This Is A Voice

Golden Nuggets 16th April World Voice Day Special

April 16, 2022 Jeremy Fisher and Dr Gillyanne Kayes Season 4 Episode 11
This Is A Voice
Golden Nuggets 16th April World Voice Day Special
Show Notes Transcript

This special podcast episode celebrates the annual World Voice Day. The motto this year is "Lift Your Voice". 
We are Dr Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher, and we're chatting about our #1 bestselling book on vocal technique, This Is A Voice. 
Hear how we were commissioned to write the book, which exercises people love, and how we practise our own exercises.
We'll take you through one podcast listener's favourite exercise - Toothbrush Talk - so you can hear how to do it, and what effect can have on your voice.
And we give you a sneak peek into our brainstorming walks in the hills, and how to ace the "brain dump" in a singing lesson - it'll make your lessons a whole lot better.

This Is A Voice book https://amzn.to/3iEXQ7Z 
https://World-Voice-Day.org
The Vocal Process Learning Lounge https://vocal-process-hub.teachable.com/p/the-vocal-technique-learning-lounge 
Cerys Matthews https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p03rb3xm 
Cerys Matthews part 2 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0410sd1 
Teaching Cerys Matthews and Jeffrey Boakye to yodel https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0011cd7 

Jeremy:

"We all have one and it's pretty slam dunk that is one of the first things we use when we enter the world, we use it for communication , it greases our social lives, and a huge percentage of us use it as an integral part of our working day." That's Cerys Matthews. What is she talking? this is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher. Hello, and welcome to this is a voice golden nuggets series for episode 11. World voice day special.

Gillyanne:

And the theme for World Voice Day in 2022 is lift your voice.

Jeremy:

Now we have a quote for you. "We all have one and it's pretty slam dunk that is one of the first things we use when we enter the world, we use it for communication , it greases our social lives, and a huge percentage of us use it as an integral part of our working day." That's Cerys Matthews. What is she talking? She's talking about voice in general. And it came from the introduction for the book. This Is A Voice in which we wrote 99 exercises. And we'll tell you about that later.

Gillyanne:

And we're going to be talking a bit about this book today and reading some of the inspiring content of it actually.

Jeremy:

And also we ask people what their favorite exercises were in the book, and we've got so many excerpts and so many things to share with you on that. We had a lovely email recently from a colleague who was using This Is A Voice, the book in researching how to introduce beatboxing to students. Now, for those of you who don't know, the book contains a whole load of voice exercises, but in different areas. So we start with warm ups and then we've got exercises for speaking voice exercises for classical singing voice, contemporary singing voice, mimicry, speaking voice, speeches, beatboxing ventriloquism. There are all sorts of things in the book.

Gillyanne:

Yeah and we've also got to sequences so that for instance if someone is preparing to do a speech for a wedding or something like that, how they might prepare for it, if somebody is getting ready for an audition, if somebody is doing voiceover, uh, so that, you know, people have kind of steps that they can go through.

Jeremy:

It's a real celebration of voice.

Gillyanne:

Absolutely. And in fact, the whole, I, you know, I know this was 2016 in the UK, wasn't it? The whole exhibition by The Wellcome, This Is A Voice was a total celebration of all things voice. And then it went later to Australia, didn't it? Didn't it go to Sydney?

Jeremy:

It did.

Gillyanne:

And we were just so inspired by that title. And to be honest, we were really honored to be asked by the welcome. We were commissioned by the welcome to write this book and it had its challenges, but it had many, many joys too.

Jeremy:

I want to get back to the forward that Cerys gave for. Um, I mean, we went on her show later on and I think those recordings are still available. It's so much fun on that show. And in fact, we've been on her latest show since.

Gillyanne:

Can I read this one? "When I sit headphones on programming my radio show, I'm always struck by what we have in common. We may use different languages, different vocal techniques, different styles, but we are United in our use of this great sound making machine, this giant palette of Sonic color and its potential to somehow change our perception of the world." And she finishes with "learn more about this wonderful instrument you were born to use, put your fears behind you and go make some noise."

Jeremy:

I love that quote.

Gillyanne:

So inspiration.

Jeremy:

And it's really the reason in a way that we wrote the book at all, because, um, you'll know if you've heard one of our very first podcasts about the book which is going back a couple of years. I think it was series one episode two, something like that. Um, We were originally just asked to write the exercises for the Classical singing section and immediately we said, well, no, we'd like to write for across the board in the singing world, because that's what we do. We, we coach cross genre all the time. And so I went to the meeting originally just to pitch for the, just the singing things. And then when I heard what the book was going to be about, and I said, oh, I want to write everything. I want to write all of it. Love ventriloquism, been sort of dabbling with it for years. Love the idea of beatboxing don't know anything about it, but I'm sure we can research. So I came home and I said to Gillyanne, and we're writing the whole book and she went, what,

Gillyanne:

You what? You've just committed to that? And it was a real learning journey. Wasn't it? I'm so glad we did it now. We've got another lovely quote from the forward haven't we?

