By Stephanie Ciccarelli
May 20, 2014
Are you in the habit of warming up before auditioning and recording? Tommy Griffiths leads you through a 5-minute workout that will quickly strengthen your voice, improve your breathing and pronunciation. You'll start with some basic stretches, working your facial muscles and progress from there. As Tommy says, you can do this 5-minute workout anywhere. Just be sure you are somewhere you can look ridiculous!
Tommy Griffiths is a 30-year SAG-AFTRA voice over veteran, voice coach, demo producer and actor. He's voiced thousands of projects including Chevy Camaro, Coca Cola, History Channel, Discovery Networks and recently a biographical introduction of President Bill Clinton at Harvard University.
Tommy's career started as an 18-year old kid. Chuck Blore, of Chuck Blore and Don Richman in Hollywood, California took Tommy under his wing as his intern, where he watched and worked with voice-over legends like Danny Dark and Ernie Anderson.
Tommy lives with his wife Cheryl, son Justin and dogs Truman and Teddy near Washington, DC.
Welcome to Voice Over Experts, brought to you by Voices.com the number one voice over marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent. It's never been easier to learn, perform and succeed from the privacy of your own home, and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won't find anywhere else. Now for our special guest.
Tommy: Hi, I'm Tommy Griffiths. I'm a 30 year veteran in the voice over industry, and I want to tell you about a five minute workout. This is a really easy exercise, for you to help develop your voice and articulation. As a coach I teach my students the basic skills of voice over delivery, and the nuances of inflection. As a trainer, I help my students develop and strengthen their vocal cords, maxillofacial muscles or face muscles. Tongue, diaphragm and other muscles, so that muscle memory can be manipulated into proper form. This five minute workout will strengthen your voice, improve your breathing and your pronunciation. The results are audibly noticeable almost immediately. You can do this five minute workout just about anywhere. Just make sure you're not distracting anyone. You're about to make some really disturbing faces, and even more disturbing noises. People are going to think you're nuts. So let's give it a try. The first exercise is basic stretching of your facial muscles, mouth, lips and tongue.
This is actually a great way to warm up before speaking into the microphone. Smile or grin, as hard as you can, and just hold it for a few seconds. Now quick, purse your lips as if you're whistling, and hold it. Now back to the hard grin and hold. Now purse your lips again. Really push your muscles hard. Repeating from grin to the pursing position, back and forth. Now quick, stick your tongue out. Stick it out as quickly as you can and just keep pushing it. Push it out. Keep stretching. I told you, this is going to look silly. Now, with the tip of your tongue, push on the back of your upper teeth. Keep pushing. Five more seconds. Three, two, one. Now say the word wow, wow. Notice how you start with your lips pursed together when you say wow, and when you finish your mouth is wide open. Exaggerate the positions of your mouth as if you're saying the word wow back and forth, just wow, wow, wow. Your face and muscles in and around your mouth should feel flush by now.
You've given those muscles a good workout. This can only strengthen those muscles and loosen and limber up your mouth and lips. I told you this stuff looks ridiculous, but it really does have a purpose. Not only to build strength, but in gaining more control of your jaw and lips, which is vital, because they form your resonating chamber for your voice. Like a hole in a guitar, but unlike the hole in a guitar, you're shaping and reshaping your mouth each time you pronounce a word. Do these stretching exercises first for about a minute. The second exercise is the obstruction drill. Find a piece of copy. You'll also need an obstruction for your mouth, something about the size of a wine cork. Sit up straight if you're in a chair, or stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart. Posture is way underrated when it comes to speech. With the obstruction between your teeth, read the copy as clearly as you can. The obstruction will force your muscles to overcompensate for the difficulty in articulating the words. It will sound something like this.
Do this for about two minutes. Now remove the obstruction and read the copy. Notice how effortlessly you can pronounce the words. This is very similar to wearing ankle weights and then taking them off and going for a run. Your feet feel light as a feather. Do this exercise for two to three minutes. It sounds silly, but it really does work. Finally, the plosives exercise. Who hasn't ever popped a pea or any other consonant sound on the microphone? These are vocal stops, or oral occlusives or plosives, and getting them under control takes some practice. Hold the palm of your hand just a few inches away from your mouth, just about as far away as your mic would be. Now say Pam's preppy pal Peter. Do you feel a rush of air? You really shouldn't. It's the rush of air on the microphone that causes the mic noise, or the popping of the pea. Quite often you'll hear voice actors unconsciously nasalise their speech to dampen the plosives. They sound like they have a bad cold, and what they're merely trying to do is stop the plosives from happening.
The best way to get your plosives under control is to pronounce your plosives with full vocalisation. Work on this for a minute or two. You'll figure it out in time. By using the palm of your hand, feel for the air flow. Practice this enough and soon you'll find yourself controlling your plosives in every day speech. So those are your three very basic voice over exercises. The full stretching, the obstruction exercise and the plosives control. Try to work out for the next two weeks, every day, before you record your auditions, and you can do it as many times as you want during the day. It will make a difference. If you'd like any other information about vocal exercises, voice coaching or having a demo produced, email tommygriffiths, g, r, i, f, f, i, t, h, s, @verizon.net, or call 757 404 0833. Thank you and keep working hard and good luck.
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