Knowing how the voice works will help advance your ideas and knowledge about placement. Think about this as you try to sound more American. Placement makes a big difference
YouTube blocked? Click here to see the video.
In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to study the path of the voice and placement.
One of the things I often talk about with my students is placement. I sometimes feel like their voice only comes from their head, and is placed very much so here, whereas my voice, when I speak English, rests more here. And I feel the placement a little lower.
Let’s talk a little bit about what happens when you’re speaking. So, the diaphragm, here, an involuntary muscle, just like you’re heart, tenses up, which pulls down a little bit. That turns your lungs into a vacuum, and it sucks the air in. When your diaphragm relaxes, the air then comes out. Your vocal cords here are what make the sound. Think of blowing up a balloon, and taking the neck of it, pulling it wide so it makes that annoying squeak sound. That’s what your vocal cords are. So, your lungs are the balloon, and your vocal cords are the mouth of the balloon. And this pressure here is the energy of the voice.
So this is the energy, the fuel of the voice, and up here we have the articulators: the tongue, the teeth, the jaw. That takes the core sound made by the vocal cords, and shapes them into the sounds of American English.
I feel like many of my students lack a connection to this fuel, to the energy. And they speak only from their face. Of course their body works in the same way, they’re bringing in the air, but they seem to have no attachment to it. And their voice seems completely detached from their bodies. But when I speak, I feel my voice very attached to my body.
One exercise you can do to try to focus on your body rather than your face when you’re speaking, is just to exaggerate the movement here, tss, tss, of your abdoment, tss, zz, tss, zz, to connect more to a lower sensation of the breath. Now you wouldn’t want to do that when you’re speaking, but it could be a good exercise for you, to get you into your body.
So here we have the fuel and here the articulation. Now, we want our articulators to be very relaxed. If there’s any tension, in the throat, for example, it will bring the voice up, and the placement up, and then we loose the connection here to the fuel of the voice, to the body.
We’re currently working on a series of videos dealing with relaxation to help you get the voice out of your face and head and into your body. In the mean time, just play around with the idea of pulling the air all the way down, ss, zz, and fueling your voice from here, a lower spot in your body.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.