When Laurence Olivier directed and first played King Lear, the critic Hubert Griffith wrote in the Sunday Graphic: ” He handicapped himself by wearing a beard and mane so stupendous that his voice came to me as though he were talking through a tree.” Jennifer
We are told by various people that our precious website will sink into a virtual “slough of despond” unless we continually blog – feed it.
So here we go: One of the early voice exercises that I loved and am now doing is the old straw blowing technique.
- 1. Place straw in mouth
- 2. Round the lips around the straw
- 3. Hum Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody or God Save the Queen or Advance Australia Fair (according to age and political preference). (Kazoo acting) 5 minutes.
- 4. Remove straw and speak your monologue and find how much better you sound. Next blog: Straw and water!!
Here are some words from my teacher and mentor Kristin Linklater. I you are interested in voice and acting you will find these words resonate with you. Dianne
I do want to say that I am struck by how many explanations of “how the voice works” begin with the action of breath on vocal folds, by-passing the impulse that sparks the process. I want to
emphasize that I am talking about the *impulse(s)* that generate the action
of breath and vocal folds and vibration. How to prepare and exercise the
vocal system to respond through the involuntary nervous system and the
involuntary (proprioceptive) musculature to originating thought and
feeling. All words arise out of sensory images (representational and/or
abstract) created from feelings and impulses. I am interested in helping to
connect the voice, through breath, as directly as possible with the causal,
originating impulses of the thoughts and feelings *behind* the words – or,
in the case of singing, *behind *the music.
For this, the full, free 3 to 4-octave
range of the voice is necessary. And of course it goes without saying that
musicianship, practice, elements of rhetoric and prosody etc are essential
ingredients of the craft that serves the art.
One way or another we are training the brain – through the body-mind. In
practice the balance between form (mechanics, skill-sets, grammar) and
content (feelings, desire, need, joy, rage, grief, wonder) will determine
the quality of the result. Which is the master and which the servant?
Here are some of the phrases I have heard from acting teachers that
underline my point of view –
“Cultivate the conditions to be surprised.”
“Letting go of wanting to make something happen is a very strong choice.”
“Communication is a by-product of desire and freedom.”
“Focus on the causal impulse – not the result.”
“Process – not product.”
“Let the words play you.”
You have the ideas but struggle to communicate with others
You have unexpectedly found yourself as the public face of a political or social movement You are unable to cut through with your ideas at a workplace meeting
Your fear of public speaking is limiting your career and life choices
1.Take 4 huge, true-blue, preferably pleasurable sighs of relief
2.Let go of your buttock muscles and notice how more intelligent you suddenly become!
3.Sing, sing, sing! Scales, songs, opera, make sure you yodel!
4.Lie on the floor and have a 2 year old tantrum waving your hands and legs and voice: when you stand up you will feel free and ready to go!
Jennifer and Dianne
What does Double Act Studio’s Deepen Performance course offer to people who aren’t actors?
Here’s how some of the key benefits this course and performance-related training can help you in your career and everyday life.
Your vocal cords benefit from exercise and correct management. There should never be a situation in your life when they are sore or you are hoarse. Learn how to use your voice correctly and from there, know how to keep it in top condition for your whole life. you can keep it in top condition for your whole life. For more mature people, voice exercises can stop you from sounding weak.
Power, Stamina and Range
You should be able to use your speaking voice over a 3-octave range. It can be responsive to your personality, your emotions and your lifestyle. If you connect with your breath and your thoughts, you will be heard.
Correct breathing means you lose much of the unneeded tension in your body: that, in turn attracts people to you. That strange X factor, (which for me is charisma or watch-ability), needs relaxation and ease: it depends on your ability to be present when you speak, when you act, when you are in a group.
Lose any nasality in your voice
A nasal or strident voice can be avoided. You do not have to sound like that: it is a habit. It might be familiar to you but it is not natural. Voice work will teach you how to sound easy, communicative, rich and pleasant.
Be believable and authentic
Most of all, your voice should reflect who you are. You can learn how to speak your mind, be yourself, and how to listen well to others.
Working with actors?
If you work closely with actors in the film or theatre industry, you can benefit from performance experience. It can offer you a shared vocabulary and text analysis skills which will improve your ability to communicate with others.
The work is fun
Pure and simple. It can all be fun. At the very least, working with anatomically correct breathing can give you a natural high.
If you are curious about your communication style and skills, you should take the step to investigate and extend your boundaries.
So, whether you are a teacher, administrator, manager, theatre director – or actor – seven Friday nights with Jennifer Flowers and Dianne Eden will engage, challenge and offer you new skills.