The piano room in our last house was a big space with a high ceiling, hard surfaces and lots of echo, so this 5-foot long “harp-in-a-box” filled the whole house with sound, even when the top was closed. Yet, somehow, it didn’t seem to really resonate there.
In our new home, the piano’s room is small and intimate, with a low ceiling, surrounded by lots of books, carpet, nooks and crannies that absorb its sounds. Its resonance is muted until the lid is opened, and then it makes the ceiling and walls reverberate with rich sounds capable of expressing great tenderness and passion.
People’s voices, too, change in different environments — emotional environments and physical environments. Our voices express how we feel, whether confident or doubtful, tender or harsh, authoritative, collaborative, comfortable, shy . . . . Our voices even express something about the mass of our physical bodies: people with big voices tend to have large statures and children have small voices. And our voices, no matter how loud or full, often feel muted when what we have to say is ignored or belittled. At those times our posture shrinks, our energy draws inward.
Am I mixing up different qualities of voice? Yes, I’m mixing but not mixing up. The voice that makes sound also expresses emotion and reflects the posture and the mass of the body. And simply the posture of the body can change the sound of the voice. The body, its size, its posture, and the voice are all parts of a whole, integrated system, so changing one part affects the rest.
The next time you feel discouraged or insignificant notice how your shoulders likely slump forward, your head goes down a little and your energy drops. Your voice sounds weak as well. Notice what happens when you lift your head, roll your shoulders back and relax into a balanced posture. You feel a bit better, right? Your energy rises and your voice projects outward, even without pushing it. Notice also that you don’t feel quite so discouraged or insignificant. This somatic principle, linking the body with emotions, voice, and behavior, is one of the tools I use as a life coach to open my clients to fuller, more authentic expression of themselves and the life they want to create.
Do you “resonate” in your surroundings or do you feel your voice is muted? Where does your emotional voice resonate best? Using your voice like an instrument, do you consciously adjust your physical voice to fit different environments or even to mask your feelings? How do you “manage” your feelings and your voice when your environment is uncomfortable or even threatening?
Join the conversation and leave a comment below about your experiences and your thoughts on “Voice.”