In an attempt to help voice patients achieve the feel of their natural voice, I often use resonant voice techniques (RVT) as a method of helping patients produce the best voice they can, with the least amount of effort. RVT helps to place voice in the head register, or what I refer to as the "auditorium" for the voice. The head and face mask create a great resonating cavity, giving clear tone and projection for our voice. Resonant voice techniques also help to posture the vocal folds in the optimal position for voice, which is not too tight, creating a strained quality, and not too far apart or bowed ( as is often the case for persons with Parkinson's), creating a breathy quality.
Try it yourself: After you take a deep breath into your lungs, begin to hum /hmmm/ on exhalation, maintaining the voicing as long as you can without straining. If done correctly, you will feel a vibration or tickle on your lips, cheeks, or even across your nose. Your neck and shoulder muscles should feel relaxed, and your abdominal muscles should be actively working to support the breath.
So, now, let's try an experiment and explore voice and movement.
1. You will perform 3 movements. Imagine that you are picking up three imaginary objects using both hands: feathers, a heavy stack of books, and two 10lb weights. Each time you pick up the imaginary objects, you lift them over your head.
Ready? Go: feathers, heavy books, 10lb weights
2. Now, you will perform the movements again. This time, as you lift each of the objects, you will vocalize a humming sound on exhalation: /hmmmm/. Depending on the weight of your imaginary objects, the intensity or loudness of your voice may change.
Ready? Go: hmmmm... feathers
hmmmm... heavy stack of books
hmmmm... 10 lb weights
What did you notice when you added voice to the movement?
- Did you extend the reach of the movement?
- Did the movement feel easier?
- Did your posture change?
Does the use of your voice "push" the movement forward?
Why not challenge members of your support group to experiment together, and then write to me and let me know what you discover. Voice practice does NOT have to be work, and in fact, coupling voice with movement might be an efficient way to keep you body and voice moving forward!