Singers and Actors: how's your SPEAKING voice?

Singers and Actors:  how's your SPEAKING voice?
Sunday musings...

As singers,  we are often so focused on the singing voice,  we forget how connected and absolutely crucial a healthy speaking voice is!!

Singers are not the only ones who neglect this part of their instrument.  Ironically, many "actors" do too.  I use "actors" as so many in this business really don't work on craft, but only work on business.  I have had many "actors" contact me with vocal problems because they have never really done any breath work, any alignment work, any voice work for resonance, or vocal health and think screaming is emoting. They have taken every business class and have no clue as to how to use their instrument effectively.

Your voice is your instrument.  Period.  As an actor, as a singer,  you are using that instrument regularly and the physicality in which is resides.  I am always amazed at the disconnect.  How you speak in your day to day life truly affects how you use your voice on stage, on set, and in your singing life.

Why ignore it?  Often, speaking habits are poor and then the shift into "singing voice" or "acting voice" doesn't happen comfortably, or at all.

Again, our society of "instant satisfaction" has permeated the business too and dismissed craft success for goal oriented success.

Getting the gig isn't craft.  And if you get the gig, can you actually DO the gig and sustain what is demanded of you via your instrument?

So, how aware of your speaking voice are you?  Do you tire easily?  Can you project without pressure?  Can you access different balances of resonance?  Can you speak in different dynamics without yelling or without losing core of sound?  Can you utilize different pitch in your speaking voice or are you limited?  Are you breathing to speak?  Are you supporting while speaking?  Is your body aware of its alignment and balance as you negotiate your day?

Perhaps you laugh, but let me sum it up this way:  Can you SPEAK?

(and when you laughed was it supported?!?!?)

However, honestly truthfully, so many singers and actors simply cannot.  They have not made the conscious connection between their speaking voice to their singing or acting voice.  THIS is part of the craft.  This is also part of living your instrument daily.  The more connected you become to the freedom of that speaking voice,  the more you are consistently and consciously available to your instrument throughout your day:"putting on" your singer's voice or actor's voice will not feel so dislocated if your speaking voice is simply healthy, aligned, free and available.

SO what are you DOING?  Perhaps the first thing you can do is OBSERVE!  Be aware of what you DO before you begin to change anything.  Triple redundancy is key - look in the mirror;  record yourself,  and physicalize the sensations fully.  Then, can you describe it?  What do you see?  What do you hear?  What do you feel?

There are NO value judgements!!!!  This is observation in order to learn how to access YOU more fully. 

Sit down and evaluate what issues you deal with as an actor and as a singer - what are the notes you continually get?  What are the things you are working on in your lessons?  What happens on stage?  Often,  many of these issues are VOICE related,  BODY related and simply can be addressed first through the nature of how you SPEAK.

Imagine discovering the balance of all things VOICE by working on the balance of the speaking voice! What a liberating discovery it would be!!  The craft of VOICE as instrument needs much more focus than what we often allow for.

What do you do to warm up your voice? Period?  What do you do for your BODY in order to integrate breath with alignment with balance with co-ordination? 

Dare to discover the state of your speaking voice as you function through the day,  and dare to find a more optimal balance by observing,  by study,  by integration of breath work, body work, resonance work and language work.

I am still amazed, after all this time in the business,  how many "actors" simply can't speak.  They have never observed long enough to acknowledge they are unable to truly articulate language fully.  They haven't been corrected in actual pronunciation.  The more we KNOW they more there is to know!! 

If you call yourself an actor, a singer,  a user of WORDS,  then learn HOW to use them effectively and how to use the instrument as CRAFT and as FUNCTION so it is painless (literally AND figuratively) moving from your day to day to the audition room, to the stage, to the rehearsal hall and back again.

Darn, it might take some time.  It might take some effort.  It might take some application.  It might take some change, and thought and focus and WORK. 

That's called craft.  That's called daring yourself to BE what you say you are.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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