The human voice is a beautiful, complex beast inextricably linked to our mental health.
I have had such incredible lessons with Happy Voices students who are enjoying upbeat, positive seasons in their life – graduating, holidays, engagements. They are daring themselves to try new things, feeling connected to the bodies, and willing to share their joy through song.
But I am also leading other pupils through trickier patches – redundancies, low mood, family deaths. First hand, I can see the moment they walk into the room that something is not right, and then they sing, and the voice tells me everything.
A tendency to speak lower than usual in monotone with laboured breath and frequent hesitancy are all examples of paraverbal features which indicate low mood and depression.
I myself definitely feel that my voice shuts down a little, and access to the upper range achieving that ‘brightness’ diminishes when in a lower frame of mind. The breaks and passagio in the voice are more obvious, and everything feels more effortful.
All of the above is entirely normal, and actually, to be expected. In life’s rich tapestry, the voice will undoubtedly reflect how we feel, what we do and how we think. Yet, let’s remind ourselves that in all creative work, light and dark are welcome and celebrated in equal abundance.
With time and awareness of the strong psychological-vocal connection, voices will bounce back, even improve and weather their own seasons. It’s in those trickier times we can fully embrace and explore our voice in all it’s many colours, dark and light, bringing yet more truth to our artistic endeavours in the future.