In pursuit of my African Dream : Breathe in, Breathe out!

Voice_You have a voice

You may remember that not too long ago I wrote about training as a Voice Over Artiste
Find the post here:

In preparation for finding work as a Voice Over Artiste I’m hard at work practicing my exercises and keeping my voice in tip-top shape. I’ve learned that your voice is a vehicle for your words just like a car is a literal means of getting around. Vocal preparation, maintenance of the voice and overall health considerations are important.

As a Voice Over Artiste I need to master breathing techniques and take care of my voice in the same way as a professional singer would. In my search for exercises I could use, I’ve come across these which I thought you might find useful too if you are using your voice professionally on a regular basis.

Words to warm up by:
Someone said something simple
A simple something said to me
Simply simple someone said
A simple something said to me

Find your voice

How to warm up like an athlete:
Side stretches (expands the rib cage and makes your lungs feel like they’re full of air):
• Take a deep breath and raise your arms to the sky
• Exhale and lean slightly to the left, lengthening in your side. Hold it there for a few seconds before you inhale to centre, and then exhale over to the right.
• Stand with your feet hip width apart. Inhale, with your arms up to the sky, then slowly bend at your waist on the exhale and take your hands towards the ground. It doesn’t matter how far down you can go. Stay there for a few breaths, on an inhale, come back up into a standing position.

Voice_faceless person

Your face:
• Moving your fingers in a circular motion massage your face where your jaw hinges. This will stimulate blood flow to your jaw muscles, where many of us store tension.
• Gentle head and neck rolls can also make you feel more comfortable behind the mic.
• Yawning is a great way to loosen things up.

If you’ve just woken up, do not get behind a mic without warming up.

Voice_mike

VOICE CARE EXERCISES:
Quick warm ups:
Humming: A loose, gentle modulating hum is a nice way to ease in your facial muscles and create space for resonant sound
Lip trills: Go back to your childhood i.e. a car goes B r r r r r r r
Descend on a nasal consonant sound: e.g. onion, gn sound (gnocchi), anything that ends in Z (buzz, fuzz), linger on the Z to get resonating as well.
Articulation exercises: Tongue Twisters
– Unique New York, Unique New York . . .
– A big black bug bit a big black bear
– She sells sea shells by the sea shore
– Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
– How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
Range: Yawning is a good thing. It naturally drops your jaw and regulates oxygen while extending your soft palate. Do the yawning-sigh.
– Open your mouth as if you’re going to yawn and slide all the way down from the top of your vocal range to the lowest grumble you can do. Only do this a few times per warm up and never start with this one. Leave it till the end when you’ve already warmed up your voice.

Voice_Person with mike in hand

Breathing Techniques (5 minute workout by Tommy Griffiths):
This one is perfect as a regular workout for facial muscles, lips, mouth and tongue and is a great way to maintain good articulation, breathing and posture. With daily practice it will help wake up your vocal cords and ensure your voice always comes out strong and clear.

Stretching exercises for your mouth, tongue and lips (do this for 1 minute)
Grin as hard as you can and hold it for a few seconds, then quickly purse your lips and hold. Do this back and forth a few times then quickly stick your tongue out and stretch it as far as it will go. Then touch the back of your upper teeth with the tip of your tongue. Hold for 5 seconds.
Say the word “WoW”. Notice the positions of your mouth when you say the word? Your lips start out pursed and the word ends with your mouth open. Exaggerate the positions and repeat over and over as though you’re saying the word “WoW”. At this point you should feel the facial muscles in and around your mouth.

Frangipani_Single

Improving your articulation with the obstruction drill (do this for about 2 minutes)
• Find a piece of copy and an obstruction for your mouth. Ideally it should be the size of a wine cork. Sit up straight or stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
• Place the obstruction between your front teeth and read the copy out loud as clearly as possible. The obstruction will force your muscles to over compensate for the difficulty in articulating the words. Keep reading for about 2 minutes.
• Take the obstruction out of your mouth and read the same piece of copy. You’ll notice that you now effortlessly pronounce the words.

Sea Shells

Learning to master our Plosives (do this for about 2 minutes)
Hold the palm of your hand a few inches away from your mouth, approximately where your mic would be. Then say “Pam’s preppy pal Peter”. You’ll likely feel a rush of air with the P’s. That rush of air is what creates the “popping” sound through your mic.
With full vocalisation, practice saying “Pam’s preppy pal Peter” until you no longer feel the rush of air.
Practice this every day for about 2 minutes until it becomes second nature to you to speak “plosive” free, even in your regular day-to-day conversations.

It is suggested that you practice these three simple exercises every day for two weeks before speaking or singing in public or recording your auditions.

animal-cute-kitten-cat-medium

Common ways to practice your exercises:
Reading copy aloud: or repeating or imitating what you’ve heard on radio or television
Analysing what you hear: whether it is your own recorded voice or someone else’s voice)
Mentally reviewing copy: to observe markings for breaths, punctuation, inflection etc.

Waterfall

The Announcer’s Test:
Every person who wishes to become an Announcer on radio goes through a particular test called the Announcer’s Test which involves retention, memory, repetition, enunciation, diction and ten factors that use every letter in the alphabet a variety of times. This test is also known as the Tibetan Memory Trick.

T. M. T. (Tibetan Memory Trick)
1. One hen.
2. Two ducks.
3. Three squawking geese.
4. Four limerick oysters.
5. Five corpulent porpoises.
6. Six pairs of Revlon tweezers.
7. Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array.
8. Eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt.
9. Nine apathetic sympathetic diabetic old men on roller skates
with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth.
10. Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who
stalk around the corner of a cove all at the very same time.

