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Acoustic Influences on Voice

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The ideas presented in the information sheet (see below) can be used to lead a discussion on this vital area. Clients should be encouraged to share their experiences and to consider solutions to some of the difficulties they face.

Acoustic Influences on Voice

The Department of Education, Victoria, Australia1, has recommended that if you use your voice extensively in the following environments (at work or outside of work), you will likely benefit from arranging for changes to be made to these environments and/or from being particularly vigilant in using good voice care strategies:

  • open plan classrooms (teachers/lecturers)
  • poor insulation from external noise (e.g. thin walls or partitions, poor fitting doors or windows)
  • environments with floor, wall or ceiling surfaces which cause sound reverberation (i.e. hard surfaces such as lino, ceramic or vinyl tiles, concrete, wood or wood laminate)
  • environments with high levels of background noise (internal or external)
  • outdoor settings and swimming pools: whistles and megaphones can be useful to teachers and physical education instructors, or some schools/work places may be able to provide a portable amplifier
  • environments requiring you to talk or project your voice over large distances

If you have to speak to an audience, in addition to the points above, Martin and Darnley2 recommended that you observe the following:

  • height and shape of the ceiling
  • furnishings and curtaining
  • size and number of windows
  • dimensions of the room
  • number of people in the room
  • outside influences such as traffic noise and air-conditioning units that may create additional environmental noise

They also recommend the use of an assistant who can help you assess the required volume level before speaking to an audience. If you do not have an onlooker to assist you, a hand clap or two should give you some idea of the level of reverberation in the room.

Finally, if you use your voice in environments that are dusty, very windy, or where the air quality is poor due to dry air, paint or solvent fumes, pollution, or where there are high levels of plant pollen, you may also benefit from arranging for modifications to be made to those environments. Again, it will help if you are particularly vigilant in using good voice care strategies.

  • DET (2000) Voice Care Program: Action Planning Guide and Voice Assessment Tools Victoria, Australia: Department of Education, Employment and Training.
  • Martin, S. and Darnley, L. (1997) The Voice Sourcebook Bicester: Speechmark Publishing.

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