Growing up can sometimes be a painful and stressful time. Many kids come to our acting school closed off and quiet. Some have been taught by various authority figures to “Keep it down!” “Don’t be so emotional!” and so forth. Then, they walk into our studio, and I say, “Get your voice out!”, “Make sound and let it out!”. Oftentimes it can take an actor many months to finally allow themselves to get loud. Most kids say to me that it doesn’t feel natural to speak loudly. The truth of the matter is that we were born as infants connected emotionally by many loud sounds. We were trained to keep quiet. When students come in and do acting exercises, I notice the emotions start to fly as soon as they let themselves make sounds that are loud.
As an actor you need complete control of your voice. You need to be able to reach the audience wherever it’s at. It can be as far back as the balcony of a huge Broadway theatre or as close as the microphone on your shirt or jacket. The actor needs to be able to send sound to wherever it needs to go.
The actor’s voice is twofold. First you need to protect the vocal instrument and second you need to be able allow the voice to express itself fully.
Part 1: The Technical Voice
Here are some vocal exercises that you can do to warm up:
1. Breath. It all starts with air. Try filling up your lungs and stomach with air and use your lower abs to create a sustained “ssssss” sound. When you run out of air, stop. Do this 10 times. This is your support. This is where volume comes. This is what will protect your vocal cords from injury during any loud scene. When the air stops, the sound should stop.
2. Relax the throat. The kindest thing you can do for yourself is warm up in the place that your voice is naturally at. Yawns are fantastic for relaxing the back of the throat. High pitch easy sounds are great for opening the vocal area. Do vocal “ahhs” going from low to high.
Part 2: The Emotional Voice
Using your voice affects your mood. Recently I’ve noticed that vocal work can play a strong role in developing great acting. You feel different when you speak different. Here are some fun ways to get deeper acting work while strengthening the voice.
There is a cry within us. We need to make sound but are taught to keep quiet. Once you allow the sound to come, the reality of what you are acting begins to take hold.