I am very excited about this, because it means everybody with an iPhone or iPad can now enjoy warming up their voices gently and safely, whether they want to use the voice for speaking or singing, professionally or for fun. The warm ups are suitable for beginners, and for experienced professional voice users (actors, singers, choristers, public speakers, teachers, lawyers, politicians, entrepreneurs, startups, 5 minute pitchers).
The App contains the Mini Vocal Warmup, my own short and snappy version of the Vocal Function Exercises. This warmup takes less than a minute, yet it contains all the elements for a full training program. Once you have learnt this warmup, you will be able to extend it into your own personalised, dynamic, Vocal Gym.
The General Vocal Warmup is the full set of Vocal Function exercises, plus a resonance and articulation workout. There are audio files, with me talking you through the exercises, and documents with lots of information about how to prepare your body and your breath for vocal training, and about the voice and speech. Not bad for $0.99! Enjoy.
I’ve just had the most wonderful two days working with the Hills Players, a group of amateur actors from a community north of Brisbane who applied for, and were awarded a grant from the Regional Arts Fund to engage my services. They wanted to work on their voices to develop more power and clarity of expression, and to support their voices in a healthy and sustainable way.
I introduced them to my mini mini vocal warmup (based on Eric Armstrong’s morning warm up), then to the Vocal Function exercises (handouts on the Handouts page). We explored the vibrations in our bodies and the fabulous sounds that occur when a group of generous souls commit themselves to a ‘group hum’. The first day concluded with a series of improvised soundscapes. We experienced a motorcycle race (with crash), a visit to the beach (with near drowning), a hike through the forest (with a storm), a spooky chase through streets and houses (with mayhem on the freeway) – what a dramatic time we had, and all with nothing but the human voice and the occasional tapping fingers.
Today we revised the warm-ups, and I took them through the 15 minute warm-up that I had put together for Ira Seidenstein’s Quantum Mime Intensive (also now up on the Handouts page). For this one, I gave them two alternatives for working on their resonance: The Hungry Giant and friends, and Cello/Viola/Violin. The former is based on Linklater’s approach, the latter is from the work of Roy Hart.
After lunch, I decided to challenge the group to investigate for themselves what happens when you try to speak as simply as possible, stating the fact, with no agenda, that you are where you say you are. It’s pretty straightforward, you just position yourself somewhere in the room, and say “I am here”. Sounds easy, eh? Try it! See if you can catch yourself 1) pretending 2) defending 3) protesting 4) insisting – oh, the possibilities are endless. Then try to say it without any of those added sub- or super-texts, or objectives. Your only objective is to speak the truth of the moment, that you – yes, YOU! really you – are – that means right now, as you are speaking – here – not there, not sort of here, but actually and only specifically here. I love this exercise.
Then we leapt into the land of the Laughing/Sobbing game, which I learnt from Marya Lowry at the 2004 VASTA conference in New York. I LOVE this game. We laugh, and we discover that for some it comes easily, and for some it seems incredibly difficult. Why? Because it is deeply embarrassing to find youself doing fake laughing. It’s embarrassingto listen to, so you don’t want to be the one doing it. Learning how to let go of the fear, and discovering that you are actually in control of your own attitude, so that you can choose to be amused and to REALLY laugh is quite an experience. Then, to discover that all you have to do is change your own attitude from being happy to being sad, and suddenly you are sobbing, and it is not FAKE, and what’s more, you can switch it off whenever you choose – now that is control. But it is such a light, hands-off control, there is nothing forced or tense about it. Joy.
One of the participants asked me to record the Mini Mini vocal warm-up, so I did, with my Blackberry. Here it is. Apologies for the poor quality of the recording, but I think it’s pretty clear.
It’s true, when we work on our voices, we make sounds we wouldn’t normally make in the course of our everyday lives. That’s because we are extending our range, broadening our capacity, developing our potential. It doesn’t make sense to just sound the way we usually do, after all, that is why we are training in the first place. And of course, we use our bodies to do it.
So, here is a short film of some of the Being in Voice Acting Class students, generously sharing their process with you as they did some of their own individual warm up in class last week. Mostly they are exploring Fitzmaurice Voicework exercises, but there are other influences present also. Then you will see them playfully exploring some particular Archetypal qualities.
I’ve just removed the password protection on the handouts, and video demos. Having thought about it long and hard while I was away, I have decided that I would much rather everyone had access to these, and that people actually made use of them.
Of course, you will get much more from the exercises if you do them under supervision, with a teacher or trainer whom you trust.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to chat about any of the exercises, or to enquire about matters to do with actor training, or voice coaching.
Here is the video of Sunday’s warm up. The complete video is about 19 minutes long.
If you watch it through carefully, you should be able to spot the elements you need to work on, spice up the level of precision and as a result gain a deeper effect. This should also help you to pass it on to others.
What a great morning we had today! The Roy Hart work went down a treat, and your voices just about exploded the building apart. Then you really played with the sounds in the language, and discovered the physical freedom that accompanies vocal freedom.
Keep up the good work. I know it’s hard to practice at home, but just imagine how much your voices will grow if you manage to do a little bit of Cello – Viola – Violin every day – after the vocal function and core mechanics, of course!
I have just put the new Resonance Scale with Consonants exercise up on the Handouts page. Enjoy.