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Thread: Voice Training

  1. #1
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    Voice Training

    Hi folks,
    Would those of you who worked on changing their voice share useful tips and maybe resources. The town where I live has actually the real clinic for voice for trans people. However, I am already spending any time I have and money on electrolysis. Taking any more of either from the family time/budget won't be a good idea. I also watched number of YouTubers who claim they trained their voices without seeing anyone and offered tips like keeping the Adam's apple up and back, raising sound from chest area to throat area, etc.
    I had enough being called Sr., Mr. as soon as I pick up the phone or open my mouth.
    I am also curious how long it took you to get comfortable with your voice. I assume you practice it daily. I found my short 15 min commute daily is a good opportunity to work on my voice.
    Thanks!
    Katya
    Last edited by Katya@; 04-06-2019 at 02:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Call me Pam pamela7's Avatar
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    There are so many methods.
    One way is to play with moving where your voice vibrates, moving it higher-up the vocal tract, into mouth or nose. Sometimes that does not feel right though, so singing/talking in shower, talking in car while driving give practice on how to speak as if one is a woman with a richer/deeper voice than many - men like that.

    Another way is to take control over your voice by feeling how deep it is, take it deeper, then back, then take it higher, and higher, and higher.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJFyz73MRcg
    I used to believe this, now I'm in the company of many tiggers. A tigger does not wonder why she is a tigger, she just is a tigger.

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    Gold Member Lana Mae's Avatar
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    As I remember, you are to keep going higher until you reach falsetto and then bring it down just a little! For me, I have a female voice at my disposal but seldom use it! Oh, and if you sound like Minnie Mouse...that is not it! Best wishes and good luck! Hugs Lana Mae
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    Platinum Member Teresa's Avatar
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    Katya,
    I've recently commented on the difference now I can hear my own voice through having hearing aids fitted , it might be interesting if others have found it's made a difference . I must have been speaking in a lower and possibly louder voice as I couldn't hear the higher frequencies . I find I'm speaking slighly softer and am more aware of the pitch , so I have raised it slightly . I admit I do get misgendered on the phone but when I meet the people what they see overrides what they hear . I don't make an issue over my voice , I have so many other things to think about , it doesn't bother me and it doesn't appear to bother other people .
    The real me ,no going back.

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    When someone calls me Mr/Sir once or twice, ok, I get over it. About a week ago, I called the customer service to switch the phone provider. The lady on the line apparently tried her hardest to convince me to reconsider, was saying every 3rd or 4th word Sir or Mr....so at the end of the 5 min call, I was ready to hit someone ... first time it bothered me that much. My rule of thumb is to not bother correcting if you see someone for the first and the last time. After hanging up, I regretted that I said nothing to her. Anyways, just one example that surprised me for giving me that much of a dysphoria.
    Katya
    Last edited by Katya@; 04-06-2019 at 07:28 PM.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    Katya,

    This topic is one of those cyclic issues that comes around on this forum. Changing your voice is way more technical than people understand. I chuckle when I see all of the suggestions to do this or that. Usually people just sound like a guy who is trying this or that.

    At the University of Houston there is a voice training program for transgender people. I participated in it for two semesters. I have given up for now. It took a lot of time and money that I don't have right now.

    The pitch of your voice is crucial. It needs to be in the female range. A pitch in the female range is not what your vocal chords are designed to do so it requires using muscles in your neck, throat, jaw, etc. to make the sound. Developing the muscles sufficiently to maintain a target pitch range requires much practice.

    Pitch and muscle development is only the beginning. There is vocabulary, cadence, inflection, facial expression and gestures that need to be learned and coordinated while maintaining a pitch in the range.

    Some people are more capable than others. Some people can sing, some can't. Some people can imitate and/or impersonate, others can't. Like others, I present enough visual clues to make face to face encounters successful and pleasant. Over the phone is another matter.

    I personally know many transwomen here in the Houston area and across the state. I can think of maybe three whose voice might sound female over the phone. I have two ciswomen friends who have voices deeper than mine yet they sound female over the phone. They big difference is inflection, cadence and vocabulary.

