Happy 2017! I recently read this article from the New York Times explaining why we often cringe at the sound of our own recorded voice. It's true, the recording is how we actually sound to those around us! However, the article fails to mention that we can work to change the sound of our voice. With some dedication and practice, anyone can come to hear their voice with self-respect.
I realize that we are now halfway through January, and perhaps some of your resolutions have already been broken. Still, I hope you find time to begin or continue to develop your voice in the new year. Read on for my top tips and tricks for a vocally healthy and prosperous 2017 :)
Begin with a mini warmup, then grow from there.
In a perfect world, everyone would have the time for a daily 20-minute vocal warmup. But obviously this isn't an easily kept goal for everyone. Instead, commit to warming up your voice for three minutes every morning for a week. Gradually add a minute to each subsequent week until you hit 10-20 minutes. For some warmup ideas, see my article outlining a few vocal warmup techniques here. I promise, a little goes a long way!
Incorporate your voice goals in with other New Year's Resolutions.
Often times we make resolutions that prove easy to integrate with our separate vocal goals. Are you hoping to take more time in the day for meditation or mindfulness? Breath work and chanting are valuable vocally! Planning to quit smoking or to cut down on alcohol? Congrats, you are taking the first steps in achieving a healthier voice! See where developing your voice might fit in with what you are already doing, and easily incorporate it into your routine.
Learn a new dialect by taking baby steps.
Many actors may have the goal to learn a dialect this year, but may be put off by the large undertaking that is mastering an accent to the point of believability. So where to start? Begin by identifying a sample speaker of the desired accent, and listen to the recording every day for the rest of the month. Before delving into intricate phonetics and intonation specificity, take the time to enter into the new speaker's vocal world. Exposure is the foundational step in ultimate dialect mastery.
'Practice makes perfect' means consistency over quantity.
It may be tempting to spend 5 hours in one day just on voice practice, but is that necessarily sustainable? Aim for consistency in a daily practice over stuffing all your voice work for the month into one day. Your voice develops much like a plant: through consistent pruning and watering by an attentive gardener.
Work with a professional coach.
Nothing can compare to the individualized guidance from an experienced and qualified coach. Even one hour can help give direction, provide clarity, and set you on a path to go deeper in your own voice development in 2017.