If you have a musical background, you might already know a little bit about pitch.
Every note you sing has a pitch.
But when you’re speaking, your voice has a pitch too.
In fact, every sound you make has a corresponding pitch to it.
There are also a number of reasons your speech therapist might be concerned about your pitch.
As a Washington DC speech therapy clinic, we can help you address any pitch related issues you may have.
But for now, let’s take a closer look at pitch.
What it is, how it works, and the type of concerns a speech therapist for adults or for kids can help with.
First, What Are Your Vocal Folds?
Your vocal folds, also known as your vocal cords, are found in your larynx.
Your larynx is protected by a lump of cartilage, which is sometimes called the Adam’s apple, though women have it too.
Your vocal folds sit at the top of your larynx.
When you want to speak, you make them vibrate.
It’s sort of like plucking a guitar string to make it make sound.
What Is Pitch?
We can control how fast our vocal folds vibrate.
You already know how to do this, though you might not be thinking of it that way.
When you increase your pitch, your vocal folds vibrate more quickly.
And when you decrease your pitch, they vibrate more slowly.
We measure that in a unit of measurement called Hertz (Hz).
One Hertz is the amount of time it would take your vocal folds to vibrate back and forth once in a second – which most people can’t do.
Everybody has a different capacity for creating pitches.
Some people may have a higher pitch and others may have voices with lower pitch.
Those who have been through testosterone driven puberty tend to have lower pitched voices.
This is because testosterone makes your vocal folds longer, thicker, and heavier.
There are muscles in your throat that change how tight or loose your vocal cords are as sound passes through them, which is why you can change the pitch of your voice as you speak.
But generally, based on the length of your vocal folds, each person has a level of pitch that they are normally able to speak in comfortably.
How Do You Actually Make A Pitch?
Let’s look a little closer at how pitch works.
When you are speaking in a lower pitched voice, also known as your lower register, the muscles in your throat make your vocal cords shorter and thicker.
When you’re speaking in a higher pitched voice, a different group of muscles pulls your vocal cords longer and tighter.
You can feel this in your own body to get a better understanding of how it works.
Try placing your fingers on the front of your throat and humming or speaking, first in a low pitch and then in a higher pitch.
When you do this, you should be able to feel the difference in the vibrations between the two pitches.
Speech Therapy Concerns Affected By Pitch
There are a few different reasons why you might want to see a speech therapist about the pitch of your voice.
1. Voice Disorders
Some voice disorders can cause abnormal pitch in your voice.
You might notice that your pitch changes from what it typically is if you develop a voice disorder.
A speech therapist can work with you to treat your voice disorder, and part of that treatment process will involve the pitch of your voice.
RELATED: Speech Therapy For Voice Disorders
2. Laryngeal Cancer
Your larynx holds your vocal folds, which means the pitch of your voice can be affected by laryngeal cancer.
This may be true even if you’re in remission and have finished treatment.
If you have laryngeal cancer, a speech therapist will work with you to relearn how to speak if necessary, or just to restrengthen your voice after treatment.
RELATED: Speech Therapy For Laryngeal Cancer
3. Voice Feminization Training For Transgender Women
Pitch can also be used to assume the gender of a voice.
For example, women tend to have higher pitched voices than men.
The average masculine coded voice is around 110 hz – that’s an A2 note if you have a musical background.
On the other hand, the average feminine coded voice is around 220 hz – that’s a full octave higher, at 220 hz.
In most cases, transgender women have been through testosterone driven puberty.
As mentioned before, that makes their vocal folds longer, thicker, and heavier.
As a result, their pitch tends to be lower, more in line with the masculine range.
Unfortunately, estrogen doesn’t reverse this process.
So when doing transgender women voice therapy near me, part of the process is to get you more comfortable speaking at higher pitches.
If you’d like to find out more, our resident voice feminization coach Sophie Edwards offers free introductory voice feminization sessions.
4. Speech Therapy For Transgender Men
On the other side of things, speech therapy for transgender men involves helping you learn to speak at a lower pitch.
But whereas estrogen doesn’t change a trans woman’s voice, testosterone does change a trans man’s voice.
So if you’re taking testosterone, you’ll notice your pitch does tend to drop on its own.
It doesn’t work the same way for everybody though, and your voice might not drop at the same rate as everyone else’s.
If that’s the case, speech therapy for transgender men can help.
Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today
Challenges with the pitch of your voice can happen, but experienced therapists can help you work toward regaining your normal pitch.
If you have concerns about the pitch of your voice, book your appointment with District Speech today.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.