In our first talk about voiceover health we talked about some of the things you should be doing to keep your voice healthy and strong. Now let’s talk about some things that are really bad for your voice, some of them being more obvious than others.
First of all, and this should be a no-brainer, don’t smoke. It wreaks havoc on your vocal chords and over time, your general health. If you smoke your vocal range will decrease, endurance will often be shortened, and clarity will often be eroded. With a chronically irritated throat it’s just flat out harder to do voice-over. Also, the demand for the “smoker voice” in commercial advertising has greatly diminished because we know so well the effects of smoking and this trumps the idea that a smoker’s voice is sexy. Think about how little you hear that voice these days compared to the majority of voices on the airwaves and television. I can’t tell you how many actors and voiceover artists have died before their time because they smoked, so don’t do it.
Drinking alcohol in excess can also hurt your voice, as it dehydrates your mouth. Air intake then becomes more irritable to the membranes in your throat, which in turn creates a build-up of thick mucous. If that sounds good to you, then by all means guzzle away.
Ah, mucous. Try having to clear your throat every other second while on a job. The client really loves that. I don’t care how much you love milkshakes, don’t drink one before an audition or a gig. The same goes for pizza, chocolate, candy bars, bananas, and bread. For a complete list, check out “Mucous producing foods” in the Industry Forms & Information section of our Downloads department.
Okay, on to the next voiceover transgression. Yelling is, in general, a no-no. When people “lose it”, for whatever reason, their anger is almost always expressed from their throat instead of their chest. This is why people sometimes complain of sore or scratchy throats after a verbal argument. They’ve not only hurt themselves in the process, but they probably haven’t gotten their point across as well as they could have had they used their chest voice, the center of our emotional truth.
In that vein, some obvious common sense actions you can take: If you have an audition or a VO gig coming up in the next couple of days, for god’s sake, don’t start screaming your head off at a wild party or a sporting event. I’m not saying don’t go, just take it easy. Otherwise it can take a few days for your voice to fully recover from the abuse you’ve just put it through.
On that note, if you know you have an audition or gig the next day, do yourself a favor and get a good night’s sleep. If your body’s stressed out from a lack of sleep, your vocal chords can tighten and restrict your performance, to say nothing of your ability to be fully present for the task at hand.
Noticing anything? All of the above examples for keeping your voice healthy and strong are also good for your general health. When you are healthy, when your body’s feeling good and you’re feeling good about yourself, your voice becomes an amazing instrument, free to express itself with the full spirit and energy that comes from knowing you’re taking care of yourself.
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