LIVING THE PART: The Voice at its Best
I’m giving away my time FREE… with a mini course of LIVING THE PART. These are acting tutorials for building a living character… Santa or any part you may live!
Bad voice work can haunt your Santa visits…
Not preparing your voice for the cold winter air with outside tree lightings or not supporting the voice with proper breath control can kill your appearance in those event quickly. We can Ho,Ho,Ho all we want, but if we don’t know how to make the voice work at its best… you’re dooomed.
The “Mr. Announcer Voice” is a thing of the past. The great radio voice no longer is the main market choice. Their looking for the guy or gal next door. Their looking for us. We still need to speak clearly and decide where our natural voice fits in to our Santa. We need to find the right speaking voice that feels like Santa.
Slightly larger than life is how is how I see Santa. With that in mind the normal speaking voice may be fine for every day, but it can loses a little bit of its power and magic for that Jolly Old Elf. To compensate, we’ll have to crank things up just a notch. The grand balance between natural speech and better enunciation and breath control is a great place to work towards.
Make a test recording of your voice, listen and take notes for any slurred phrases or indistinct words. Watch the “D’s” for “TH’s” and “T”. They’re usually easy to correct with some practice. In addition, push your vocal emotions some. It feels strange at first, but listen to the playback as you practice and you’ll hear the change. In general, if it seems a little over the top, it’s probably just right, in the context of Santa.
Know your Santa, know you strengths… The time spent in preparation makes the Mall or home visit the magical moment it should be and much easier. I rehearse out loud, full voice so I get use to the sound and the power it takes to make my voice hit the highs and lows. We always sounds different in your head. This will also help you identify any hard words or phrases that might get in your way.
Consider recording your voice as Santa standing up, sitting down and both in full costume… why? There are very good reasons. First, standing opens your breathing and makes it easier to speak clearly and consistently. When we sit the mechanics of our voice get compressed onto our breathing muscles, this can make it harder to take deeper breaths and to maintain the power of the Santa voice. Because of that , sitting, you need to use smaller sentences and keep you audience closer to you so that they may hear easier. Doing those things are much easier to handle with shorter breaths.
Standing also allows you to be more animated, you feel more open and free to move then when you are sitting. In fact, it helps to get your whole body into your performance. You can point, nod, wave your arms, whatever it takes. Believe it or not, those motions make a brilliant impact on your performance. When you are sitting at Mall or for a home visit, or in a parade we becomes smaller, our voice is pull into a smaller space, it stays just in front and doesn’t carry very far. This is great for those intimate visit… even preferable for visit with more timid children and adults. This is also the best way to handle persons with special needs. I have post about working with children with special needs:
Just Remember to Breathe…
Breathing and your voice work hand and hand. You can’t have your voice strong with out good breath control. Make sure your shoulders are not rising when you take a breath. That means your just breathing into your chest… I know, that’s where your lungs are, but those shallow breaths don’t last long and you get out of breath to quickly. You need to think of filling your lungs all the way past your stomach. Lie on the floor, or sit back in bed, or even in a chair and put your hand down past your belly button. Now relax and just breathe normally… (Pause here and just sense your breathing.) You should notice that you breathing into your stomach area. Now concentrate making your breathing go lower and lower until you are breathing into you groin area. You really aren’t filling your lungs that far down, but you are truly for the first time, since you were a baby, breathing the correct way. I learned this years ago taking singing lessons. Years later in my early 40’s I had open heart surgery because of a bad aortic heart valve. I was born with it and it stopped working good and I had to replaced it. The miracle of modern science. One of the things I had to do after surgery was take deep breaths and blow in a machine. Because of my age and the breathing into my groin area exercise, I was able to recover much quicker then they thought I would. Years later and that breathing exercise is still helping me.
Getting the Tongue to Unwinded…
Tongue twister exercise are great to get our voice warmed up for going out and being on stage. Start slowly at first, and then with more speed, force your tongue to shape every syllable clearly and repeat until you get them all out. Exaggerate the movement of your lips and cheeks with each…
- To sit in solemn silence in a dull dark dock, in a pesty prison with a life long lock, awaiting the sensation of a short sharp shock from a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block.
- She stood on the balcony, inexplicably mimicking him hiccuping and humorously welcoming him in.
- Through darkest mists with stoutest boasts he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.
Inflection, deliver your speech with a different emphasis or emotion…
One of the most common challenges with acting is vocal inflection. Learning to match the content of your scene or visit to the tone of your voice. And believe it or not, a smile on your face, make a smile in your message.
Practice emotional inflection by saying each sentence below with a different emotional inflection and see how it can change the meaning of the sentence This is a fun exercise to do with other people. Great as a party game.
Use these emotions on the lines below them:
- I am so exhausted I could fall asleep right here.
- This is the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen.
- I am certain that I told Harry what time to meet us.
- Well, well, well, what have we here?
- I know, you’ve only told me twelve times already.
- My favorite pet fish Ferdinand died.
By the way I mention at the top of this page… preparing your voice for the cold winter air. How do you prepare? You breath through your nose, that way the air has a chance to warm up before it rushes by your vocal cords. Taking in air by your mouth in the real cold weather will shock you throat and vocal cords.
Who said you wouldn’t learn something?
*Here is my wife and I living the parts of Tessie Tura the Texas Twirler and Herbie in Gypsy. It was a fun musical to do.