For several weeks I’ve been suffering from an annoying sinus problem and as a result my vocal performance has been suffering as I was constantly felt the need to clear my throat before each and every attempt of intoning and/or speaking. After a visit to my clinician, who immediately refereed me to an ENT specialist for additional inspection.
Nasal endoscopes aren’t cool, they’re un-comfy and the gels they use has a strange aroma. Soon after I’m prescribed a couple packs of Nasonex nasal spray which should help remove buildup. It’s been a few weeks since then, my sinus problem has somewhat cleared up though treatment is still underway… Further checkups due in eight weeks. Joy!!
Ugh.. I hate the sound of my own voice. Hahaha!
Before starting, my coach reminds me “Your voice therapy performance is going well and should have no problems gaining a more than passable feminine voice”. I pretty much nodded in acknowledgement then explained, since my previous session, I’ve seen consulted with a specialist regarding the lack of clarity, awkwardness I felt in previously, that my throat and now I feel so much more relaxed and less congestive. He then goes to check my intoning frequencies. After a few minutes of humming, I’m surprised to learn my readings has improved. I’m now able to produce and sustain vocal frequencies from 125 and peaking at 337 Hz (which is way beyond ‘typical’ apparently) and suggests my comfort zone in “speech” to be approximately 170-247 Hz :))
Again I’m told, as a reminder “anything above 180 Hz is considered female” by the human ear.
My coach seems to think what I’m able to reproduce and control has a lot with my former training as a vocalist.
Unfortunately, if I wish to continue singing, I’ll need to take additional sessions to alter/feminize my singing voice
~ Most likely to be something to look into later 😉
Then I’m asked did I have any problem with my home excesses?? I explained, admittedly, I was a little confused as to what was meant with “intoning” and “speaking”. Today’s session helped me a lot to understand the difference, more importantly why we do both. Intoning is an exercise, it’s objective is to prepare our voice for work. It also helps us to tune to certain tones. In my case, my home tone or “pitch” is 201 Hz
Next came learning to speak in a less monaural manner. In this segment I’m given examples of how your typical guy speaks and an example of how women speak.
key: rise, normal, fall
f : “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
m : “It is a beautiful day.”
Then asked am I able to hear the differences and explain how do they differ? I enquirer why? I’m told that some patients are unable to distinguish the differences due to poor hearing or being tone deaf.
Next we spent a moment to illustrate on paper how difference genders used intonation in words and sentences, he goes on to explain various language patterns I should consider. And as part of my homework, I’ve given several sheets to practice… They’re mostly words beginning with “M” or the “mmm” sounds, try use them in sentences and play with different emphasis.
Prior to these classes I’ve never really analyzed the way we express ourselves, particularly in speech.. I’m told, when I normally speak, I, have some form of tonal intonation in my sentences but they’re not as defined as a woman would speak… Therefore I should consider working on them, learn to embellish my words with more depth and more emphasis.
Mmm… Guess this make me more feminine by default?
About Matthew Mills
Lead Specialist Speech and Language Therapist at the Gender Identity Clinic, London
Matthew Mills BA (Hons) MSc AGSM LTCL Mus Ed cert. MRCSLT Reg.HCPC
Matthew is Lead Specialist Speech and Language Therapist (Transgender Voice and Communication) at the Gender Identity Clinic, London where he has worked since 2009. He is also a voice coach and musician and teaches actors at voice coaches at Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, London. He teaches speech and language therapy students at the University of Greenwich. He originally trained as an actor and singer at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and worked in theatre film and television for 15 years.