Raise Your Voice By Richard Lawton

Driving with the brakes on – Part 1

Teachers, Trainers and Lawyers often find that if they have to fill as room with their instructions for more than a few minutes, they start to feel a rasping or a tickling in the throat. You came into this world with a loud voice. I once heard a bunch of ten year old girls have a screaming contest in the playground, and they kept it up for fifteen minutes without strain, (ear shattering!) Flash forward fifteen years and meet those same girls now operating as professional women and I bet a lot of them would have trouble vocally filling the room without strain. I watched this happen to my teenage daughter; by Year 9 she’d internalised so much peer group pressure that it was like watching someone lock themselves into a cage. That caging exercise really affects your vocal muscles – from your lips to your larynx they learn to contract. If you’ve ever had to ‘grit your teeth’ in order to ‘hold your tongue’ or ‘bite back your anger,’ then all these metaphors combine to hold you back from letting out a loud voice.

The first place you can focus on to release those brakes is that big, chomping, jaw (masseter) muscle. Try massaging your molars to soften it so that you can open your mouth more and ‘put more space between your back teeth.’ This muscle stores a lot of unexpressed anger, which will give you some variation of that strained ‘lockjaw’ sound, (Julia Gillard is a famous example.) Softening that muscle is a first step to avoiding ‘driving with the brakes on,’ and as a by-product, helps you stop grinding your teeth at night.

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