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  1. VOICE WORK (for MtFs)
  2.  
  3. So a lot of people have been talking recently about voice training. I took a course back in February for about ten weeks which tried to teach us some basic techniques on how to sound more androgynous (at first) and then more feminine. They made it very clear that many of the things they were teaching us were not the be-all-and-end-all of voice therapy or feminization, and that while they'd give examples of “typical” women, not every woman talks the same, and, in fact, many speech patterns are shared between males the females without problem.
  4.  
  5. HOLY SHIT READ THIS
  6.  
  7. Unlearn what you have learned. Pitch is nice, but it is nothing compared to the other things you must start to work on. Pitch comes naturally after using a voice for so long. The main thing they taught me in the program is that trans women tend to focus on pitch too much, while many, many cis women have vocal ranges well into the male ranges – yet they are still perceived as female through their voices due to the fact that they have certain ways of talking that men tend not to.
  8.  
  9. For instance, the biggest revelation was when I was talking to my own mother. She's an amateur singer and musician, and her vocal range was much deeper than mine, yet her voice is still distinctly feminine, because of the way she uses her voice and the things she's learned from a lifetime of female socialization.
  10.  
  11. Everyone sounds like shit at first. It took me three months to learn the tricks, and another three where people will actually ma'am me over the phone, and I don't think I sound that good, either.
  12.  
  13. TECHNIQUES
  14.  
  15. Step 0: Preparation
  16.  
  17. You're going to have to do some things and watch out for others to make sure you don't cause damage to your vocal chords.
  18.  
  19. 1.Drink water, especially if you are a coffee or pop (with caffeine) drinker, or a smoker (cut that shit out regardless). Caffeine dries out the vocal chords, as do diuretics like Spironolactone. So drink lots of water (or water-like substitute).
  20. 2.None of the stuff you're doing should feel forced or strained. Don't try to push your voice into extreme pitch ranges when you're first starting. (as tempting as it is) Just work on an androgynous range when you first start.
  21.  
  22. Step 1: Warmup
  23.  
  24. The first technique you must learn is warming up your vocal ranges. So they advised doing the following every day when you wake up. (you can let up on this as time goes on and you get more accustomed to the ranges you're using in speech)
  25.  
  26. 1.Stretch your arms and chest. This makes the area that expands and contracts when you breathe more loose and limber, helpful for breath control.
  27. 2.Do tone ranges, like so: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0-jegF03eU (you don't have to do the whole thing, only a few scales repeated should be fine)
  28. 3.Massage your throat (Adam's Apple). This will help the muscle that controls your voice box relax a bit.
  29. 4.Massage your mouth. Clench your jaw and feel for where the muscle bulges out near the sides of the jaw. Massage those muscles a bit.
  30. 5.Take deep breaths and let them flow out naturally without force.
  31.  
  32. It should take you all of ten minutes. Makes you feel relaxed, too, which is always a plus.
  33.  
  34. Step 2: Theory and the First Rules
  35.  
  36. So the first thing you want to learn right now are two things. One, widen your lips a bit, this helps you enunciate more clearly. Girls tend to not slur their words, or if they do, not as much as guys do. Girls tend to speak with clearer syllables, while guys tend to not.
  37.  
  38. Girls also tend to have sharper inflections (intonations) than guys, but both guys and girls intonate almost as much. However, in female voice, the intonation is more pronounced, where as with guys it's just slurred out as not really defined as well. The biggest indication of this is with questions or simple phrases.
  39.  
  40. So in my guy voice, I'd use words like “shoulda, woulda, wanna,” that kind of thing. In my girl voice I tend to pronounce those words more clearly, with “should've, would've, want to.” Intonations and seeking consent for things (such as a suggestion) are also “typically” female but some of those things (such as asking questions the majority of the time, as opposed to making statements) require personality changes and I personally am not down w/ that, unless it suits you personally (and it does, for me, and always has, but some trans women out there like to have a more masculine vibe to them).
  41.  
  42. There's also really complex speech pattern stuff like how females tend to want to include friends while males tend to want to lead the event, such as for asking someone out for coffee:
  43.  
  44. “Hey, want to go to the coffee shop?”
  45.  
  46. “I'm going to the coffee shop, wanna come?”
  47.  
  48. ...but this stuff is needlessly complex and again, a lot of it requires some fairly tough shoe-horning that I really don't see as necessary unless it really fits you.
  49.  
  50. As for the rules of feminine voice, there's a few things to know. First, the order of “practice” tends to follow this order:
  51.  
  52. 1.Warming up and sustaining different voice pitches.
  53. 2.Learning head resonance.
  54. 3.Learning enunciation.
  55. 4.Learning intonation.
  56. 5.Finally working on pitch.
  57.  
  58. 1 and 5 may seem similar, but 1 is simply a warm-up so you can do other crazy things to your voice. Generally they wanted me to be able to sustain a slightly higher (androgynous) pitch for a while, and then forget about it so I could focus on other things. The other things almost automatically make the pitch of your voice sound higher without you actually doing anything to your pitch.
