Get (Vocally) Fit!
Updated: Nov 30, 2021
Imagine with me for a moment that you’re at the dentist. You’re welcomed into the office, ushered to the exam room, and seated in the chair with the spittle bib clipped around your neck. You snuggle in, prepared for a delightful cleaning. The hygienist sits down on a stool beside you, adjusts the big light overhead, and wheels up her tray of tools. Casually, you glance down at the cleaning accoutrements and your mad illusion of an enjoyable trip to the dentist comes to a screeching halt. Lying on that tray is a horrific assortment of chipped, mismatched, rusty equipment. Assuming you’re not that guy from Little Shop of Horrors, there’s no way in Helena those tools will be allowed anywhere near your chompers. You meet the hygienist’s look of confusion with disbelief and disdain. How could you trust this person with the health and wellness of your teeth if she doesn’t even care enough to maintain the tools of her craft?
Last week we talked about the various kinds of basic equipment needed to get started on an adventure in voiceover. One tool I didn’t touch on—arguably your most important one—isn’t available in any store and doesn’t require serious research on makes and models. In fact, most everyone is gifted this tool free of charge from the very beginning. Of course, I’m talking about your voice. As a voiceover artist, there is no single greater instrument in your arsenal than your voice. It’s the star of the show, the money maker, the pièce de resistance. And because your voice is so important to your work as a VO artist, you need to know how to care for it.
Vocal health or hygiene is simply what we do to keep our voices healthy. Just as there are habits we form to promote physical health and exercises we perform to increase physical strength, so too are there habits and exercises to preserve the health of and strengthen our voices.
Some methods for maintaining vocal health include:
· Environmental optimization—modifying acoustics, decreasing ambient noise, eliminating barriers, adjusting ventilation or humidity
· Warm-ups—vocal exercises
· Good posture—avoid slouching and bending while speaking
· Breath support—use that diaphragm!
· Monitor vocal production—avoid extended periods of screaming, shouting, or speaking above ambient noise levels and implement periods of vocal rest
· Hydrate—drink lots of water, as well as herbal teas before and after recording sessions to help rest and rejuvenate your voice
· Watch your diet—avoid foods you may be sensitive to, particularly of spicy, acidic, or dairy fare
· Maintain physical fitness—vocal health is one facet of overall physical well-being
· Get adequate rest
In addition to caring for the health of your most precious tool (down Gollum!), it’s also important to exercise and grow it (see bullet two above). Anyone who utilizes all or part of their physical bodies for a job, sport, or other recreational activity do well to warm up, stretch, and work out. Not only does this strengthen the part of the body in question, it also serves as a preventative measure against strain or injury. Strengthening and protecting your voice is no different. Vocal warm up exercises such as tongue twisters, singing scales, and lip trills (not an exhaustive list by any means) are extremely helpful in expanding your voice’s range, building up its strength and stamina, and giving it a nice warm resonance in your recordings.
One of my favorite habits that I’ve been able to cultivate to promote overall health that happens to also be effective for vocal health is partaking in a daily morning detox drink. I create a mixture of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon’s worth), ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, ½ tablespoon of raw honey, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a pinch of powdered ginger in a mug of hot water. This simple concoction helps flush out toxins from your body and boost your metabolism. Lemon provides great antioxidants and honey can be soothing for your throat.
However you choose to pursue health and growth, for your voice or in general, make sure you do some research, know your own body, and make changes that are right for you. Striving for vocal health is important in order for a VO artist to grow, develop, and hone his/her craft, but it will only be helpful and effective when done knowledgeably and with care.
Our VO journeys will only be sustainable if we care for and exercise the tool we’ve been given. I hope you feel a bit more informed and confident in how to care for your voice! Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
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Voiceover Artist | Storyteller | Professional Nerd
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