Customer Reviews: Full Voice: The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence (Bk Business)
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on May 4, 2013
I suspect something is shady with all the 5 star glowing reviews from reviewers who haven't reviewed ANY OTHER BOOK. Almost all the 5 star reviews for this book come from someone who created an account just to review this book.
You should vote them down for helpfulness when you see that, and vote up the 4 star reviews, since they may be less biased. Or, if I see a 5 star review from a reviewer who has many reviews under his/her belt, then I'll vote that one up.

So far I've listened my way through 2 hours of this audiobook, narrated by the author (so a third of the book). After 2 hours of waxing poetic about how your voice is important and influences all areas of your life (I honestly believed that already...which is why I purchased this book) finally the author mentioned an exercise. She said it could be seen on video (I was glad for that), at the web address she gave. I typed that in ( but it redirected. That website is pages and pages and pages long, and SOMEWHERE on the site (I'm sure) is that video.
I'm not going to wade through that huge, one-long-page website to find the video.

I may revise this review after finishing, because it's bound to get better, now that after 2 hours into the audiobook we're getting practical.

The author (when narrating anyway) speaks in a stilted voice throughout most of the book, so that the cadence of the sentence is not fluid. Half the time she reads one word at a time, and it shows. She has a nice voice, but she doesn't read naturally. It just sounds like someone's reading to you and leaning far too long on each and every consonant and being sure to leave a distinct space between each word in every sentence.

I've read Patsy Rodenberg's The Actor Speaks, and Cicely Berry's Voice of the Actor. Both are better...but then they weren't in audiobook. In fact they also were poetic, and some reviewers criticized them for that...but in the above 2 books the poetry was very descriptive of anatomy and for a specific purpose and along a directed theme. Also the 3D Voice is a simple book and more practical, and less verbose. In this book the author might tell a story about how a woman swore her brain injury healed faster once she started doing voice exercises, then another story of a man who looked like Santa Clause but sounded the opposite (and go on and on and on about this man). I don't care about the Santa Clause guy!

The book is written in an undisciplined, meandering manner.
You feel as if you're sitting in a hospital room listening to an old woman ramble on about personal stories, and then finally tell you conventional instructions which can be found in any other voice book. Also the author lazily indulges in repeating myths on the voice and stock advice (if you've read one or two internet articles on improving your speaking voice).

The author uses the word "literally" when she means "figuratively."
For example, "Hilary Clinton's voice literally grated on the ears of her listeners."

What I REALLY LIKE about the book was the many modern-day examples of such and such voices. Strident voices like Hilary Clinton, or too breathy voices like Bill Clinton, or nasal voices like Fran Drescher, or earthy voices like Jeremy Irons and Alan Rickman (actually I just thought of those examples--wish they had been mentioned in this book). Other voice books sometimes mention a few examples, but they are usually people from 50 years ago. After reading other voice books, I did not understand what "strident" was.
Also the examples of songs to sing when practicing a given voice quality. Hadn't seen that in other books. Very good idea.

What gets very annoying is that the author drones on about "another client of mine [the author]," then you think that will be the last time. Then again, immediately after that little story of when the author miraculously helped someone, "Another client of mine..." Again! Then, wait for it... "Another time, many people in the audience came up to me [the author] after and told me how moved they had been...." Next paragraph, "Another client [of mine]..."

I appreciate authors who do NOT simply fill their books to the brim with how they've worked miracles for other people and catalog all the compliments people have paid them. Any half-competent therapist or even showman has a myriad of such stories of "moving" people. An entertainer, after performing 50 shows, will invariably strike a chord with a dozen people who become raving fans. The entertainer rarely hears from the audience members who weren't very fond of the show. Those members of the audience simply leave. They don't bother to wait till after the show to meet the entertainer.

If you're going to comment on this review, don't call me a hypocrite because I've rambled. Unlike the author, I'm not charging you to read my review.
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on October 4, 2011
I teach.
I speak at conferences.
I do some consulting.
I write, and read my writing.
And I HATE my voice.
I met McAfee at a media conference last month and bought a pre-release copy of the book on the strength of her presentations.
She has magnificent vocal presence herself and she wasn't always that way, which puts a lot of weight behind her technigues. As they say in Texas: It ain't braggin' if ya done it.
Second, the vocal techniques and ideas about voice are clearly expressed, which is usually the mark of a writer who has done a lot of thinking about their material.
If you live by your voice, you'll find this book helpful.
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on May 21, 2013
I bought this book on the basis of all the 5-star reviews. I finally got round to reading the book and I have to say that it was quite a disappointing read. I read about half the book and then skimmed the rest. The book is long on anecdotes and short on techniques that would actually be useful. In a nutshell, the author classifies voices into five different types based on the elements (earth, water, fire, metal and air) and for each type, prescribe some play-acting exercises. For example, for the earth voice, pretend to be a fog-horn, Santa etc. For the air voice, pretend to be a surfer dude or beach babe etc. There are better books available if you are looking to improve your voice.
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on September 22, 2011
I find this book utterly enthralling. The author's depth and breadth of understanding of voice in all its glorious hues and shadings sparks my curiosity and inspires deeper awareness of my own vocal presence and those around me. The book is really an invitation to the adventure of exploring our fullest voices, how they impact others and the world. The book is remarkable in so many ways.

First, it's practical and playful. Within its covers is useful information about how our voices matter on so many levels, personally and professionally. As a long-time educator and teacher educator, I recognized at some level that my voice mattered when it came to being heard, letting students know when I cared, when I meant business, when I was being playful. I used it to give comfort for scraped knees and bruised egos, to inspire, to invite a love of learning. Yet, after finishing this book, I realize the voices I used were just the tip of the iceberg. Her vocal exercises invite us to be playful while exploring latent voices, experiencing amazing "a-has", unearthing ancient longings. I practice them over and over. What fun! And if truth be told, some of our most enduring learning erupts out of pure fun.