Jeremy:

Yes. This was Steven Connor, who is the Grace 2 professor of English at the university of Cambridge. And he wrote the introduction to the book and he says this: "A voice is like a face in that it is the most intimate and characteristic thing about each of us to which we pay careful attention. And like faces, if our voices can be called windows to the soul, it's because we cannot fully own, know or govern them. Now there's

Gillyanne:

a reason why he says this, which I think is interesting.

Jeremy:

It's also very relevant to precisely what we're doing right now. We live in an age in which voices are constantly being recorded so that they can be kept and then called up at will like books being selected from a shelf in the library. We might therefore be forgiven for occasionally forgetting that the voice is always an active exertion. That voices are always being voiced.

Gillyanne:

I think there's something else you said, and I'm just going to paraphrase it because I think it's interesting, which is he talks about how, what others see from, and it's interesting he uses the word, see what others see, isn't what we see in our voice. We don't hear our voice as others here it.

Jeremy:

Very true. Anybody who has recorded their own voice, even on an answer phone message and gone do I really sound like that? Can be horrified. We have, we asked some people who've used the book, what they liked about it, and it was really interesting talking about the beatboxing section that does seem to be a really popular section. Christopher Welsh on Facebook said "I use the beatboxing exercises as a way into improving articulation, clarity, efficiency, and economy and patter songs." I am so glad that Chris is doing those things. I'm a patter song singer, and I love that you can sing incredibly fast words really clearly. And the beatboxing really helps that it's one of these bizarre side effects.

Gillyanne:

I mean, I love that there's that sort of interface between, um, a musical skill. Cause that's what beatboxing is, you know, it's, it's playing percussion with your voice between that musical skill and then taking that into singing skills. So its interface between speaking and singing

Jeremy:

and Kelly Young has said the same thing, which is yes, the beatboxing. It reminds me where, where we Finland? The Äland Islands. The Äland Islands in Finland and we were giving masterclasses there. And there was a 15 minutes section where I don't know what, that I was actually prompted to improvise it or something, but it was, I did a 15 minute presentation on beatboxing exercises and how you start to build sequences. Uh, specifically for the, uh, staff and also for the students. And of course the students were far better at it than I was

Gillyanne:

They could all do it much faster.

Jeremy:

Absolutely fine. But it's such a fun thing to teach adults who don't normally beatbox to find that how you create those sounds. Fantastic. Um, now it's interesting that it's not always specific exercises that people focus in on. They love the whole book itself. And Claire Chandler has said I haven't got my copy to hand to identify specific exercises, but we use it lots in the university of Wolverhampton. It's on their curriculum isn't it?. And we're finding this, that people in universities are starting to adopt the book as a curriculum aids. And in fact, I got a recording from Naomi Schulke, just let me find that one..

Naomi Schulke:

Hi Gillyanne and Jeremy it's Naomi Schulke in Cornwall. Um, I don't have the best bit, lots of best bits! I did want to say is that I have managed to get it into the library, um, at Falmouth University, which is kind of cool and use it on two different modules, um, across two different degrees, um, which is also cool. I just wanted to share that with you. It's even made it down here and it's becoming, I mean, determined it becomes common usage. Lots of love.

Jeremy:

I love that and everything. And it's really interesting if anybody is using it in their university or in the, uh, theater school, just let us know, because we really want to know that because going around the world and we are still, I think it's six years later in the top 10 of music, education, books, and voice books on Amazon.

Gillyanne:

And it's been translated intoRussian hasn't it?

Jeremy:

It has!

Gillyanne:

I would so love to hear some of those exercises demonstrated in, right?

Jeremy:

If anybody's a Russian speaker and can get hold of a copy, please send us a recording. Um, so, and there, here is somebody, and this is really interesting because one of the, you know, we are known for working with singers and we're known for working with singing teachers, but we also work with spoken voice. We work with voiceover artists. I coach voiceover artists. I coach presenters in present presentation skills. And I'm so pleased because this is a brand new person for us. This is Liz Hassack and I just want to play what Liz says.

Liz Hassack:

"Hi, Liz here, just starting out in voiceover. Your book is an amazing. Love the toothbrush technique to separate lips and tongue movement from the jaw movement."

