Upcoming free voice workshops in August

I will be presenting again this year at the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference - one workshop on masculine voice and one workshop on feminine voice. I hope to see you there!

How to Be Expressive in a Masculine Voice, Friday, August 3, 2018, 3:00 - 4:00 pm

Do you have difficulty sounding excited or friendly without sounding too feminine? Even if your average speaking pitch is lower from testosterone, this can sometimes be a problem. However, there are various ways to be expressive without compromising what you want to say or how masculine you sound. This hands-on workshop outlines ways to speak expressively within a masculine range. We will practice stressing ideas and expressing various emotions by varying pitch, intonation, stress, and loudness in way that is authentic to you. With or without HRT. https://www.mazzonicenter.org/trans-wellness/workshop/how-be-expressive-masculine-voice

Making It Stick: Strategies for Maintaining a Feminine Voice, Saturday, August 4, 10:15 - 11:15 am

Learning how speak in a more feminine way is one thing, but keeping it going is another. It can be challenging to speak for a longer period of time or speak across a variety of real-life situations with other people. Factors such as whom you are speaking to, what you are speaking about, or where you are speaking can influence how easy or hard it is to use your voice. This hands-on workshop outlines how to maintain feminine voice across longer utterances and different social situations. Using pitch-raising, we will demonstrate, practice, and discuss techniques and strategies. https://www.mazzonicenter.org/trans-wellness/workshop/making-it-stick-strategies-maintaining-feminine-voice

Free voice workshops in September

If you are headed to the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference this year, please join us there for a feminine or masculine workshop about connecting the body and mind.

Feminine voice strategies for the body and mind, Sept 8, 2017, 9:00 – 10:00 am
Masculine voice strategies for the body and mind, Sept 9, 2017, 5:45 – 6:45 pm

Voice change requires not only new voice techniques but also mental cues to yourself about your voice. These cues develop mindfulness of your voice in the moment as well as motivation to embrace and own your voice as it evolves. These hands-on workshops outline things you can DO and things you can THINK in order to achieve a more feminine or masculine voice. Through discussion and practice of various vocal tasks, cues, and reminders, you will discover how the body and mind influence each other in the important process of learning how to express yourself in a more authentic way. These workshops apply to anyone interested in increasing feminine or masculine presentation to any degree across the gender spectrum, with or without HRT. Handouts provided.

Embrace your best possible self

Changing your voice and communication patterns to better conform to your gender expression can be challenging. You must learn to play your vocal instrument as well as you can with what you have, even if you have seen improvements from testosterone (transmasculine) or pitch-raising surgery (transfeminine). In addition to compensating for biological limitations, you must counter habitual ways of talking that your brain and speech mechanism are used to producing. BUT, with practice and mindfulness, these challenges can be met with new, useful, and more satisfying ways of talking.

In that process, you should celebrate your overall improvement and even your small successes along the way, rather than expecting perfection or expecting to sound exactly cisgender. Aiming for your best possible voice is not only realistic but it is chance for you to accept yourself and be more confident and happy with your new skills. And in that way, other people will be more likely to respond positively to you and be more open to gender diversity!

The road to authenticity

The process of developing voice and speech habits that are more congruent with your gender identity, both for internal comfort and external expression, can be mysterious and challenging. You start out by trying various ways of talking that can indeed feel foreign or silly, and because of that, some people avoid working on their voices for fear that they will sound not only incongruent but unnatural as well.

Many people don’t realize is that there is a neurological component that shapes how the process will go. Having that foreign feeling is actually a natural part of learning a new behavior. That higher pitch or that bigger voice must feel new and weird because it is different than what you are used to. The key is to check whether your feelings of weirdness are because you are trying something new or because you actually sound unnatural.

With good feedback from a professional or an informed, experienced supporter, you can identify if your voice/speech modifications sound natural or not. My clients usually go through an initial period of feeling fake even though they are sounding natural in their new speaking. If you allow yourself to practice and use new ways of talking, these ways will gradually feel more real, both emotionally and physically, as the brain retrains the muscles to produce the desired skills in a more automatic way.

So, the bottom line is that there is often a period of feeling weird and fake before a more authentic feeling settles in. Just stick with it!