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Vocal Warm-Ups For Voice Actors
Written By: Alyssa Buffington
Like many professions, voice actors earn their pay through a mixture of skill and training. Along with memorizing lines and mastering emotive speech, voice actors must constantly train their most valuable asset - their voice. Much like an athlete stretching their muscles before a game, the voice should be prepped before any major use. If not, be ready for an extra sore throat in the morning.
This is where vocal warm-ups come into play. Vocal warm-ups are exercises that help prepare your voice for better performance. There are a few different ways to not only prep your voice, but expand its range and power. Spending about 10-15 minutes before recording these 6 tricks will greatly improve your vocals.
Many people hear about stretching and think it’s a different exercising type from vocals, but the two are far more connected than they realize. A healthy vocal track involves healthy lungs and a diaphragm strong enough to push air to your vocals. Practice stretches that build up your chest and torso area to work those muscles.
Another important type of stretching is working your face muscles. Those who talk a lot in a day can tell you that by the end your cheeks and jaw get sore, so stretching those joints helps them be more resilient. Blink your eyes, rolls your tongue, and circle your jaw to prepare your face for the dynamic movements of speech.
Exercising your breathing is the next big step to better voice acting. Similar to meditation, taking slow breaths and holding them for a few seconds helps to open your airways. Your lungs will inflate and be ready for the heavier voice work for the upcoming day. Only a minute or two of breaths can go a long way.
When you practice your breathing, make sure your out-breath has a slight hissing sound. This technique will work out the mouth muscles alongside your lungs. Practice with different lengths of breath and exhaling to see where your limits lie.
Trills & Hums
Trills are an exercise where you pass air through your lips and let them flutter limply. This technique relaxes the facial muscles around your mouth to create wider facial movement when speaking.
A gentle hum in your throat will also help to loosen the muscles in your throat. Maintaining a hum for a few moments increases the amount of resonant sound your voice can produce. Keep practicing these tricks until your facial muscles feel relaxed.
Everybody has experience with yawning. It’s a handy trick the body has to gather more oxygen for the brain. Whether or not you’re tired, creating a few yawns can benefit voice actors. Yawning not only relaxes the muscles in your throat but shifts your vocal cords to a slightly lower tone than before. Most voices sound better at a lower tone, so let out a few yawns and see how your voice sounds.
A pitch is a single point on the spectrum that is your vocal range. People have distinct pitches from high to low and a good voice actor can switch between them. To practice your pitches, start by thinking of a word and saying it in your lowest pitch. Repeat the word as you gradually raise your pitch until it’s at its highest point. Then travel back down the spectrum from highest to lowest. This technique can strengthen - and sometimes even expand - the vocal range used in your voice acting.
Tongue twisters - the bane of everyone’s minds. Some might not think tongue twisters are useful for anything except making you look foolish, but they are a valuable speech practice. Quality voice acting depends on actors articulating their words, and tongue twisters help practice enunciating words. The more you try them, the better you’ll become at tongue twisters. Incorporate these sayings into your exercises and you will not only articulate better, but you’ll also impress people at parties!
These 6 tricks may seem like a lot to practice every day, but just adding some of these exercises into your routine will make great improvements to your voice. The few minutes you spend each day practicing will make your voice as strong and clear as possible.
Remember that these exercises are not the only parts of a healthy voice. You should also get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, and not overexert your voice. Your voice as a voice actor is your main tool of the trade, so you must maintain it. Work on these healthy habits and you’ll be a professional voice actor in no time.