Have you ever felt that your voice was blocked, that you wanted to say something but couldn’t get the words out? In today’s talk shop interview, join me and professional soprano and voice coach Rush Dorsett as we look into how your voice works, what can cause you to hold back, and how to overcome mental and physical blocks so that you can truly own our natural voice!
You can watch the video below or click here to watch it over on YouTube. Please scroll down for the full transcript.
Where to find Rush (remember to contact her for your free voice session!)
- Website: http://rushdorsett.com/
- Facebook – Embodied Voice: https://www.facebook.com/Embodied-Voice-291408774993407/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rushdorsett/
- Twitter: @RushDorsett
- YogaVoice: https://www.theyogavoice.com/
Have you ever had the feeling that your voice somehow gets stuck right here in your throat that you want to say words but you just can’t get them out?
If that’s the case this episode of Talk Shop Interviews is for you.
Many of us have at different times had that feeling that we just can’t give the proper voice to what it is we want to say. Sometimes those blocks are physical sometimes those blocks are mental but either way it can really hinder us bringing our voice to the world in the way we need to.
In this episode of Talk Shop Interviews we are going to meet professional soprano and voice coach Rush Dorsett, who’s going to help us push past some of those vocal blocks.
Rush Dorsett, who you can actually hear singing in the background right now, is a voice coach and performing artist who supports ambitious and creative women in embodying their powerful, confident, and authentic voice. She holds a dual degree in Vocal Performance and Psychology, and a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy. Rush guides women to free themselves from blocks so they can access the fullest expression of themselves. Regardless your gender, Rush’s unique integrative approach can help you improve your presentation and speaking skills, allowing you to hit new levels of success in your career, your health, and your vitality.
LAUREN – Welcome to talk shop, Rush! I am very happy to have you on board here because you have such a particular niche in terms of voice coaching. When I’m dealing with people I’m usually dealing with straight-up “how to compose and deliver the presentation”. But you actually work in depth with the mechanics of the voice and how it connects your brain, through this cool combination of education and experience and singing in psychology. Could you tell me a little bit more about what entails this this super unique approach that you have?
RUSH- absolutely so it comes from my background as a singer and a vocalist in general. And so I studied vocal pedagogy – how to actually teach the mechanics of the voice, train the voice to perform on stages to resonate optimally (that is what we call it in pedagogy).
So that’s my background and then I also have a background in yoga and I use now a modality called YogaVoice which I’ve been training in with the founder of that modality. So as these two things together it became very clear to me that, you know, each person has an instrument. Literally every person has a voice that you can train in order to be the tool that you would like to use for your self-expression, your communication. And that can transfer from the stage into the office into team meetings. It has a lot of versatile applications.
LAUREN – that is so neat because our voices are something that we take for granted, you know? It’s it’s a thing that we know kind of lives around here but when we start realizing all of the different connections through our body through our brain that fuels it and makes it work. It’s like you said it’s an instrument and it’s a really complicated one that takes a lot of care.
What do we do to our voices that might not be quite on the healthy range of the spectrum?
RUSH – Ah that’s a good question! There are many things that we do that aren’t. And a lot of them are actually culturally conditioned. So for example like manners of speech such as vocal fry’ that’s something that you might hear a lot and it’s like ending your sentences like this. And it’s actually it’s it’s very it’s not supportive for the voice especially in sustaining, being able to speak and express for a long period of time.
You know another example is simply just not breathing fully so sometimes when we get a little nervous or where you’re about to… like we’re really in our heads about something and overthinking? The breathing tends to get shallow and what happens is that our vocal chords don’t come into full closure. The vocal cords love to come into full closure because that allows the full resonance to come through and that’s called healthy phonation. So we want to be speaking optimally using our full voice. And that’s actually the healthiest way to go about it.
LAUREN – So it’s not necessarily that the instrument is broken it’s that we don’t know how to use it.
RUSH – exactly and interestingly actually whispering or basically any type of vocal activity that’s not using the full range of the voice is not as healthy. For example like holding back your voice is actually creating a weakness in your voice.
LAUREN – do some of these problems ever get created from how women in particular (because this is this is a topic that really hits women hard) how we’re told to use our voices? I get clients coming to me saying “well I’ve been I’ve been told that I need to speak in a lower tone”. And I’m thinking you’re just gonna burn that poor thing out trying to force it somewhere that isn’t natural! And it messes with your head, too.
RUSH – yeah that’s a really really good point and you’re exactly right. There’s been a lot of research about because psychologically lower voices have traditionally been considered more authoritative, more confident, and especially now that women are working in the world and becoming leaders on a wide scale! Now there’s space for a range of voice types.
