I recently had my first speech therapy appoint with the Veterans Administration in Portland, Oregon. The initial appointment was to determine if the therapists there could help feminize my voice. I already possess a young and light voice, but I still need help getting my voice to where I want it to be.
During my meeting with two speech therapists, we discussed the information that is currently being offered online. They were not a fan of it and they were also not a fan of the software that is available either. What has been produced was created by people who know very little about optimizing the voice. You should be very skeptical of YouTubers because many of them have very little or no professional training or education.
While I had these two wonderful and beautiful speech therapist attention, I also asked about the voice feminization surgery. They both made it clear that surgeries on the vocal cords was high-risk and should be avoided. If you're considering voice surgery, please try speech therapy first. I will try and provide you with some of the advice that I will be given, in order to help you avoid taking that step. Just a warning, some women come out of voice feminization surgery sounding like Mickey Mouse. It is often irreversible. Please exhaust all other options before considering that step.
My speech therapists gave me a great list of 11 vocal hygiene tips that I have to share with you. If you follow these tips, your voice will be clear and buttery and ready for you to train and use.
11 Great Vocal Hygiene Tips
- Reduce unnecessary loud talking, yelling, cheering or screaming.
- Reduce unnecessary coughing or throat clearing. Many people do this habitually when they do not actually need it. Try drinking water to relieve the sensation of needing to clear your throat. If you cannot avoid coughing or throat clearing, do so gently.
- Avoid speaking in noisy environments.
- Significantly decrease the amount you are talking if you have an upper respiratory infection (a cold) or laryngitis.
- If you must speak before a group of people, use a microphone whenever possible in order to reduce vocal strain.
- Do not talk too much or too loudly. Become aware of when you feel you are straining to talk and stop talking or talk more quietly and gently.
- Avoid irritants. This includes smoking and heavy use of alcohol, as both are major irritants to the tissue lining the respiratory and laryngeal tracts.
- Decrease caffeine intake. Caffeine has a drying effect on the larynx. Caffeine is in soda, coffee, tea and other beverages. So make sure you know what you are putting in your body.
- Drink a lot of water (at least 8 glasses per day). Try a humidifier to help increase vocal cord lubrication. Extreme dryness can result in redness and swelling of the vocal cords. This is especially true during the winter when much of the moisture indoors is removed through indoor heating.
- Remember to breathe! Don't hold your breath when you talk. Do not push your voice out with no air. Do not keep talking even after you have run out of air. We need breath support to make a good quality sound from our vocal cords.
- Try to reduce stress in your life. A general state of relaxation helps pave the way to better breathing and voicing habits.