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Help! I sound like Donald Duck! (Voice Feminization Help)

mindful voice feminization resonance trans voice May 29, 2023
Image of Renée on pink background with text that reads "HELP! I sound like Donald Duck..."

If you've been following me for a while, or if you've been working on feminizing your voice for a while, then you already know that an important factor is to brighten resonance by making the vocal tract smaller by raising your larynx. If this is all new information for you, I highly recommend going over to my blog and searching for any of the key words you just heard: resonance, brightness, exercise. These are all things I've talked about before and everything is on my blog very handily searchable.

Now, if you've been doing this exercise for a while, you know that sometimes there are things that can happen that give you a less desirable sound. I was talking to a student the other day and she said that when she did the "key-oh" exercise or the larynx pull up exercise, she ended up with a sound that she described as "like Donald Duck." I can't really do it that well myself, but if you want to hear me demonstrate this, watch the video about and listen to the example I give. There's a sound that can be made that is not really nasality, it just sounds more like something is blocking the back of the throat (again, you can listen to the example in the video to hear what I'm talking about).

What's happening to make this sound is that the tongue is getting pulled to the back, towards the throat. The tongue is connected to the top of the larynx, and sometimes when you raise the larynx, the tongue activates and gets pulled back. Now, these muscles all move sort of "pseudo independently," so they're all going to move a little bit because they're connected. But, we can learn how to move some muscles without completely activating others.

In this post and the video above I'm going to share with you the exercise to work on this and all you need is a pencil. What you're going to do is take the pencil and put it underneath your bottom lip just a little bit, and you're going to stick your tongue out and try and wrap it around that pencil so that your tongue goes over the pencil to touch the bottom lip. Easy, right? Now try and do your larynx pull up exercise. You can watch me demonstrate this in the video above. What we want is to get the brighter sound without the tongue shooting back. If the tongue shoots back the "Donald Duck" blocked sound happens. So, if that's you, give this exercise a try!

Hi, I'm Renée! (they/them)

I'm a queer, nonbinary, and disabled singer, songwriter and gender-affirming voice teacher. 

I've been a voice teacher for over twelve years, I have four full-length albums out, and I have degrees in physics, jazz, and songwriting.

I love creating, I love figuring things out, but most of all, I love helping people.

Learn more about me

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