As a voice actor, your voice is critical to your livelihood. It is important to warm up and care for your voice before work. The difference between an impromptu vocal delivery and a script read following a warmup can make a tremendous difference in the final product.
The Benefits of Vocal Warmups
Vocal warm-ups have significant benefits. They loosen your vocal cords, which improves your readings and helps keep them in good condition over time. Using your voice for extended periods can have damaging effects in the long run.
The more you tone your vocal cords, the more range they will have. Just like athletes stretch their bodies, voice actors must stretch their voices. You are protecting yourself from the chance of injury.
Another benefit is that warming up helps get rid of anxieties or nervous energy.
Breathing exercises will help relax your vocal cords. There are several breathing exercises that are a great option to practice.
Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose and then exhale deliberately and slowly through your mouth. Repeat a few times, this will get you centered for your exercises. And increases your lung capacity.
Stretch Your Body
Several body exercises have proven to be important in the voice actor world, especially since many times you may be standing for long periods of time recording.
Start with some gentle neck rolls, around, forward, backward, side to side. Start in one direction and then change to the other.
Shrug your shoulder up and down and then move to arm circles, to get your shoulders and arms loose as well. Tension builds in the neck and can move down to the shoulders.
Stretch those ribs by raising your arms and then leaning to one side and hold for a few seconds and then switching to the other side.
Finally, shake it all out. Shake your hands, then arms, and the rest of your body to get the remaining tension out and warm it all up.
Humming and Lip Flutters
Humming not only loosens up your vocal cords but is warms up your facial muscles. Lip flutters or trills help bring back your vocal tone quality after sleeping or long periods of silence. These practices are a perfect part of a morning routine.
Roll your tongue on the roof of your mouth to make the double rr sound.
Descending Nasal Consonants
There are several methods to warm up your sinuses and nasal passages. One popular option is to say the word onion and stretch the ny sound and voice in a downward pitch. Another set of word choices is words that end in z. Fizz, whizz, and buzz are great examples and you will linger on the z to get resonating.
Tongue twisters sound funny and when repeated fast can be hilarious. However, they loosen the mouth up. It also allows for your mouth to be loose so that your pronunciation will improve during readings. Some popular ones are “red leather yellow leather” and “she sells seashells by the seashore”.
Yawn and Yawn Sighs
Yawning can improve the sound of your voice. It relaxes throat muscles and vocal cords. When they are relaxed, the tone of your voice actually drops. Morgan Freeman has been cited as telling this as one of his best voice over secrets.
A yawn sigh is when you open your mouth like you are yawning, but let your voice sigh loudly from the top of your register down to its lowest note.
And if you're yawning right now after reading this article, because maybe you already knew this information... hey, a little repetition never hurts!