Today’s post comes from Ben.

The final project in the English class I’m taking, “Critical Reading and writing 1” is to create a research paper on a topic of our choosing. We’ve written three other papers based on material we’ve read in class. The entire class to this point was mostly learning how to properly use commas, quote marks, how to attribute a quote, how to add citations to a paper, all that stuff you need to get a college level research paper done right.

I felt like I had a pretty good handle on things going in. What I’ve learned is just because I can do it doesn’t mean I know the rules and knowing the rules is harder!  English is hard! I only whined about that once or twice to the teacher. She’s been great. I knew her before the class and knew I would like her as a teacher so that’s all been good.

For my research paper, I choose to write about whispering. This came up because our daughter speaks really loud. I mean it makes my ears ring sometimes.

But it’s not that simple. I talked with an ENT doctor from Mayo. I spoke with a professional opera singer and I interviewed a speech pathologist.  The fact we can speak at all is pretty amazing! There’s a lot going on in making a “voice”. But loudness has to do with how much air you’re moving (and that comes from your “Pelvic Floor”) and it has to do with intonation and resonance and it all gives your voice a tone or pitch.

AND THEN, the speech pathologist said he didn’t think our daughter spoke that loud. Huh! So now ‘Loud’ is relative. Loud compared to what? I looked up that the average speaker is about 60dBA’s. A quiet room is about 40dBA. A lawn mower is about 85-90dBA. (And those are all rather subjective too). And using an iPhone app, she does speak about 60dBA. But the rest of us in the house don’t talk that loud. So I guess she’s only loud “in comparison”. And it’s loud when you’re in a quiet restaurant and the lunch rush is over.

I’ve learned a lot and it’s been interesting. It’s just not that simple. And I guess really, I just need to be grateful she can communicate at all.

Got anything to say about your voice?

47 thoughts on “Whispering”

  1. It seems like most people don’t like the sound of their own voice. Why is that? someone should do a research paper on that! I’ve always thought it interesting that our voice doesn’t sound like we think it does. And why is it derogatory when we say someone “likes to hear themselves talk”? Should it be a bad thing?

    I’m headed to Norcostco in Golden Valley today. Picking up snow machines. Concert rehearsal tonight. Concerts Thursday and Friday.

    I’ll catch up on the trail later today.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I took some voice lessons in college and learned some of that Pelvic Floor stuff, Ben. I had to really work to use my diaphragm effectively, and I still don’t think I have it down – part of the reason I’ll never have a solo singing voice.

    My friend Barbara McAfee is a voice coach, for speaking as well as singing – helps people who have issues with their voice, i.e. a grown woman whose voice still sounds childlike. She’s written this book: Full Voice: the Art and Practice of Vocal Presence http://www.barbaramcafee.com/about-full-voice—the-book.html

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I disliked my voice until 1998 when I went to work at the DFL Media Office at the MN Legislature. My boss, a former radio guy, insisted I had a great voice. He and another radio man told me my voice reminded them Robert Reich, the very short and very liberal Secretary of Labor for Bill Clinton.

    I already knew I had a great face for radio, so hearing that I had a radio voice was a joy. When one crosses over to the wrong side of the AARP line various body parts start to wrinkle, thicken, go white or become useless. Suddenly I now had a secret vanity.

    But time is the enemy of physical vanity. I was dismayed a few years ago to discover that my voice has changed. Instead of sounding like Robert Reich I now sound like my father did when he hit his 80s.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I’m speaking out loud, I don’t mind my voice. I actually don’t think about my voice very much. However when I hear my voice coming back to me. – say on a recording – then I’m weirded out. It doesn’t sound like me to me. I’ve been told this is fairly common?


    1. I had a speech teacher once say that we never can tell what we sound like or look like to other people because we are always hearing or seeing through a third device like a recorder or camera. Don’t know if that is truly true, but makes some sense to me.


  5. Not crazy about my voice normally, but when I get a cold or talk a lot more than I normally do (which is very little, actually), my voice drops about an octave and I can do one hell of a James Earl Jones impersonation. Plus, I can sing “Ol’ Man River” like Paul Robeson.

    Chris in O-town

    Liked by 6 people

  6. I have a low voice, a second alto voice, with no vibrato at all. Vibrato is sometimes described as the freedom of the voice. My singing voice is captive, fit only for Gregorian plain chant.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’ll go with the other kind of voice, you know, the one where people (often artistic people) talk about “finding your voice.” I’m still working on finding my artistic voice, but here’s what I’ve found so far: in my photography, I look for patterns, textures, colors, and reflections and seek to photograph those things in a way that shows people that beauty is often found in quiet and subtle things, not just in loud and attention-grabbing things.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. My voice is a lower, alto voice as well. There’s been a couple times lately when I’ve called a customer service area and they call me ‘sir’ until I tell them my name. Geez, my voice isn’t *that* low. Taking voice & speech in college helped me a great deal — especially with my lisp and stutter.

