Our current QueerDoc blog series is on voice training. Last week, Jordan Jakomin taught us some ways to find our pitch and identify and avoid vocal tension. This week Jordan leads us through some exercises to safely change our pitch.
Jordan Jakomin (he/him,) is a queer speech-language pathologist and wellness coach. He’s the owner of Jordan Ross Communication, an online private practice dedicated to making voice and communication training safe, affirming, and empowering for trans and nonbinary people.
Jordan’s career and love for travel have led him to work with the LGBTQIA+ community in schools, hospitals, and private practice clinics across the United States, Spain, and Brazil. He holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a member of The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). After receiving his B.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Elmhurst College, and interning at Stanford University, he earned his M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at St. Ambrose University, Iowa.
Last week you learned about how to safely raise your pitch without vocal tension, and hopefully, you identified your starting pitch using the app Voice Tools. This week, I’m going to lead you through some pitch exercises.
If you don’t already have a piano app on your phone, you’ll need one for these exercises. I recommend the free app Tiny Piano, which labels each piano key with its corresponding note.
Don’t let the piano keys intimidate you. I promise you don’t have to know how to play the piano to do these exercises!
Example Exercise for Raising Pitch
Hit the note D# (155 Hz) and gently hum at it. Once you can successfully hum at this pitch, try chanting the days of the week or months of the year.
If a visual aid helps you hold a pitch (or you’d like to know the Hertz of your hum,) the app I introduced last week can do this. In Voice Tools, choose the “Tone” button. The display will show your pitch as you hum.
If holding D# (155 Hz,) felt comfortable and sustainable, you can continue to work your way up the scale at the notes E3, F3, F#, or G3.
Now let’s talk about establishing a lower target pitch. For someone with an average pitch of 200 Hz (high zone) and wanting a lower or deeper voice, a suggested place to start may be the notes G3 (196 Hz), F# (185 Hz), or F3 (174 Hz). You want to slowly work your way down the scale so that the muscles within your vocal cords get used to sustaining lower notes with power.
Example Exercise for Lowering Pitch
Hit the note F3 (185 Hz) and gently hum (mmm). Once you can successfully hum at the target pitch, chant the days of the week or months of the year.
If F3 felt sustainable/comfortable and you want to continue to decrease your pitch, try the same exercise at lower notes like E3, D#, or D3.
When working on pitch exercises, it’s important to be mindful of your posture. If you are using an app on your phone for the exercises, make sure the screen is at eye level. When you are seated, relax your shoulders and place your feet flat on the floor.
I suggest practicing 5-15 minutes per day. Short frequent bursts of practice are more effective than practicing for 2 hours once a week. Make sure to give your voice rest after practicing and drink plenty of water to reduce the chances of vocal injury.
Finding a voice that is affirming and authentic is possible with a lot of dedication and self-compassion. If you are interested in learning more about voice and communication training, you can book a session with Jordan by visiting his website. jordanrosscommunication.com.
The apps Voice Tools and Tiny Piano are available in both the App Store and Google Play.
Next week, we’ll share some of our other favorite resources for voice training.