Strain: Part 2
By Ginny Kopf
issue, I shared how to “check your neck” by looking in a mirror to catch neck
tension that may be causing the strain or constriction in your throat. And I showed you how to use your fingers to
literally contrast the feel of loose muscles versus tight muscles. Today, I’m going to ask you to “check your
is the most common cause of throat constriction, and is vitally important to
your tone quality and vocal health. It
can cause you to have a scratchy tone, less ability to project, and less
I encouraged you last issue, look in the mirror when you sing or speak. Here are some things you need to look for:
straining your nose up?
your nose down?
your nose forward?
your head back?
the nose up (especially for high notes) is really common, and causes a strained
sound AND looks like you are
struggling to hit the note. It can also
your nose down squishes the throat, and it looks meek.
forward also changes the openness of the throat “tube” and looks too overeager
or like a nosey turtle.
your head back hardens the voice, and looks too defensive, like you’re trying
to be “macho.”
of these neck/nose positions can tighten the throat tube, wearing out your
voice, and you will get a sore throat pretty fast.
thing to pay attention to, is your neck position AT WORK
you lean over your desk, straining your nose forward, or strain your neck to
look at the computer screen?
you lean forward, elbows on the table, your shoulders scrunched up?
you sit way back in your chair with your neck pulled back, talking on the
you bow your head, looking at the keyboard or notes as you talk to clients on
you try to hold the phone up to your ear with your shoulder scrunched up?
these positions cause strain. You’re
constricting the breath flow and you’re cutting off the blood stream that gives
you energy for more endurance. Your head
should float easily up, like a helium balloon, with shoulders relaxed down, a
nice long, soft neck. Try to catch
yourself at work (or at home, on your computer, watching TV, talking on the
phone, exercising, cooking), and make an adjustment to your neck position. It might mean getting a better chair for
work, so your posture improves. Or if
you stand at work, or are up and down, you need to balance yourself on two
feet, and work on your overall posture.
you can get rid of that tightness in your throat and have full, rich, projected
tones by eliminating the tension in your neck “tube” that is dampening your
sound. Keep your neck floating up, soft,
and flexible, like a swan to eliminate strain.
Ginny Kopf is well known throughout Florida as a voice,
speech and dialect coach. For over 25
years she has been a teacher at Valencia and Seminole Community Colleges, and
L.A. Acting Workshop. She’s given
thousands of workshops nationally and has done extensive coaching for Disney
and numerous theatres, films and television series. She holds a Masters Degree in theatre voice,
and an MFA in vocal science. Ginny has written two textbooks, The
Dialect Handbook and Accent
Reduction Workshop for Professional American Speech (CD set). Web site: www.voiceandspeechtraining.com