Voice_faceless person

This is actually spoken adding one at a time, so here is how it
actually goes.

1. One hen.
2. One hen, two ducks.
3. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese.
4. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters.

5. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises.

6. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers.

7. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers, seven
thousand Macedonians in full battle array.

8. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers, seven
thousand Macedonians in full battle array, eight brass monkeys
from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt.

9. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers, seven
thousand Macedonians in full battle array, eight brass monkeys
from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt, nine apathetic sympathetic
diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards
procrastination and sloth.

10. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers, seven
thousand Macedonians in full battle array, eight brass monkeys
from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt, nine apathetic sympathetic
diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards
procrastination and sloth, ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical
denizens of the deep who stalk around the corner of a cove
all at the very same time.

Whewf!!!!!!!!!!! That was long!!!!!

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Conversations with Myself: I have spoken . . .

St Marks Womens Day2013 Workbook Cover_St Marks Church Ladies Tea 09.08.2013

As part of my training as a Facilitator, I offered my services to speak at an event via our local community newspaper. This talk was to form part of my Portfolio of Evidence (PoE) for evaluation by my trainer.

A local church saw my advert in the Community Newspaper and invited me to speak at their Women’s Day Ladies Afternoon Tea and the topic was Gender Violence and how we can make a difference. Their theme for the day was “Thanksgiving”.

What made this task daunting was the fact that the Rector who introduced these Women’s Day teas and was very passionate about it taking place every year, had died in April this year after being part of this particular parish for many years. Gender Violence is a very serious topic, not to be taken lightly, and yet, I needed to somehow tie this in with being “thankful”. Wow, quite a tall order from where I stood.

Nevertheless, armed with four pages of notes, I made my way to the stage as confidently as I could pretend to be. Prior to the event starting, with the help of my Mentor, I made sure that everyone received a specially prepared workbook containing important useful information which the audience could take home with them for further reference just in case I did not manage to get through all my material. The workbook also contained my contact details so there was no need for anybody to scurry around for my business card (which I made sure I had just in case anybody asked).

As I took the microphone and greeted everyone, I could hear the tremble in my voice but, brave soldier that I am, I continued pretending that I had done this a million times before. I was given 15 – 20 minutes to speak, and so I began . . .

I was taught the best place to start was with a definition of the topic/subject at hand and because I was determined to get the audience involved, I came prepared with an activity I created called the Gender Violence Bingo game (on the first page of the workbook). I also came prepared with a “spot prize” for the first person to shout “Bingo”. This went down well with the audience.

From here I went directly into the content i.e. what can we do when we experience Gender Violence, the cycle of violence and where we can go for help (detailed on page 2 and 3 of the workbook they were given).

I urged those present who are thinking of leaving their partners, not to do so without a Personal Safety Plan which would help them think through the process of leaving and ensure that they are fully prepared for every eventuality. This Personal Safety Plan is available at http://www.womendemanddignity.wordpress.com (under the Resources tab). Alternatively, you could send an e-mail to nataliejohnson041@gmail.com and request a copy.

I ended my talk with how we can be thankful in spite of our circumstances. Examples of what we could be thankful for was listed on page four of the workbook to help the audience along in their thinking process. They were encouraged to continue this thinking process once they reached home. For example:

• Thank you for having the knowledge and ability to get out of this bad situation and seek a better life for myself
• Thank you for the people who can help and support me to get out of this bad situation
• The good years/good times – I will miss it but I’m glad I had it
• Thank you for the children born during the good years/good times
• Thank you that there is a way out of this bad situation

I managed to do all of this in exactly 15 minutes without looking at my watch while I was speaking and without anybody having to stop me which I thought was quite impressive [back pat to me – Yay!].

After my talk, during tea break a few people came up to me to thank me for the talk and said how much they appreciated me talking on the subject.

As I left the venue at the end, one woman grabbed my hand, said “thank you for being here and talking about this subject. I need to talk to you after this because my mom needs help”.

We can change the world – one person at a time!

Feedback received:

From: Vivien Shah
11 August 2013 at 3:49pm

Yes it’s fine. The talk was measured. You waited until the attention was present. I like the way you linked the solemn topic with the theme of thanksgiving. A challenge indeed.

People were silent as you showed your desire to help others. This was poignant as you yourself must deal with issues affecting disabled people on a daily basis, women to seek their rights.

You encouraged women to seek their rights.

It was the right length.

Afterwards people appreciated your message and said the booklet was something to keep and hand on.

I thought the leaflet was a stroke of genius.

Well done!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Feedback from various members of the church present at the event:

Yes the topic was most appropriate and relevant – women have used the safe place to talk about the sensitive topic; for many

So very useful and informative – the booklet is most valuable – as the lady and her mother I invited called me the next day to share how they could use the info.
I relearnt the value of sharing what you know with those in your circle and the powerful effect it has as a life changing opportunity. Thank you!

You could have talked louder – you did well!

The talk is close to my hear (the issue) and I didn’t realise you were going to be there talking about it – so it was welcoming to my intellect and appreciated that we women can be talking about anything over a cup of tea with clear guidelines of what to do and where to go when we get up from the tea and the talk. God bless you!

I’m well Natalie and pray your work will continue. God bless you. Susan Hoorn de Vos.

MJ – Talk was very inspiring bringing awareness to people of situation they not aware of. The Bingo lesson was also very helpful to identify one’s situation.

A suggestion is to leave the gift presentation for after your talk, because more time was needed for the last page of the leaflet.

The information was very useful and one could take the leaflet as well as the message to family and friend who did not attend the function.