The Sigh: Correction of Common Vocal Issues

By this stage of the process, your Speech Coach or Voice Coach should have a better understanding of where the issues lie so you can begin the process of healing and change.

So many people pick up unhealthy vocal habits during their lifetime, but these can be easily broken and changed once the speaker understands what the problem is and where the habit originated.  Follow these three easy steps to find unnecessary muscle tension.

The Tension Test:

  • First, begin by checking your jaw for tension.  There are two ways to do this; by pretending you are chewing a large invisible apple and to take a really overly large yawn.  Drop the jaw down and feel the jaw joint move slightly apart as you open your mouth downwards.
  • If you are doing the “apple” method, take big chews of your invisible apple and feel the jaw and tongue really dropping down and stretching the jaw muscles in a downward motion.  If this is slightly painful, it will show you how much tension you actually hold in this area and may alert you to the fact you are probably holding your jaw tightly throughout the day, or grinding your teeth at night.
  • Next take a big long sigh – like a yawn.  Open the mouth, take a deep breath in and SIGHHHHHHHH loudly as you allow the air and sound to escape.  Allow the air to flow gently with the sound of AH as you sigh in a downward scale fashion (from high to low).  This will loosen and stretch the vocal chords along their full length and relax the muscles in the throat and jaw area.

During a Voice Coaching session with Vocal Coach Elisa James, you will become aware of how much tension you are holding and in which muscles.  This awareness of tension in the face, jaw and neck will be paramount to your vocal progress and success.  If you are using too many muscles unnecessarily, you will feel vocal fatigue much more quickly.  The object of good vocal production is to be effective and efficient with energy systems for the best sound possible with the least amount of strain.

Another good test is to feel the striate muscles in the back of the neck with your hand.  Voluntary control over these neck muscles will allow us to use our voice properly without over-straining the neck or throat area.  To test this, place your hand over the back of the neck and speak clearly for a few minutes.  Notice when you raise your pitch and volume that you may feel more tension.  By placing the vocal sound into the mask area you will notice that the tension is far less in the neck than if you use a throaty sound.

These and many other issues can be quickly corrected after a few sessions with Voice and Presentation coach Elisa James at