Published in The Aucklander, New Zealand, October 2005

by Karen Kotze

An ongoing commitment to improving communication skills has led a Maraetai woman to run listening and voice workshops, writes Karen Kotze.
The dynamics of sound and its effect on people are the foundation of Maraetai resident Karina Schelde’s life.
Her interest in enhancing communication skills has led her to focus on an often-overlooked instrument- the human voice.
“Eighty percent of what we say is delivered by the tone of the voice,” says Karina.
“Everything that has happened to you in your life culminates in the tone and the pitch of your voice.”

The brain, according to Scientific Learning’s BrainConnection.com website, identifies sounds by recognising the most distinguishing characteristics of each sound, things like volume, pitch , duration, and intervals between sounds. From those elements, the brain constructs a unique acoustic image of each sound. The duration of a sound and the interval between sounds both involve critical timing that can be affected by changes as brief as one-tenth of a second.
“It is exactly this sensitivity in our hearing that gives our tone away,” says Karina. “It pits us up against all kind of unseen barriers and miscommunication in our personal relationships or with our business contacts. Most important, though, if something in our voice is putting people off, it impacts on our innate sense of being heard and understood.”

Karina has a background in acting, where she first learnt projection of her voice, and singing. She carried away from that time a dissatisfaction with the Western way of only some notes acceptable, and today teaches the subtleties of fuller communication through using listening exercises and extensive voice coaching, including “the overtone” technique.
“Most people don’t know how to listen,” Karina says. “They are in such a rush to add what they think that miscommunication is common, and with that an ever-increasing unsettledness.”
She maintains that the vibrational release of the voice has a marked positive effect on health, saying it is common knowledge that sounds are vibrations, and that certain vibrations are able to minimise stress.
The once-rebellious adolescent from Denmark says it’s no accident that people who are happiest in their vocations refer to what tey do as having “heard the calling.”
Karina settled in New Zealand a year ago from Hawaii where she had spent 10 years, which ultimately led to her calling.

Karen Kotze is a freelance writer and journalist.