Welcome to the Speak With Your Whole Self blog! In my weekly writing, I share tips and mindset tools that will help you communicate more fully and authentically. Every Thursday I share something that pertains either to:
Vocal health and anatomy (How Your Voice Works)
Performing or public speaking (Lessons in Presence)
Your everyday life (Voice Body LIFE)
Or on the really juicy days, something personal! (Elissa gets personal)
You can also join me live every Friday at 1pm EST on the facebook page to hear a deeper explanation of that week’s blog. After all, I’m a voice teacher so I love talking!
P.S. If you want these blogs delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday, plus information about classes and workshops that I only share via email, please sign up for Voice Body Connection updates here!
Hey there crew! Have you ever heard of straw phonation? It’s using a straw to practice making sound with optimal airflow and pressure. The concept was popularized by renowned voice doctor Ingo Titze in this popular youtube video 7 years ago, and has been taken on board by singers, voice teachers, and professional voice users alike. Straws are an incredibly valuable tool for calibrating your effort to create Sound at the vocal folds – so pick one up and try this out!!
Check out the Straw Phonation (Sound) exercise here:
Fun? Exciting? Got tips to add if you’ve tried this before? Tell me in the comments below!
Calling all yogis and yoginis! Today’s How To Warm Up video is an awesome breathing exercise from yoga – a pranayama – called Kapalabhati (pronounced kuh-pall-uh-BAH-tee). Kapalabhati means “skull shining breath.” The idea is that when you practice this breathing technique, your skull winds up feeling all shiny and tingly from the energy you’re sending upwards. Sounds kinda nice, right? The best part about this pranayama is that it is another way to practice supporting from the low belly and sending the breath (and therefore vocal) energy up and out. So check this out because if your body can master kapalabhati, you can master breath support!
It’s time to warm up your Body! And today we’re going to be doing something more vigorous: exercises that use the momentum of swinging. These three simple exercises will warm up your spine, get your blood flowing, and get your breath moving. Best of all, they’ll only take you 2 minutes!. These are two of the best minutes you can add to your day, so check it out:
So fun right?!?
Okay and here’s the best part. As you can see in this video, at the end I blurted out that I wanted you to make me a gif. Well there are no mistakes, so I held a contest for my mailing list for best GIF. The rules of the contest are below if you’re curious, and CONGRATULATIONS to the winner, David, and runner up Melanie!
Rules of the contest:
Make a video of yourself doing one of these swinging exercises (on your phone is fine!)
Upload that video to gifs.com to create a gif.
Caption it something creative (don’t hurt your brain… mine are not always actually clever, let’s be honest 😝 )
Email it to me (email@example.com) by Monday June 12th at midnight EST
I’ll share the winner next week in my newsletter and here on the website!! (And maybe the runners up too, so keep in mind this could go public!)
Today’s exercise is both really simple and also totally challenging. It’s called “Sound That Feels True To You” and it’s a way to help connect your impulses to the sound that’s actually coming out of you. You know that feeling when something comes out of your mouth and it feels totally fake? And your inner monologue is like: “That was b***s***!” This exercise will help you tap into making the sound that is truly authentic, which is of course the jumping off point for saying words and phrases authentically too. Check it out and start sighing out some sound that feels true to you!
Check out the Sound That Feels True To You (Impulse) exercise here:
Do you agree – both simple and hard at the same time? But worth getting good at!
Last week in our Articulation exercise we practiced the nasal sounds M, N, and NG. Today, we’re going to put it all together into a few fun and silly tongue twisters that will get your soft palate and other articulators working in tip top shape!
Check out the Tongue Twisters with Nasals exercise here:
Nasal sounds may not be the most obvious articulation issue, but if you can’t articulate nasals, you can’t articulate clearly. Why? Nasals require a lot of dexterity of the lips, tongue, and soft palate.
The three main nasal sounds we use in English are M, N, and NG. Check out today’s How To Warm Up Articulation video to learn how to make these nasal sounds clearly and easily!