Jeremy:

Liz, I love that you are so concise

Gillyanne:

now, Jeremy, one of the things we said we were going to do was we were actually going to demonstrate these exercises. So, I mean, if you want to have some fun, some visual fun as well, um, you, you're going to need to go to some of our YouTube snippets,

Jeremy:

a YouTube channel slash, but YouTube.com/Vocalprocess.

Gillyanne:

So there are two exercises. That we're going to do. You're going to do the first. I'll do the second.

Jeremy:

Yeah. I mean, there, we actually have two toothbrush exercises. I know exactly the one that Liz is talking about, which is a number 10 Toothbrush Talk. And that's on page 59 of the book.

Gillyanne:

We are armed and dangerous.

Jeremy:

We are, So we have our toothbrushes.

Gillyanne:

And can I just tell people, if you do try this exercise out, you sometimes need one of these, a box of tissues.

Jeremy:

So I'm just going to read this.

Gillyanne:

What page are we on Jeremy?

Jeremy:

We're on page 59. Many people use their jaw, tongue and lips as one unit, which isn't using your mouth to its full potential. This exercise helps you to separate your lips and tongue movements from your jaw movements. And we do see this a lot. We actually see it particularly in singers where they think in order to make sound or do good diction, you have to start involving the jaw and that's actually not the case. So if you have a, I mean, I'm going to say if you have a finger, well, of course you have a finger, make sure it's your own, make sure it's clean, put it in your mouth. We have toothbrushes cause it's called Toothbrush Talk.

Gillyanne:

Toothbrushes is a better way to do it for all sorts of reasons.

Jeremy:

So you put the toothbrush or your finger in one side of your mouth and hold it steady with your back teeth. Now you don't want to bite it hard, but you do want to hold it steady. And then you say these three vowels. Oo Ah Eh. Oo Ah Eh, now anybody on YouTube will see that my toothbrush moved.

Gillyanne:

And what does it say in the book?

Jeremy:

It says, do not move the toothbrush

Gillyanne:

shunted over to one side didn't it? Isn't that interesting?

Jeremy:

So it says, um, say the vowels Oo, Ah and Eh. Your lips and tongue can move to create the vowels, but the toothbrush must stay still. So let's try that. Oh, there we go. Ooh, uh, uh, rock steady.

Gillyanne:

And what's good about this exercise is that as Jeremy said earlier, often we don't separate the action of the jaw, the tongue and the lips. And so, um, maybe our students will be doing, eh, E R obviously we do move the lips when we do Ooh. It's sometimes very hard to raise awareness of the tongue movement now by having the toothbrush in the mouth and therefore keeping the jaw space fairly still, also your tongue is going to touch the toothbrush. You're going to raise awareness that the tongue is the major shaper of the vowel space inside the mouth.

Jeremy:

Absolutely. So you start speaking and then you keep your jaw still and the toothbrush steady. If the toothbrush moves up and down, you are using your jaw to speak and you don't need to, and then you repeat it with the other side of the mouth because we need symmetry. And then with the toothbrush in the center, have some actually lovely drawings in the book. I'm really pleased with those drawings.

Gillyanne:

Sorry, I'm getting a bit excited and I keep interrupting you, jeremy.

Jeremy:

The illustrations in the layout design was Bret Syfert, did a fantastic job and the concept and the collage designer was Marianne Dear.

Gillyanne:

Okay. So let's talk about, um, speaking effectively, and we're going to be talking about an exercise called toothbrush intelligibility.

Jeremy:

We should say that because the book is divided up into sections in that first one, the, who are. Exercise comes from the warmup. And now we're into the section on speaking effectively so this is slightly more advanced. And this is for those of you wanted to it's exercise number 25, page 83.

Gillyanne:

And now wish me luck everybody. Cause I had a little practice earlier. Pretty much bombed didn't I?

Jeremy:

Let me just read the bits there before you start. Clear speech means you can communicate ideas and observations better. This exercise forces you to work the muscles of articulation energetically, and helps to create space in the mouth for clear vowels. Practice this in the morning, or when you getting ready to go out. Use the toothbrush without paste to brush the chewing surface of your molars on one side of your mouth and then the other. So unlike the first exercise where I was holding the toothbrush with my teeth, Gillyanne is going to be moving the toothbrush.

Gillyanne:

Okay. We're ready here.

Jeremy:

We have a phrase for you.

Gillyanne:

Sarah Perry was a veterinary nurse who had been working daily at an old zoo in a deserted district of the territory.

