Just as musicians go to great lengths to take care of their instruments, voice-over artists should think of their voice in the same way, making sure that it is always in the best possible condition. After all, it is your meal ticket. When you have something special and unique that makes you money, it’s a no-brainer that you should take REALLY GOOD CARE OF IT, and there are some very basic but important things you can do to keep your voice healthy and strong.
This week we’ll look at some of the things you should be doing to keep your voice healthy. Next week, we’ll talk about the things you shouldn’t be doing.
The first and simplest thing you can do is to keep your voice well hydrated. We recommend drinking at least 4-6 glasses of water a day. That shouldn’t be too hard if you keep a water bottle with you during work and throughout the day. Your throat will stay lubricated and you’ll be regularly flushing away any allergens and dryness that could irritate that area.
Breathing exercises should also be an important part of your regimen. The most efficient way to breathe is with the use of the diaphragm, a big, flat muscle that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. But most people don’t breathe this way. Instead, they use their intercostal muscles, taking shallow breaths into the chest. This often happens because of stress, fear and other tensions that can rule our lives on a day-to-day basis and make us back off from a more direct relationship to our environment. By breathing in a consciously deeper way we invite more of the world in and, through our exhalation, bring more of ourselves to the world. It is a committed, engaged way of breathing and living that may, at first, make you feel dizzy, vulnerable or more exposed than what you are used to. But in no time, this approach to breathing will turn into a great strength that will help you gain confidence, deal with stress, and just as importantly, bring the depth and resonant quality to your voice that is needed for a sustained career in voiceover work.
Breathing very deeply into your belly and diaphragm and then breathing out very slowly, letting out only a small continuous stream of air, will develop the muscles that help with breath control. A larger breathing capacity will allow you to control volume, handle long run-on sentences, and provide the nuances necessary for a memorable read. Do this everyday day for five minutes and you will see a noticeable difference in only a couple of weeks.
Also, by breathing into your belly and using your diaphragm to inhale and exhale you will be opening up your chest voice which is key to a richer, fuller, and more resonant quality in your delivery. Many people also believe that this area in your chest (close to your heart) is the emotional center of your being and that by opening up this center you will increase your ability to infuse attitude and feeling into your reads.
Getting regular exercise is a natural stress and tension reliever. It also demands that you breathe more deeply, which in turn strengthens your chest and diaphragm muscles. Anything you can do that invites a state of well-being and relaxation into your life is also good for your voice. Conversely, stress and strain will cause problems for your voice.
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