Relax - Voice And Expression
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In order to achieve a full, rich, clear tone you must learn how to relax. If you play golf you know that the good golfer is a picture of graceful action because he keeps his muscles relaxed and flexible and at the same time under perfect control. Every movement is rhythmical and effective. This same kind of relaxed, controlled, co-ordinated muscular action is necessary to good voice production.
Most persons must learn to relax consciously, and they should not cease thinking about relaxing until they have made it a habit. As you take the exercises for posture and relaxation, let your shoulders hang easily. Don't try to throw them back and don't try to hold your chest high. If your abdominal muscles are doing their work properly and your lower rib cage is well extended, without strain, the chest will take the right elevation of its own accord.
When you are not relaxed you force your voice from the throat, and what is the result? Your voice becomes harsh, gruff, or shrill, or it breaks. In cases of extreme strain it fails you entirely. Relaxation pre-vents an irritated or aching throat and all the unpleasant sounds that come from forcing the voice. If you cannot speak or read aloud for hours at a time without becoming hoarse or weary, you may be sure you need to learn how to use your voice properly. You must learn to transfer the burden of muscular activity from the throat and neck muscles to the diaphragm and the inter-costal muscles—that is, the muscles between the ribs. Then in conjunction with flexible lips, tongue, and jaw, you can make a pure, easy, effective tone.
Exercises for Posture and Relaxation
1. Assume the erect, easy posture described in Unit One, pulling the abdominal muscles in and up and turning the end of the spine under. Lift your arms out to each side and rotate the hips, keeping the torso comparatively still. This creates action below the waistline while the lower ribs act as a center of balance.
2. Now try an exercise to relax your neck and throat muscles. Standing in correct position, let your head fall forward and relax the neck muscles as much as possible. Then oscillate the head on the neck stem in this way: First swing the head slowly upward to the right, then let it drop of its own weight and achieve the swing upward to the left by sheer momentum. Don't try to guide your head but let it swing like a pendulum.
This exercise helps to relieve nervous tension, as it gives a pull to the muscles of the upper spine, in-creasing circulation and relieving strain.
3. To relax your body and arms, bend from the waist, keeping your knees straight, letting your arms and hands hang loosely. Shake your hands, arms, and shoulders vigorously. When they feel completely loose and relaxed, continue shaking them as you raise your body upright.