Voice Confidence Improves Wellbeing


Voice confidence is something that everyone wants at some point, if not always, in their life. The ability to speak clearly (i.e. muscularly) and considerately with others, whilst appreciating and responding appropriately to what the listeners are absorbing; it’s a life skill. I write ‘absorbing’ here because listeners do not always solely hear – they take in so much more, and use many of their other senses in the process. Understanding listeners is essential in developing communication skills – why else speak with them?

Encouraging young people to understand how to develop and use their voice to the best of their ability is my passion – what I refer to as ‘making sound sense’. Being more aware of how the voice works physically is fundamental to building confidence in speaking. Know your equipment if you are going to use it well! After all, voice is created from movement of the body’s muscles. However, at present, voice education is not specifically taught in UK state schools and colleges. On writing to the Department of Education in 2019, I received confirmation that, for the present time, there are no plans for it to be included in the National Curriculum either. Instead, schools are encouraged to teach the skill of speaking, most especially as part of the English syllabus, and promote ‘student voice’ (i.e. opinions). Unless learners are taking extra-curriculum speech and drama/music lessons (and even then, not necessarily), young people do not learn how voice is made and, furthermore, how to use it healthily. Something which, I strongly believe, should be available to everyone.

2022 will be the 10-year anniversary of the London Olympics. Dr William Penny Brookes (see photo), considered to be a key founder of the Modern Olympics, came from my local town of Much Wenlock, Shropshire, in the West Midlands. Having moved here 10 years ago, I was inspired by his original idea to promote community wellbeing through physical and mental agility. Dr Brookes established the Olympian Games, now known as the ‘Wenlock Olympian Games’. It is because of founding the ‘Games’, and the subsequent visit by Baron Pierre de Coubertin 10 years later, that the world enjoys the Olympics as it is known today.

But why link the Olympics specifically with voice? Voice relies on an individual’s physical and mental ability: the structure of the physique and the expression of thought, powered by imagination. Subject to physical and/or mental needs, people can take their voice for granted. However, put the voice under physical and/or mental pressure (e.g. speaking to an audience), then suddenly it is also the person’s belief in themselves which can be compromised. This, in turn, effects their self-belief and overall wellbeing. Similar to Wenlock’s Olympian Games, Voice Confidence offers opportunities to physically and mentally develop strength of voice – boosting self-esteem, whilst equipping learners with effective communication skills – preparing young people for life!

Voice Confidence encourages learners to be curious about their individual voice and open to new discoveries. By having fun playing with the variety of sounds the voice makes and appreciating how sound travels within, through and out of the body, individuals are given a renewed sense of vigour and vitality.

Extra-curriculum lessons are a part of the many options offered at school, particularly independent ones. It is often these one-to-one or small group lessons which provide young people with the support they are unable to find in a larger classroom setting. I am qualified and experienced to deliver extra-curriculum lessons to young people, with a strong mission to raise the profile of voice education for all young people. This is why I am now offering school workshops. Also, in consultation with schools and colleges, I can explain how to introduce extra-curriculum speech and drama activities to their learning communities.

I will be officially launching Voice Confidence in Spring 2022 in Wenlock. I am meeting with the Town Council in December to put the plans in place and will report back here in the Spring. I am also looking forward to returning to William Brookes Secondary, Much Wenlock in January 2022. Along with finalising plans for a book on diaphragmatic breathing, I am really looking forward to seeing what 2022 has in store.

Wishing all who have read this month’s blog a joyfully safe Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

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