“I feel since we started these lessons it’s helping me a lot to relax… it’s so important… I’m getting so much out of it.”
These words were spoken by one of my clients – an academic – last week. This person has been home-schooling primary-aged school children, preparing for university students return in September to online learning, as well as running the home and all that entails, along with their partner, both of whom are working full time from home, online. In the middle of all this, my client recognised the need for some time to be devoted to their own well-being and personal growth and so has begun weekly voice and accent coaching with me.
When we started the course, we discussed ways to develop more fluency in her spoken style and one of the ways was to relax the body and especially, to relax the jaw. After a few weeks of exercises and practice using text and poetry, a change came over her.
“I started recognising how rigid I am, how heavy, rigid, almost paralysed, not only the mouth, it’s the whole body. This is helping me to relax. It’s difficult to believe, but I’m getting so much out of it.”
Using poetry as material to be spoken aloud at this time, during the lockdown and the weeks that have followed, has been a source of help for voice coaching. The rhythm and pattern of poetry helps with the pace and tune of the English language and many words offer the opportunity to exercise the articulators. Using your articulators (the tongue, the teeth, the soft palate and the lips) in the correct way makes your voice easier to understand and the words you speak become clearer.
We use poetry from the time of Shakespeare (including Shakespeare’s sonnets), right through to poetry from Sylvia Plath and stop on the way for Milton, Wordsworth, Frost, Lear, Carroll, Auden, Blake, Rossetti, Hardy, Noyes, Ayres, Dunbar and many others. Poems offer so much to voice coaching, including expanding vocabulary.
Voice coaching is a complex but subtle blend of strategies to help people to speak with confidence and to speak more clearly. At Voice Synergy, we provide a toolbox of skills to help people speak well and to stop mumbling. Not being understood by others is a very frustrating experience but this can be overcome by learning to slow down your speech and to learn how to articulate more accurately.
During the process of voice coaching, our clients learn to exercise muscles they never knew they had and to breathe in a new way to help their fluency with speech.
Our coaching courses are open ended, as your voice journey is for life. Some clients book regularly for up to a year, others take a five-week course and are happy with the progress they have made after that time. Some people like to have accent coaching to move their original accent to more of a BBC or Queen’s English accent. Whatever our clients’ goals, we are here to help you with relaxing your body, to help you to speak clearly and very importantly, to gain courage and confidence to ultimately enjoy making a speech or presentation.
This is a short story of someone who is currently on their voice journey to improve confidence, articulation and clarity and recently had a crucial career interview:
“Before I went into my interview, I thought of you and having my mentor by my side. It helped me to remember the exercises that we’d been through and it calmed my nerves and it made me think more clearly and prepare properly for my interview. What a big difference it made. The techniques you taught me were invaluable in helping me to make my presentation and ultimately to secure the job.”
This person has been having regular weekly voice and accent coaching with Voice Synergy for over five months now and with growing confidence and better speaking skills, is going from strength to strength in their new career.
If you’d like to know more about voice coaching and how it can help boost your career, get in touch.
This is a poem by Edward Lear, The Pobble Who Has No Toes. It is a fun poem to read aloud that helps with developing good articulation, rhythm and breath control.
The Pobble Who Has No Toes
By Edward Lear
The Pobble who has no toes
Had once as many as we;
When they said “Some day you may lose
He replied “Fish, fiddle-de-dee!”
And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink
Lavender water tinged with pink,
For she said “The World in general knows
There’s nothing so good for a Pobble’s toes!”
The Pobble who has no toes
Swam across the Bristol Channel;
But before he set out he wrapped his nose
In a piece of scarlet flannel.
For his Aunt Jobiska said “No harm
Can come to his toes if his nose is warm;
And it’s perfectly known that a Pobble’s toes
Are safe, – provided he minds his nose!”
The Pobble swam fast and well,
And when boats or ships came near him,
He tinkledy-blinkledy-winkled a bell,
So that all the world could hear him.
And all the Sailors and Admirals cried,
When they saw him nearing the further side –
“He has gone to fish for his Aunt Jobiska’s
Runcible Cat with crimson whiskers!”
But before he touched the shore,
The shore of the Bristol Channel,
A sea-green porpoise carried away
His wrapper of scarlet flannel.
And when he came to observe his feet,
Formerly garnished with toes so neat,
His face at once became forlorn,
On perceiving that all his toes were gone!
And nobody ever knew,
From that dark day to the present,
Whoso had taken the Pobble’s toes,
In a manner so far from pleasant.
Whether the shrimps, or crawfish grey,
Or crafty Mermaids stole them away –
Nobody knew: and nobody knows
How the Pobble was robbed of his twice five
The Pobble who has no toes
Was placed in a friendly Bark,
And they rowed him back, and carried him up
To his Aunt Jobiska’s Park.
And she made him a feast at his earnest wish
Of eggs and buttercups fried with fish, –
And she said “It’s a fact the whole world
That Pobbles are happier without their toes!”