Saturday, June 4, 2011

CARING FOR YOUR VOICE--Part 1: An Ounce of Prevention--Dos and Don'ts

When people think of their voice, they tend to think only of the mechanism contained in their throats, but that mechanism isn't isolated from the rest of the body at all. In fact, the best means of maintaining optimal vocal functioning is simply to maintain good overall health. The Dos & Don'ts I've listed for you below should help you stay generally healthy and free from vocal problems much of the time.

DON'T smoke. 

DO drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water (or other caffeine-free, very low-calorie beverage) daily. 

DON'T spend a lot of time in noisy environments where you must shout to be heard. Unless you have training to project your voice in a healthful manner, shouting, yelling and even just loud talking can be very hard on your voice. (If you've ever lost your voice from cheering at a concert or sporting event, you know what I mean.)

DO make it a priority to get at least 8 hours of sleep most nights.

DON'T spend any length of time in crowded places during the peak of cold and flu seasons if you can avoid it, and if you must, keep sanitizing wipes and gels handy and use them.

DO wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

DON'T ignore allergies or acid reflux! See a doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you and stick to it. 

DO eat a diet of primarily high-quality unprocessed foods. What does that mean? Basically, the closer a food is to how it was right when it came out of the ground, off the tree, or from the animal, the better it is for you. 

DON'T overdo it when it comes to caffeine and alcohol: they're dehydrating which is very bad for the vocal folds (cords). If you can't give up your beloved coffee/beer/wine, DO make it a rule to drink at least one extra glass of water for every cup/glass of vice ;-)

DO try massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, Alexander Technique, yoga or other gentle stretching to relax and energize your body, improve your posture, and deepen your awareness of your breathing (Next to hydration, this is the one thing that can really improve your vocal stamina!)

So there you have it, my best advice for preventing respiratory illnesses and other vocal problems that cause anxiety for people who make their living with their voice. If you have any tips you'd like to add, I absolutely welcome them. 

Coming Soon: CARING FOR YOUR VOICE--Part II: What to do When You Get Sick

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Frequently on voiceover forums, Facebook groups and such, I see questions about what to do if you have a cold and how to prevent vocal fatigue. Believe me, these subjects are even more of an obsession for opera singers! To help my fellow voiceover artists, I've decided to share with you the best advice I collected during my years as a singer. 
I'll start by saying this one thing: RELAX! Don't take your voice so seriously. In today's market, voiceover is more about having a unique point-of-view and genuine acting skills than it is about having a "golden voice" anyway. Your pipes don't have to be in absolutely perfect condition for you to give an outstanding voiceover performance. That said, the better your vocal health, the more flexible your instrument. That's why I decided to write this series of posts on Caring for Your Voice.
Stay tuned for Part 1: An Ounce of Prevention--Dos and Don'ts

Saturday, January 15, 2011

As I returned home today from the first meeting of the Puget Sound Voice Actors' Circle, I thought to myself what a blessing it is to have a group of people who will encourage me, critique me, challenge me, and hold me accountable on, at least, a monthly basis. There's really no substitue for a safe place to hone your craft! And in this group, I believe we are creating just that.
We had 7 people at the meeting, and a few more have expressed interest but were unable to join us today. We run the gamut in terms of experience, but we all bring unique strengths to the table. It may take a little trial and error for us to find the most beneficial and efficient structure for group communications and meeting agendas, but I'm highly optimistic. The feeling I got today was that we are all committed to being respectful of the process and of one another's time and opinions.
One of the more experienced members of the group shared his fantastic, comprehensive warm-up routine. That alone was worth the drive to Sea-tac! Knowing how to create daily discipline and structure your time is so key! It's all too easy for even very talented, creative people to flounder around in pursuit their dream when they're doing it all on their own.
As you can tell, I'm very excited about what the future holds for me and for this amazing group of artists! We have room for a few more members. If you are in the Puget Sound area, or within what you feel is a reasonable driving distance for a monthly meet-up, please contact me. We won't even make you audition ;-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ah, the 7 P's

You've heard of the 7 P's, right? If you're related to a current or former Marine, like my in-laws, you have. Prior Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. And this week, I am up to my eyeballs in the 7 P's.

On Saturday, I am participating in Pat Fraley's Billion $ Read Workshop on audiobook narration at Bad Animals in Seattle. Not only will I be receiving invaluable training from Pat, and a guest teacher, audiobook pro Carrington MacDuffie, I'll also walk away with a demo. Needless to say, I'm excited, but I'm also nervous because I understand the importance of choosing the right material to represent myself as a potential narrator to audiobook publishers. It's a lot like choosing repertoire was when I was a singer. For my audiobook demo, basically, I have three minutes, three excerpts of approximately one minute each, to show publishers what I can do and get them interested in hiring me.

Pat suggested we each bring FOUR excerpts to the event and that they cover the following bases:
* Something from the "hot" genres of Contemporary Fiction, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller, or Young Adult Contemporary (if your voice is very youthful-sounding)
* One first-person narrator
* One third-person narrator
* One with a bit of dialogue
* Something non-fiction in an area of special interest to me (Technical/Medical/Scientific language is a plus, if you have the skill), as long as it's interesting

While lots of excerpts are available online, I wanted to go with ones from books I've actually read in their entirety for my demo because I don't want to take the chance of getting something wrong in my interpretation and performance on a demo I'm putting out there for industry insiders. This limits my choices, but fortunately, I am an avid reader.

As of today, I've chosen five passages of less than a page each from four books that I'll be timing myself reading and making cuts from. Why five and not the recommended four? Well, because I'm on the fence as to whether my voice sounds youthful enough for my excerpt from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It's a Young Adult Contemporary book that I, and a number of my 30+ friends have thoroughly enjoyed reading. If you know my voice (even better if you've read the book, too), PLEASE let me know whether you would you "buy" me narrating a book written from the point of view a teen. If the consensus is 'no,' at least my butt is covered.

Okay, enough blogging, gotta get back to the work itself. My next step is to time myself reading the excerpts and make cuts to get them under a minute each. Until next time, PPPPPPP!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I guess it's been about five years now, since I abandoned my plans to become a professional opera singer. Now, with the encouragement of my father, I find myself in persuit of another career which centers around my voice: voiceover acting and narration.
Inspired by my new friend Corey, whom I met in an Intro to VoiceOver class taught by Scott Burns in Seattle, I'm starting this blog as a way of recording my journey, honing some of my technical skills, and networking with other aspiring and professional voiceover artists.