A lot of FTM singers are worried about the effects of testosterone on their voices, and for good reason; starting T is a huge leap into the unknown. People’s voices change quickly, radically, and irreversibly. They can feel quite difficult to control, especially at first, but with practice, FTM voices can be full and supple.
When you start to take T, your vocal folds thicken, lowering your voice. However, because the voice box (Adam’s apple) doesn’t grow after puberty, they don’t have space to get longer. This is kind of like your voice coming with built-in vocal tension, because it’s squeezed into a slightly-too-small space. The best thing to do to open up your sound and make your voice easier to control is to focus on relaxing and eliminating tension. here are some easy exercises to help:
- Relax your whole body. Lie on the floor on your back, with your legs either straight or bent (whatever is more comfortable). Take 5 minutes to check in with your body- where is it touching the floor, and where are there gaps? Try tensing and releasing your face, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, toes; do they feel different after? Gently stretch anything that needs it. If the floor isn’t feasible, you can do this in bed too.
- Empty your lungs completely, really pushing the air out, and let them fill up on their own with fresh air.
- Stretch your tongue out; stick it out as far as you can and hold it, have a few big yawns, run it across your teeth like windshield wipers until the base feels a little overworked.
- Do a few lip trills to wake up your air (just like blowing a raspberry, but only with your lips). Use your whole breath, really squeezing your tummy muscles at the end.
- Yawn out loud- open your throat as wide as you can and say “ahhhhhhh!” at a medium volume. Try starting high and sliding down your range, starting a tiny bit higher each time.
- Take lots of time to start gently if you’re going to sing; don’t push your range, especially if you’re mid-transition. A proper voice warm-up should take at least 20 minutes, not including the stretching above. Work with your voice teacher or choir leader to modify any warm-ups you currently do; if your voice feels strained stop singing and have another nice yawn to open it up.
- Do your research! Our Resources page has some very helpful articles about changing voices, some of which are quite in-depth.
If you are or are planning to be a professional or serious amateur singer, there are also some promising studies about the effect of starting T more gradually on your long-term vocal health. None are big enough to draw concrete conclusions from but have a read through on our resources page.