Monday, 10 March 2014

Relax and Keep it Real.

To make a great sound, you’ve got to look after yourself. A great voice is about more than lubricated vocal cords, it’s about more than using a natural gift. If you intend to work as a Voice actor you need to ensure that you keep your instrument in tip top condition. If you're stressed, tense or overly emotional those things are going to show up loud and clear in the tone and quality of your voice.

Vocal performance is more than technical production of sound. The sound of our voice connects us to the core of our being, in not only a physical sense, but an emotional one too. The slightest utterance can give away our true feelings, and sensitive ears can pick up on subtle nuances- after all, we spend a lifetime listening subconsciously to the finer details of speech to understand the underlying thoughts and feelings within a communication.
Phsyiologically, great posture can make a huge difference in the sound you make when you speak. When we laugh, it is from the belly, when we howl in pain it is from the depths of our being. It is what actors strive for on stage every night: to connect, to make it ‘real’. It is no less important in front of the microphone. We’ve all heard the false sing-song voice in ‘happy’ commercials. Do we believe them? No. They sound artificial, they sound put on. So how to ensure you don’t fall into the trap of throat-led, unconnected performances (which long-term can lead to vocal damage)?

Try some of these simple tricks. Allow your shoulders to relax, stand up straight without overstraining and overcompensating for usual bad posture, and stand with both legs planted firmly on the floor, weight distributed evenly. These easy adjustments enable your breath to flow to your belly, allow your diaphragm to expand and contract the way it is supposed to, and thereby allow the best possible sound to resonate through your body.  Try it. See if you can notice a difference on mic. The British Voice Association provides some excellent resources if you want more info on proper and correct use of Voice.

The first sign of tension in my own body is in my shoulders. Too much stress, and I know that this can affect my performance. I’ve taken to having a regular back neck and shoulder massage from a qualified masseuse, especially when I have know I have some intensive audiobook sessions to record. I also highly recommend Alexander Technique, to learn how to readjust and realign your posture naturally, to unlearn habitual posture errors. It is advocated and practiced in Drama Schools up and down the country. See if there is a practitioner near you.

Do the best you can to let your performance really reflect who you are, and let your performance come from your core being. Anyone can produce a sing-song effect. But only you have the power to engage the unique you.

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