Check out the Nasals Exercise (Articulation) here:
In today’s How To Warm Up video, we’ve looped back around to a Resonance exercise! In the last loop we talked about mask resonance, which helps you get into a forward-placed, ping-y sound. Today, we’re going to talk about what I like to call ‘loft resonance.’ It helps you get into a taller, more robust placement. Think about it this way… mask resonance is the belt-y Elphaba sound, and loft resonance is more the classical Glinda sound. (Hats off to Idina and Kristin by the way 🎩 … and fun fact, I saw the first preview EVER of Wicked back in 2003 in San Francisco when I was a senior in high school!)
I’ve been thinking about sharing the content in today’s How To Warm Up video for quite awhile, and I’m very excited the time has come! See, today I am teaching you how massage the muscles on the front of your throat.
Your larynx (picture to your right) is your voice box: the thing made of cartilage that sits in your throat and houses the vocal folds (aka the vocal cords). It’s suspended in your throat by some small but strong muscles. When these muscles are tight, the vibration of your voice becomes dampened and it can become effortful to produce sound. But good news: You can massage these muscles!
Now if you go to a normal masseuse they’re not going to work on the front of your neck, and there’s good reason for that… the front of our neck is a vulnerable place, namely because of the carotid artery. Working on this area for another person requires very specific training, and the people who have this training are speech therapists. A speech therapist (or pathologist) can administer or teach you a more complex version of what I’m sharing today, and that’s called “circum-laryngeal massage,” (massaging around the larynx).
I am NOT a clinician, but I do have some training in speech therapy methods. So, over the years I have taught a simplified version of laryngeal massage to many clients so they can do it themselves. Over and over, I have seen the benefits of this technique for those suffering from vocal fatigue. Now it’s time to share this knowledge! So in today’s video, I’m sharing the most fool-proof aspects of this very beneficial technique. Please simply remember the most important part: You must practice this technique on YOURSELF, and stop anytime you’re experiencing discomfort.
Explanation and disclaimer aside, I can’t wait to share. So let’s dive in, shall we?
Check out the “Laryngeal Massage” (Sound) Exercise here:
Enjoy! And please comment below because I imagine you’ll have questions!
Enrollment is now open for my two spring classes, held live and online! I would love to learn, grow, and share with you:
How Your Voice Works (and Why It Matters To Know!)
A class for singers and voice teachers
For seven weeks on Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:30pm EST
starting May 10th
How Your Voice Works (and Why It Matters To Know!) is a live, online course for singers and voice teachers. Preparation for this class is to watch one module per week of the pre-recorded online course How Your Voice Works (included in enrollment), which dives deeply into the anatomy and mechanics of the voice. The live weekly class on Wednesdays will then expand on our physiological understanding of the voice to explore the energetic, emotional, mental, and spiritual implications of this knowledge.
A class for performers and public speakers
For six weeks on Thursday evenings from 7:30-8:30pm EST
starting May 11th
How To Sound Like Yourself is a fully live, online course for performers and public speakers. In this course, we’ll take a mindset-based approach to transforming the way you speak. Class will include exercises and techniques to transform your habits, become more present, and help you overcome your nerves. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively with your body and voice, so your message lands every time you get up in front of an audience.
We’re back with another “How To Warm Up” video, and today we’re covering breath support!
In the last video on Body we covered one of my favorite new things – abdominal massage. Massaging your guts is super beneficial for helping your belly release so you can allow in an easy, expansive inhalation.
– HOWEVER –
When we’re producing sound, the exhalation isn’t just released… rather it needs to be supported and energized. That means there’s actually engagement and work happening in the low abdominal muscles. Today’s video will help you feel how to engage the power of breath support without overdoing it. (And you’ll also learn why your voice is like a toothpaste tube! 😜 )
Check out the “Sh, Let It Go” Breath Support Exercise here:
Enjoy! Don’t overdo it, and let me know if you have any questions!