Second, this book is poetic and profound. It reads with the clarity and depth of a great poem or a great song. No surprise here. After all, Barbara is a gifted professional singer, songwriter, and poet. Each chapter poses the kinds of questions poets ask of themselves and their readers, the kind that provoke us to think about what makes us feel most alive, most human. Questions that cause seismic shifts in how we relate to the people and the world around us. Poet David Whyte tells us, ". . .anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you." This book helped me realize that fully inhabiting the art of vocal presence makes us giants.

Third, the wise counsel in this book is liberating. Embracing our fullest voice frees the deepest expression of who we are. As a career academic, I see the value of this book for educators. Yet this book has such broad appeal to other fields. I cannot think of a single endeavor that can't be enhanced by our fullest vocal expression--physical, personal, metaphorical, or spiritual. The exercises in this book convinced the shy voices inside me that it was not only safe but vital to make themselves heard in the world.

A final word. Reading this book stirred memories of myself as a young girl who sang herself to sleep every night with made-up songs telling tales of her place in the world, of being fully alive--songs of imagination, joy, fear, pride in each new accomplishment, sorrows that followed every heartbreak--of being fully present to the world inside me and the one all around me. Now at the other end of my life, I find myself unleashing new songs. "The truth is, your song never leaves you, it's you who leave your song", says the refrain of No One Else Can Sing Your Song, written and recorded by Barbara. (Check it out on her website). Of course, song and vocal presence are synonomous. And the best part is, your song is waiting faithfully for you to return to its fullest expression. It's never too late. This enchanting book will help you make the return trip.
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on September 30, 2011
This is a great book for those of us trying to "reclaim our voice." Its emphasis on vocal presence, not just voice technique specific to speech or singing, really gives depth to the ideas being put forward. The "5 Elements Framework" teaches us to pay attention to the inner landscape of the voice in the same way we pay attention to our external persona--how we present ourselves to the world each day. Barbara's point is that when we integrate these inner and outer aspects, we can have an impact on our world and relationships that we couldn't have imagined.

For those of us who need context in order to make sense of why we are going to try something new, Barbara cites many examples where vocal limitations are problematic and how dramatic and positive it can be when the limitations are overcome with these techniques. The exercises contained within the book (augmented by the online videos!) offer very practical ways to get in touch with and strengthen those aspects of our voice that we may have restricted for a variety of reasons. This increases our palette of choices to use our voice for maximum impact, whether for showing passion, commanding authority, offering comfort.

Well-intentioned self-help books have often put me off because the author's advice giving has a tone of "talking at" rather than talking to or guiding. No problem here. Barbara's greatest strength is her tone of compassionate encouragement--suggesting (often with humor) rather than directing--within a framework of practical exercises to expand and improve the voice.

Highly recommended!
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on September 19, 2011
I found this book very inspiring and helpful. I have certainly taken my voice for granted. This book helped me understand how I can authentically use my voice to more effectively support what I am trying to communicate. I found the book so accessible and enjoyable to read. The author clearly speaks from the heart and brings whole new dimensions to the often unsung (sorry bad pun)hero that is our voice. Thank you Barbara McAfee for making me much more conscious of this potentially powerful part of me.
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on January 11, 2014
This is a practical guide to improving the way you use your voice. The author refers to it as your "vocal presence". She lays the foundation by telling how to care for your voice. Then she shares how you can overcome the fears you might experience as you make changes. The exercises are fun if you give them your all. The exercise videos can be found on YouTube.

Your voice really does matter. You can choose the best words to say, but if you don't convey your intent with the way you sound, your message suffers. Get this book and begin communicating with power that may surprise you!
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on November 18, 2011
I was thinking of using my voice. Interesting? I have a soft voice and often times sense that I am not heard. This could be because I'm not audible or I do not communicate with intention. I received an email from Barbara McAffie to let me know that she will be in a city near where I live. This was so exciting for me as I did not know how to begin my journey with my voice - or what will I do with my new skills. Well, Barbara McAffee answered all my questions, skepticism, etc. She has helped in my pursuit of obtaining exactly what I needed and sense this book will help many others: whether it is for singing, presentations, or in the field of stage work and generally in conversation.
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on October 10, 2011
Full Voice is a romp with your full self through your full voice. Barbara McAfee's gem is well-organized, entertaining and full of wisdom. Her exercises are fun and backed-up with professional videos where she demonstrates exactly what she means by your "Julia Child" voice. I loved learning about my voice via the elements in nature. My "earth voice" is the one I am most comfortable with but I can now better call upon my other voices when the situation calls for it. And I hear the world a bit differently now. For instance, my neighbor slices through to her spouse with her "metal" or "fire" voice. I also hear my own voice with a new appreciation and awareness. Full Voice feels like a gift, an opening to myself. Barbara McAfee has shared her gift, passion, her self, so that we may all be more fully alive.
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on June 19, 2015
I just finished reading your book, and right now I could just hug you! It was like a novel I could lose myself in. It made me laugh and it made me cry, it provided insight of deep love, affection, and what it truly means to be vulnerable. You literally wrote your being on the lie in the open exposed to whatever anyone who reads you thinks. I don't know that I would have such courage. In the short time I have known you, I can only admire and be truly touched by your words and simple humbleness of your presence - in person or in writing. Thank you for sharing this gift with the world.
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