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Training your voice – what to care about

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For those of you who are committed to being the best voice over talent that you can be, you will need to care about your voice so that it becomes your most powerful tool in your arsenal. This is, after all, the reason you got into the voice over business in the first place, right?

There are several things that you need to consider when caring about your voice. First, you will need to conserve it. This means that you treat it delicately. If you are getting fatigued, your voice will reflect that, so rest may be necessary. Doing tasks that don’t require your voice — i.e. editing your recordings, or reading up on the latest voice techniques, or writing in your blog — will allow you to rest while still being productive. For the super-organized, see if you can schedule these types of breaks throughout your day, especially if you will be recording long passages. If you are doing audio books, scheduled breaks are a must!

Second, you need to avoid getting sick. Yes, germs are everywhere, but you can adopt some very simple habits that will keep the sickness at bay. These habits include keeping contact with sick people to a minimum, washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water, taking vitamins, staying hydrated (an absolute must!), and getting enough sleep. Not only does your voice change when you are sick, you can also damage it further, so rest it if needed.

Third, a voice actor needs to avoid certain behaviors that will limit their ability to deliver a professional voice recording. These may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often people forget.

– Smoking: not only does smoking damage your health, the toxic chemicals in cigarettes have a debilitating effect on your voice’s texture and range. You need to also avoid second-hand smoke as well. If you have been looking for an excuse to quit, or to give a reason for someone else to stop, doing voice over work is a good one.

– Screaming or yelling: who doesn’t like to cheer for their favorite team, or at your kids’ sporting events? A serious voice actor knows how damaging this can be when they spend time yelling or cheering. It’s best to find a different way to express your excitement, like stomping your feet or clapping. Believe me, no one is going to notice or care that you aren’t yelling. To quote a book that I just read, “One night of exuberant cheering isn’t worth two or three days of hoarseness and lost (or subpar) productivity.”

– Whispering: yes, whispering can also harm your voice. When you whisper, you cause your vocal folds to tighten up as they are not vibrating when you speak normally. Tight vocal folds can cause hoarseness, so avoid excessive whispering.

Finally, be realistic with your voice. It has limits, and you need to avoid straining it in any way that would cause it to become tired more quickly. This means keeping within the bounds of your natural vocal range, also called your tessitura. Tessitura is an Italian word that refers to a singer’s range that is its best sounding texture or timber.

I invite you to share your best practices in the comments below. Take care of your voice and it will take care of you!

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