Imagine a world without VOICE.
Imagine for a second that no human being could produce voice. How would teachers educate? How would lawyers defend their client? How would salespeople, preachers or politicians convince people to buy in to their idea? How would singers sing their songs?
The voice is the most powerful sound in the world. While other sounds may be louder, only the human voice has the power to convey messages that could move, shape or shake the world.
As the VoiceMaster of the Philippines, I am a living testimony of how the voice is such a powerful force. For 20 years, my voice has not only brought thousands of brands and characters to life, but has also inspired and motivated millions of Filipinos around the world. It is with my voice that I am also able to empower other people to discover their own voice, through the organizations I have founded such as Philippine Center for Voice Acting, Voice of the Youth Network, Microphone Club and Voice Care Philippines.
Last April 16, the whole world celebrated World Voice Day. Various organizations from different parts of the world conducted their respective events to celebrate our most miraculous and powerful instrument, which is the voice. Here in the Philippines, we celebrated World Voice Day through a tribute to professional voice users – those whose occupations rely mainly on the voice. Through my radio programs and advocacy organizations, we published a podcast with tips on how to take care of the voice.
Despite being powerful and important, the voice remains to be one of the most overlooked and taken-for-granted tool that we have. Think about it. How many times have you taken conscious effort to project your voice the proper way? Did you even know there is a proper way to project your voice? How often do you drink water throughout the day to keep your throat moist? How conscious are you of the way you breathe?
We say prevention is better than cure, but our approach to voice care does not tell us so. We always expect that voice will come out when we open our mouths to speak. Once we start to feel pain in our throat or experience hoarseness, that’s the time we scramble to find a cure and practice the behaviors that should have been preventive measures in the first place!
I know, because I used to take the same approach with my voice. I know what it feels like to wake up voiceless on the day when I have to do a voiceover or a motivational talk. That’s why after years of research and practical learning, I established Voice Care Philippines. Together with my Executive Director, Ada Cuaresma, we developed Voice Care programs to equip professional voice users with the knowledge and tools to SAVE THEIR VOICE AND SAVE THEIR CAREER.
Did you know that 75% of voice problems are caused by vocal abuse or misuse? This was a huge eye-opener for me because when I started teaching Voice Care, I thought that all symptoms of voice problems will vanish if we simply learn to shut up. I would always advice people to take voice rest until their voice is back to normal.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t rest your voice. In fact, voice rest is essential for treating voice problems. However, if you talk more than you are quiet (especially true for professional voice users), you need to be trained on the proper way to talk without straining your voice. Remember, no amount of rest can compensate for poor use of the voice.
These are the 5 tips to help keep your voice in tiptop shape:
1. KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED. For professional voice users, water is your best friend. Room temperature water, to be exact. Our vocal folds vibrate hundreds of times PER SECOND everytime we speak, so it’s important to keep them moist to avoid friction that would cause wear and tear damage to our precious voice box.
2. GIVE YOUR VOICE A BREAK. Our vocal folds are muscles, and we need to rest them in order to recuperate from a heavy vocal activity, like 6 hours of classroom teaching or 2 hours of singing. The eight-hour sleep rule is especially helpful for the voice. But if your lifestyle does not allow you to sleep that long, I would at least recommend that you take “voice naps.” Rule of thumb, rest your voice for 15 minutes for every hour of talk time.
3. OBSERVE PROPER POSTURE. With the modern lifestyle of sedentary desk jobs and without much physical exercise, our spine can easily get out of alignment, causing strain on our upper back. Take note: VOICE HATES TENSION. It’s like covering a guitar’s acoustic hole and then playing the guitar. The sound is constricted and does not reverberate well. The same thing happens to your voice when your muscles are tensed. To correct your posture, I recommend the WALL EXERCISE. All you need to do is lean on the wall for one minute – pressing your heels, buttocks, shoulder blades and the back of your head on the wall. This is a simple yet effective way to re-align your spine.
4. OBSERVE PROPER BREATHING. The breath is the fuel of voice. People nowadays only use 10% of their lung capacity, causing the breathing to be shallow. Proper breathing means you should feel your abdomen expanding and contracting as you inhale and exhale. If your shoulders rise and fall when you breathe, it means your breathing is shallow.
5. INVEST IN PROPER VOICE TRAINING. I repeat, 75% of voice problems can be prevented with proper vocal technique. Sadly, even professional voice users do not get enough training to prevent vocal abuse or misuse. Sure, you can search online for do’s and don’ts on how to take care of the voice, but above anything else, you need to learn the SCIENCE of how voice is produced to begin with so you can better appreciate and understand how to properly use it. Seek expert training like what we have in Voice Care Philippines. We offer specialized voice care workshops for professional voice users – like teachers, call center agents, and sales and marketing executives. We also offer one-on-one voice coaching sessions for those who would like to have a personalized program.
There are many other things you need to learn when it comes to voice care, but trust me, the 5 tips I shared with you are more than enough to get you started on your journey towards a healthy voice.
Happy World Voice Day to all of you!