A Good Voice Can Be Acquired
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
We are inclined to think that a good voice is a special gift of the gods that is bestowed on a fortunate few. It is true that some of us are better endowed than others, and each of us has his individual characteristics. Our voices differ as our personalities differ; it is neither possible nor desirable that we should all speak alike. In a broad sense, however, the voice mechanism is the same in all normal individuals. The difference lies in the use that is made of this mechanism. We can learn to control it, to develop it, to refine it, to use it effectively. Provided there is no physical handicap or malformation, anyone can learn to use his voice pleasingly.
Everyone who has normal speech organs naturally possesses a "good voice." If he knows how to use it properly, his voice will be pleasing to others.
Think of yourself as an organist whose music is pleasing or displeasing, according to your technical skill and the emotion you put into your playing. You can develop skill in using your voice instrument, and the rest is a matter of having something worth while to express. Only real feeling can make your voice warm, alive, enthusiastic, and sincere.
The body is the instrument that furnishes the tone and, like any other instrument, it must be mentally directed. Any mental ailment or maladjustment will reflect itself in the voice. A discouraged person rarely has a brilliant tone of voice or a crisp clear-cut enunciation. The person who is always pitying himself and looking for sympathy invariably has a whining tone or one so faint that it lacks vitality. The ill-tempered individual with a deep voice usually speaks in a gruff tone, while the irritable tenor talks in a shrill, sharp voice. A bad-tempered woman is apt to shriek in a hysterical tone that drives everyone from her. The self-willed person usually has a hard tone.
On the other hand, the person who has cultivated courage, cheerfulness, unselfishness, and understanding will find that these qualities are reflected in his voice and help to make it expressive and attractive.
Do not excuse yourself for having a poor voice by saying, "Oh, but that is my natural voice." A poor voice may be habitual, but it is not natural. Unless some physical defect is present, any voice can be made pleasing and expressive.
Fundamentally, the voice depends upon proper breathing, which, in turn, is made easier by correct posture. If you have started to improve your posture for the sake of appearance, you have already begun your voice improvement.
Your Voice Organ
If you were to begin studying how to play an organ, you would naturally start by learning the names of the parts of the instrument and the purpose of each part. The parts of your voice organ are pictured and named above.
When you take a breath, the air is inhaled through the nose and then is sucked down into the trachea or windpipe, from which it travels into the bronchi and the myriads of air cells in the lungs. Just below the lungs is the diaphragm, a huge muscular partition separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. When relaxed, the diaphragm, as the diagram shows, is dome-shaped. In order to help the air spread throughout the lungs, the upper abdominal muscles help pull the diaphragm down so that the dome is changed into a cup. This creates suction which draws the fresh air into all parts of the lungs. Keep this picture in mind until you have learned how to breathe correctly, for proper breathing is the foundation of a pleasing voice.