Now, I’m well aware that not everyone finds the intricate science behind the voice as interesting as I do, so with this in mind, I’ll do my best to spare you from my extremely nerdy side and instead do my best to break down these vocal concepts as simply as possible so that you can walk away after reading this article with an increased understanding of how your voice works and not a headache. Furthermore, while reading this article it’s important to keep in mind that there are endless combinations of intricate movements within the vocal tract which create the endless variety of voices that we hear and it’s not as simple as just exclusively focusing on a single element, but for the purposes of this article we’ll keep things simple and only focus on two muscles, the cricothyroid (CT) muscle and the thyroarytenoid (TA) muscle. The first thing to understand is that there are two key muscles that play a large part when it comes to either feminizing or masculinizing the voice during your trans voice training. If you were looking to feminize your voice, we would focus on developing the CT muscle which acts to stretch and thin out the vocal folds, whereas if you were wanting to masculinize the voice, our focus would be on developing the TA muscle which does the opposite, it shortens and thickens the vocal folds. In other words, the CT muscle is largely responsible for producing the “head voice” that women are known for having and the TA muscle is responsible for producing that deep “chest voice” that men often have. Next, we need to understand that these two muscles act antagonistically, meaning when one engages the other must disengage, you can think of it as sort of a waltz, when one steps forward the other must step back. Now when we experience a voice break (sometimes referred to as a voice crack), we often think of it as a single event, like the sound that occurs when a stick snaps in half but there’s a lot more going on internally than meets the eye (or in this case, the ear). Just as in dance, the more you practice the more seamless the transition from step to step but when you’re first starting out, the transitions are likely to feel clunky (eg. a voice break) due to an imbalance that occurs. To understand this process in more detail, when the balance between the CT and AT muscles suddenly changes, making the vocal folds shift from being controlled by muscles to being controlled more by ligaments, everything becomes unstable for a brief moment. This instability affects things like breath pressure, vocal fold movement, and subsequent sound produced, causing a noticeable "break" in the voice and will likely remind you of the awkwardness you once endured through your middle school years. Know that when working to feminize or masculinize the voice, this is likely to happen, especially during your first few weeks of practicing but rest assured over time, this should go away as your voice learns to adapt and grow. If voice breaks continue to be an issue for you, I recommend that you incorporate “slides” into your practice. This exercise can be done through humming, performing lip trills or doing straw glides and all follow the same basic pattern which I’ll outline below: 1) Pay attention to the pitch of the sound as you begin to hum, trill your lips or blow through a straw.
2) Slide the sound that you’re able to produce up in pitch and then down, it will sound like you’re making waves with the pitch of your voice
3) Do these before each session to get your voice warmed up and feel free to repeat these exercises if your voice happens to break while practicing.
As always I wish you all the best in your voice training journey and if at any point you feel like you could benefit from the direction of a Trans Voice Training Teacher, feel free to get in touch with me for a free consultation.
Till' next time,