  59.  
  60. The Big Three that have worked for me have been 2-4: head resonance, enunciation, and intonation. I will explain them.
  61.  
  62. And as a final word of warning, please do not power through these sections in a single day and worry about not doing it right. Practice one for a week, another for another week, and alternate them in a kind of schedule, like:
  63.  
  64. Week 1: Head Resonance
  65. Week 2: Enunciation
  66. Week 3: Head Resonance + Enunciation
  67. Week 4: Intonation
  68. Week 5: Head Resonance + Intonation
  69.  
  70. That kind of thing. It took me ten weeks to get something I could slip into easily, but still sounded bad. Your schedule may be twice as long or even three times as long. This is a long process. Don't feel discouraged.
  71.  
  72. Step 3: Head Resonance
  73.  
  74. Head resonance is, quite simply, “talking from the head.” It's difficult to describe. Essentially, in your head, you have to imagine your voice coming from the top of your throat, and just envision it coming out from there. The best way they taught me to check for it is to chant one-syllable things that produce vibrations.
  75.  
  76. (and again, forget about pitch for now)
  77.  
  78. So what you want to do is to just talk in your every-day guy voice, and say hold a long “me” as in “meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” and, while doing this, placing two fingers on either side of your nose on your upper cheeks, just to feel for vibrations. Then, try doing the same while thinking about talking from your head, while widening your lips a bit as to project your voice a bit. If you're doing it right, you should feel more vibrations on your cheek bones. If you can feel them, congrats, you're doing it right. Keep trying and keep envisioning your voice coming from your head.
  79.  
  80. After this, try sustaining that head resonance and the vibrations and saying simple phrases, such as:
  81.  
  82. “God damnit.”
  83. “Goony Gooner Goon.”
  84. “Helldump is for babies.”
  85. “Laissez Faire rules.”
  86. “HydroSan wears a fedora hat.”
  87. “I am a curvy goonette.”
  88.  
  89. ...and so on. Keep trying those for about a week until you can slip in and out of head resonance from your “guy voice.”
  90.  
  91. Step 4: Enunciation
  92.  
  93. As mentioned, girls tend to enunciate things more clearly than guys. Making strong, clear syllables are typical of female speech patterns. This involves using head resonance, so make sure you've got a good beat on that before going on to this.
  94.  
  95. You're going to want to spread your lips and pronounce as clear a sound as possible, while saying the phrases listed in step 3.
  96.  
  97. It's difficult to describe. Just try to get into the habit of talking clearly with individual syllables, as opposed to just slurring your speech. Don't worry about speech patterns or “what would another girl say,” just try to be clear and precise with your words without sounding like a robot.
  98.  
  99. Step 5: Intonation
  100.  
  101. Both females and males use intonation. It's simply a way to show emotion, and while many guys don't use it often, typically they'll use it in a situation where they feel uneasy. Girls tend to use it much more frequently, although girls too can do the “monotone” guy-type voice based on the situation.
  102.  
  103. There's not really a way to teach this since every dialect and type of person will do it differently. All I can say for this point is to listen for intonation in speech when you're talking with other girls.
  104.  
  105. Intonation can mean different things applied to different sentences. For instance, consider this sentence:
  106.  
  107. “She's not doing anything dangerous, is she?”
  108.  
  109. If the “is she” is inflected upwards, it's seen as a genuine question, such as a worried question or someone who is concerned. If the “is she” is inflected upwards but not all the way, it could be seen as a sarcastic, eye-roll type of remark. And if it's inflected towards, it could be seen as a statement of relief, like, “oh, the person ISN'T doing anything dangerous.” Intonation is a very powerful part of any speech pattern, male or female, so doing Step 6 (below) is essentially required.
  110.  
  111. Step 6: Talk with other girls
  112.  
  113. Talking with other girls and feeling more comfortable with using your voice around them is the only way you'll learn how to get a natural-sounding female voice. Like most “in theory” things, actually going out and doing it is the only sure way to learn these types of things. You might pick up some speech patterns, or a bit of intonation, or phrases, or what have you that other girls use, which will help you become more confident with your own voice. Hanging around your female friends, both cis and trans, will help you gain confidence so you can use it when talking with, say, someone at a 7-11 or a government office. And eventually, through trial and fucking up, you'll figure out what works and what doesn't, and be able to use your best voice when some random guy starts macking on you at the bus stop.
  114.  
  115. Finally
  116.  
  117. Give yourself lots of time. Forget about pitch for now. Relax and use your voice whenever you can for the first long while. Know when you've had enough and don't feel ashamed for slipping back into “guy mode” occasionally for the first few months. Eventually you'll find your “guy voice” doesn't even fit or work anymore. Now I can barely talk in my guy voice because the intonation/enunciation I've learned make it feel really unnatural.
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