Students reading a scriptHas voice acting become more about you and less about your audience?

What happens when we place more significance on ourselves and how we perform than on the message and the people it is intended for?

A number of voice over folks chimed in on this and I hope you enjoy it!

Hear more in today's VOX Daily.

Humility Lost

A couple days ago I heard a show on the radio that centered on humility and being of service to others. This post is inspired by what I heard.

The gist of the message was that when more emphasis is placed on our gifts and ability to shine rather than on why we are called to be of service in the first place, the doing becomes more about the superiority of our gifts than the purpose which, as you can imagine, often yields detrimental results.

Side Effects

When your gift becomes primary and its purpose secondary, your heart can become calloused and hard. Once this takes effect, your expressions are not as pure as they once were. This isn't healthy by any stretch of the imagination and can stir negative thoughts in your heart, comparing your gift to that of someone else or worse, being critical of someone else who is using their gift in a healthy way but may not be hitting all the notes so to speak.

For a lot of people, this comes on slowly, and without intending to do so, a wall is built up and your heart hardens. After a certain point, yours is the only voice that can be heard.

Priorities

This is why we must be sure to put first things first.

When hired to do a job, put that audience first and shape the message in a way that will best reach them. Who cares if you have the most resonant voice on the planet? That is only one of many factors as to why you were hired. As Don LaFontaine used to put it, and I'm paraphrasing here, as voice artist, you are working in the service of the words and your voice is simply the vehicle being used to communicate them.

Around The Water Cooler

After putting a question out to my Facebook friends on this topic, I began to receive answers that you may find interesting to consider. These answers support what Don LaFontaine had said many years ago at VOICE 2007.

My question was, "Has voice acting become more about you and less about your audience? What happens when more significance is placed on your gift to act than on the audience and the message itself?"

The following came in within minutes.

"To sell the product, one always has to cater to the audience." - Bill Hollis

"The true 'gift to act' is not acting...it is being, thus it is never about just you...but becoming and being that which the text calls for, the client dreams of and the actor is able to allow happen naturally - that is what the message has to be about." - Rob Kirby

"The audience is whom you're hired to reach. Some clients don't know what they are looking for in a read or to set in their mind on how they want to approach their copy. Being a good voice actor requires delivering the copy in such a way the audience can connect." - Robin Wolf

"The message is of paramount importance! Your 'gift' is to convey the message--unspoiled by your opinion, enhanced by your interpretation and made unforgettable through your connection with the audience." - Herb Merriweather

"That's a very dangerous slope...the message is the thing." - Markham Anderson

"Whether it's in the classroom, or behind the mic, I always practice a lesson presentation or rehearse a script by first visualizing the person I'm hired to reach (or teach!) and ask myself "what sort of learner am I teaching to?" Who the audience is, and the message I'm hired to deliver, that's what it's all about!" - Dan Deslaurier

Any Thoughts?

I'm interested to hear your take on this! How do you see your role as voice artist in relation to the script?

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Josef Philipp

Female toddler singing into a microphone. Pink dress.Have you been hoping to somehow tame your voice?

An untrained voice, while it can be both beautiful and functional, has the potential to run wild and render you voiceless!

Hear from guest blogger, Blake Sanders, as he shares a number of essential tips for voice control in today's VOX Daily.

Essential Voice Control Tips

By Blake Sanders

Voice actors know what it feels like to have a sore throat from overuse. You may also have experienced laryngitis from overworking your vocal folds. Overworking your voice is vocal abuse, and it can be permanently damaging to your vocal folds. To prevent injury, it is important to condition your vocal folds with healthy habits. Knowing simple exercises and how to use high speed Internet resources can go a long way towards gaining total voice control.

Just as athletes must condition their bodies if they wish to perform well in competitive sports, voice actors must condition their vocal folds if they wish to perform well on the job day after day. When regularly practiced, breathing and stretching exercises can give voice actors better stamina and control. Also of importance is keeping hydrated watching demonstrations of proper voice technique.

