Monday, October 10, 2011

Ditching the Slacker Voice, an odyssey

In the immortal words of Relient K, "I so hate consequences."

Once upon a time, I adopted a more, shall we say, relaxed speaking voice. You see, I was a graduate school student in a choir full of undergraduates, and I was working a retail job, and my height and confidence, coupled with a somewhat precise speaking voice, large vocabulary, and decent diction seemed, shall we say, threatening at most and not very friendly at least to people I had to interact with every day.

My sister puts it this way, "You make people feel stupid sometimes."

I decided that since a lifetime of slouching hadn't really helped my height be less intimidating, maybe I should try to change my speaking voice, so I did. I adopted a lazy sort of tone, reduced my vocabulary outside the graduate program, and tried to sound more relaxed. Now I'm paying for it.

My voice has been getting more gravelly, and it takes an inordinate amount of time to warm it up for speaking or singing, and I thought it was because of being allergic to the Midwest. I went to see an ENT, and he prescribed some additional thankfully cheap things for the allergies. During the exam, he asked me five times, "Do you strain when you talk?"

Five times I answered, "No?"

After the fifth time, he said, "You strain when you talk. Want to go see a voice therapist?"

"Sure, " I said. It took a while, but I finally saw one. It turns out that I strain when I talk (shocker). After some discussion, it turned out that the main culprit is my slacker voice.

Sigh. You try to be less threatening to others and only hurt yourself. What a strange life lesson.

Because I'm a singer, the therapist told me I might be able to straighten out some of the damage on my own, especially since I knew what was causing it and since I don't need it for those reasons anymore (working a professional job and thus not able to participate in that choir anymore).

I can go back to sounding like an intelligent, professional person again. Hooray! So now, my goal is to ditch the slacker voice before it does any irreparable damage to my vocal cords and my singing voice. Welcome back, diction.

The thing is, after 8 years of the slacker voice, my vocal cords don't really know what the correct way to work feels like, so my throat is tired and still hoarse most of the time.  I don't really know if I'm actually making progress.  Also, I don't always think before I talk (a problem since birth, I think), so I'm not sure how long it will take to reprogram my speech patterns. (I pray not as long as it took to make them a habit.) Wish me luck!

Maybe I'll get an essay out of this someday . . .

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