What is your background in vocal health and the voice?
I’ve been teaching people how to use their voices in a healthy way for 25 years. I started out just teaching singing workshops focusing on part harmony singing and breath work, but then in 1998 I took a full time training in Voice Movement Therapy in London which introduced me to the fullness of the human voice and how it relates to our emotional and physical health. I’ve been teaching singers with that methodology ever since then. However several years ago, when I myself became a voice actor, I quickly realized the extraordinary stress actors put on their voices, often way outside any training they have received in their normal course of training. I’ve been committed to bridging that gap ever since.
What would you say is the biggest vocal health concern for voice actors?
Video game sessions really. When you can often find yourself starting with a non-human creature which may involve some rasp or constriction, then add dying and attack efforts, and then go for 2-4 hours... well that can be a disaster waiting to happen.
What if you don't really do video game auditions/jobs? Are there health concerns that an actor who primarily does commercials or narration should be aware of?
Definitely narrators, any kind of long form narration like e-learning or audio books will tire your voice and put extraordinary strain on your instrument. Honestly, I think any professional voice actor should know this stuff no matter what their main area of focus. Vocal loss comes at us for many reasons and learning how to fully recover is invaluable.
Do you have a good tip or general advice for voice actors?
Hydrate! hydrate! hydrate! Make sure your body is loose and relaxed and remember that cooling down can be as important as warming up for vocally stressful sessions. Oh and don’t try to perform on a damaged instrument. If you’ve already lost your voice, stop talking!
Is vocal health something you should be concerned about as a beginning voice actor?
Of course! If you plan on making a career out of using your voice why wouldn’t you learn the tools to protect your investment? Vocal loss is real my friends, whether it initiates from sickness or shouting over loud music in a bar, the sooner you learn how to heal and recover the quicker you can get back behind the mic and you’ll also be MUCH less likely to cause any more serious damage down the road.
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