Can’t help this post. I’m obsessed with all things voice. Listen to yourself – if you even suspect you might be a bit nasal – you will be! If you don’t care, I certainly don’t, but if you do care, then you can stop being nasal. Here is how to check if you are. Make a long, sustained, “eeeeeeeeeee” sound on any note that is comfortable and while you are doing that, squeeze and release both of your nostrils. If you sound like a siren, then you are nasal. Just thought I’d mention it.
It seems strange but there is an especially nice freedom/focus at being able to look at you with a sustained intimacy that isn’t threatening. My voice work operates just as well which has amazed me. What’s more, it’s a nice challenge for me as an educator because I have to be super clear in my instructions to you.
Here’s an exercise for you The Wallow in Vibrations Experience…….. 1) Hum on a a long, indulgent “m” sound with your lips gently closed. Feel where the vibrations fall. (You might like to touch your face lightly with your finger tips to increase the tactile nature of the sounds.) 2)Then….. without opening or moving your lips, allow your lower jaw bone to drop just a little inside your mouth. 3)Keep humming and you will feel the vibrations more intensely. 4) Release your belly for breath to replace whenever you need to and 4)enjoy the sensation.
Well, I know the secret for me. Decades and decades of coaching people to achieve their full human potential have distilled into this knowledge. The voices that make me want to listen, the voices that make me fall in love with them, are those who have been trained to speak with a thrilling but unobtrusive balance of vowels and consonants. In a wide generalized statement I submit that Vowels play music to our listeners’ ears, while the consonants engage their intellect. Together they communicate our human presence. Listen to voices this week – some people are speak with lots of oompah-oompah vowels heavy noises. Others lean into speaking with very crisp and over-emphatic consonants. What is your balance?
Before I speak, I must ask myself three questions:
1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it kind?
I keep forgetting however and have to begin again over and over.
TEN TIPS TO LAUGHING HAPPILY
An Actors Guide to Safe Stage Laughter
1. Rest and hydrate all through your run.
2. Warm up your voice before the show.
3. Maintain supported breath in an open chest, throat, and vowel space — the more relaxed your system, the less stress on it!
4. Gentle on the inhale — laughing is a breathing pattern, and the inhales can be short and sharp. If you can inhale through your nose, do so.
5. Start slow and low — give yourself somewhere to go.
6. Take breaks in the laughter — don’t “freight train” the work. Stop and sigh it out throughout. This also keeps the laughs natural.
7. Make sure the text is understood — this will put focus on the words and not the laughter, and help you treat the laughs lightly. The words matter more.
8. A little bit of hysterical laughing goes a long way — you don’t really need to sell it as hard as you think.
9. Reset with a sigh — a beautiful series of happy exhales of relief can “reset” the body, breath and ribs so you’re ready to move into the next moment.
10. Ramp up slowly — return to natural conversation with your breath supported, and your chest, throat and vowel space open and relaxed.
Why Julius Caesar could not say the sound “v”
Scholars have always believed that his famous phrase “Veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”) was pronounded “weni, widi, wici”. However, scientists now claim humans have only been able to pronounce the letters “v” and “f” relatively recently because our hunter-gathered ancestors had worn down teeth through chewing hard meat and bones. A much softer diet has led to an overbite which allows “v” and “f” sounds by touching the lower lips to the top teeth.
Now, I know that information does not shake your world and it may not be true (and I don’t much care whether it is or not) but I found it an interesting enough thought to share with you.
Your best voice is clear, intelligible and effortless. You want people to listen to what you say, not listen to your voice. When you are making a speech, you will feel more confident if you do this exercise about 30 minutes before. Actors love it.
*Slide your tongue, flatly, out of your mouth so it rests on your lower lip. Keep it there as you speak you first one or two sentences. Use your lips so that you can be understood, (you just sound very strange and it is also quite a big effort.) Make sure you don’t push your head forward and that you continue to breathe low. Speak with strong meaning and intention so that you don’t sound like a robot. I should be able to follow you as you do this.
*Then, let the tongue slide back into the bottom of your mouth (where it wants to be) and repeat those same sentences. You will find that, because you have stretched the muscles at the back of the tongue, the tongue is happier, faster, more specific in its movements. You
will feel that it is just so easy to say the words. As Shakespeare said your words will be …..trippingly on the tongue.
Try it and let me know.