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Vocal Behaviors

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

August 30, 2007

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Woman recordingHow does your voice behave for you on a daily basis?

Share your vocal stories and let us know whether your vocal performance is likened more to a morning glory, an afternoon delight or a nocturnal wonder.

Add a comment now!

Earlier today, I was reading the voice-overs.com forum run by Julie Williams where a discussion is taking place about how voices behave during any part of the day and if the quality of performance could be controlled to remain consistent, putting your best voice forward.

Many of the voice actors who participated in the thread pointed out that their peak performance time varies from person to person, some preferring morning, others night, pre bronchitis movie trailer voice, and so on.

As a voice major and UWO music alum, I believe it is all relative surrounding a number of factors that may contribute to how your voice behaves at any given time.

If you're in a pretty tight routine, your voice will most likely behave the same way each day.

Consider the following:

Sleep

If you hit the hay early (before midnight), your voice will have more energy the next morning. Sleep is a huge component of how your body performs and your voice is your instrument and your voice is a part of your overall physicality. A well rested voice is easier to warm up and isn't taxed as quickly as a tired voice is. Recharge your batteries and get as close to 8 hours of sleep at night that you can. If you work a late radio shift, find a block of time that you can sleep solidly for a number of hours before and after your shift. Hitting the brick wall can make your voice gruff, thin or sound uninspired. If you can keep fatigue at bay, your voice will also benefit.

Food and Beverages

Consuming coffee does tend to dry things out (anything caffeinated really), and dairy is just a nightmare for some. Try to stay away from foods and beverages that are drying, sticky (stuff that makes your mouth clack), or gooey (dairy fits in this category). If you are allergic to something, even if it's simply the ingestion of the substance, keep away from it because it could still affect your voice in a negative manner, for instance, if you are allergic to coconut or peanut butter, don't be anywhere near the smell of it before you record.

General Health

Your overall health contributes significantly to your vocal performance. If you're under the weather, one of the first things you'll notice is that your voice may change depending on what ails you. If you have a head cold or congestion, you'll notice a foggier, groggier sound. If you have a pounding headache, the resonance and projection of your voice may be too much to bear. When stricken with a cough or if you've recently vomited, your voice may not have the "umph" you are used to. If you're pregnant, your voice may assume a different timbre or depth along with more difficulty breathing and less facility making it through long passages.

Conservation

Prevention is often the best medicine, especially where conditioning your voice is concerned. Avoid the following or tread lightly with caution!

Talking on the Phone

Talking on the phone is a major voice killer. If you have to speak on the phone before a session (even if you're on the phone a few hours before), remember to limit the conversation and amount of energy you are putting into it. Keep your calls short and relaxed.

Yelling

If you have kids (directly related to straining of the voice!), be sure that you don't yell on a day you are recording, whether it simply be to give them last minute instructions as they are running out the door, calling for dinner, or otherwise.

Beware of Scents and Fragrances

External factors often affect your voice. These may include:

• Second-hand Smoke
• Pollution
• Exhaust
• Beauty Products / hair products / perfume / cologne
• Personal Hygiene Products / shaving gel / aftershave / antiperspirant / deodorant

Fragrances can do more harm to your vocal apparatus than you'd ever assume.

During concerts, we weren't allowed to wear strong scents that might cause breathing difficulties or vocal strain on other people in the choir. Obviously, that was even more enforced at recitals and as a professional voice actor, you are basically having a recital each time you sit down at the mic :)

This may go without saying, but definitely warm up your voice before you do any voice over work or rehearse.

A vocal warm up is integral to keeping a consistent sound and your vocal folds will thank you (these used to be called vocal cords). Even if you can't sing or carry a tune, you can still stretch out your vocal muscles prior to doing voice over for awesome results. There are a number of free warm up resources out there to check out, tongue twisters, etc.

Be sure to pay special attention to your resonators, articulators, breath support and loosen up your tongue and facial muscles. Leading vocal warm ups are fun - if you were here with me, I'd happily show you some exercises - maybe another time!

You can join in this conversation or another discussion on Julie Williams' forum or add your thoughts here on VOX Daily!

How does your voice behave?

Happy voicing,

Stephanie

©©©iStockphoto.com/Chris Hutchison

Related Topics: Dora, radio, Warm Ups, YouTube


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