Today’s session:

  • ​The "Facial Mask", where your middle voice is centered. 
  • Facial mask sounds ​project more volume.
  • ​​Increase and unwind your smile in order to open the mask.  

​Volume Standards of ​Voice Training

There are time-tested voice techniques and standards from the times of the Greek amphitheaters to Vaudeville that allowed speakers, actors, and singers to be clearly heard.

In the "olden" days of education, it was common for students to prepare and deliver a speech or poem out loud to develop basic voice and presentation skills. Unfortunately, some of those old school lessons have been omitted from the standard curriculum. As a result, we have a culture of mumblers.

​We say in the theater, “Every word must hit the back wall. Every person in every seat in the theater should be able to hear every syllable of every word or song. It’s impossible to follow the drama and get the "gist" of a speaker’s dialogue if we only hear a portion of the words.

Raise your Voice!

​In order make your voice heard, you must raise your voice to a higher pitch.

Higher pitches carry further than lower ones. When you yell to your friends across the street, you ‘raise’ your voice to a higher pitch.

Most of our daily conversations take place at a low volume, so we are out of the habit of sustaining a higher voice volume. We all have the natural ability to sustain a high voice volume without pain and voice tension, but we have to wake up the proper muscles to do so.

​The Facial Mask

​The tones in your voice that carry, or project, are higher in pitch. Higher pitches are amplified in the resonating spaces in the face and head, in what we call the "facial mask.

Smile!

​When you smile, without tension in the vocal core, your facial mask opens and the sound waves easily flow around inside. However, we all have personal smile habits that move critical parts vocal core out of proper alignment. We may tip our heads to the back or side, pull up our eyebrows, and squint our eyes.

​In today’s lesson, you will isolate and “dis-entangle” the muscles of the facial mask smile from your habitual, charming smile and learn how to open your Facial Mask.

​Big Smile = ​Uncomfortable?

​Even if you don’t feel like you have anything to smile about, your smile muscles must be conditioned. You must increase the size of your smile in order to open the resonating spaces for your voice in the mask.

Simply, you will increase your smile without moving the other parts of your vocal core out of their resting positions. This is a fundamental change in how you present yourself in the world. You are changing your voice and  your smiling habits. Today’s practices will help you become more comfortable with the exact movements that will not only improve your smile, but advance your goals to raise the volume of your voice and increase your personal presence. 

Increase Your Smile

  • First you will become comfortable with your "medium" smile.
  • After you are able to free your medium smile, you can explore your widest smile.
  • As your facial muscles awaken and become conditioned, you will notice more breathing and resonant sensations in your mask area. This facial resonance will naturally amplify the volume of your voice.

FUNDAMENTAL VOCAL RULE - The air currents of breath inside your vocal core is where you will also feel the resonance of your voice.

​Exercise #1: Breathe into the Facial Mask​ 

Exercise #1 - ​part 1: Medium Smile

  • Focus only upon the sensation of breath movement in your vocal core. 
  • Slowly bring your lips up into a medium smile without moving the parts of the vocal core out of their resting positions.

Observe

  • Eyes don’t squint or grow wide with a larger smile. 
  • Head doesn’t tip to the side or back.
  • Lips are still closed, relaxed and turned upwards in a medium smile without grimacing.

Take Your Time!

Slower is faster. S.L.O.W.L.Y bring the sides of your mouth upwards to a medium smile.

The only  movement you should observe is the sides of your mouth turning upwards without engaging any other parts of the vocal core.

​Exercise #1 - part 2 - Breathing

Once you are able to sustain a medium smile without engaging the parts of the vocal core, turn your attention to your breathing. 

  • Inhale, bring your breath level up into the facial mask. 
  • Place your fingers on your face to feel and identify the location of the breath current. 
  • Sustain medium smile and circle the top 3% of your breath in and out of the highest parts of the facial mask without moving or holding the vocal core.

Observe:

  • Head doesn’t move out of horizontal position 
  • Eyes remain soft
  • Jaw falls from face and the small space between the upper and lower teeth doesn’t close

Exercise #2: Widen your Smile and Breathe

Exercise #2: Part 1

  • Once you are able to produce a medium, closed-mouth, relaxed smile, increase your smile as much as possible. 
  • Watch for entanglements in the head position, eyes, jaw and other parts of the vocal core. When they arise, simply slow down, return to neutral relaxed positions and resume the exercise.
  • Do not grimace or squint your eyes. You must become comfortable with a wide-mouthed smile order to open the spaces in your facial mask that will increase your voice volume.

Feel the air currents move inside of your facial mask.

  • Feel the size of the breathing circle in the facial mask. 
  • Circle your air current in and out of the newly opened spaces in your facial mask.
  • Observe:

    Place your fingers on the outside of your facial mask where you feel the air current.

Questions: 
  • What is the size of the air current within this area?
  • Has your breathing capacity increased with the larger smile.
  • Is ​your larynx open?
  • ​Does your head bobb​ up and down, or tip​ to the side with the breath?
  • Are your teeth pressed together?

​Breathe into Your Smile

Destination: Full

Notice the circle of breath, which is the size of the breath cycle you used while performing the last exercise. “Full” now means that you breathe all the way up into your eyes, into the facial mask. This air current in the mask will provide the support to increase the volume level of your voice so you can be heard.

From now on you will inhale in to this new, fuller volume of air. This is your new “full." It will take a bit of practice to remind yourself to inhale past your old habits of "full" but this greater volume of air is the fuel that will increase the volume of your voice!

​Play with your Inside Voice

Now that you’ve opened the resonating spaces in your higher range, play  with the new tones and pitches.

  • Experiment with the higher sounds on a closed-mouth hmmm.
  • Explore the sensation of breath and resonance in the face and around the eyes in the facial mask.
  • Keep the sound small, so it is easier to track and feel.

​Smile Olympics Exercise

​ ​Destination/Duration Smile Olympics

  • ​Assume your wide smile with mouth slightly opened or closed. ​​​
  • Head and vocal core disentangled ​from your smile.
  • Remain in this position for a specific amount of time​ or from ​point of origin to destination ​during your daily walk.
  • ​OBSERVE
    • Response from others
    • Where your face and head feel a bit sore.  

​Vocabulary

Entanglements

Separate movements of the vocal core have been "fused" together, “entangled." The parts of the vocal core should move independently, without engaging the other parts.

Facial Mask

The upper part of the face, from the lips, cheeks, eyes, brows and sinuses all contain open spaces where you will amplify the sound waves produced in the larynx.

Projection, to “project” the voice

To amplify the volume of the voice.

​Destination “Full"

Identify a ‘full’ and consistent level of air volume that is your destination for each inhale.

​Disentangle

 To unwind the connections in the body and vocal core that are not necessary for the action required.
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