Voice tips – the essential warm up

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In the studio at Fuse Media Centre. Photo courtesy of James Sebright

Warming up your voice before any recording session or performance is extremely important. If you don’t warm up properly your vocal chords can become strained and over-worked and your voice will become dry and soon sound croaky.

Make sure you ease your voice in to its work gently! I’ve been broadcasting and voicing scripts for twenty years. Here are some of the techniques I’ve learnt:

Relax

Tension in the neck and shoulders will affect the quality of your voice and your projection.

Breathe deeply & have a good stretch before you start.

Gently roll your shoulders and slowly bend your neck, moving your head from side to side and bending your chin down to your chest and back up.

Stretch out your face!  Scrunch up your eyes and nose, and then relax. Slacken your jaw muscles. Try mouthing and sounding out each of the vowel sounds ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’ and ‘u’. Doing this through gritted teeth will really loosen up your facial muscles! Make a ‘miaoww’ sound, widening your mouth and exaggerating your movements as you allow the sound to escape. It may look silly but it does work!

Breathe

Breath is the power behind any voice.

When we’re nervous our breathing becomes shallow and we lose a lot of the capacity of our lungs and therefore air to control the voice.

Practise slowing your breathing, pausing for a few seconds between the in and out breath. This will not only make you feel calmer but it is great for learning to control your breath when performing.

Breathing deeply from the abdomen will allow you to use all your lung capacity when you take a breath in and using the diaphragm to release the breath will help you control air flow and volume.

Watch your posture

If we sit or stand awkwardly during a recording session, this can affect our breath and therefore our voice.

Stand if possible or sit upright with both feet flat on the floor and your weight distributed evenly.

Think tall; allow your back to straighten and your head to balance freely on the top of your neck. Notice how the breath flows more easily!

Talk to yourself!

Before you get to the studio (or turn on your computer) try some tongue twisters, rehearse your script, read the cereal packet out-loud. It doesn’t really matter what you say but make sure you practise talking! Try different voices and volumes, whispering at first, gradually increasing your volume and then going back to a whisper.

Humming and gentle singing are also great ways to loosen and warm up the voice. If you sing in the shower then that’s even better because the steam will warm and hydrate your throat.

Keep hydrating

It’s really important to drink plenty of water during voice sessions. Warm or room temperature water is best (not ice cold from the fridge or you’ll cool everything down again!)

If your throat is croaky first thing in the morning then hot water with a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of honey can work wonders.

Avoid milky drinks if you can, until after your voice session because they can create mucous in your throat – and don’t drink fizzy drinks. The gas will find its way back at the most in-opportune moment, I can guarantee it!

For more voice care tips I recommend visiting the Voice Care Network website.

 

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