Let Them Hear Your Voice

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There’s a woman in the Uk who visits a train station to hear her late husband’s voice. He recorded the regular station “Mind the gap” announcement years ago and she “just loved to hear his voice.”

It’s surprising that with all the technology that we have at our fingertips these days, that recording our voice is rarely done. But your voice is unique to you. How you speak to others is a cherished part of yourself, a part that will be missed. We have photos, so many photos! But do you have video or recordings of your voice and the voices of your loved ones?

Voice As Legacy

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I realized a few years ago that this was a significant part of legacy. We have family photo albums and stories passed down about family events. But video is still rare and voice is rarer still. My family discovered some old dictaphone tapes that my late father had made when we were children. With audio help from my brother, we were able to retrieve a few minutes of his voice. It’s very powerful to hear Dad’s voice again and I wish we had more recordings. Perhaps you, or someone you know, keeps an old answering machine message because it’s the only voice recording that you have of a loved one. It doesn’t need to be this way. 

Get Over Your Shyness

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Yes, unless you have an FM radio voice, you probably don’t like to listen to your own voice. It doesn’t sound right when you play it back on a recording. That’s normal for everyone.* But it’s also not the point. This is not for you. It’s for your family and friends. It’s part of you and whether you like it or not it is what others hear all the time.

How To Create A Recording

The Set Up:

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After being aware of how much I regretted not having Dad’s voice telling all his stories, I started a small project with Mom. I sat down with her every week for a few hours and recorded her talking. We set up my phone on a stand attached to the coffee table and I pressed play. It’s important to do this with someone to keep the chat going and to make it more natural. (You forget about the camera, sort of.) When you are finished each recording session, remember to transfer the files to your preferred storage system (online or an external hard drive).

What To Talk About:

What did we talk about?  I got out the old photo albums and we chatted about the pictures. I asked her about the people in them and when they were taken. I made sure to hold the photos up to the camera so that there was a recording of the picture we were talking about. (It’s a bit clumsy but it worked.) I had a great time learning more about family history and now we have a record of it in her voice.

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A Valuable Treasure

Many times people tell me they have come across family photos from a time before they were born, only to be conflicted about what to do with them. Some folks throw out the photos because they don’t mean anything to them. Very few people ever record enough information in their albums to show future generations the value of the pictures. And yet, they did have value to those who posed for them and those who kept them in albums. Doing a voice recording with someone who can tell you about these photos ensures that they will continue to be treasured and become part of your family legacy. It’s often easier for someone to talk about the photos than write about them and you have their all-important voice. The voice is the treasure.

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* To learn more about why your voice sounds different in a recording, click here.

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