Clark Gable’s iconic voice was actually not his natural one. He had a much higher pitch that he spent many years in voice training to lower to that sexy baritone. As an actor or actress, learning to control your voice is important. Vocal exercises can help you enunciate so that you are better understood while reading your lines. They can help you project your voice so that you can be heard well. Vocal exercises can help you gain flexibility to more convincingly show different emotions.
This article will walk you through some useful vocal exercises to help you warm up before auditions or going on camera. There will also be some vocal exercises to help strengthen and develop your voice.
8 Vocal Exercises You Can Practice Anywhere & Anytime
Overall, being able to manipulate and control your voice through breathing and other techniques will become a very powerful acting tool to any aspiring actor. It will also give you confidence as an actor and in your abilities as you recite your lines in front of a casting director.We all know that confidence in itself speaks volumes.
All vocalization starts with a breath. Thus, it is imperative that you learn good breathing habits that will give you a solid foundation to draw from. This simple vocal exercise will get you used to controlling your breath. It will also show you how to focus on your breathing paying attention to drawing deep from your lungs and exhaling using your diaphragm. Controlling your breathing will also help you project your voice.
- Draw breath in through your nose using a slow count to six. Exhale back out through your nose. Repeat this three times.
- Once again, in through your nose with a count to six but this time out through your mouth slowly. Repeat this three times.
- The third time around breath in through your nose with a count to six. Upon exhaling, hum as you do so. Repeat three times.
- Finally, inhale through your nose with a count to six. This time when you exhale, start with a hum that transforms into an ahhhh. Repeat three times.
If you are looking for a simple vocal exercise to help calm your before audition jitters, try this one:
- Inhale through your nose slowly on a count to two.
- Then exhale through your mouth with the same count of two.
- Repeat a few times. Only each time you repeat add another two seconds until you reach ten.
2. Learning to Relax Your Jaw
One issue actors face when they are nervous is the tendency to tighten their jaw. A tight jaw can work against you in so many ways. It will not allow you to project your voice or to annunciate your words. Both of these problems can mottle what your audience hears or make them unable to hear you at all. Try this simple method to help relax your jaw:
- Open your mouth and eyes as wide as possible.
- Extend your tongue out as far as you can (thus the lion face).
- Then retract it all and scrunch it down as tight as possible. Repeat several times.
- You may look silly but you will feel how relaxed your jaw and facial muscles become.
3. A Workout to Relax Your Vocal Cords
Sometimes after a performance you may feel trouble in your vocal cords. Maybe they seem sore or swollen and even a little tired. That is because they may actually be a bit puffy and ruffled. For a fairly fast remedy try this exercise which will actually cause back pressure to help with that puffiness you are experiencing. You will need a small straw.
- Place the straw between your lips.
- Slowly blow air through it. As you do so, start at a high comfortable pitch and move through a scale down to your lowest comfortable pitch.
- Repeat several times.
4. Lip Trills
If you do not have a straw handy, this method will give you similar results to the straw method mentioned above. It creates resistance to your breath using your own lips instead of the straw.
- Keep your lips closed and mouth relaxed as you push air through them.
- While you do this utter an uh sound or hum a melody. This should cause your lips to trill or flutter as the air pushes past your lips.
- Continue this for five minutes to help with your vocal cords and relaxation.
Learning vocal exercises to help you articulate your words will allow you to be more expressive and even animated when you want, or need, to be. It also helps people better understand you when you speak. This is because you are more coherent and are able to enunciate and pronounce your lines more clearly. It is also a great before audition warm up to get your voice ready. Use these methods to build muscles to help with articulation:
- Repeat tongue twisters as fast as you can while maintaining clear words.
- Using a straw when you drink will actually help build muscles related to articulation.
- Chewing gum strengthens mouth muscles as well.
- Recite lines aloud at a slow pace. Place stress on each word as if it is the most important word in the line.
- Sing the Apples and Bananas song emphasizing the vowel changes in the lines.
We all know how good and relaxed we feel after a good old fashioned massage. Well, your mouth muscles appreciate them too. Use the following methods to pamper your mouth muscles and get them relaxed before your audition or after a good articulation workout.
- Use your hand to massage your facial muscles such as your cheeks, lips, and jaw. If you are willing, you can even hit that major tension spot under your tongue.
- Also, if you are willing, use the tips of your fingers to stretch your tongue as far as you can while it is relaxed.
- Use the tip of your tongue to draw circles against the inside of your cheeks. Work several smaller sized circles in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.
7. Use a Bone Prop
This exercise is not really an exercise in itself. Instead, it is a tool that will assist you while you do them. A bone prop is a special tool that has been developed for actors and singers who are going through vocal exercises and training. It helps improve articulation, diction clarity, resonance, and speech.
It is held between your teeth as you run through your vocal exercises. The bone prop adds oral space without increasing tension in your jaw. Use it with any of your preferred exercises to get more out of them.
8. Mixed Emotions
Using an emotion that is not intended for a specific line can help you concentrate on the emotion behind the line and not just the words that create it. The following exercises can help you learn to adjust the emotion in your voice.
- Take a general sentence such as, “It is raining cats and dogs or any you choose. First say it in a way that makes it sound like you are happy. Then adjust your pitch and resonance to emulate other feeling such as sadness, anger, or horror while uttering that same sentence. You can even concentrate on making it sound like a different type of character is saying the line. Try sounding like an old woman, a child, a monster, a doctor. Each change will teach your voice different ranges and give you practice adjusting it to fit a particular character.
- Sing a song but for each line change your speed slower or faster than it should be. You can also change the pitch of your voice as well as the volume. This will work out your pitch, volume, and tempo abilities.
We are not all born with great speech habits or a tone that delights. However, that does not have to stop you from improving it. If you are an actor you may want to present a voice that represents a character you are auditioning for. Maybe you are trying to be heard better across a stage or want to be understood better when you speak. Maybe you just want a better overall stage presence through a strong and articulate voice. All of these reasons are great for deciding to use vocal exercises. You can do them on your own, seek the help of a professional voice coach, or join a class that will help you and others to gain the skill you are seeking. Add these methods to your routine to help strengthen muscles or use them before an audition to warm up and relax.
What vocal exercises do you use for pre-audition warm ups? Which ones have helped you with improving your vocal presence on stage? