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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Baby Talk

Time to make idiots of ourselves, guys!

Whenever I start teaching someone how to use his or her voice properly, the first thing I discuss with them is what babies do.  Sounds crazy, but go with me for a second, guys.  You've been around infants before, right?  And you've noticed, I'm sure, their crying.  Ever notice how it can go on for hours and hours?  And that they never go hoarse?

Sound useful at all?

You know as well as I how fragile our voices can be.  And I don't know many films that are going to halt production for us to get our voices back after we've blown them out.

So, yep.  That's our job as actors.  Getting our voices back to the natural state they were in when we were born.  And the way we do that?

By making some of the stupidest sounds known to man.

The main thing to know is that the less tension we have in our bodies, the better our breathing (and therefore speaking) will be.  Getting rid of that tension is a bit of a challenge, but there's ways to do it.  Relaxation exercises, Alexander technique training, yoga, meditation, among many other things, can all help.  Once we've started getting the tension out of our voices, the next step is to make an absolute fool out of ourselves.

There are several techniques that I use to access the "baby" voice, but the one I've found a lot of success with is to imitate a baby's cry.  Finding that place for us as adults is a challenge, not because it's hard to do, but because there's a real sense of embarrassment or shame in making those sounds.  Try it right now and you'll see what I mean.

But once we let go of our pride and find that place, we can see that it's an incredibly intense sound that can be made with little to no effort on our parts.

So, come join me this Thursday at 8 pm PST for my radio show, where alongside Kristi Hatsell (@Kristi_Gail on Twitter) I will talk about how to get the most out of that little box in the middle of our throats.  Join in here, or be brave and give us a call at (424) 243-9619 or by Skyping in from my blogtalkradio homepage during the live show.  Like what you've been getting in these blogs, the podcasts and the show (all for free)?  Help us continue what we're doing by donating here.

And, as always, if you're picking up what I'm laying down, let's do it on a regular basis!  Join my online acting classes by signing up at the top of the page here.  Let's get crackin'!

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