Voice Notes on our US political candidates Part One – Hil

by Wednesday, March 23, 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05:  Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at Rancho High School on May 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clinton said that any immigration reform would need to include a path to "full and equal citizenship."  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Of course, if we’re going to talk politics and voices, we must begin with Hil, since she is the most whipped about the this topic.

Watch a bit of this Hillary and Obama Interview for 60 Minutes in 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9uDUnywMu0

Here Hil is seated and inclined toward Obama, her one time adversary who quickly became her benevolent boss. She is also leaning both elbows on the chair arms which can help in preventing shoulder and torso slouching. In this video, she is breathing easily and speaking at a fairly easy pace and with a relatively gentle (and sometimes laughing) tone.

Hillary after her Super Tuesday win a few days ago:


Now because of all of the furious travel and speech giving, her voice is tired and edgy and becoming horse. Here she is standing, so lacks the support and ease she gained from the chair in the Obama interview. Also her Chicagoan accent is much stronger here, which has a  traditionally brassy sound, especially in the case of vowels like short A as in have.

Some folks have criticized Clinton for her voice and specifically her yelling. (Hilarious piece in the Chicago Trib here about “mansplaining” her yelling: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/huppke/ct-hillary-clinton-yelling-huppke-20160317-story.html)

For me, I think that if she had better breath support and spine alignment, she might be able to preserve her voice longer so it doesn’t wear out and have that bit of edge to it.

(I wonder if she hydrates properly on the campaign trail?)

I would hazard a guess that she probably wants to keep up the mid-western thing in order to connect with people, since we tend to identify mid-westerners as being bred from the “heartland” and as hard-working “salt of the earth” types. (Actually more than several of my besties are from the mid-west!)

If I were suddenly called in to coach Hil, I would probably have to insist she settle in for a longish chair massage so we could begin to release the tension in her torso, shoulders and neck. Then I would have her lie on her back on the floor to work on feeling the spine elongate and think about freeing the neck using imagery (just like Olympic coaches have their athletes do in training).

We would then move into breath filling the lower part of the lungs and using the abdominals and diaphragm as easy support so she can speak with a more open tone. We would then go into child’s pose and work on placing the tone in the mask of the face — let’s get it out of the throat, you know?

I’m not sure how long she would have to work to make the vocal shift (everyone is different and progress is sometimes on step forward one day and one step back the next) but at some point if she could allow her body to open up and let go of tension and embrace natural alignment, she could have a smoother delivery for her message and maybe people would have to find something else to slam her about.

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