Making your voice go into a lower range is detrimental to your vocal health and so learning how to inflect the voice and use it expressively and actually find where your voice is optimally resonant – that’s your place of alignment, and that is the key for the breath, it’s healthy for the body, and it’s healthy for the voice everything’s all connected. And of course for your mindset oh my gosh! Because you’re speaking from an authentic place.
LAUREN – For sure. With more women going into leadership positions in the corporate world and the not-for-profit world – really, across all sectors – have you seen an increase in a bit of maybe a bit of urgency in terms of the number of people who are seeking out voice training such as what you offer or who are exploring these issues? Have the numbers changed, are there more who are looking, or has it still not really hit that tipping point yet?
RUSH – That is a good question. I don’t have the exact statistics on this question – I would be so curious to find that out! But my my experience, especially being in this field, is that yes there is quite a demand for it. Especially in corporate world, and women who are entrepreneurs who are starting their own businesses as well.
It’s very very important for them to be able to really stand in their power, stand in their confidence, express and share a message, and become leaders that create impact and legacy in the world. And so in order to do that they to do this work of really embodying your full voice and your message. It’s highly, highly important and another thing about this work is that it’s a way to basically connect with people. Because your voice is your instrument for expressing yourself and the way that you actually connect and land with people. So it’s yes it’s very, very important.
LAUREN – how would you define someone’s authentic voice? We think well there’s there’s different ways that I could sound or that I should sound, but again that mind game of feeling like you do sound like your true self, that it is authentic, but that it’s also using the instrument properly. How would you define authenticity?
RUSH – I love that question! This is something that I am endlessly exploring, and the truth is I don’t have the exact answer. I don’t think anybody truly does, but the cool thing about it is that humans are very intelligent and very intuitive. If you think about it, if you’ve ever seen a performance or a a public speech, you might notice times where you don’t really feel as connected to the message.
Or maybe it falls a little flat and you’re not sure why it’s not connecting or resonating. Or other times where you feel so enthralled by the message and you’re just totally zoned into it . It’s absolutely captivating. The difference there is actually on a deep energetic level. It’s actually that experience of witnessing somebody authentically connected to their voice, connected to their message and in the present moment.
So for me and what ‘ve seen in the work that I do, what I see in my clients is that when there’s this moment when they’ve connected to their authentic voice. It’s when they are in a flow state. It’s when they are absolutely present in the moment and grounded and aligned in their physical body. Because there’s an optimal alignment and that allows the voice to project very naturally. For me as a listener it’s a visceral experience! It’s like this switch that goes off and you’re able to see “oh oh my gosh they got it!” and they experience it too. You can feel when it clicks for that person as well. So in all honesty to answer your question it’s a mysterious phenomenon, and yet it is reliably repeated over and over and over again in performance practices.
LAUREN – well I think that’s what’s so desirable about it and one of those things when people…It’s almost like we have a yearning for it. I believe that most people have experienced at least some point in their life when they were vocalizing – being heard authentically like that – but pinning down what THAT is so tricky to define. So I really liked how you described it.
In terms of getting people there, you’ve mentioned on your website and in some of your work, “somatic and embodied principles for accessing your authentic voice.” Can you tell us more about what those are?
RUSH – yes absolutely so when it comes to accessing your authentic voice , just like you said we can’t pin it down exactly. But you can create the conditions for it to occur, just like a flow state in psychology. You can’t really exactly pinpoint how to get there, but you can create the conditions for flow state, meaning that you’re meeting the challenge and time stops and all of a sudden you’re in flow States. So it’s similar with the voice and accessing that authentic voice. Those conditions occur within the body, within the body mind system.
We can use somatic principles such as yoga. Also a long lineage called “systematic vocal technique”. It comes from what’s called the “Bel Canto” technique, which is hundreds and hundreds of years old. It’s how people used to train the great operatic singers back in Italy. They come from that lineage.
So what I do, and what I’ve learned from my mentor who founded YogaVoice, is to combine these two modalities. Learning the mechanics of the voice the optimal alignment of the body for singing, for breathing and speaking, and combining it with yoga so it’s actually accessing the chakra system, opening up and letting that energy move so that you are deeply grounded, connected to your power, to your creativity. You’re open in your channel and so at that point – that’s when the authentic voice can come through. It really is a combination of these ancient yogic practices and principles and modern science coming together.
LAUREN – that is incredible, it’s quite fascinating. what sort of situations have you found where people’s voice becomes blocked? What mental conditions or beliefs can lead to the physical blockage, and what sort of symptoms might people experience when they’re blocked this way?
RUSH – yes, you really are asking such an important question because the mind is so connected to the body. And so what’s happening in the mind, the beliefs that we hold about ourselves, about our voice, about our bodies, about our message, all of it manifests physically in the body and through the voice.
