Not sure how you sound? Get feedback!
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
It's essential to know exactly how you sound if you want to modify your voice. But if you're uncomfortable listening to yourself or apprehensive to receiving feedback, it can be hard to know what your voice really sounds like. Any new ways of speaking can at first seem unnatural or foreign, even if they bring you closer to your goal voice. Once you get feedback, you may be pleasantly surprised to realize you like your sound more than you thought you would! I often hear client's progress before they realize their voice has changed. And even if that's not the case, knowing how you really sound will help direct your practice. Voice work is hard enough without complicating the process by not knowing how to direct your practice.
Getting feedback from a gender voice specialist is one of the best ways to see where you are and get direction on what to work on next. I know my clients tell me my honest feedback is one of the most helpful services I provide. Whether or not you're able to work with a professional, you're going to need to practice independently. Here are some ways to get feedback on your voice during your home practice:
Record yourself and listen back to the recording.
Listening to a recording of your voice is a powerful tool for discovering how you really sound as you try out different voice modification techniques. You can also use recordings to keep track of how your voice changes over time. You don't need fancy software to record yourself- look for a phone voice memo app (you may already have one installed), or a simple recording program on your computer.
Many of my clients never like to hear their recorded voice, and most dislike listening to their voice initially. This is normal! We have two kinds of hearing, air conduction and bone conduction. When we're listening to ourselves talk, we use both kinds of hearing. When other people hear us, they only hear the sound that passes through the air. That is why recordings of our voice sound different from listening to ourselves talk. If you're uncomfortable with listening to a recording of your voice, try one of the techniques below.
Record yourself and ask someone else for feedback
If you have voice dysphoria, you may get triggered by listening to your own recording, or not trust that your opinion is accurate. If you have someone who you trust that you're comfortable sending recordings to, you can ask them for feedback. This can be really helpful, but it's good to keep in mind that their feedback will be limited by their voice knowledge. Asking for feedback on a specific thing can help. You can also send your recordings to your gender voice teacher, who can give you more targeted feedback.
Record yourself and get computer feedback
There are programs that will give you feedback on your voice recording, without you having to listen to it. You can monitor the effect of different voice techniques this way. Take a look at the voice practice tools list here for update to date software recommendations.
Record yourself while using auditory masking
Auditory masking is a super helpful technique if you're having trouble listening to yourself while you practice. Whether you use ear plugs or listen to pleasant music or white noise with earplugs, taking away the need to hear your voice while practicing can make all the difference.
Monitor your voice in real time with software or apps
Your ears are always going to be the best way to monitor your voice. Ear training is an essential part of modifying voice sex and gender. But you can also use real time monitoring programs to give yourself more feedback. Depending on what program you use and your skills at reading it, you can get feedback about your resonance, vocal weight, volume, pitch (fundamental frequency and pitch behaviors), and more. Keep in mind that the software most often recommended monitors only pitch, and it's far more efficient to focus initially on resonance and source behaviors. Voice components do not exist in vacuums- it is how the pieces and parts work together that make up our sound. And once you've effectively modified source and resonance behaviors if you still want to change your voice sex more, you can circle back around to pitch.
Practice with a friend
There are many people who are working on changing their voice sex and gender- finding a voice practice buddy can be as easy as asking in a voice community group. It can be more comfortable to practice at home with a voice buddy using virtual video conferencing, like Zoom or Google Meet. You can also ask a friend to give you feedback while you're practicing, whether simply by having a conversation, or by reading your sentences or a favorite passage. The more familiar your friend is with voice modification the more helpful feedback may be- that's why finding a practice buddy who is also working on their voice can be so helpful.
Ask for feedback
You can check in with someone you trust after having a conversation or leaving a voice message on their machine. That may feel more comfortable, because you don't have to ask for feedback until the voice use has already occurred.
Try to find a technique that works for you to give you the feedback you need to improve your skills and boost your confidence in using your new voice recipe! These strategies can serve as encouragement to get yourself to try something new, or to help you keep working towards your voice goals. Try to navigate around any uncomfortable feelings you may have with your voice, since feedback can be an important tool to help you improve your voice skills. Remember- no one can be as much of an expert on your voice as you can- you are your own best judge as you shift your voice towards your goals.
Do you want to get some professional feedback, so you know you're moving forward towards your voice goals as efficiently and effectively as possible? Reach out via harmonicspeech.com- I'd love to help you find your goal voice!
-Tallulah Breslin, MS, CCC/SLP (she/they)
Gender & Identity Affirming Voice Training @Harmonic Speech Therapy