By Stephanie Ciccarelli
December 22, 2011
Have you been hoping to somehow tame your voice?
An untrained voice, while it can be both beautiful and functional, has the potential to run wild and render you voiceless!
Hear from guest blogger, Blake Sanders, as he shares a number of essential tips for voice control in today's VOX Daily.
By Blake Sanders
Voice actors know what it feels like to have a sore throat from overuse. You may also have experienced laryngitis from overworking your vocal folds. Overworking your voice is vocal abuse, and it can be permanently damaging to your vocal folds. To prevent injury, it is important to condition your vocal folds with healthy habits. Knowing simple exercises and how to use high speed Internet resources can go a long way towards gaining total voice control.
Just as athletes must condition their bodies if they wish to perform well in competitive sports, voice actors must condition their vocal folds if they wish to perform well on the job day after day. When regularly practiced, breathing and stretching exercises can give voice actors better stamina and control. Also of importance is keeping hydrated watching demonstrations of proper voice technique.
We all need it, some more than others. A voice is a machine that must be well-oiled, especially if it's going to be getting a fair amount of use. If your voice is your career, the stakes are even higher. No one wants to face an early retirement when voice performance declines. Drinking water is of the utmost importance. There is no need to over-hydrate, but monitoring your intake should not be taken lightly. Making a habit of stopping at the drinking fountain or carrying a water bottle will pay off in the long run.
The breath is an important part of speaking. This simple breathing exercise will provide you with greater breath awareness and control. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your shoulders back. Place your hand on your abdomen and take a breath. As you inhale, you should feel your stomach and ribcage expand. As you exhale, the movement will reverse. The horizontal muscle in your abdomen, called the diaphragm, controls this movement, expanding and contracting to move air into and out of your lungs.
As you breathe in, make sure your upper body is still. Your shoulders and chest should not lift. The only movement is the in-and-out motion of your stomach and ribs, expanding on the inhale, and contracting on the exhale. As you breathe with your hand on your stomach, visualize your diaphragm expanding and contracting, controlling your breath.
Regularly stretching your voice with some basic exercises will keep your voice strong and in good condition. Voice actors can learn a lot from singers, who use vocal fold exercises and stretches to strengthen their singing voices. Some of the same exercises singers use will benefit the voice actor as well.
The lip trill helps loosen the lips and warm up the vocal folds. Start by taking a full breath and let the breath out as if you were blowing bubbles in a swimming pool. Your lips will vibrate as air moves past them. Concentrate on controlling your breath with your diaphragm, not your lips. The lips should be completely relaxed. Next, add a sound to the lip trill.
Start the lip trill again, and then start humming at the same time. This exercise will help you to coordinate your breath and vocal folds for greater voice control.
Even if you are not a singer, as a voice actor you still need to have control of the pitch of your voice. Some basic singer's exercises can give you better pitch control and improve the resonance of your voice. Humming at different pitches is a good warm up exercise. Start with a low pitch, feeling the vibrations low in your chest. Then raise the pitch, feeling the vibrations rise higher in your chest. Raise the pitch again, feeling the vibrations in your skull and nasal cavity. Reverse the exercise, moving from high pitches to low pitches.
After a couple minutes of humming, open your mouth and sing some scales. You can sing the classic "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do" or choose different sounds. Singing, not just humming, is important because the resonance of your voice changes when your mouth is open. Singing also helps improve diction by loosening your lips and making them more nimble.
Voice exercises are often difficult to do without hearing an example of the exercise. If you have high speed internet and a computer (or mobile device these days), watching video tutorials will help you learn how to do the exercises properly. Video tutorials also provide guidance for a better voice workout. Just as exercise videos help guide students through routines and keep them motivated to practice regularly, voice exercise tutorials can help you maintain a productive voice and keep you in the habit of proper vocal care.
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