    I always feel bad for professional women with high, child-like voices — they just don’t get taken seriously. I guess not everyone can sound like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. As I have a hearing issue especially in one ear, I find that most people talk way too soft, like they are talking to themselves. They don’t project…like “from the Pelvic Floor.” So when I ask them to speak up, they do for a while, but then they fall back to that soft, in the throat voice.
    Going to community theater performances I find that especially annoying…like the director never goes beyond the front row to listen. I was taught to project to the little ole lady in the back row (that would be me now). Lots of times they don’t even raise their eyes to the back row…or past the first row. (I am speaking in particular of our local theater group which performs in a small space with seats that go up from the stage).
    I was horrified recently when someone asked me to speak up…oh no,
    “now I’m doing it! damn.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I have hearing issues as well. Worse in my right ear where I have a severe hearing loss, but also in my left ear where the loss is moderate. Either way, I have difficulty understanding people who mumble, or as one of my female friends does, says almost everything in a conspiratorial whisper. I have a hearing aid but find that is serves mostly to amplify the ambient noise; I rarely wear it. I’m told that if I’d wear it consistently, I’d adjust to it, but since I spend most of my time by myself, that seems silly. I have no difficulty hearing what I’m thinking. Besides, I have a hunch that I’m not missing out on that much.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m self-conscious about my voice, probably more so because of my accent than my voice quality. On a couple of occasions I have called our landline and left a message to myself to remind me of something or another. My first reaction when I retrieved the message was “Who the heck is that?” Then the realization set in “it’s me.” I sound much better in my own head than I do to the rest of the world. Too bad for the rest of the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Then, of course, there is the “mom” voice and the “Doctor” voice that I ocassionally need to use.

    I was at a meeting recently with a very snippy school counselor who let it be known to all at the meeting that she didn’t agree with my take on the case, and was quite rude and demeaning. I just continued with a sweet voice, taking the high road. My inner voice was less forgiving.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I still remember the first time I used my mom voice. But I wasn’t a mom yet, I was yelling at the dog in the backyard. But I heard it come out of my mouth and I had to sit down for a minute to get over the surprise of it.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I took a physical ed. Class in college taught by the college basketball coach. My, did he have a loud, commanding voice!


  13. I have a dear friend, a book writer/former therapist, whom I meet for lunch every few weeks. At our last lunch, I noticed that he was leaning toward me over the table in our booth. I asked him if he was hard of hearing. He said, “No – it’s just that your voice is so soft I can barely hear you”. I was stunned to hear this and began asking other friends if they thought my voice was soft. Every one of them confirmed what Ned had told me.

    Ever since then, when I talk, all I hear is a voice so soft that it gets lost in the din of other voices around me. It’s really quite distracting.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. i used to be surprised by my voice in jr high then i became a tick star and my voice got played back often enough i accepted it

    it’s different from what you hear inside because you are hearing your voice amplified and modified by the bones in your head
    remember when beethoven was going deaf he would do the thing with putting his teeth on the piano where the doundcamplifies through the bone? the guy who invented hearing aids saw his daughter (deaf) putting her teeth on the console high go and realized she was hearing through the bone
    when you hear your voice out there naked it is a stranger.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. today i take so many dictation notes and play them back that the annoying voice on the other end of my to do list is very familiar

    i’m always asking people to speak
    my wife had me get tested and my right ear can have one left ear won’t help

    i don’t love it, seems to make a cool metallic tinkle giving me a missing high end but doesn’t help otherwise.

    i love my taste in sound
    i know just how the tone on the stereo ought to be, how loud etc…
    i am a pretty constant surround sound guy with podcasts stations i like and now my pandora scramble mode from yo yo and gershwin to joni jimi and lyle
    i love the holiday season
    radio fil of sinatra mel torme dean martin bing ella elvis dolly emmy lou barbara streisand dylan willie the norman tabernacle choir bach and the classical wonders
    i’m ok with jingle bell rock but baby it’s cold outside kills how about george winston december or vince giridelli and the snoopys christmas riffs?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love the norman tabernacle choir!

      You’re outdoing yourself today, tim. What does this mean? “my wife had me get tested and my right ear can have one left ear won’t help”

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I don’t have a good sense for how I sound to others, though I have been told the sound is not unpleasant. Theater and choral training young likely got me used to using the resonance to my advantage without realizing that was what I was doing. And yes, Cynthia, that means I learned to project so the little old lady in the back row can hear me. Also means I’m not afraid to use my voice or to speak in public – that ease (and the training noted above) builds in a muscle memory to keep my voice pitch low when I speak, and not allow the natural reaction of pitching higher…I guess there are payoffs to having a choir director for a mom. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

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