The Human Voice: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

How are guitar strings and the human voice similar? Here is a hint: both rely on vibrations to make sound. Read this lesson to learn how the human voice is produced in the larynx using air and vibrations.

Your Instrument

What is your favorite song? To sing along to your favorite song or just say hello to friends you have to use your voice. But what exactly is a voice and where does it come from?

Just like a guitar or violin uses vibrating, or quickly moving, strings to make music, humans use vibrating body parts to make sounds.

Larynx

Take a deep breath in. You just filled your lungs with air. As you breath out, that air travels back up your windpipe, also called the trachea, the passageway in your throat for air.

At the top of your windpipe is a box-shaped area called the larynx. The larynx is nicknamed the voice box because it holds the body parts that help us speak. So you could say the larynx is the source of your voice. Have you ever noticed the small bump on the front part of your throat below your chin? That is your larynx.

The larynx, or voice box, is located in the throat just above the trachea.
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Vocal Cords

Stretched across the inside of the larynx are two very thin bands of muscle called vocal cords. When we breath in, the vocal cords open to let air pass through the larynx, into the trachea, and down to the lungs.

The vocal folds are open when we breath in and closed when we want to speak.
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When we breath out and want to talk, the vocal cords close. Air from the lungs trying to pass by the closed vocal cords causes them to vibrate, which makes sound. Hum a little bit of your favorite song and touch your larynx. Can you feel the vibrations?

To play the guitar you use your fingers to make the strings move. To speak you use air to make your vocal cords move. It's kind of like having a built-in instrument!

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