Your voice is a musculoskeletal instrument. From my perspective as a physio, I think there are three components to this unique and amazing instrument and they are the Voice, the Breath, and the Body.
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In this episode of MoveMedics TV, we begin the Body-Voice Connection mini series with the Voice Component. I walk you through the anatomy of your Larynx and the muscles of your voice. I also share 2 tips for you to optimise this voice-producing component of your voice.
’Til next time, Be Free In Your Movement™.
This information is not medical advice. Got health concerns? Consult a real-life health professional.
Views are my own.
Your voice is a musculoskeletal instrument and from my perspective as a physio, I think there are three components to this unique and amazing instrument and they are the Voice, the Breath, and the Body. In this mini series I’m going to break down each one of these for you in turn and also give you some tips so you can optimise each of these components to help support your vocal health and performance. Ready? Let’s jump in.
Hi, I’m Selina, physio from MoveMedics, welcome to my channel. I help people improve their mobility so they can do the splits, bend the backs, and also to support their singing. If that sounds good to you please subscribe to my channel and make sure you ding that notification bell so you don’t miss my new videos when they come out.
I have been looking forward to making this series for a long, long time so let’s jump straight in. We are starting with the voice producing component of your voice, the larynx. Now your vocal folds are a pair of highly specialised membranous tissues, they vibrate to create sounds and your vocal folds live inside your larynx.
Here I have a model of the larynx, it is huge, in real life your larynx isn’t really that big at all, but with it being so big we can see really well, so let me come closer and give you a 360 first. I’m holding on to the trachea, and this is as if you are looking into me, so let me show you around, the red bits are the muscles, that’s not all of it.
Okay. Now this here is your epiglottis, when we swallow, it folds down to protect your airway so we don’t choke. This u-shaped bone here is your hyoid, on me, it’s just here.
Your larynx is made up of a few pieces of cartilages, the biggest one is this one, the thyroid cartilage, okay. On me, it’s here.
Underneath the thyroid cartilage we have the cricoid cartilage, so this one here, it’s a ring and on me, it’s here.
Between the thyroid and cricoid cartilages we have the cricothyroid joint, they are proper synovial joints, you have one on the right one on the left, synovial joints are joints like your knee, your jaw, and most of the joints in your body.
The cricothyroid joints can tilt, you have muscles that creates the tilt, when it tilts it lengthens your vocal folds resulting in a change in pitch and your voice goes up.
At the back we have a pair of cartilage here, the arytenoids. There are also muscles between them, and you’ve muscles between the cartilages as well.
And your vocal folds are inside. Now my model has seen better days so it is broken on the inside, but that is where the vocal fold is.
The white bit is meant to be the vocal folds and the red one here is your thyroarytenoid muscles. Now of course in real life your vocal folds are much more resilient, they’re not cheap plastic that falls apart but this is where they live.
And the muscles that connects all these cartilages together, when they work together it moves these cartilages and in doing so alters the length and the tension of your vocal folds resulting in pitch modulation.
And these are just the muscles that are in the larynx itself, what we call intrinsic muscles of the larynx. There are muscles that are outside of your larynx that are also part of your voice production crew.
You have constrictor muscles that wrap around the entire larynx.
There’re muscles that go above and below that shift the larynx up and down, from the thyroid cartilage you have muscles that goes down to the top of your sternum, from the thyroid cartilage you have muscles that goes up towards the hyoid.
From the hyoid there are also muscles that go to the top of your sternum, plus from hyoid to collarbone, first rib, and shoulder blade. You have muscles that go from hyoid up to your jaw and also your skull.
Your tongue lives on top of the hyoid, the tongue itself is a ball of muscle, there are more muscles that connects the tongue down to the hyoid below, and you also have muscles that connects the tongue up towards your skull and your palate.
So you have really a team of muscles that helps to produce your voice and we are not even going to talk about articulators or resonators, they’re not in my purview. I’m a physiotherapist so I am just sticking with the musculoskeletal stuff and as you can see, there are a tonne of muscles that come together to help you make sounds and that’s why your voice is truly a musculoskeletal instrument.
So how do you optimise this voice producing part of your voice?
My first tip for you today is to learn good technique, both for speaking and for singing. Singing really is the more advanced usage of your voice and we know that there are technique involved, but you might be thinking “For speaking! What are you talking about? I’ve been speaking my whole life, I know how to speak!”
Well let me tell you my friend, there is definitely more efficient ways of speaking and less efficient way of speaking, this is exactly why we have vocal coaches and singing teachers, they are here to help us develop our voices so we can be efficient, have good performance, and also help with injury prevention. As you know now that your voice is a musculoskeletal instrument so like all other musculetal… musculoskeletal business in your body you can also injure your voice and it is also susceptible to overuse issues.
On that note my second tip for you is that you should never have any discomfort or pain when you use your voice, you should also never be regularly losing your voice, which is very common amongst teachers, a lot of teachers lose their voice at the end of the semester, that’s not supposed to happen, if this is you please go see a speech pathologist as soon as you can, they are the experts to help you out, go to Google, punch in speech pathologist, voice, and your local area, find someone you like and book an appointment today.
In the next episode we will talk about the breath but until then I would love to hear from you, what was your biggest takeaway in today’s episode? Were you surprised at how many muscles you have in your voice? Leave me a comment to let me know.
I’m currently working on some awesome online movement programmes and I have especially designed programmes for voice users and singers so if you want to be the first to know when they’re ready, make sure you are part of the MoveMedics family, you can join the fam using this link and I will also put the link in the description box so you can click and go straight to my website.
You can also come hang out with me over at the Instamagram where I share bite size movement and mindset tips.
I want to thank you very much for hanging out with me today, I appreciate you lots and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.
And until then thank you so much for watching and Be Free In Your Movement™