    Everybody is different. Whatever you try will require much practice to develop muscles and habits. It is also difficult to go back and forth when you get to a certain point because muscles you develop to work in a certain way need to be used the old way. Watch women when they talk. Look at their face/ eyes. Watch their gestures and listen to the inflection. There are programs you use out there. Nothing, it seems, works for every one.

    You will undoubtedly continue to get suggestions of what other people do that they think works for them. Try them and see if something works but don't drive yourself crazy. And, be careful, you can actually do damage to your voice. I had to get a physical exam by an ENT before I could do voice training at UH. Good luck.

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    Hi Jeri Ann,
    Thanks for thorough feedback. Hopefully with the benefit of time and patience, I can get pitch higher. I totally feel this neck muscles after doing some practice for the past few days. I know there is more than a pitch alone, but again, will work on this slowly. I do wonder how long it takes people on average to train the voice.
    Katya

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    Honestly, Katya, few are successful. There are just bigger fish to fry eventually. Two of my close transwomen friends here in Houston are attorneys who obviously use their voice in their profession. Both paid a voice therapist for individual coaching. Both gave up.

    It is one thing to practice a script or anything that doesn't require thinking but, to concentrate on maintaining all of the aspects that go into effective and convincing female articulation while the brain works during important conversation is another matter.

    I am a public speaker. If I have prepared what I am going to say, and can read it, I am more successful than I am at impromptu speech. In maintaining the voice, and all that involves, there is a tendency to drop the ball, so to speak.

    One of the friends I mentioned is Phyliss Frye a municipal judge here in Houston. Last summer at the TTNS conference she and I were discussing this very issue. She told me that it was too much trouble and she gave up. She implied that I would give up too. She was right, at least for now. Here is Phyliss an me at the courthouse when she expedited my name and gender marker change 13 months ago. I have blanket permission to post Pkyliss's picture. She wants you to know who she is and be your attorney. Lol
    20180302_085609.jpg

  9. #9
    Platinum Member Teresa's Avatar
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    Jeri Ann,
    I wonder if I may raise the point with you , it was comment I made to Katya about not being able to hear yourself clearly when you talk , it was a real revelation to me when I had my hearing aids fitted I suddenly had to get use to hearing my own voice . I must admit I'm more aware of what I sound like and finding I can change the pitch easier . Evenso I am pretty good at mimicry .

    Do you think it's a good suggestion to record your own voice to hear exactly what it does sound like . I must admit affliction is more of a problem as I do tend to emphasise more on the male side when using the phone , I'm not sure after all these if I could really change that much now .

    Obvioulsy it is more of a problem with someone in transition if they do most of their business on the phone . While we tend to think women are possibly less forceful on the phone I have now been on the receiving end of my wife , I'm not sure how much difference gender makes when someone wants to voice a forceful opinion .
    The real me ,no going back.

  10. #10
    . Aprilrain's Avatar
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    I sang along to female artist in the car, especially Taylor Swift!
    I definitely worked on my voice but I couldn't tell you what it is I did exactly. It's easy to get lazy though and I've been abusive to my vocal cords recently so every once in a while, maybe a few times a year, I'll get "sir'ed" on the phone.
    It usually shocks me, pisses me off and then I remember phones are very unforgiving! Most my interactions with others are in person or via text.
    Last edited by Aprilrain; 04-09-2019 at 06:48 AM.

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    Not sure if the link is correct.

  12. #12
    happy to be her Sarah Charles's Avatar
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    Our local support group invited speakers from the University of Utah Communications Department, Speech - Language - Hearing Clinic to a recent meeting. They are also part of the U of U College of Health Transgender Support program and everything Jeri Ann says about how complex communication can be is correct. In voice you are dealing with Pitch, Resonance, Intonation, Voice Quality, Articulation and Duration. And that's just the half of it. Eye Contact, Facial Expressions, Gestures, Posture, Touching and Approach to Conversation all have major impacts on how we are perceived by others. While the latter components don't work over the phone or at the fast food drive up, they contribute to our ability to communicate and feel confident we are expressing gender the way we want. It takes lots of practice and having some professional assistance can help avoid damage to your voice, making your goals even more difficult to attain.

