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.
I’ve just had a wonderful time creating a voice warmup program especially for a mime class – Ira Seidenstein’s Quantum Mime Intensive class – and of course Mime does not have to be silent.
The course was interrupted by the Brisbane flood, but Ira found a new venue and the work continues.
In the meantime, I have decided, reluctantly and sadly, to cancel this year’s Acting Class. I am heading overseas in March to visit my family, and also to perform in my show The Fall of June Bloom (more details at www.blog.thundersmouththeatre.com)
I’ve been pretty busy the past few days baking scones and cupcakes for the clean-up workers, and making jewellery to sell to raise funds for the Flood Relief Appeal. If you want to purchase some, in aid of a good cause, check out the website here.
I’ll be back soon with more information about that vocal warmup for mimes.
Today, we bade farewell to Sandra, wishing her joy and luck and much good humming and ah-ing in her new adventure in Sydney.
Our final class before the Easter break, and there was a beautiful energy in the sounds that flowed through the room as we explored (h)ah-mm-ah, (h) ah-nnn-ah and (h)ah-ng-ah on the floor and through our stretches as we worked our way back to standing, and sharing with full awareness.
It was very clear, I think to all of us, just where the focus should be when we return on Sunday 30th, with some new class members, and that is keeping the great sounding body we discover in the warm up and taking that body into the text (and archetype) work. After all, that is why we warm up. So, more connections await discovery, there will be bridges built and steps taken into the unknown.
Have a great Easter – see you Sunday week! Oh, unless I see you next Saturday at the Magdalena Easter Gathering.
Last week, I had so much to say that I waited till I had time to say it, and of course that never happened!
This week, I’ve made up a short movie from some of our work for you to view. It is to let you see for yourselves some of the teaching points:
In the Balance exercise (core mechanics) you can see how waiting to say “heels, knees, knees heels” actually lets you slip into holding the position, rather than flowing through it. Experiment with this during the week, and see if you can iron this out.
In the spine workout, I think we need to really work through the various possibilities for movement more clearly, so that we take the movement from the extreme of the arched back to the extreme of the raised head and butt, fluidly, while allowing the sound to flow through the body.
I’ve included extracts of the clips taken by Sandra of the Roy Hart exercise, Cello – Viola – Violin just to remind you what a beautiful sound you made together this morning. We didn’t capture the cellos on film, but the violas and violins are stunning.
Yes, it is indeed hot stuff from where I am sitting right now, with the fan blasting hot air into the hot space around me. 36 degrees Celcius, and rising, according to the weather bureau. But there is one good thing about sitting in an invisible ocean of hot air, and that is the conscious awareness of air as being something all pervasive in our lives. Usually we just take it for granted, never giving it a thought unless something interferes with our own personal supply.
For actors, and singers, that often takes the form of a teacher or trainer asking you to ‘think about your breathing’. Immediately we do so, it all starts to go ‘pear-shaped’. Then the exercises turn into a process of doing consciously what we normally do unconsciously (breathing), only in the unconscious way, rather than the conscious way!
That is where the Fitzmaurice work we touched upon last week is going to come in very handy. It is designed in such a way that we are conscious of breathing, but (eventually) unable, and/or unwilling to interfere with the process, and that allows us to extend the breathing capacity, to fine-tune it for our needs and ultimately to be responsive to the process of thinking/feeling/being/doing which is speaking out loud.
The ‘Russian’ way I introduced you to last week works on similar principles. Do your vocal practice, and you are acting, or performing, however you like to term it. All voice work should be acting work – and vice versa!
I have emailed the first part of the ‘full’ warm up program to class members. I have uploaded it here also, Full Warm Up Program for Performers Part 1 and if anyone would like to contact me for further information, or suggestions for future posts, please do so via the ‘comments’ section.
You will notice there is also a new page, “Warm-ups, exercises, rehearsal and performance preparation”. This is where I will host the links to handouts, as they become available and relevant to the class.
Incidentally, if you haven’t already done so, please use the RSS link to ensure that all Being in Voice blogs are downloaded to your computer as they appear online.