the sound of a voice


everyone hates the sound of their own voice...

Everyone hates the sound of their own voice. It’s always too high, too nasal or it just plain doesn't sound like you. You wonder how anyone could ever listen to it. The thing is, it’s just your voice. Everyone you know is accustomed to it. They probably even like it. They probably love hearing you tell a story or sing a song, or just talk about your day.

Recently a number of my friends have lost loved ones. It happens to all of us, but we are never really prepared, even when we know it is coming. It’s part of our  nature to deny our mortality. If we don’t admit it, maybe it won’t happen. But of course it does.

After their loved ones passed, some of  these friends have told me,  “I wish I had more of their handwriting” or  “I wish I had a recording of their voice.” These things are unique and have a powerful way of bringing that person back. I had one friend that captured her grandmother’s voice from voicemails on an old answering machine. Another uploaded her mother’s voice message from her iPhone. Still others have captured videos from Facebook.

These folks are the lucky ones. Sometimes it is too late and we don’t get a chance to capture such  remembrances.


"I wish I had a recording of their voice"

With technology today  there is no reason why we shouldn’t  have those unique memories, even for people that are alive and well. I recently saved a birthday voicemail from a very dear friend and I listen to it when I need a “pick me up.” Today, every single smartphone and every single voice mailbox is a recording device that can capture the sound of a voice.

Of course it can be a little awkward asking to record someone’s voice. It’s kind of like doing ice-breakers or networking. It seems very uncomfortable when you are doing it, but you are almost always happy after it is done.



So I challenge you to do it. Record someone you love. Whose voice do you want to remember? Whose voice could be your “pick me up”? Whose story do you want to hear and remember? Tell that person you would like to hear a story, get out your iPhone, click on Voice Memos (all iPhones have it) and press the big red button. It might be awkward at first, but I promise you’ll be happy you did it.


- Lisa Vehrenkamp



Capturing voices was the motivation for my latest project: Community Stories, a website that aims to preserve the treasured voices of the citizens of the local communities of Spring Valley, Wykoff and Ostrander. Conceived by my mother Mary Ann Schultz (of whom I have many recordings), we developed the project together, collecting short audio clips and photos of the residents of Southeastern Minnesota. The stories are funny, poignant, and historical. Because the communities are so small, many of the stories overlap and sometimes have the same characters. We aim to preserve the voices of many of the people that we grew up with and want to remember. Check it out and see if it inspires you.