Hydrate

We all need it, some more than others. A voice is a machine that must be well-oiled, especially if it's going to be getting a fair amount of use. If your voice is your career, the stakes are even higher. No one wants to face an early retirement when voice performance declines. Drinking water is of the utmost importance. There is no need to over-hydrate, but monitoring your intake should not be taken lightly. Making a habit of stopping at the drinking fountain or carrying a water bottle will pay off in the long run.

Breathe

The breath is an important part of speaking. This simple breathing exercise will provide you with greater breath awareness and control. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your shoulders back. Place your hand on your abdomen and take a breath. As you inhale, you should feel your stomach and ribcage expand. As you exhale, the movement will reverse. The horizontal muscle in your abdomen, called the diaphragm, controls this movement, expanding and contracting to move air into and out of your lungs.

As you breathe in, make sure your upper body is still. Your shoulders and chest should not lift. The only movement is the in-and-out motion of your stomach and ribs, expanding on the inhale, and contracting on the exhale. As you breathe with your hand on your stomach, visualize your diaphragm expanding and contracting, controlling your breath.

Stretch

Regularly stretching your voice with some basic exercises will keep your voice strong and in good condition. Voice actors can learn a lot from singers, who use vocal fold exercises and stretches to strengthen their singing voices. Some of the same exercises singers use will benefit the voice actor as well.

Lip Trill

The lip trill helps loosen the lips and warm up the vocal folds. Start by taking a full breath and let the breath out as if you were blowing bubbles in a swimming pool. Your lips will vibrate as air moves past them. Concentrate on controlling your breath with your diaphragm, not your lips. The lips should be completely relaxed. Next, add a sound to the lip trill.

Start the lip trill again, and then start humming at the same time. This exercise will help you to coordinate your breath and vocal folds for greater voice control.

Humming

Even if you are not a singer, as a voice actor you still need to have control of the pitch of your voice. Some basic singer's exercises can give you better pitch control and improve the resonance of your voice. Humming at different pitches is a good warm up exercise. Start with a low pitch, feeling the vibrations low in your chest. Then raise the pitch, feeling the vibrations rise higher in your chest. Raise the pitch again, feeling the vibrations in your skull and nasal cavity. Reverse the exercise, moving from high pitches to low pitches.

After a couple minutes of humming, open your mouth and sing some scales. You can sing the classic "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do" or choose different sounds. Singing, not just humming, is important because the resonance of your voice changes when your mouth is open. Singing also helps improve diction by loosening your lips and making them more nimble.

Watch Internet Videos

Voice exercises are often difficult to do without hearing an example of the exercise. If you have high speed internet and a computer (or mobile device these days), watching video tutorials will help you learn how to do the exercises properly. Video tutorials also provide guidance for a better voice workout. Just as exercise videos help guide students through routines and keep them motivated to practice regularly, voice exercise tutorials can help you maintain a productive voice and keep you in the habit of proper vocal care.

About The Author

Blake Sanders is a technical writer at broadband comparison site Broadband Expert. Blake's interests cover a wide spectrum of topics, from high speed Internet and broadband to blogging and sports.

©iStockphoto.com/Vyacheslav Osokin

Partial map of Spain's coast, pinpoint on Barcelona.Does your voice have interesting qualities linked to where you were raised or those around you?

What does your "sound" sound like?

Regardless of where you were brought up or by whom, we can all hear something in our natural speaking voices that tells us where we've come from and can in effect chart the timeline of our vocal heritage.

Where did the sound of your voice come from?

Join the discussion in today's VOX Daily.

Name That "Sound"

While some people may wonder about where they came from, many voice artists might wonder, "Where did my voice come from?"

Your voice is unique. Just as a finger has its own set of prints exclusive to you, your voice has what is called a voice print.

Although genetics certainly play a role in the timbre or range of a voice, more often than not it's the people we are surrounded by and places where we live that affect our sound. By virtue of living among other people, we are exposed to diverse vocal traits that present opportunities to develop or mimic people with vocal tendencies or characteristics that differ from our own.

