Knowing exactly how your voice sounds is critical for modifying it in ways that work for you. But let's face it, it can be hard to know how you sound outside your own head. And it can be scary and uncomfortable to hear yourself or embarrassing to get feedback. Also, your brain's sensory awareness is used to your usual way of producing voice, making new ways seem strange or foreign, even when the new ways sound good to others. So, you may be pleasantly surprised that you sound better than you think you do! This is actually often the case when I work with a client.
So how can you get feedback on your voice to see where you are and how far you need to go? Besides getting professional help from a transgender voice specialist - indeed I believe that providing useful feedback is one of my main duties - here are some ways to get feedback as you work on your voice independently:
-- Record yourself and play it back. Yeah yeah, I know nobody likes to hear their recorded voice! However, recording your voice again and again while practicing can be a very powerful tool for discovering how you sound as you try out different techniques. Also, periodic recordings can document how your voice is gradually changing over time. You can record into your phone or use a simple recording program on your computer.
-- Monitor your voice in real time with digital software. If you are working on your pitch, there are programs that allow you to SEE your pitch with respect to a target pitch as you talk (for more information about target pitches, see the FEMININE VOICE and MASCULINE VOICE pages on this website). A computer software program (PC or Mac) that I currently recommend for this is called VoicePrint from Estill Voice International. Two phone apps for this that I currently like are Vocal Pitch Monitor (Android or iPhone) and Voice Analyst (iPhone). (Note: I have no financial ties to the companies that make these products!) In addition, instead of real-time monitoring, other apps out there report your overall pitch after you record, which can also be useful.
-- Practice with a voice buddy. Ask someone to listen to you and give you feedback while you practice, whether you are reading a list of sentences, singing a few lyrics of a song, reading from a book, or simply having a conversation with that person. This strategy is particularly great if your buddy is also working on their voice.
-- Ask someone's opinion after interacting with them. You may have someone you trust to give you feedback after having a conversation with them or leaving them a phone message.
You likely have considered or even tried some of these strategies, so let this post serve merely as encouragement to just go for it or keep going for it! Try to get beyond any embarrassment you may have, since feedback can help you improve your skills and boost your confidence to use your voice with others. That includes your ability to modify your voice overall, day to day, as well as troubleshoot in the moment if you are having a hard voice day or are in a challenging speaking situation. Ultimately, you should be your own best judge so you can shift your voice as needed as life unfolds.