“One Weird Trick” by Liz Jackson Hearns with Patrick Maddigan

book cover

Subtitle: A User’s Guide to Transgender Voice

Recommended to me by: a trans client

“The goal of One Weird Trick is to help you find a voice that is natural and authentic and allows you to move through the world with confidence and ease.” The first thing the book admits is that there is no one trick, weird or otherwise, but instead a lot of understanding, awareness, and practice to change vocal habits. I would love to see this useful book issued under a title that does it justice rather than one that sounds like clickbait.

The book starts with the anatomy of vocal production and breathing. While it’s helpful to understand the anatomy, the level of detail and the small size of the anatomical drawings makes it feel arcane and overwhelming, even for someone who has looked at vocal anatomy before.

The rest of the book is much easier to follow, with a kind, matter-of-fact, thorough approach to changing one’s voice to express one’s desired gender presentation. The author is a singing teacher and relies on basic familiarity with western musical notation and concepts. There are brief explanations in the text.

Changing speaking pitch is covered in depth, as well as other factors that affect perceived gender of a voice: varying pitch or volume for emphasis, resonance and vocal placement, tongue placement for articulation, and body language and emotional expressivity.

There are detailed exercises and tips throughout the book, and then more exercises gathered at the end in “One Weird Workbook.”

If you want to change how you express gender through your voice and body language, this book is a great guide. It compresses a lot of useful material into a short book and has a list of references at the end for further study.

Available at Amazon.

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