We tellers seek to be understood, both in tale and the telling of it. Pronunciation is a premium skill! To speak clearly, practice the most difficult: tongue twisters. Peter Piper is reasonably easy. Toy Boat or Unique New York, not so much– at least for my particular mouth. We each have easy and challenging sets of sounds. Find your hardest, and practice slowly. These thousand tricky tongue twisters trip thrillingly off the tongue!
We all get it – that bit of goo in the throat. Here’s a little trick: Exhale softly, making a “kaaah’ sound. Now inhale, making the same “kaaah.” What’s happening here? You are moving the back of your tongue up to meet your soft palate Repeat this in-out action five or six times, and the issue should be resolved. You might yawn in response to the soft palate actions, and yawning is always good. Keep your throat warm in the cold weather, and happy holidays to all!
This seems like an easy one — breathe. But are you breathing properly, fully? Take a deep breath, right now. Does your whole chest expand? You need breath to make sound. Explore your rib cage, from the lowest right by your waist, to the top, not quite to your collarbone. Where there are ribs, there are lungs.
Our torso muscles get tight, through nerves, holding our stomachs in, fatigue. Finding your natural breath is fun and easy: When you wake up tomorrow morning, don’t move right away. Notice your breathing. You haven’t had a chance to get tense about anything, so this is the easiest, freest breathing you have. Feel what’s moving, how your stomach responds to a breath coming in. Now sit up, stand up, try to keep that easy breath going.
Babies do it all the time! We can re-reach ourselves, and create a strong foundation for a powerful voice.
Well, singing in the shower… To expand your vocal range — find higher and lower pitches than you usually use — sing in the shower! Several advantages: 1) NO ONE IS LISTENING! You can play all you like, try new things; 2) the warm water lubricates your vocal folds, making higher pitches more easily available. Sing songs you know–but sing them differently. Try out characters with different vocalizations. Safely and warmly, in the rain.
Happy September to all, especially to those who are back in school. So, tension is the enemy of the strong, effective voice. Lots of us carry tension in the back of the neck down across the shoulders. A simple way to ease this tightness? With the tip of your nose, slowly ‘draw’ an infinity sign, a side-ways figure eight, in the air. Doesn’t have to be big. Do this a few times, and feel the relaxation spread down your neck. Can we compare that to honey? Yes, it surely is sweet.
Another fast warm-up tip: HUM. You can’t damage your voice humming, and it gets the resonances going. Concentrate on getting the vibration ‘tickle’ going on your lips and the tip of your nose. Hum a favorite song — do pick one with fun lyrics to sing along in your head! Humming can also help expand your vocal range. Slide up and down, higher in pitch, and lower. Experiment with the extremes–that’s how to discover new abilities.
Starting this month and then every month, I’ll be posting a quickie technique you can use right away to help your voice. Warm-ups, performance tips, all do-able quickly. This month’s quickie: Need to wake up/warm up your voice in a hurry? One word–YAWN. Just think to yourself how comfortable a yawn would feel right now…and here it comes. A great big one! The yawn brings ease and relaxation to the back of your throat, as well as opening free passage for air.
Questions or comments? Feel free to post here or write me. Thanks! Check back August 1st for another Voice Quickie!
Once Upon A Lake festival in Hammondsport NY was terrific! Like them on Facebook so you know about next year’s festivities! My summer shows are all done, on to my last year teaching public school, I’m astounded. I will be performing at Dansviile ArtWorks in November–watch for the date!
Who doesn’t worry that the stories chosen will fit with the audience? For a hero tale I chose The Giant With No Heart– a good fifteen-minute tale. Concerned for the youngest listeners, and I shouldn’t have worried. Even a two-year-old followed intently! From a mom: The storytelling program was a great time! I love how she incorporated values like honesty and persistence in her stories, and told everyone they can be a hero. You don’t need a cape, or even be strong, she said. My six year old grandson loved it!!” Next shows are Livonia 7/30, 10:30 am and Lima 7/31, 2 pm–both at the lublic libraries.
August 15th in Hammondsport there will be stories-with Motoko and Eshu Bumpus! That’s the same day as the craft festival, do come for the many arts. The festival is now not-for-profit; expenses for that were draining. Please come support Finger Lakes Storytelling! Kids free at 1 pm, headline performance at 7pm for $10, both at Hammondsport Central School auditorium.