Elevated pitch, or a voice that is “too high”, is a common complaint for both male and female clients. Why is the pitch high and what can be done about it? Why is it an issue?
For reporters and anchors, a high pitched voice results in feedback that the talent sounds young and immature, weak and nervous, or frantic and unsure. The high pitch is sometimes accompanied by a fast rate of speech. That last fact indicates difficulty balancing a need to have more “energy” with a need to come across as grounded and confident. Projecting more energy too often gets translated into “louder, higher, and faster.”
Unfortunately, without proper guidance from a coach who can help the talent develop a vocal quality that is expressive and rich, many on-air talent develop vocal habits that can be harmful to the voice over time and produce a sound that is inauthentic – the “anchor man” voice.
Forcing the voice lower introduces tension into the voice and can result in vocal fatigue and limited variety. It can also lead to vocal fry, the “creaky” vocal quality that has been much maligned of late (Ira Glass).
So, how can I work on getting my voice to be deeper?
If your real life voice is typically lower than your on-air voice, there are a few things you could try before you go on air.
Make sure you are breathing properly. Focus on dropping your breath lower in the body. You should feel your abdomen EXPAND as you INHALE and COLLAPSE as you EXHALE (it is surprising how many people breathe backwards). High, shallow chest breathing will introduce tension into the muscles of the shoulders and neck which can lead to a high, thin vocal quality. Diaphragmatic breathing will also help you settle down and ground yourself.
Try humming from a high note down to a low note. Try starting your track or your hit from the lower part of your range to let you have more space to elevate your pitch when you want to emphasize something.
During your time away from work, do gentle glides on a hum up and down through your range to explore your lower register. The humming will also help you feel your voice more in the front of your face, which adds more resonance and dimension to your tone.
Check to make sure you are relaxed in your body. You want to have soft knees, relaxed lower back and abdomen, as well as loose shoulders, neck and jaw.
Keep your body engaged and animated without pushing to be loud. Too often, increasing volume results in heightened pitch. Pull back on your volume just a bit but maintain the animation in your gestures and your facial expressions.
There are a few apps that have been developed to monitor pitch that you could use if you are interested in that kind of technology. They have come about in response to the demand from the transgender population as a tool to help the transitioning voice, but can be useful for anyone interested in monitoring and adjusting their voice.