Sunday, March 4, 2012

Singers, what about SPEAKING?

Any of us who use our voices professionally, or want to - why are we so careless about how we SPEAK?

I am amazed at how many singers (and actors) I know and see, and hear who simply do not use their speaking voices well.  It astonishes me actually.

A healthy instrument STARTS with the every day use of the voice.

Poor habitual development of the speaking voice is purely that - habit.  Habits need to be acknowledged, and new, stronger and healthier behaviors must be implemented.

Singers work on their singing.  Actors work on the acting.  But what about the VOICE???  When do we work on that?  A voice and speech class in theatre school?  Some voice therapy when the ENT diagnoses reflux?

Poor daily speaking habits eventually can cause havoc with the instrument as singer and as actor.  We have all been taught about the 'shoulds' and 'should-nots' but what about the actual ability to DO?

Often the assumption is said..."we all know how to breathe every day..."  as a way into the breath of a singer.  I am questioning that.  Do we really know how to breathe?  Yes, we breathe to stay alive, but do we actually know how to breathe to keep our regular every day voice supported?

As singers,  what tends to be your vocal "issues"?  Are you dealing with them in your every day life too or are you disassociating?  Could your singing vocal issues be the same issues you haven't been paying attention to in your every day life?

As an actor, your vocal issues on set, on stage are often your day to day issues.  Are you addressing them?

Why do we wait and work so diligently on the CRAFT of voice as it pertains to our artistic endeavors, yet completely ignore the craft of voice in our day to day?

I challenge you, as singer, as actor,  to become more aware of your day to day, your moment to moment. 

How do you speak?  Monitor yourself.  How large is your vocal speaking range?  Do you know the difference between speaking "on the cords" and speaking "on the breath"?  Do you project?  Do you fatigue?  Are muscles tired after speaking?  Which ones?  Do you know the difference between projection and yelling?  Do you know the difference between engaging and squeezing?  Do you know how your speaking voice resonates?  Does it resonate at all?  If your voice tight? squeezed? breathy? edgy? squeaky? dull? raspy? high? low? monotone?

Do you actually BREATHE before you speak?  Do you use run on sentences and never breathe?  Is your breath audible?  silent? 

Do you support your speaking voice?  From where?

Does your voice respond to your emotions?  Does your emotional state affect your breath? Your pitch? your support?  Your physical tension or release?

We tend to work on,  and pay attention to many of these things in our studies, but rarely do we discover them in a tangible way in our day to day.  These day to day behaviors will always affect the use of the voice in singing, or in the craft of acting.  The behaviors will either continue to limit what our instruments are asked to do,  or will help to free up the voice to find what it needs more fully.

When I hear a spoken voice that is naturally resonant and free and then hear that same voice try to sing without that resonance - that actor/singer has simply not found the connection between what might be organic to what needs to conscious. 

When I hear a difficulty in the singing voice and then hear that singer speak - it can reveal much. Often, it shows there is a disconnect between their understanding of what VOICE as a total instrument, truly is.

The singing voice,  and the stage speaking voice (or film voice for that matter) could be so much more accessible,  if we begin to access the truth about our DAILY SPEAKING VOICE.  How we warm up that daily voice,  how we discover resonance, support, breath, projection, pitch, range, dynamic - could help us create so much more in the instrument we are trying to develop.

So singers,  please consider working on your VOICE.  The ENTIRE voice, not just the part you think needs work.  Chances are, you speak more in a day than sing.  If your singing can influence how you speak then wouldn't it make sense that your speaking will influence your singing?  Wouldn't it be a grand thing if that was a knowledgeable and positive thing?

1 comment:

  1. A fabulous post. I just finished singing in a run of a show, where for about a week and 1/2 I had viral bronchitis - fun! I noticed that while my singing was fairly unaffected and sounded good (because I was concentrating on my technique), my speaking voice was clouded by "goo" on the cords and usage made me prone to coughing onstage; I noticed I was not "speaking as a singer", but using two different types of vocal production, one obviously less efficient than the other. After reading this, I'm going to take a look at how I can incorporate my good singing habits into my everyday speech patterns.