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To understand how your voice and your body are connected, we first need to appreciate how we make sound.
Put super simply, you pass air through your Vocal Folds, they vibrate to make a sound, you then shape the sound with your articulators (tongues, lips, upper teeth…ect).
- Your Diaphragm descends to draw air into your Lungs, it relaxes to expel air from your Lungs.
Your Vocal Folds live inside your Larynx (voice box). Here’s a closer look at the various structures involved with your voice:
- Your Vocal Folds are two folds of membranous tissue in your Larynx.
- Your Larynx lives in a myofascial sling that runs from your head to your chest. It is made up of the Thyroid and Cricoid cartilages which are connected to each other by ligaments, these cartilages form the Cricothyroid Joint.
- The Larynx is wrapped in many muscles collectively called the Laryngeal Muscles.
- You change Pitch by tilting the Cricothyroid Joint using your intrinsic Laryngeal Muscles.
- Around the Larynx are other muscles, the Perilaryngeal Muscles, these connect the Larynx to adjacent structures such as the Hyoid bone and the Jaw.
- You even have a muscle, the Omohyoid, that connects your Hyoid to your Shoulder Blade!
All these structures work intricately together to produce your voice.
That is, your voice is produced by musculoskeletal structures in your Larynx.
Moving beyond your Larynx and Thorax, your voice then extends to your body – Hip Flexors, Pelvic Floor, Adductors and Foot below; Neck muscles and Cervical Spine above; Abdominals in front, and Lumbar Spine behind.
These structures work together to support your breath, your voice, and your movement as you use your voice.
That is, your voice is sustained by musculoskeletal structures throughout your Body.
To recap, your Thorax creates your breath, which allows your Larynx to produce your voice, and your Body sustains your voice.
This is how your voice is connected with your body. This is your Body-Voice Connection.
So you see, your voice is actually one amazing musculoskeletal instrument!
Now that we know your voice is a living, breathing instrument (pun intended), we can appreciate how your Physical Fitness and Conditioning can directly affect your voice use:
- To have effective Breath Management when you use your voice, good cardiovascular fitness is essential.
- To be Energy Efficient with your voice use, a strong and mobile body is vital.
Just as the fitter and stronger your legs are, the easier and further you can walk. The fitter and stronger YOU are, the better and easier it is for you to use your voice.
In fact, having a Strong and Fit body is crucial for optimising your Vocal Capacity.
Your Vocal Capacity is your overall ability to use your voice.
When your have good Vocal Capacity, your voice is:
- Free and Agile
- Reliable and Confident
- Energy Efficient
- You have good Vocal Endurance
- Well support by good, effective Breath Management
Which means you can:
- Readily Access your usable Range
- Have great Options for Artist Expression to achieve the desired results – head voice, chest voice, glides, register, belting… etc
- Consistently perform well for the duration of your vocal tasks
And perhaps most importantly, you are at lower risk for overuse issues provided that your Vocal Load is well managed.
To optimise your Vocal Capacity, you need a solid foundation of Good Technique, a Strong and Fit Body to power and support your voice, and Smart Vocal Load Management to maintain a healthy balance between your Vocal Demand and Capacity.
You can have the best Technique in the world but WITHOUT a Strong and Fit body, you cannot fully APPLY your technique.
You can a have a Strong and Fit body but WITHOUT good Technique, you won’t know how to UTILISE your voice.
You can have the best Technique and a Strong and Fit body but WITHOUT smart Vocal Load Management, you can exceed your Vocal Capacity and succumb to overuse voice issues.
Hence, to maintain good Vocal Health and support Voice Performance, you should:
- Learn and hone Good Technique with a qualified vocal coach.
- Develop and maintain a Movement Habit to keep your body Strong and Fit.
- Learn and practice smart Vocal Load Management.
Not all Vocal Tasks are equal. Some you can perform easily and sustain for a long time, others are difficult and demanding and can only be done over a short period of time.
Understanding how effortful each of your Vocal Task is for you is critical in managing your Vocal Load.
To learn more about Vocal Load Management, check out these posts:
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*All 3D Images are from 3D4Medical’s Essential Anatomy 5 Application