Does your voice jump an octave when your nervous?
You're not alone.
In this week's Slate magazine, Katherine Meizel analyzes why this week's American Idol singers were unable to hit their low notes:
It's not that they don't have the range, though; it's about the first-performance jitters. If you're anxious, the increased energy that higher pitches require—though they're more intimidating psychologically—can sometimes allow you to power your way through the nerves, but the more relaxed lower range you find at the beginnings of pop ballads becomes a stage fright minefield. Think about holding a rubber band when your hands are shaking: When you pull it taut, the intensified contraction of your muscles makes the quaver less noticeable; when the rubber band is slack, it trembles violently with your hands.
Maizel points to several of the performances including Ashley Lewis' cover of Leona Lewis' Happy:
Women in particular, tend to react to nerves by speaking higher than normal and using their head voice. This can make us sound less authoritative.
One way to combat this is to practice speaking in your chest voice in everyday conversation.
Then when it's time to get up to speak, your voice will more naturally modulate to the lower registers.
Likewise, men have an opposite tendency to stay in the lower range when speaking and can also practice varying pitch in casual conversations or even when reading books to children.
From the Green Room: Practice varying the pitch of your voice. The more you practice experiment with the different ranges of your voice, the less likely you are to jump an octave when you're nervous.