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As Women’s History Month draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about all the ways that women don’t have their voices be heard. All the times a woman has thought “I don’t want to be too pushy” or “they won’t like me saying this” or just kept thoughts and feelings inside.

I was recently speaking with a female friend about women and voices and heard myself say “I think how we use our voices is a reflection of how we are in the world”. Despite my years of experience as a singer, and my work as a music therapist, I don’t think I had ever said that sentence in quite that way.

But think about it. If we feel that the world (or some people) will only accept a smaller version of our true selves, then everything about us shrinks – including our voices. Women who stand in their power often have grounded, full voices. Can you think of any?

We take up as much space as we feel we are allowed, and this includes the space created by our voices. I think that women’s voices can be so powerful, and yet are often not acknowledged or reflected upon in that way. As women, we are often taught to be kind and gentle. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be kind and gentle – but how often have you noticed that being kind and gentle leads to people walking over you (or over a woman you know)?

Here are 3 simple ways to begin to shift that:

  1. Notice. Do you notice that you use your voice differently at home, at work, or when you’re with certain people? When, how, and why do you use your voice in those situations? If you matched an instrument to your voice (not it’s quality, but perhaps it’s volume or character) would it be a trumpet? A chime? A drum?
  2. Keep it simple. Do you often over-explain yourself? Say 3 sentences when you really needed 3 words? Think before you speak, and see if you can put it simply. Sometimes less really is more.
  3. Ground your body. It’s hard to “say what you need to say” if you feel totally ungrounded. So take a moment before a big meeting, before an important conversation with a loved one, as a fight with your partner unravels, and ground yourself. Take a deep breath, feel your feet on the ground, let your spine and neck be gently guided upwards as if there’s a balloon attached to the top of your head. Notice if this shifts your perception of your voice in any way.

Part of my work with women is to help them find their voices – at work, in relationships, and at home. Through the music psychotherapy process of talking, creative music-making and music listening, we delve behind the curtain of “Oh, I’ve always been quiet” or “No one listens, so I shout” or “I act like this only at work” and find the WHY. Why did this pattern come about, where did it come from, why did it start? And then, I help women find the HOW – how to be fully in their bodies, minds and emotions so they can feel connected and confident.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about women’s voices – please feel free to leave me a comment below!

Warmly,

Maya

PS. Curious about voice work, power, or women’s issues? Sign up here to receive my free monthly email newsletter – you’ll get links to blog posts like this one and my monthly “mindful musings” (not found anywhere else on the web!).

PPS. Looking to explore music making for yourself? Join me on Friday April 17th for a Musical Self-Care workshop in my NYC office – we’ll explore toning/vocalizing and other ways music can help you feel grounded and relaxed. No experience needed!