Jeremy:

You have to go onto YouTube and watch that it is a complete joy.

Gillyanne:

Sarah Perry was a veterinary nurse who had been working daily at an old zoo in a deserted district of the territory. You know, what's so interesting about this. I mean, I was suddenly raised awareness of the consonance that gave me problems like the vv and the zz, and I had to work much harder with them, but not only did it improve the way I was thinking about my consonants, but I found more space inside my mouth. Yeah. Well, there we go. I hope you find that useful. And of course you can do it with singing as well, but we might do that another time mightn't we?

Jeremy:

And that's Comma Gets A Cure. That's an excerpt from Comma Gets A Cure, which is a very well-known piece of text because it contains every sound in the English language.

Gillyanne:

Every phoneme.

Jeremy:

Somewhere in there. And that is 2000 to Douglas N Honorof, Jill McCullough and Barbara Summerville.

Gillyanne:

Or you can just type with just Google.

Jeremy:

We use it a lot. Uh, C O C O M M A, Comma, as in the punctuation. Love that as an exercise. So those are two exercises that we can take you through. And the idea with toothbrush intelligibility is you do it with a toothbrush first, then you take the two tooth brush out of your mouth. I knew I was going to have problems with Practice with the toothbrush! The brush toothbrush. Um, you take the toothbrush and they go, can't do it. Not at speed. You take the toothbrush out of your mouth. And you say the sentence again, but keeping the same feeling of the space that you've already found, and then you go to something that might feel more natural, but again, that sense of space will stay with you.

Gillyanne:

I'm just thinking, you know, I'm just sort of back referring to the idea of using beatboxing to, um, work with articulation as preparation for a patter song. But I'm just wondering about, you know, if you've got. Another a hundred people just got off the train. Another hundred people just got off of the train. Another hundred people just got off of the train. Yeah, I think that could be super useful.

Jeremy:

It could also work for classical if you're doing, when you're lying awake with a dismal headache and repose is taboo'd by anxiety. When you're lying awake with a dismal headache and repose it taboo'd by anxiety, which is the nightmare song from Gilbert and Sullivan's - what is it, Ruddigore, is it Ruddigore? I can't remember.

Gillyanne:

We'd better check that one out.

Jeremy:

That's shocking! Can I just say, can I just say I am, I was the rehearsal pianist for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company doing Gilbert and Sullivan. So the fact that I don't know, that is really shocking.

Gillyanne:

We're doing a lot of task- switching here. Another a hundred people just got off the train comes from

Jeremy:

Well it's Sondheim.

Gillyanne:

Sondheim. I think it's Company?

Jeremy:

We're going to have to look that one up as well. That's hilarious. Okay. So epic fail. Actually, this is the end of the Series 4. This is Series 4 Episode 11 of the podcast. We're going to take a short break because it is in fact, my 160th birthday on Monday. And I know I don't look a day over 140.

Gillyanne:

You lied to me!

Jeremy:

I know. We've got that. We've got Easter, we're going away for a little short break. So we're going to start series five in May and in series five, we're going to be doing more of this. So it's going to be based around the exercises in This Is A Voice. Although the book says 99 exercises. There's actually about 120.

Gillyanne:

Yes, we produced a lot more didn't we?

Jeremy:

Well, in fact, we wrote 150 exercises for the book first draft, and a lot of them got cut. So one of the things that we're going to share with you is some of the exercises that got cut, what they are, how you do them and why they got cut. And this is going to be the process we're still going to do the long. Type of podcast, the longer chat podcasts, but they're going to be interspersed with these. This is the voice golden nugget type things.

Gillyanne:

Do you want me to tell people? Who's coming for interviews or should we leave that until we start series 5?

Jeremy:

Ooh, shall we dangle the carrot in front of them and then whisk it away? No, go on, tell them!

Gillyanne:

Okay. So here's, here's a few of them that have already been agreed, although not necessarily dates. Um, Kate Frasier Neely is going to talk to us about the book itself. And we'll also be talking to Kate about why she is more than just the menopause lady. And we're also going to be talking to Tor Spence of Voicefit and, um, Tor is a fan of coughing.

Jeremy:

That's going to be an interesting conversation.

Gillyanne:

Absolutely. And she's going to be talking to us about cough syndrome and, and how she deals with coughing.

Jeremy:

Excellent.

