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What Shapes Your Voice the Most -- Environment or Genes?

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach


S
urprisingly, the answer to that question is actually your environment. While the innate quality of the speaking voice is something you inherit, there are numerous environmental factors that play a viable role in how you sound and speak.


If you were raised in one of the southern states, it is likely that you have a drawl; if you are from Texas, you probably twang; and, if you call any one of the 5 New York boroughs home, there is a good chance your speaking voice is characterized by nasality.

Genetic influence, responsible for the vocal instrument which includes the voice box, throat, mouth, nose, and chest cavity, is one of the reasons you may sound like your same-sex parent if you had a loving relationship with that parent. By no means will your voice be identical however. One of the beauties of the speaking voice is that it is as individual to you as are your fingerprints.

One of the beauties of the speaking voice is that it is as individual to you as are your fingerprints.
Do you sound like your mother or your father? The best answer to that question is hypothetical. Were you at your parents’ home and answered their phone, would the caller mistake you for your mom or dad? If you were given unconditional love by your same-sex parent, the answer would probably be yes.

What environment does to your sound, however, is to take the innate quality of your voice and shape it. Let me explain this by using the characteristic of nasality. In order to speak with a nasal voice, you must push the majority of your sound through your nose. Fran Drescher is a good example of this technique. In her role as The Nanny, Drescher was powering and amplifying her voice through her nose. The result was a strident and
What environment does to your sound, however, is to take the innate quality of your voice and shape it.
harsh sound.

Had Drescher been raised in one of the mid-western states her sound would be surprisingly different. While the pitch (highness or lowness of sound – not the volume which deals with loudness or softness) of her voice is surprisingly low, the fact that she maneuvers her sound through her nasal passages makes her voice sound higher in pitch than it actually is. Were she to take her voice out of her nose and allow her chest to be her ‘sounding board,’ she would discover a much warmer, deeper resonant sound.

This does not mean you are stuck with the voice you hear on your voicemail however. Most people are unaware that they have a better voice inside – a voice that, when trained properly, would be powered by the chest cavity. The great voices you hear from the likes of George Clooney, Kathleen Turner, Cher, and James Earl Jones all make use of their chest, the largest of the 5 resonating cavities, to produce those spectacular voices.
Most people are unaware that they have a better voice inside – a voice that, when trained properly, would be powered by the chest cavity.

Just how good is your ‘real’ voice? Allow your chest to do your talking and you may discover a voice as dynamic as that of Vin Diesel or Ashley Judd!







International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website. http://www.voicedynamic.com



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