    One tool they were willing to discuss was the voice pitch analyzer, a cell phone application that you can use to see where your voice is now and track progress in that single area. There are several out there that work quite well, are free and don't have lots of ads. It appears there are many Universities who recognize this as a viable area of both research and community involvement. It may be worth your time to check schools near you to see if there are options you can use. Also the Veterans Medical Center here offers a range of support, including voice, for Vets, so that may be an option for some. Again, it's always a good idea to get help from someone trained in voice therapy who can listen, observe and offer the best recommendations as you work on this critical component in building confidence in how our gender is perceived.
    Sarah
    Being transgender isn't a lifestyle choice. How you deal with it is.
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  13. #13
    New Member ReneeW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeri Ann View Post
    Pitch and muscle development is only the beginning. There is vocabulary, cadence, inflection, facial expression and gestures that need to be learned and coordinated while maintaining a pitch in the range.
    I was having this exact discussion with a couple of people online recently. They didn't believe these factors to be nearly as important as simply sounding right. I've had no noticeable success with the tone/pitch of my voice at this point (haven't been practicing long) but I've already been told that focusing on those factors has significantly improved how I come across.

    I do wonder if anyone has found any particularly helpful videos online for working on the tone/pitch aspect. Videos aren't hard to find, but they take many different approaches. Has anyone found any that they actually found very effective?

  14. #14
    Super Moderator Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    At the University of Houston we used a "Pitch APP". The one I use for Android is Pitch lab. Your particular pitch within the female range needs to be determined before you can do anything.

    There really is so much more to this than most people realize. There are techniques that will determine an individual's female pitch but the best determiner of an appropriate pitch is someone else, preferably someone with the proper education and training.

    There are many characteristics to gender specific speech. For example, the resonance of a females voice occurs in the head while a male's is in the chest. In particular, a female voice resonates at the front of the nasal cavity.

    As a rule male speech is more monotone than female speech. A female voice modulates with much more inflection.

    Females, as a rule, enunciate more clearly than males. Females use more words to communicate. Females are more expressive using not just words but facial expression, body position, gestures and tone to communicate with more emotion than males.

    Again, it is complicated. There really are no shortcuts and tricks. Even the best hearing aids can't teach you all this stuff. It has to be learned and practiced a step at a time. And, for most people it takes more time than is available. Life gets in the way.

    As I recall, only 50% of people who get serious training will be able to develop a convincing female voice. After two years, only %30 of the 50 will retain it.

    Kay James is the director of the speech training program at UH for transgender people. She travels and gives lectures on the topic. At a national conference for speech pathologist a couple of months ago she presented and used a video that she, and her graduate assistants, made of me. Still, I struggle with being misgendered on the phone.

    Some people have more ability than others. Some male voices are already closer to the female range to begin with. Some people are extremely talented. There is no approach that works for everyone.

    I know of people who think they are convincing but, at the end of the day, they only sound like dudes who are trying to sound like a girl. It's complicated and hard.
    Last edited by Jeri Ann; 04-09-2019 at 12:40 PM.

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    It does seem all hard and tough but I will work at least on my pitch. I didn't find app for Android that Jeri Ann has mentioned but downloaded the android app called Voice Pitch Analyzer. Looks like a project by a fellow trans person for trans persons. Free, no ads, and gives you to read 1 min long sections from the book. Shows your range for the piece, shows how it fit on male-femlae scale, and shows your progress. Just what I need to start!

  16. #16
    Silver Member Helen_Highwater's Avatar
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    I've related this several times on the forum but it's worth repeating I hope.

    I met the SA of a CD'er at a social group. The SA was a speech therapist who said that the biggest mistake most make is in raising their pitch too high. Women don't speak in a falsetto voice, the BeeGees do, females don't. Her advice was to start at the pitch that is most comfortable to you and sing the scale; Do, Re, Mi stopping at Mi. Any higher and it starts to sound false. For some Re will actually suffice.

    AS described above this is just a starting point but it's one you can easily practice and get used to. If out and about and just getting ready to use your voice it's something you can do under your breath to get a starting point. Inflection, timbre, phrasing, facial gesture, eye contact all add to the overall picture.

