Sunday, April 16th is World Voice Day!
World Voice Day was established with the goal of increasing awareness of the importance of the voice and alertness to voice problems. The theme for 2023 is “Your Voice Matters” and demonstrates the enormous importance of the voice in the daily lives of all people.
As Voice Actors, we are deeply familiar with the power of voice and why that power matters. Voice can provoke thought in listeners. It can conjure an emotional connection between speaker and listener. The voice can also offer effective ways to peak interest in a certain audience and spread information.
For a sustainable career in voiceover, a best practice is to aim to take proper care of our voices. Vocal warm ups improve the quality of the sounds we make and help prevent vocal injury. Having a healthy, present, and impactful voice matters. With that, here are some helpful warm up exercises for your routine, provided by the American Academy of Otolaryngology:
Breath Relaxation: Releases tension often associated in the breathing mechanism that can iere with effective voice production. Ordinarily, if there is tension when breathing, that tension radiates to the voice box muscles.
Take a normal breath and then exhale. Make sure your shoulders and chest are low and relaxed. Repeat many times making sure that your breaths are focused low in the abdomen and that there is not associated chest, neck, or shoulder tension while breathing. You can place one hand on your abdomen to remind you to keep the focus low and away from the chest and shoulders. Hold an “s” sound like in hiss when you exhale.
Jaw Release: Reduces tension in the mouth and jaw area during speaking and singing. Place the heels of each hand directly below the cheek bone. Pushing in and down from the cheeks to the jaw, massage the facial muscles. Allow your jaw to passively open as you move the hands down the face. Repeat several times.
Lip Trills: Release lip tension and connects breathing and speaking. Releases tension in the vocal folds. Place your lips loosely together release the air in a steady stream to create a trill or raspberry sound. First try it on an “h” sounds. Then repeat on a “b” sound. Hold the sound steady and keep the air moving past the lips. Next try to repeat the b-trill gliding gently up and down the scales. Don’t push beyond what it comfortable at the top or bottom of the scale.
Tongue Trill: Relaxes the tongue and engages breathing and voice. Place your tongue behind your upper teeth. Exhale and trill your tongue with a “r” sound. Hold the sound steady and keep the breath connected. Now try to vary the pitch up and down the scale while trilling. Again, don’t push beyond what is comfortable at the top or bottom of your scale.
Two Octave Scales: Provides maximum stretch on the vocal folds. Start in a low pitch and gently glide up the scale on a “me” sound. Don’t push the top or bottom of your range but do try to increase the range gently each time you do the scales. Now reverse and glide down the scale from the top to the bottom on an “e” sound. You can try this on the “oo” sound also.
Sirens/Kazoo Buzz: Improves the resonant focus of the sound and continues work with maximal stretch on the vocal folds. The mouth postures are easily made by pretending you are sucking in spaghetti with an inhalation. On exhalation make the “woo” sound. It will be a buzz like sound. Hold the sound steady for 2-3 attempts. Now use the woo sound to go up and down the scales.
Humming: Highlights anterior frontal vibrations in your lips, teeth and facial bones. Begin with lips gently closed with jaw released. Take an easy breath in and exhale while saying “hum”. Begin with the nasal sound /m/ and gently glide from a high to a low pitch as if you were sighing. Don’t forget your vocal cool down after extensive vocal use. Gently humming feeling the focus of the sound on the lips is an excellent way to cool down the voice. You should hum gentle glides on the sound “m” feeling a tickling vibration in the lip/nose are.
Cool Down: Don’t forget your vocal cool down after extensive vocal use. Gently humming feeling the focus of the sound on the lips is an excellent way to cool down the voice. You should hum gentle glides on the sound “m” feeling a tickling vibration in the lip/nose are.
May we honor our unique voices by celebrating, taking care of, and raising ourselves and each other up today and every day. Always remember, your voice matters! Take care of it and use it responsibly.
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