Where to start?
Like any learning journey, voice training can seem overwhelming at the beginning. There are multiple ways to make a positive difference to your speaking voice (breathing, pace, intonation and pronunciation, to name only a few), so it can feel hard to know where to start.
This challenge can be compounded if you are on a self-guided learning journey. Of all of those interesting, informative YouTube videos, online courses and books, which approaches and exercises will work best for you?
Working with a teacher may seem like the obvious solution, but you need to find the right coach or class.
It can feel like trial and error, and the confusing array of options can prevent some people from starting at all!
Of course, I can’t give a ‘how to begin’ guide that works for absolutely everyone, but I can tell you a little about how I help my clients navigate their vocal journeys.
The first steps
At the risk of stating the obvious: begin with your goal, the thing that made you do a search for ‘voice training’ in the first place.
Typical goals I hear from my clients (not an exhaustive list):
- to be clearly understood first time
- to speak in a less rushed way
- to stop running out of breath
- to sound more interesting/interested
- to trust their voice more
- to work towards a particular pronunciation or accent choice
Once my new client and I have clearly defined their goal, the first few sessions are dedicated to exercises that will make the biggest difference most quickly.
Layers of training
One layer of exercises often leads to another, with discoveries along the way.
Typically, there’s preliminary work: Overall tension release can help the body free up the breath, which in turn helps you access the full power of your voice, so we might spend some time relaxing in each session.
If your goal is clear English pronunciation, some supporting work on breath and voice can help make your new sounds more accessible and sustainable. A little-known fact about accent work is that it works best as a whole-body thing. As I often say in my sessions: the mouth does not float alone!
All this considered, we always start with the quickest yet most sustainable route to the change that will get you closest to your overall goal.
It's a long-term thing
You might experience many beginnings.
Maybe you’re reading this because you did some voice training months or years ago and are wondering how, or if, to come back to it.
Maybe your goal has changed over time. I see this a lot in longer-term clients who return to me over the years with slightly evolved goals each time. Across the board, it benefits them to refresh and integrate the basics, which only serves to strengthen and serve the new objectives!
I have had clients who once worked on pronunciation returning to me to do overall vocal confidence work, and vice versa.
One-to-one training should be an ongoing discussion and refinement of goals, which can be approached from multiple angles.
That’s how I see it, in any case!