    You may not reach a truly passable female voice but I feel it's like being in a foreign country and at least trying to speak the language. People appreciate a trier.
    Last edited by Helen_Highwater; 04-10-2019 at 12:32 PM.
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  17. #17
    Little Mrs. Snarky! Nadine Spirit's Avatar
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    I agree with what several others have stated, changing your voice is a lot more than just raising your pitch. Myself? I just completed about 3-4 months of voice therapy. It cost about $120 for an hour session. I started at the beginning of January, had my last online session a week ago, and I will be having a group session this weekend. Then I am on my own to continue practicing. Did it help? Yes! Tremendously. I am a large advocate of working with a professional. I know there is a cost associated with that and not everyone can afford it, but a professional is well worth the money.

    Well.... it is well worth it, if you are going to practice. Like 5-6 times per day practice. Practice that starts off slow and small, like 5-6 minutes at a time and then progressively gets longer and longer. As well, if you are practicing the proper methods it will get results. If you just practice what someone else said, and only do it occasionally, here and there, then that is the type of results you will get. I am a teacher and have been so for 23 years. I work with middle school students, but have worked with elementary, high school, and adults. All the ones that fail, why is it? Lack of time, effort, energy, persistence, dedication. Basically, practice... they don't.

    I made a deal with myself, if i was going to spend the time with a prof, and spend the money for a pro, then I better practice! And practice I did. My therapist had not had anyone who practiced the way I did, and continue to do so. I recorded our sessions and would play them back. I made flashcards of things to remember, warm-ups to try, and different practice sessions. I practiced in the morning on my walk, in the shower, while getting ready, while driving to work, with my classes, with my coworkers, with my wife, with my sister, with my friends, in the car, on the way home, while eating dinner, and before I went to bed. Everyday? Nope, but most.

    Has it helped? Yup. I'm gendered as female pretty much every time I am speaking and people can't see me. The few times I wasn't gendered properly, I was super upset and not paying attention to how I was speaking. This one guy gendered me as male, I quickly adjusted my speech, and he didn't do it again. So apparently my therapy has greatly helped as I never got gendered properly on the phone in the past.

    Okay, blah, blah, blah..... my absolute best advice? Get professional help. I know all of this transition "stuff" is stupid expensive. I am paying about $1800 every four weeks for my facial electro. My voice therapy added about an extra $500 per month. Sucks. But worth it, because I will have this voice for the rest of my life. And honestly being gendered properly on the phone is totally priceless!

    Oh I should say, that I already had lots of things going for me.... I had good female speech patterns to begin with, as well as good intonation. Also, my body and facial gestures have been quite feminine for years. I was doing that long before I transitioned, yes people always questioned me about it.

    Hmmm..... any advice I can give that wont cost an arm and a leg????? Don't raise your pitch too high. I was surprised that my target pitch was 190. It is in the feminine range, but far lower than what I thought I should be trying to do. Apparently that is the average pitch for a woman my age. And much of a feminine voice is within the intonation - the rise and fall of a voice. So sure it is higher at times, but also lower at time. When I tried to aim for a far higher pitch my wife said I sounded super fake and Minnie Mouse like. Now my pitch sounds much lower, but my voice is actually more feminine.

    What else??? When I am speaking I am trying to remember to be soft on hard consonants, being careful on low vowel sounds, keeping my mouth cavity more closed to have a less cave-like resonance, keeping my tongue forward, keeping my lips retracted, being cautious of Ls and Rs as they produce low sounds, being aware of the difference between the vocal cognates with voiced and un-voiced sounds, keeping my mouth open to help produce a lighter tone. Ummm..... yeah, oh also, adding in things like tag phrases, women tend to do that more, using more colorful and expressive language. Uhhh..... okay, that is about it. Notice I didn't say much about raising my pitch? Yeah, voice is an involved thing.

    Sorry about the length of my post - since switching hormones I seem to lack the ability to write small posts! Hahahahahaha!!!!

  18. #18
    Platinum Member Teresa's Avatar
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    Nadine ,
    Thanks for giving an in depth ( homone permitting ) reply .Also after reading Jeri Ann's reply I've just realised I'm missing a golden opportunity as my daughter is a qualified speech and language therapist . I know she won't mind giving me some guidance as she's been out with me several times , I must admit she is totally comfortable with me but I don't know how she feels about my voice .
    The real me ,no going back.

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    Super Moderator Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    Well put Nadine.

    I had to quit because of the cost. I have not given up though.

