Voice – Week 3

Breath and Voice

This week, we learnt about how to connect our breathing with the sounds we make.

I didn’t write about The Lazy Day Warm-up in my last post, and I really should have, because it’s the only exercise that I’ve actually been practising at home (oops!). Last week we focused on being able to do the relaxed roll, with the arm movements, and this week we focused on adding sound. We added ‘ffs’ then ‘vvs’ then ‘mms’ then ‘maaahs’. I noticed with these exercises, my voice wavered almost, especially with the ‘v’ sound and I’m not sure why.

From this, we moved onto Vibration Pools where we would repeat the same sounds from the exercise before, but this time in prayer pose. I really liked this, because I find prayer pose really comfy, and you could physically feel the vibrations of the sounds you were making throughout your whole body.

Following on from this, we stood up and practised The Three Sons – moving your hands in the direction of your breath. I liked doing this action as it was almost hypnotic, and very calming.

The next exercise was The Archer, here you put on hand on your hip, and hold the other one out to the side, at a 90° angle. You would inhale and look towards the hand sticking out, then as you exhale, you would bring the hand round to be parallel with your body, after on go you would swap hands, then keep swapping after every breath.. Again, this exercise was almost hypnotic, especially when we added the vowel sounds, as everyone was making the same sounds, but were completely focused on their hands.

Next we moved onto Breath Play. Here we looked at the meaning behind actions when you altered your breath. For example we would wave to a partner, first breathing in, then breathing out, then holding our breath. Each try would change the meaning of the action. Breathing in conveyed excitement, Breathing out disgust and holding your breath conveyed a sense of trying not to cry. For me, this emphasised the complete need to be calm on stage, and immerse fully into your character, even down to your breathing, as it can alter the meaning of an action immensely.

Group Sound III was our last activity of the day. For this we stood in a circle all facing the back of the person in front. Then we had to dig, and take it in turns to create a sound to go with the digging; for example we had “HOOOO HEE” the different sounds we created would ever so slightly effect the way that we would dig, proving that our voice and actions are connected.

I really now need to get into a routine of practising multiple exercises at home, because I am really enjoying these voice classes (and I am so glad they’re not about singing!)

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Voice – Week 2

So this blog was supposed to go up last week but shhh.

Relaxation, Release, Alignment…

Starting off with this  voice class was a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing as the blue room was amazingly warm (which is great now that the London air is getting very fresh!) and it was a nice, easy start to a Thursday morning. However this easy start was a curse, because then we were almost too relaxed to go on and do two more workshops!

Being relaxed, is so crucial for your voice, in everyday life, but especially on stage. When you’re tense, every muscle tenses, including those in your shoulders, neck and throat, causing your voice to jilt or sound strained, it creates more work for you to do as the actor.

SWINGING – We started off with this exercise, I loved swinging my arms around, but found it hard to keep up the lose momentum as we went into the lunges, however, afterwards it felt like I had had an amazing stretch and I felt lose and relaxed!

GRANNY DANCE – This was an exercise I didn’t particularly enjoy, as my knees would constantly click – my right one in particular. I don’t know why, as I have never injured them, however the more I practice this exercise, the better/easier it will be.

PARTNERED STRETCHES – For this I was partnered with B-M as we are of a similar height, however when we were doing the facing each other stretch/trust exercise, there was a problem. We both has really long legs, so our knees bumped together. No one else in the group had this problem! We moved on to the side stretches, which were a lot easier to do, however when we were on a certain side (the right I think) we both found it harder to stretch out that way, which was interesting.

SUN SALUTATION – Considering I have minimal upper body strength and minimal flexibility, I still enjoyed this yoga routine. It helped me to relax, and really focus on my breathing, and I know that with practice, positions such as ‘downward dog’ will become a lot easier, and you never know, by the end of the year I may be able to touch my toes!

The last thing that we did was my absolute favourite! It was called partner manipulation, and one of the most relaxing things I’ve ever done. I probably could’ve fallen asleep right there and then. Although it was tricky to completely relax and let the other person lift your leg or arm, without helping them. My favourite ‘move’ was when they would hold your head, and slowly bring their hands up your head, swapping there hands (if I could find this in the book, the explanation would be a lot better!) I tried this out on my boyfriend, and now we have a mutual agreement to do this as often as possible, because it’s just amazing!

Voice – Week 1

Recording my voice – eek!

I found listening to and analysing my voice a very odd and uncomfortable thing to do. The first thing that I noticed when listening to my voice, is that it’s not as low as I originally thought, however I learnt in my introduction lesson, that this is because I’m not experiencing the vibrations within my body and hearing the sound twice.

Another aspect of my voice that was noticeable, was my accent. I’ve found since moving to London, and interacting with people from all over the country, certain words are changing. For example, before when I would’ve pronounced ‘Cutty Sark’  like ‘cut’, every now and then I catch myself saying ‘couty‘. However, certain words are keeping the Dorset Twang; words like ‘girl’ and ‘world’, keeping the strong ‘errl’ sound in them. And with words like ‘three’ they are pronounced at ‘free’ unless I am concentrating to avoid this. A similar problem occurs again with the ‘th’ sound, in words such as ‘together’, the ‘th’ sound is over looked and I pronounce it as ‘togever’.

I also noticed that I am very breath heavy. I am not sure whether this is because my mouth was close to the microphone, but I would take in deep breaths that were noticeable when recorded. Also with this, I noticed that my mouth would go dry, so I could hear the saliva, almost as if my body was trying to regain moisture (apologies for that bad explanation!)

My voice sounded very mono-tonal, this may have been due to the random piece of informative text I was reading, but my voice stayed very flat and at a fairly low level (although not as low as I originally thought). This also reflects a lack of power that is behind my voice. I tend to stay quiet when speaking in social situations, and struggle projecting my voice in performances, without subsequently shouting. The reason behind this, I believe is confidence.

In relation to confidence, I found when listening to my voice, I would rush past the words, losing the elongated vowels, or any excitement in the text. This is because I was reading aloud, something which I don’t often opt to do, but will, over the next coming weeks, practice each day with the help of the workbook.

Learning to breathe properly is where I believe I need to start with my voice, as this will be the foundation to build upon. I need to explore my pitch, stretching my voice to highs and lows, to help convey emotions. However I also believe over the course of this degree, confidence and self belief will be my main obstacle, so that is something I need to work on, and starting with my voice will be the perfect way to address this issue; something which I am looking forward too.