And so the beautiful thing about this tool, YogaVoice, is that you can actually listen to a voice and understand what part of the energetic system is a little bit out of balance and then bring the body back into balance to correct that. So let’s see…can you remind me of the original question because I went on a little bit!
LAUREN – oh I think we’re still on track I’m sure people watching can see what’s going on…
RUSH – oh I think I remember!
LAUREN – when our voice has become blocked, what do we experience physically with those blocks? What I found with people is that when there is something in their head – when it’s a head space thing – very often they perceive the physical block but they don’t necessarily connect it back up here so it’s kind of like what are the warning signs?
RUSH – yes yes exactly. So warning signs can be feelings of constriction in the voice, especially easy easily getting fatigued – vocal fatigue is actually a very serious type of pathology that can occur. So vocal fatigue, feeling tension, feeling tightness in the jaw, shortness of breath… It can also look like anxiety coming up especially here. A lot of people feel it here and then everything starts to lock up or close off.
Some people might experience their voice becoming a little froggy or at like as if there’s a good lump in their throat. There are so many different ways that it can manifest. So when you’re actually able to go deeper and look at what are what are actually the beliefs that are underneath that might be causing this tension, this disease to occur in the body. It’s amazing how you can actually reverse engineer the process of first looking at the beliefs and moving through some postures, some vocal exercises to help release that.
And then likewise you can also start with those movements – the vocal gestures and then go back. You might recognize “Oh a belief is coming up right now or a thought is coming up or an old feeling is coming to the surface.” And so that gives us the opportunity to actually work with that and so that you can you know move through it and come back into your aligned space.
LAUREN – that’s a great description of what people experience for sure. Now many of my viewers are really keen on applying this in professional settings. I know that lots of you out there are the button-down white collar office worker types, so how can we take these sorts of principles and apply them in a very buttoned-down professional setting?
It would be difficult for someone I would think to go “okay my presentation is coming up I’m going to leave the conference room now go hide out in the bathroom in the stairwell and do some flow exercises.” What can we take here and kind of apply almost every day? And you’re talking to someone who WILL do push-ups in the bathroom and the stairwell to get like my head in my body into mode for a presentation! So how can we take this and apply it at our desks – maybe when other people are around
or an earshot?
RUSH – Right! So I completely relate, I’m definitely that person who’s gonna go into my car and start some vocal exercises or …you know…something. I’ll do it! But yes, I agree that it is important to be able to have some tools in your back pocket that you can just use right away to be able to come into a calm state and really get into your powerful voice. Especially if you have a presentation coming up, if you have a sales call coming up, it can be very important.
So what I recommend first – I hope that you have some kind of yoga or movement practice outside of work because that’s really going to give you a strong foundation for this tool – but oh the thing to do is so so simple and I love it for that reason! Anyone can do it. It really starts with coming into a meditative seated position – it can take literally one minute of your life to do this – and close your eyes. Take a nice deep breath filling the whole ribcage, feeling it expands out. You’re starting to drop the breath down into the body so you’re getting out of shortness of breath, down into the body.
Here’s one tiny little hack that you can do: lift the soles of your feet. You can even do this with shoes on, just activate the arches of the feet and try that out. Everybody listening, try it out right now and see what happens.
LAUREN – I’m doing it right now under the desk!
RUSH – yeah so you might notice that your toes lift. Now see if you can keep the arches of the feet lifted and then just lower the toes and notice what happens in your legs and your pelvis.
LAUREN – oh! It all engages right in there doesn’t it?
RUSH – yeah, exactly! It’s the quickest way! I do this all the time – it’s the quickest way to just get grounded and get centered. Just activate the soles of the feet and breathe nice and deep. Then if you want to, if you have like a little bit of quiet space or people won’t think you’re super weird, you can just do a little bit of a hum. Just starting kind of high to low – it could be very gentle, just going mmm and just starting to feel just a little bit of vibration here. Kind of warming up waking up the voice. You can do those small little gestures. That’s a great way to wake up the voice. That’s what I would recommend for somebody you know seated at their desk, they want to get ready for speaking or sharing their message, or even just getting grounded and centered again. Breathe, root, and then just a little bit of a voice exercise.
LAUREN – those first two in particular I I could see being really useful for people who are in contentious meetings where there might be a lot of arguing or a lot of disagreement and they need to check out. Maybe you’re getting a bit a bit hot under the collar yourself, either wanting to hold back or beginning to get angry. That grounding, the full breath down below so that you’re breathing… you bring the breath low in the body. I love that raising up of the arches to ground the rest of yourself.
