When I was young, I had occasional walk-on roles at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, which were strictly non-singing. This meant standing on a big stage, wearing an often very uncomfortable costume; maybe moving about and acting, but all the time with my mouth firmly closed, while wonderful singers belted out their arias all around me.
One evening, I went down to the wings to listen to the beginning of an opera I didn’t know much about. There was a tenor standing just off stage, accompanied by a harpist. He was warming up his voice by taking very deep breaths and as he began to sing, I understood why. In order to get his voice from off-stage, through the heavy, closed stage curtains to the very back of the auditorium, he had to give his voice a tremendous amount of welly. And boy did he go for it!
His voice had the power of a jet engine and I had to move back; it was the biggest voice I have heard before or since and gave me a moment in my life never-to-be- forgotten.
Now we may not be big-chested, Italian tenors, singing in opera houses but we all have voices that have much more capacity than we use. We were all babies once and produced a big sound that was necessary for our survival. The power of that voice hasn’t gone away, we just need to refind it, nuture it and help it to work for us to communicate well in our adult lives.