    My focus right now is GRS scheduled for three months from yesterday.

    I am only misgendered on the phone. It sucks.

    My voice is affected by GERD. That sucks too. Diet and modification will not correct it. Surgery probably will but that will have to wait.

    My target pitch is 195. After reading your post I activated Pitch Lab Pro on my phone and I couldn't even land on 190 because I have practiced so much at 195. Btw, 195, key of G below middle C, is my favorite key to play harmonica in.

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    Nadine
    Thank you for this detailed post packed with lots of good information. Point about pitch is well taken. I am not trying to go into falsetto either and I am long way away from high pitch. After first few trials, looks like my average frequency is 127 Hz. I am down below the scale . Since I am not living full time (I am that non-binary person who won't accept theirselves as a female but struggles with being called Mr, Sir on a phone), I hope my small but consistent effort would lead to small improvement and if I need to go further, hopefully I would be done with electrolysis and could work with a professional.
    Katya

  21. #21
    Transgender Person Pat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nadine Spirit View Post
    Myself? I just completed about 3-4 months of voice therapy. It cost about $120 for an hour session.
    It's worth noting that if you are a US veteran the VA will set you up with a speech pathologist as part of their Transgender support services. Even if you're at the highest co-pay level, it's only $50/visit. Sure beats $120. I spent a year working with a speech pathologist in Bedford MA and it helped a lot. But, gosh, I never knew there was so much to know about talking. As Nadine says, pitch is not much of it.
    I am not a woman; I don't want to be a woman; I don't want to be mistaken for a woman.
    I am not a man; I don't want to be a man; I don't want to be mistaken for a man.
    I am a transgender person. And I'm still figuring out what that means.

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    Member Becoming Brianna's Avatar
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    I downloaded the app suggested in this thread and while I understand its limitations it did give me a viable starting point as I try to make my voice more feminine. I know I will need more help and practice in order to perfect everything and command a wider range of pitches I only really have comfort with only a few sounds in my female voice, but I have to admit it brought a smile to my face the first time I read the passage and it said my voice sounds mostly female. I'm also using music. I'm singing the alto parts of choir songs that I remember from High school. I'm making progress but my vocal chords are TIRED today. I need a rest.

  23. #23
    Platinum Member Teresa's Avatar
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    I know this comment has been made before but no matter how good the voice works we just can't stop the sound we make when we cough or sneeze . Involuntary actions can't be disguised , on the whole our lungs are larger and our muscles stonger the exhalation of air through our voice box and throat is very hard to control .

    In the situation when I know I want to sneeze , I try everything to stifle it , the outcome is I usually end up biting my tongue, literally . I also struggle with a throat problem and end up with an annoying niggling cough , I just have to try any medication to stifle the irritation .
    The real me ,no going back.

  24. #24
    Super Moderator Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    Teresa,

    Honestly, thank you for your input on coughing and sneezing but, Katya's original post was a request for tips and resources for changing to a female voice. She also expressed curiosity about how long it took those who have been successful to become comfortable with their voice.

    With all due respect, let's stay on track with the voice training. This is one of the most serious issues that transsexuals deal with. Painful and expensive electrolysis, facial surgery, breast augmentation and GRS are, in reality, easier to achieve for some than a female voice. Developing a female voice that is totally sustainable and convincing is the holy grail for transwomen.

    So far this has been one of the most informative and useful threads for those in transition because it affects the quality of life.

    Katya thank you for this thread.

  25. #25
    Member Dorit's Avatar
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    Jeri Ann, what you say is so true. I have suffered all the surgeries and now easily pass as a woman if I don't talk too much, except on the telephone. Over a year ago I bought the Kathy Perez voice program, and about a month ago I started private lessons with a speech therapist. This is so challenging, and not being particularly musically gifted and my age makes it even more difficult. As a side note, in one way Hebrew being a totally gendered language results in me being correctly gendered all the time in public. People have to immediately decide what gender you to say anything to you, so it is based on appearance only, and once you start talking they are not going to shift even if they have doubts.

    This also brings up the deeper issue of self acceptance and confidence about who we are as transexual women. I have to remind myself that I am proud of who I am and not be fearful about talking even in a somewhat obviously male voice.

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