One of the most unexpected developments of 2020 is the new “popularity” of masks — aka face coverings.

Whether you’re giving a presentation, catching up with a friend or ordering an orange mocha frappuccino, you’ve most likely experienced some challenges communicating clearly through a mask. Between the muffling of the voice and the hidden facial expressions, it’s not uncommon when a person speaks that the only thing heard is something along the lines of “Adfkjhaodhgalihtinbvhdsdgmnoiunm”.

As singers, we have to make sure our voices stay healthy and protected – and we can hurt our voice by pushing and straining to be heard through a mask. But with tiny bit of mindfulness, we can ensure our voice stays healthy … so that when we say “Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer”, no one ever thinks we said, “Hold me close, young Tony Danza”.

Let your voice be heard with these videos for clear and effective communication through a mask:

How to Sound Clear and Expressive (even with a mask on)

Hadar focuses on three elements here: pronunciation, energy and voice.

Skip to 2:08 to begin with the first element, pronunciation.
Skip to 5:25 to hear Hadar talk about energy.
Skip to 8:25 to learn all about voice resonance.

How To Speak Clearly In A Mask

Voice therapist Sarah Lobegeiger de Rodriguez shows strategies to communicate with more clarity and minimal vocal fatigue:

Skip to 1:12 to see her first recommendation.

COVID Communication Skills: Speaking Through A Mask

Voice coach Jay Miller teaches practical tools to help you speak with more clarity, confidence and credibility.

Start at 0:53 for his first technique.

How to Speak and Present Clearly While Wearing a Mask

Lauren Sergy has tips that involve changing the pitch and color in your voice, as well as developing better enunciation, encouraging us to “summon our inner John Malkovich”.

Skip to 4:28 to start with her advice on articulation

What’s been your experience communicating through a mask? What strategies are you finding most helpful? Any hilarious misunderstandings? Give us the tea, as they say!


Bonus Content

Here’s an interesting mask innovation geared specifically towards singers!

The Masked Singers – WVU Decoded

Kym Scott, director of choral activities at West Virginia University, drew on her experience as a fashion designer to invent a “performers mask” for singers that allows them to sing without the muffling effects of a standard face mask. See how they work here:

What did you think? “Face mask, but make it fashion”? Or “that’s gonna be a hard pass”? (And is anyone else getting weird Bane – from Batman – vibes?) Comment below!

Oh, and now that you know a bit more about what you can do to be heard more clearly through a mask, what about the mask itself?

Which Mask Is Best For Hearing

A research team at the University of Illinois measure different types of masks to see which are best for sound transmission. Check out the results here:

Start at 0:54 for the breakdown of different types of masks

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