Gillyanne:

in her voice clinic. And she's also going to be talking to us about acid reflux, which is so important for all people who are performers. Love that. We are going to be talking to Petra Borzynski of singing sense. Haven't got a theme to share with you yet, but those of you who follow Petra will know the kind of work that she does, which is an interface between her skills as a psychotherapist and also a singing teacher. I really, really want to talk with our Ozzie pal Dr. Marisa Lee Naismith, because her book is recently out on training contemporary commercial singers. And her podcast if you haven't checked it out is a voice and beyond, and I am also plotting a collegial conversation with our other Ozzie pal Dr. Irene Bartlett.

Jeremy:

That'll be fun.

Gillyanne:

Mm-hmm.

Jeremy:

Oh, and by the way, you'll also get, um, excerpts of us wittering away between us. Uh, so you've got that to look forward to. I've now you've got to go on the YouTube channel again, just to see the look I got from Gillyanne from that sentence.

Gillyanne:

I hope you're not letting that out!

Jeremy:

I am!

Gillyanne:

OK now there are two things I want to flag up and one is the inspiration of the week, but in a way, this is another one because of World Voice Day. And it's absolutely worth your while going to World-Voice-Day.org and just reading the intro here from, uh, three colleagues, uh, Mara Behlau, Mauro Fiuza and Thays Vaiano. I hope I pronounced that correctly and just reading the intro, dear friends in love with the human voice. And one thing that I want you to know is that there is a collection of voice research articles that have been made available to us until the end of September, opensource, made available at the request of the voice foundation from Elsevier publishing. And these are well worth your checking out.

Jeremy:

That is amazing.

Gillyanne:

I think that's fantastic. So thank you, uh, journal of voice and to Elsevier publishing. And then we've got a little inspiration of our own that we want to share with you. And it's actually an audio that you're going to hear at the end of this podcast. Like many couples who run their own businesses, we are often brainstorming when we go for a walk. And that's what we were doing today. And we would just love to share with you this, sort of, it's quite a long golden nugget. Isn't it?

Jeremy:

That's two minutes. I mean, we recorded this morning while we were on the walk, uh, up into the local hill. And so, first of all, I want to apologize for a little bit of a microphone noise and wind noise against the microphone

Gillyanne:

It was just done on the phone.

Jeremy:

Yep. Um, you also need a little bit of background about this. We have just this week finished teaching the online singing teacher training week three, which is the gateway into the accreditation program. And lots of fascinating things came up on that course. And there was one thing, particularly that we do on the course, which is the brain dump. When, when you first hear a singer, when a singer steps into your studio for the first time, and you're giving them the first lesson and you are listening for what it is that they do really well, what it is that they could improve and what really needs work. And so you're already, your brain is completely full of ideas that you could go with. And the brain dump is a very quick technique that you can do get all of those things about and start sorting. And we had a sort of comment from one of the. On, uh, on the course, which is how do you speed up the brain dump? Because when you first do it, it's quite involved, but we are now so used to doing it that we just do it almost automatically. Should we just let them listen to it As a finishing off point for today's podcast? Uh, how do you speed up the brain dump process? And the answer is that you do broad categories. What's jumping out at me and then you take a category that you think is important and you break it down and you go, oh, the three or four things that's jumping out at me within this category. Um, Y you end up is with usually two possible things and it could be two categories, or it could be two subdivisions of a category. Actually say there are two things that I can do. I'm not sure which one to go with. Let's start with this one, which covers your arse and also helps them to understand that if they get it wrong or it doesn't work, it's not bad problem, it's yours.

Gillyanne:

Can I just add something? It would be quite nice to reference the British Voice Association, given that, my chat is going to come out quite soon. Um, which is when we did the master class for Choice For Voice, Louise Gibbs asked us, what is your process? Because I can see there is a process there. Well, this is it. We're going to be sharing some mindmaps from OSTT 3 aren't we in, um, some of our social media over the next few weeks. If you can't decide. First time through, don't just jump in, ask more questions. So, or get them to sing it again so that you can focus in on just those two things. "But I only have 20 minutes with them. I can't just keep on asking questions." The answer is yes, you can, because a lesson is not about packing in as much stuff as possible. It's not about you giving quotes value for money. It's actually about how the singer feels and how, whether it's they feel that they have something to work with and whether they've been instructed well, and they know what the instructions are. So actually it's only about how does the singer feel leaving the room and therefore you can do 19 minutes of questions and one minute of incredibly targeted fix and they will leave happy. Um, isn't it, the case, Jeremy, that we consistently get feedback from people who've been on our training courses that they say "I started to focus in on one thing that I pulled out of the brain dump. And I've noticed that my students are much, much happier when they leave. And they actually tell me that". Yes. One thing that could give you a better experience of your voice, and one thing that can give your students the best experience of that voice. World Voice Day. This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.