If you think being a voice actor is an easy peasy job, you are wrong. Voice over work is rigorous work, thus it requires effort, and a lot of practice. You can compare a voice actor to an athlete. Like an athlete who wish to excel in his/her sport, a voiceover actor is required to train and exercise daily. You need to warm up your voice before any practice sessions or actual voice over work.
Why is warming up important before doing any voice over work? Vocalis or other laryngeal muscles are composed of skeletal muscle fibers, and with any type of physical motion, these muscles need to be warmed up to work at their best.Of course, you would want to sound your best when recording your voice.
Below are warm-up exercises that you can try everyday or before you do your voice over work.
Breathing Exercise for Relaxation
This warm up breathing releases tension that can interfere with effective voice production. If there is tension when breathing, that tension spread to the voice box muscles. How is this breathing exercise done?
- Make sure your shoulders and chest are low and relaxed
- Take a normal breath and then exhale.
- Hold an “s” sound like in a hiss when you exhale
- Make sure your breaths are focused low in the abdomen; you can place your hand on your abdomen to remind yourself to keep the focus low and away from the chest and shoulders
- Repeat several times
The sirens/kazoo buzz exercise improves the resonant focus of the sound and proceeds to work on the maximum stretch on your vocal folds. You may sound like you are scaring someone while doing this but you have to do it anyways!
- On inhalation, posture your mouth as if you are sucking in spaghetti.
- When you breathe out, make the “woo” sound; this should sound like a buzz.
- Hold the sound steady for 2-3 attempts.
- Then do the “woo” sound to go up and down the scales.
Lip trills release lip and vocal cords tension. It also connects breathing and speaking.
- Place your lips loosely together release the air in a steady stream to create a trill or a Bronx cheer.
- First, release air by making an “h” sound. Hold the sound steady and keep the air moving past the lips.
- Repeat but this time making a “b” sound.
- Repeat the b-trill gliding gently up and down the scales.
Remember don’t push beyond what is comfortable at the top or bottom of the scale.
Jaw release reduces the tension in the mouth and jaw are when during speaking.
- Place the heels of each hand directly below the cheek bone.
- Pushing in and down from the cheeks to the jaw, massage the facial muscles.
- Allow your jaw to passively open as you move the hands down the face.
- Repeat several times.
Tongue trill relaxes the tongue and engages breathing and voice.
- Place your tongue behind your upper teeth.
- Exhale and trill your tongue with an “r” sound.
- Hold the sound steady and keep the breath connected.
- Try to vary the pitch up and down the scale while trilling.
Again, remember don’t push beyond what is comfortable for you!
Humming pinpoints the anterior frontal vibrations in your lips, teeth and facial bones.
- Start with your lips gently closed with jaw released.
- Then breathe in and breathe out while saying “hum”.
- Then do the nasal sound “m” and gently glide from a high to a low pitch as if you were sighing.
Two Octave Scales
Doing the two octave scales will provide maximum stretch on your vocal folds.
- Start in a low pitch and gently scale up on a “me” sound; don’t push too much at the top of your range, but slowly increase each time you glide up.
- Then reverse and glide down the scale from the top to the bottom with an “e” sound. You can also try this using the “oo” sound; again don’t push too soon below your range but gently glide down the scales.
After going through the warm-ups and vocal exercises, and intensive vocal use, it is important to do a vocal cool down.
A good way to cool down your voice is to hum gently, focusing the sound on the lips. Hum gentle glides using the sound “m” feeling a tickling vibration in your lip or nose.
Start planning a daily routine of warm-up, vocal and breathing exercises. There is no one standard when it comes to these exercises. You can create a version or a routine of your own based on what is comfortable for you, and what you find effective. Bear in mind that these vocal activities should prepare your voice to the work ahead, improve your performance, help prevent vocal injuries, and not to overwork it. Also, remember that doing a warm up before you perform any voice over activity is a part of taking care of your voice, or your career in a sense. Doing warm ups are important for it can avoid straining your voice, and avoid burnouts in the future.
How do you prepare your voice before recording?