Timbre

Voice teacher Karyn O'Connor, of SingWise.com, states that vocal timbre refers to the quality or colour of tone being produced by a singer (or voice artist, in our case). Being a voice major myself, I've noticed that timbre can be affected by:

๏ Physiology
๏ Environment
๏ Substances

Timbre relates to how you sound in terms of your instrument.

Linguistics

How your voice comes across through the use of language also plays a role. This is apparent in the way people speak where you're from (regional accents) and manner of voice production and speech. You may even pick things up just by listening to someone on the television, radio or on film!

What Do You Hear In Your Voice?

What shaped your voice and or speech patterns? Can you hear any relatives in there? How about neighbours or broadcast personalities?

Time To Join The Conversation

Would be willing to share your thoughts and contribute to the conversation? Perhaps there's something I've missed that you wish to add.

If you feel that your heritage or community shaped the way you sound, let me know by leaving a comment!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Enrico Fianchini

Man narrating or recording a voice over.Do you write?

Perhaps you blog and decide to share select thoughts with anyone who happens to come across them. Those writings might also lend themselves to be read and subsequently interpreted by voice artists in an audiobook.

Whether you write, read, or do both, I'd love to hear your thoughts on translating an author's innermost thoughts in today's edition of VOX Daily!

Writing

When you write and share parts of your life, you can choose how much you disclose depending on your comfort level with sharing personal information, feelings and the like. The same is true of authors who write works meant to be consumed by audiences large and small whether it be poetry, prose or a work of greater proportions.

Bearing that in mind, fiction and non-fiction books can serve as vehicles for authors to share personal experiences through their own voices or fictitious characters. Many manuscripts nowadays are recorded in digital audio format and released at the same time as their print and electronic versions.

Reading

For the most part, the VOX Daily readership comprises of people who read what others have to say and communicate their message as best they can through spoken word recordings. Narrators breathe life into the written word, and while a text can be very telling, narrators still need to make choices that best convey an author's intent to the listening audience.

Interpretation

When it comes time to narrating pieces that do share the writer's or journalist's innermost thoughts, I wanted to ask if doing so makes you uncomfortable or if you enjoy the challenge of getting into the head of someone else and translating their thoughts to an audience?

Communicating the author's intent is a great responsibility, and the more research you do on the author, the text and what inspired them at the time of their writing, the more authoritative and believable your read will be.

Communicating Responsibly

Does the responsibility of translating an author's intent ever make you nervous? How do you prepare to give the most authentic delivery possible?

Comment and let me know!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Hal Bergman

Woman singing into a ladle in front of a stove in her kitchen.Do you use your vocal, musical or audio production gifts in non-traditional ways?

No doubt you have seen a variety of different if not quirky ways that people express creativity.

Hear about what I do in today's VOX Daily and join the conversation by adding your amazing applications of creativity that help to jazz up the mundane.

Let Nothing Go To Waste!

If you're like me, you might strive to find ways to make physical things like clothing or food go a little further in your home, but what about your time?

How can we turn moments of monotony into delightful opportunities that creatively use our talent and skills?

What sort of things might someone do?

To give an example, I sings songs while cooking set in the key produced by the tone emanating from the fan above my stove top. That tone is designated as tonic and the key signature is derived, whether major or minor, from the fan's tone. Most often, the key I sing in when making dinner is B Flat Major but a tune in G Minor tune will be sung occasionally. More often than not, the song turns out to be an improvised vocalise.

Gravitating toward a nearby tonic seems to be a popular thing to do. One of my former classmates at the Faculty of Music let me know that she sings in the key of her hairdryer each morning as she prepares for her day! Someone else chimed in to say that the howling of neighborhood dogs usually sets the backdrop for her songs.

What Do You Do?

I would love to learn more about what our community here at Voices.com is up to!

Comment now and let us in on your unusual moments of creativity.

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Donna Coleman