The Voices Outside my Head

Two weeks ago I started something that’s kinda neat! I have been seeing a Speech Pathologist to help me learn how to train my voice to sound more feminine. I had to hit a long cycle of referrals from the insurance company, but I got approved at every stage along the way, so my health insurance is paying for it. Neat!

This is one area where I’m really benefitting from living in San Francisco. My doctor did a little bit of research and ended up sending me to a really highly recommended doc. The ladies in the front office were like “just to warn you, he’s really weird, but he’s usually able to get great results,” and I was like “it’s okay, I’m weird too.” πŸ™‚

I’ve been three times. The first session started out with him recording me say something like “Hi! My name is Bunny. Today is July 1st. I live in San Francisco. I am working on my voice.” We keep repeating this before and after each session so we can compare how things are progressing.

He uses a computer very heavily, which I think is really neat. He’s got an application on it that does real-time analysis of the data coming in off the microphone. Most of the time it’s on a screen where it shows one chart with two plots on the X-axis… one showing pitch and the other showing volume. He also uses this computer to make notes and record things so we can play them back later.

The first session was mostly my auditioning for him to see if I’m trainable or not and worth him taking on as a patient. I think I passed with flying colors, he was very happy to have me come back. He had me do a range test (I can do 2.5 octaves without straining), and made sure I understood that results are not promised and sometimes it just doesn’t work. I said I understand.

The second session was about establishing a baseline for my pitch. He had me do a series of noises (mostly weird grunts) while recording it on the computer. Then he was able to look at the data at determine that I have a natural harmonic in my voice around 250Hz, so we decided to use that as the baseline. 250Hz is pretty high – most female voices are closer to 200Hz and 250Hz is nearing the child range – but I can do it quite easily. At the end of the session he had me repeat the “My name is Bunny” thing and we were both O.O at how good it sounded. Yay!

The session this week (third session) we are starting to get into tone quality and color. Just simply raising my pitch only makes me sound like a male speaking in a falsetto, and that’s not at all what I want. This is where the real work is. I’ll be working at this part for a long time to come… years I bet.

This weekend I have been playing with some software he recommended. I’m recording things, experimenting with resonation, and playing them back. It’s a harsh reality for me just how poor my voice sounds right now, but at least I know it’s an issue and I have the tools to change it. I also grabbed an tone generator app for my phone and I have it make a 250Hz tone, which I play into my ear and humm along with to center my pitch back up to 250Hz. That helps as well as I can do that anywhere – even at work before getting on a call with a coworker.

The good news for me, at least, is that I know my voice can do it! That makes working at it worthwhile because I know the goal is obtainable. Yeah, it’s gonna be a lotta work, but hopefully there will be a good payout at the end.

Oh, remember when I said I got called Sir at McD’s? After my last session I went back there, at night, and did the best I can to order at the drive-thru. I used all of the things I had just learned at my lesson and said “I would like one ice cream cone, please.” and the person on the other end said “Is that all, Ma’am?” πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ That was the first time I’d ever passed on voice alone. πŸ™‚

I can’t keep that up for more than a few sentences right now… but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!! πŸ™‚

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