Your Free Voice Episode One
Julia Norton: Hello, and welcome to episode one of Your Free Voice. In this episode, I wanted to talk a little bit about the idea of what is a ‘free’ voice.
It has all kinds of connotations from the metaphorical to the literal, and we can look at it in terms of the mechanics of the voice, and we can look at it in terms of how much we feel able to speak our truth.
So, it’s a massive topic actually. I’m gonna start off with a couple of little quotes just to kind of get us going.
Kristin Linklater from her book, ‘Freeing The Natural Voice’ says, and I’m just, I’m gonna read this bit here, says
“To free the voice is to free the person and each person is indivisibly mind and body. Since physical processes generate the sound of the voice, the inner muscles of the body must be free to receive the sensitive impulses from the brain that create speech.” that’s Kristin Linklater, ‘Freeing The Natural Voice.’
I’m going have a whole episode on Kristin Linklater, later on. But I just wanted to introduce that concept to you, the idea of being free of the physical tension, but also psychological limitations and creative limitations. Depending on where you grow up in the world there’s going to be a certain set of cultural expectations of what’s appropriate and what isn’t appropriate and what isn’t appropriate gets put into shadow. It doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s the Jungian term, for the stuff that isn’t supposed to be seen. I don’t want to get too deep into shadow, immediately in episode one but say, for example, you grow up in a house full of athletes and athletic types, but you really want to write poetry, your desire to write poetry might get pushed into shadow [00:02:00] because it’s not an acceptable way to express yourself in that environment. Now it doesn’t mean that writing poetry is a bad thing at all, in fact it would probably be a wonderful thing, but it got pushed into shadow nonetheless. So our shadow, the side of us that is a buried side, often has all kinds of treasure for us. I’m sure I will go into way more detail about that later, but I just want talk about the idea of what stops our voice from being free.
So often it’s either this. Feeling that we can’t speak our truth or something terrible will happen. There will be consequences that we won’t be able to bear or that we’ll put somebody else in danger by speaking our truth. Or that it’s socially inappropriate to speak our truth. And all of this kind of builds [00:03:00] layers of holding in the body, which manifests in the actual musculature of how we use our voice.
So it becomes a physical thing. So it may start off as a psychological or a spiritual block or, or stall, and then it becomes physical. And so I think to work just physically with the voice, we’re kind of missing half of the story, because half of the story is how you feel about your voice? What are the stories that you’re carrying that tell you that you can’t speak up, or you can’t be loud or, you can’t be angry or a myriad of other things?
So in order to have a fully free voice, and by that, I’m going to say a voice that is [00:04:00] unencumbered by physical tension, and doesn’t fatigue easily. One that recovers quickly from hard effort …to have a free voice you need to take into account the spiritual, the psychological and the physical.
So I’m going to attempt to bring that together more in this podcast, I’m going to invite some super people on, to talk more about it, but I’m just gonna give you this, little passage from Kristen Linklater here. She writes.
“Physical awareness and relaxation are the first steps in the work to be done on the voice.The mind and body must learn to cooperate in activating and releasing inner impulses and dissolving physical inhibitions. Actors must develop [00:05:00] bodies that are sensitive and integrated rather than super controlled and muscular. They must educate the voice into the union of self and body. The voice communicates the inner world of the psyche to the outer world of attentive listeners, both on the stage and in life.” Kristin Linklater
I absolutely love that chunk there, and it actually leads me into the training that I did in the UK the Voice Movement Therapy training.
I had been teaching group harmony singing workshops. When, when I was about, I think I was 19 or 20, when I led my first one, I rented a community hall space. I sold tickets and I said, I’m gonna teach you some, Bulgarian part harmonies. I was doing part harmony singing workshops, and I found that [00:06:00] people would always cry. They would cry from a deep breathing exercise. They would cry when we hit a certain harmonic resonance, there would always be tears.
And at the age of 19, I totally understood that this was a real thing, and at the same time I felt completely ill-equipped to be able to deal with it, to be able to bring people through on that journey. . And so I actually stopped running workshops for a bit, and I went on this quest to find some training that would help me understand how the voice works with the psyche, with the soul.
It took a little while. I think I was looking. for about eight years. And then I found Paul Newham’s training in Voice Movement Therapy in the UK, and I signed up right away. Like oh my goodness, that is exactly [00:07:00] the thing that I need. It was, this combination of, physical, psychological, practical, creative approach to the voice, and for the first time it seemed like it was dealing with the whole person, and not just the larynx and I absolutely love that approach.
And that’s where the core of my teaching has been ever since. I’ve embellished and added onto it since then, but Alfred Wolfsohn, who was the inspiration for Paul Newham’s work, he also, inspired Roy Hart to create Roy Hart theater, I’ll get more into all that later, I don’t want to ramble on too much about that right now, but Alfred Wolfsohn, he said
“the voice is the muscle of the soul”
and that is just so lovely and it feels so true to me. When [00:08:00] we feel repressed in our voice. When, when our vocal apparatus feels either physically limited or metaphorically, like we can’t speak up, it’s crushing.
If you’ve ever had that experience, it is like having you know, somatically, I’ve felt like my chest has been pressed on. Or I’ve felt like I had some big lump in my throat. There’s a reason that that’s a thing that people say, I feel like there’s like a big lump in your throat. I’ve had students talk about feeling like they have burning colds in their throat, or like they’ve swallowed something that they can’t swallow and this is all this kind of physical, manifestation of feeling like your voice isn’t free.
So that’s what we are here to do.
That’s what this podcast is going to be about [00:09:00] it’s about freeing the voice on all those levels, from the deep, psychological place, as much as we can do in a podcast I mean, I just want to help to give you some tools to think about your voice, maybe a little bit differently, and also practical things like understanding how important it is to be physically engaged, to be physically warmed up before you sing or do a voiceover session or go on stage. You have to be physically warmed up and I’m going show you how to do all that as well.
But for this week, just to get us started, I want you to pull out a journal and answer these five questions.
Okay, here we go. I’ll put a link to this in the show notes.
Number one. How do you feel about speaking up or singing in public?
Number two. How easy is it for you to color outside of the lines when you use your voice? By that I mean to be creative, experiment, make up funny voices improvise those kinds of things. So, number two, how easy is it for you to color outside of the lines when you use your voice?
Number three. How does your voice feel after extended use? So giving a big presentation, reading an audio book, a video game session, teaching all day.How does your voice feel after that? That’s number three.
Number four. If you could do anything with your voice, what would it be?
Number five. What do you think is stopping you from doing that right now?
Okay, brilliant. Now I’ll put those questions, like I said, in the show notes, which you can also [00:11:00] find at www.yourfreevoice.com/podcast.
And I’ll add a couple of links in there for the book and the IAVMT. Which is the International Association for Voice Movement Therapy as well. Next episode, we’re going jump straight into warmups, how to create a great warmup for yourself. So there’ll be lots more, dancing, moving, and stretching and less of me going blah, blah, blah. So that’s what next episode is gonna be like, and I hope to see you there. Okay. Bye.