Actors and the VOICE
Sunday musings...

I have had several actors come to me recently who have major vocal problems.  They simply have not cared for,  nor do they seem to know how to use and look after their instruments.

It bespeaks a larger issue...I see so many so-called "actors" who take business classes to try to get work,  but have completely ignored the craft of simply caring and using their instrument.

An actor does not have to take singing lessons to use his/her voice.  However, an actor should be taking VOICE lessons in order to use his/her voice in a healthy way and to learn about support,  breath and resonance,  as well as building on endurance, power,  projection and more.

I have many actors who come in to work on their speaking voices THROUGH singing work.  The singing is more athletic simply because of duration,  and so they build a larger range,  a better understanding of support and movement of breath,  and their speaking voices become much more anchored and resonant almost immediately.

I am amazed at how many actors,  stage or screen,  do NOT work warm up their instrument prior to using it.  Many just haven't thought about it.

Unless you are working in silent film,  your instrument is your voice.  Your body is your instrument.  Why wouldn't you want it to be as athletic and strong as it could be?

This is in no way a chastisement!  This is a simple nudge to encourage you to view your training and your development as an actor a little further than what many have done.

You need to understand the function of your voice.  What are your possibilities?  How strong and tangible is your breath?  What kind of range do you have vocally?  (A grunt and a squeak do not count!)   What is your resonance like?  Where does your voice naturally sit?  Does it tire easily?  Do you project without restriction?  Are you gasping for air?  Is your throat sore after you have used your voice?

We aren't even talking about the craft of ACTING.  We are simply talking about the physical instrument and all of its possibilities.  The craft of acting should wrap itself around the physicality of the voice,  and sadly, often it is ass backwards and the voice itself is forgotten.

So what should you do?  Just like take a yoga class, or a pilates class or a spin class,  you warm up first.  You do not go into a full blown attack without letting the muscles get loose and lengthen and breathe.  Just like working out in ANY athletic activity,  so should you allow the voice!

Find yourself a voice class that is structured on the instrument as focus.  Find a teacher that understands the actor's voice and can help build a regime of development for you specifically.
 Take the time to really discover your voice.  Each actor has physicality,  has breath,  has tone,  has range,  has resonance,  has language.  Wouldn't you want to discover more about that and access all of what you are?  Wouldn't you want to know how to use all these factors in order to develop MORE breath, MORE support, MORE resonance,  MORE power, MORE dynamic. MORE range and never get vocally tired?

The more you focus on the athleticism of the voice and simply develop it,  the more possibilities exist.   If there are possibilities,  then anything can happen!

Treat your voice with the respect it deserves.  It IS your instrument.  YOU are an actor.  The two are entwined.  Now is the time to get conscious about it and do something to make it MORE.  Let it reveal itself to you,  develop it, nurture it,  and CLAIM IT.

happy discovery!

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

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