By Everett Goldner
I’ve never liked my voice all that much. It tends to feel dry, like I’ve got something caught in the back of my throat, and no matter how I try to give it variety it tends to sound, to me, rather on one note. I don’t usually express through it nearly as much as I would like to.
I’ve been discussing this with Leland in recent Alexander sessions, and the dynamic between the head, neck and spine; how these things play into the voice. For a few months I’ve noticed that while I’m in an Alexander session, my voice flows much more easily than it normally does; but the rest of the week, it sounds the way it usually sounds. So, how to have a flowing voice whenever I speak?
My (very limited) understanding is that the place where the spine ends, somewhere near or just below eye level is connected to the voice or influences the voice in a way similar to the diaphragm. The diaphragm is not a muscle that can be consciously controlled, but it can be influenced by paying attention to it; likewise, by paying attention to the top end of the spine, we can loosen the relationship it has with the voice and make this relationship (and the voice) more fluid. (Again, this is just what I’ve worked out over my last few sessions and may be totally inaccurate with regard to physiology.)
In any case, by doing this – paying attention to this spot – I’ve noticed recently that my voice does tend to free up somewhat. It doesn’t free up as much as it tends to while I’m in an Alexander session – I still feel like I’m speaking from the back of my throat more than I would like – but it does acquire some depth and quality that it generally lacks.
It’s a different quality of attention than most of us are probably used to – this idea of placing attention on one physical spot on the body, and a spot that’s more a notional spot than something you can see (you can imagine your skeleton, imagine the place where the spine ends, but you can’t see it). Of course, you can’t see the diaphragm either, and the way the diaphragm works is also pretty counter-intuitive – but the diaphragm isn’t related to the voice as directly as it is to the breath. The head-spine spot (as far as I can tell) hasn’t got much to do with the breath, but in some way has everything to do with your voice. That you can “change” your voice just by putting your attention here is a bit magical. Try it!