We’re about to bowdlerize a simple pitch exercise from a genius in the field of speech training – Kristin Linklater. Linklater’s training is broad, wide-ranging, and connected to great philosophical intent. But this exercise is one of the simple ones, designed to open up your upper pitch range when you speak. A quick diversion: why do we want to use our upper pitch range?
Elocution Lessons London: Why Go Up?
The upper pitch range is a great testing ground for our voice. As we go upwards in pitch, we tend to fall into habits which constrict our voice. But any constriction can dampen our voice, get in the way of our message and cause us damage over time. So going upwards in pitch means we are pushing up against this habit.
The idea of this exercise is to get more relaxed as you go higher, thus counteracting the natural desire to want to tense up. It’s just the same as that old Frank Sinatra song. If we can make it there, we can make it anywhere – practicing our higher ranges will give us more release throughout our range.
Elocution Lessons London: Willie & Winnie
All we’re going to do is ask an question on an ascending pitch, and answer it on a descending pitch. The questions are going to start quite small, but get longer. So you’re climbing the slope on the Q’s, and descending on the A’s.
Q: Will you wait?
A: I won’t wait.
Q: Will you wait for Willie?
A: I won’t wait for Willie.
Q: Will you wait for Willie and Winnie?
A: I won’t wait for Willie and Winnie.
Q: Will you wait for Willie and Winnie Williams?
A: I won’t wait for Willie and Winnie Williams.
Q: Will you wait for Willie and Winnie Williams the well-known welterweights?
A: I won’t wait for Willie and Winnie Williams the well-known welterweights.
Elocution Lessons London: What Is This Doing?
There are plenty of ‘W’ sounds in these passages, which gets the resonance further to the front of your mouth. You may feel a little vibration or tickle around the lips as you speak – which is exactly what we’re looking for. What this means it that you’re producing resonance in a very healthy way – perfect for good elocution and great speech.
You may notice that as you go higher in your range it gets more difficult to get your words out. This is the tension creeping in. If this does affect you, try feeding in a feeling of a ‘yawn’ into the words you’re speaking. Allow this yawn to open the back of the throat as you do it.
Good luck! Enjoy Willie and Winnie and their bizarre couple’s activities.