I could see that helping someone actually speak up with more confidence but with also better better vocal quality during those contentious meetings. And it matters what you sound like in meetings like that because people are listening for stress.
RUSH – absolutely.
LAUREN – Listening and responding, like “have I got her? I got her!”
RUSH – absolutely!
LAUREN – So my arches are raised.
RUSH – yes, yes! My arches are raised! And it’s about taking a stand, stand for for what you believe and what you know to be true. This can apply in any setting. Speaking with that authority, being strong and grounded and of course being able to… sometimes what happens when we’re nervous or feeling a little tension is that the jaw can start to tighten. Just notice if you’re doing that and see if you can relax the jaw when you’re in that meeting just “aah” just kind of let it go. See what happens if you start to speak and your voice is getting a little high or a little squeezed – that can happen sometimes with some some stress. Just dropping the shoulders down and keeping everything really grounded.
LAUREN – this is so good I’m loving every minute of this! I am a huge fan…I’m going to geek out for a minute here (not like we haven’t already!) but…let’s take it further! I’m a huge fan of interdisciplinary practice, I love it! You take skills from one area of your life that may seem kind of disparate and apply them to something completely different and kind of enrich your whole skill set that way. You are a classically trained opera singer, you are you are a performance artist – what are some of the top lessons related to voice, related to making yourself heard, that you’ve been able to take from that part of yourself? From that music and opera world and kind of apply it to the business world and in the professional settings that you’ve worked in?
RUSH – I love that because this is my life’s work! Applying everything I’ve learned in that field to what we’re doing now! So thank you for asking that question! The biggest thing that comes up for me to share is that being an opera singer has taught me to not be afraid. to be heard and take up space. I’m sure some of you have that idea of opera singer – there’s nothing subtle about it! You are singing with the fullest capacity of your resonance and the cool thing about that is that when you’re singing with that fullness in the voice, it feels amazing!
First of all there’s something so incredible about that experience. It grabs the audience, it’s enthralling. So I think another thing that I’ve I’ve discovered is to not hold back my voice and my truth in any way, because it’s actually a service to project and resonate physically and metaphorically. So that’s my invitation to you. The little piece of wisdom I want to bring is really own your voice and own your message and know that it is making a difference for people, and that holding back is not serving you. It’s not serving anyone else.
LAUREN – It is good for your voice to take up space, fill it!
RUSH – people want to hear like in the audience they want they want you as the performer to shine. And all of us are performers in our lives, absolutely.
LAUREN – you need to be heard around the table. People need to hear you that’s why you’re doing the work you do that’s why you’re good at it so take up the space.
RUSH – take up the space!
LAUREN – raise the arches, that’s gonna be my thing for a little while now, raise the arches.
RUSH – Yes! I’ll say another little level to that which is yes take up space, be full, be resonant shine bright, and at the same time the other piece of that is: listen. As an opera singer there are so many things happening on stage. I am responding in time to the other characters, I’m also singing with a full orchestra and responding to the conductor, so it is a team effort. It’s very very much listening and responding and working together. We’re not taking up space just to be bigger than everybody else. We’re actually fully shining along WITH everybody else. Fully shining and letting their gifts come to the surface too. That’s the beautiful thing about it.
LAUREN – that’s incredible and that’s a magnificent thought to close all this up on. On one final note, Rush, you’re generous with your time, you’re clearly passionate about helping people this way. You’ve done some amazing online summits (that was initially how we first connected). Where can our viewers and our listeners find you online and tap into this wisdom that you have?
RUSH – thank you! You can find me on Facebook. I have a Facebook group called Embodied Voice, so you can look up my Facebook group and there I often post videos and tips for accessing your authentic voice. You can follow me there, I have an Instagram account – it’s just my name: Rush Dorsett – and also if you feel called to talk about your voice or learn a little bit more about how you can access your authentic voice I do also offer voice lessons. I would love to offer you a free session where you can talk with me so that link is here as well.
LAUREN – Wonderful, that’s so generous of you Rush! Now all of Rush”s links, including the link to to book and a voice consultation with her (there we go!) will be in the description down below so be sure to check it out. Rush, thank you so much for making the time and space today to talk to our listeners about this. It’s a critical topic and your approach is unique in terms of how you work both the body and the brain aspect of using our instruments, taking up the space, letting ourselves be heard. Thank you again and again for coming, and to everyone who has been listening to this episode, thank you for being here with us, for sharing this space with us.
If you want to make sure that you tap into the other great interviews that I have with experts like Rush – passionate experts who want you to be heard more in your life and in your work – then head on over to LaurenSergy.com, sign up for the newsletter, and then you will be sure to never miss another episode.
That is it for today’s edition of Talk Shop. Thank you so much for being part of it and I’ll see you soon! bye-bye