Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Why Eye Language Matters To Your Voice

As vocal coach, one of the quickest ways I can improve someone's voice is to get the person using eye language when they speak or sing. Here's why:

Your eyes, eyebrows, eyepads all communicate messages. Actors learn this early... especially film and TV acting with closeups. Consider how masterful actors like Meryl Streep, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Jack Nicholson silently and instantly tell you something by a slight rise or fall of one or both eyebrows, widening of the eye, squint at the edge above upper cheek.

This eye and surrounding tissue movement creates not only silent messages, but audible ones. So much so that when I do a vocal lesson by phone, I can tell whether my student is lifting eyebrows or not (this frequently freaks people out). The reason is that the outside tissue affects (opens or closes) the inside of the throat channel, which includes the nose, mouth and entire pharynx regions. For instance:
  • Try to lift your eyebrow without affecting the top ridge of your nose. (Good luck with that!) Usually the nose is affected so much it actually flares with the lifting of the brow. When the nose lifts open, it usually releases the soft palate to move, too, which affects tone choices the voice can make.
  • Squint as if you're looking into the sun (this affects the eyepads). Notice how it tightens the soft palate. Good luck trying to yawn and squint at the same time!
  • Notice how it's hard to tighten ('set') your jaw if you widen your eyes. Usually tight jaw goes with tight eyes... and tight soft palate!
Now try using your voice:
  • Using a poker face (very still in the eye area)... read the following sentence: "Hello, I'm (say your name). I understand you're interested in the demo I sent you last week. Would you be willing to meet with me for coffee?" 
  • Now using very active eyes, brows, eyepads (over-do it for this exercise), say the exact same thing.
Please leave a report on what you discovered about 1. the sound of your voice and 2. the feeling in your throat ... by commenting to this post. Thanks!

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  • At May 18, 2014 at 3:06 PM , Anonymous Kevin Duke said...

    Ms. Rodman, I actually learned that technique from you. I adopted it and still am working on perfecting it. I am learning more about it by experimenting and also looking at some of the professional vocalists who use it. This link is one of my examples (Karen Clark Sheard): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XDw3sNGueaU#t=334

    When I did the poker face, the sound wasn't as vivacious as when I did it using my eyes, brows, and eye pads.

    You're an excellent coach. God bless!

  • At May 18, 2014 at 6:46 PM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Kevin, you are such a great singer to work with because you make the training REAL by experimenting and practicing with it! Thank you for sharing your experience, and the link to that dynamic performance (wouldn't have been the same without eye participation:) - wow!

  • At May 18, 2014 at 10:17 PM , Anonymous Bill Wright said...

    A lot of the singers I know perform with their eyes closed - should they be opening them?

  • At May 19, 2014 at 9:20 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Great question, Bill! No- not necessarily. You can move your eyes/pads/brows behind closed lids, and you can stay connected to the heart your lyrics are directed to. You should just not KEEP them closed in a way that disconnects you from the audience for too long. They need to know you're still with them even as you go inside the conversation of the song.


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