathing, it took ages to get to anything vocal.
However, when we did, there was a difference. There was a voice inside of me. There was RESONANCE. A word that I was frequently told about but never understood. I cannot describe the excitement and pure joy I felt at rediscovering a little of seven year old me’s voice. It felt like it was finding its way back. Slowly but surely.
This journey isn’t over but I can’t be more thankful for the work that I have done over the last three months. I didn’t realise how much my voice was tied to my past, my confidence, my sense of self. If nothing else, it leaves me with a lot to ponder. That and I actually now have a warm up that makes sense to me and doesn’t have me visualising a diving pool below my rib cage.