WHAT IS FITVOICE™?
Elena has been interested in vocal health for many years, conducting her own professional research, resulting in developing the FitVoice™ method, designed to educate American people about vocal health and correct usage of their speaking voices.
Elena, Russian soprano, has collaborated with Harvard ENT Dr. Phillip Song and speech-language pathologist Keiko Ishikawa of Harvard/Mass Eye and Ear to learn about the medical implications of singing and speaking, vocal health, cutting edge vocal rehabilitation and the latest professional voice-related research studies. With the FitVoice™ Zoubareva appeared in the media, including Oprah radio, ABC News, NPR, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and The Boston Phoenix.
Elena conducts custom-tailored FitVoice™ private consultations, lessons, workshops, clinics, lectures, and keynote presentations designed to inform, educate, and inspire Americans to care and improve their speaking voices.
For booking inquiries please contact ArtistSolutions LLC at
YOUR SPEAKING VOICE
WHAT YOUR SPEAKING VOICE REVEALS ABOUT YOU!
A recent study compiled by Stanford University discovered that people often “hear" personality in the voices of others. In fact, the sound of one’s voice can form perceptions others have about you, from your credibility, your intelligence, your likability and…even your sexual prowess.
This certainly gives us something to think – and talk (correctly) about! Every speaking voice has an optimal pitch, which when attained will allows the most projected sound to be created with minimal effort from the throat. This, my friends, is what we want! It sounds the most pleasant, and is the best practice for our vocal health.
However, every person has a habitual pitch, which may or may not be the same as the optimal pitch mentioned above. If your optimal and habitual pitches are the same, you are in luck- your speaking voice is fine. However, often this is not the case. In fact, most people speak in a higher or lower tone than what their desired optimal pitch. I see this in many of my students quite often, along with other common problems such as speed (too fast or too slow) nasality, volume (too loud or too soft) and so on. If you suspect you are one of the many that lack the much-desired “perfect pitch" never fear – help is on the way (and right below).
First, let’s talk about what causes vocal misuse and abuse of the speaking voice. Interestingly enough, one of the main causes is the vocal image, which is a person’s concept of what his/her voice should or should not sound like. If that vocal image is in accord with a person’s vocal nature, he/she has a correct vocal identity. If a vocal image is inappropriate for his/her vocal abilities, a speaking voice will be misused. Just like the Self-image, the vocal image is formed by the family, friends, TV Personalities, popular actors, public figures and by self-needs and desires.
Below are some examples of how certain voices are perceived and examples of key corrective measures:
What Your Voice Says: People who speak in squeaky, high voices sound insecure, inexperienced, and give the illusion of not being confident. Even worse, after only a few sentences your future employer or coworkers might consider you too aggravating to be around.
What Your Voice Says: Recent polls report seven out of ten people become annoyed by people who have a nasal quality to their voice. You will sound demanding and calculating, while appearing less professional, if you allow a nasal tone to overwhelm your voice.
Contrary to popular belief, people with high and/or nasal voices aren’t stuck with them, though trying to fix your tone on your own can prove to be damaging to your vocal cords. A trip or two to a vocal coach can bring your voice down a notch or two while increasing your marketability. A vocal coach will work on balancing your resonators.
What Your Voice Says: Speaking too quickly gives others the idea that you are sloppy and not particular enough to ensure that the other person can understand what exactly you’re talking about. Fast talkers also appear nervous and easily taken advantage of, which are not especially good qualities to have attributed to you when on the job – or anywhere else!
What Your Voice Says: You’re calm and confident enough to trust that people will wait around to see what you have to say. Because of this, you attract admiration and respect. You’re also soothing and pleasant to speak with because you appear relaxed and in control. Unless, however, you’re tooooooooooooo sloooooooooooow, with multiple pauses between words for unknown reasons – this is a speech no-no!
Both fast and slow talkers can benefit from proper breathing techniques People who are slow talkers also tend to be monotonous as they speak, so watch for this and make a contentious effort to vary your levels of vocal inflection.
On the other hand, if you find your speech speeding up, try taking a deep breath before you speak. You can also slow your speech down by working on other positive communication skills while you speak, like practicing eye contact, taking pauses, and stopping every few sentences to allow coworkers to chime in.
Of course, this is just a tip of the iceberg (but fascinating, right?) There are more problems and many more solutions for any speaking voice. May your voice eventually ring clear and be healthy!
SORE THROAT: MYTHS
Myth: When I have sore throat, I should drink plenty of tea with lemon.
Truth: Tea contains tannin, an astringent that in fact reduces hydration level and thus makes your throat feels dry. Lemon is actually desiccant and thus produces the same drying effect.
What you should do instead: Drink plenty of soothing liquids, but please no tea or soda. Get a personal steam inhaler (Vicks is a great one) and use it 3 times a day/ 20 min each time. For some natural alternative remedies, try slippery elm or black currant pastilles.
Myth: When I have sore throat, instead of talking I should whisper to rest my voice.
Truth: On the contrary to what most people think, the voiceless whisper is extremely tiring for the voice and results in excessive air pressure and muscle tensions. In order to produce whisper the vocal cords must be refrain from vibrating which is not natural and could constrict their blood vessels.
What you should do instead: When you have sore throat, try to minimize your talking. It is a good time to remind yourself that silence is golden
Myth: When I have sore throat I should drink cold drinks to make my voice energized.
Truth: While technically neither food nor drinks touch the vocal cords, and therefore the temperature doesn’t really matter, oftentimes cold drinks contribute to uncomfortable feelings of tightness in your throat.
What you should do instead: Avoiding extremes is a good rule when it comes to voices. Therefore you safe bet is room temperature. And if you are in Boston, you can always ask for room temperature water in most restaurants: Elena has likely been there, and let’s just say… they know her order by heart..
The below guidelines will help you keep your voice in tip-top shape.
1. Refrain from clearing your throat.
2. Drink eight glasses of water daily.
3. If your voice feels hoarse for more than a week, and/or you feel a sensation of phlegm in your throat, get checked whether you have some sort of Reflux disease which is both very common and under-diagnosed (and if you do, don’t despair, it’s relatively easy to get under control).
4. Each morning start your day (before you start talking too much) with gentle humming, a facial massage, and neck and shoulders stretching exercises.
5. Remember, English, though a wonderful and rich language is a Germanic “stop" language and therefore promotes the tendency to speak a bit too harshly and abruptly. This in turn may cause vocal strain. To avoid this possibility, try to prolong and emphasize the vowels in your speech patterns, by making your speech a little more melodic.
6. Throughout the day remind yourself about the importance of proper posture and deep calm breathing. For proper posture, check out Alexander technique.
7. Keep checking whether your jaw, neck, shoulders are relaxed. Please - no clenching teeth – even if you are trying to keep a secret!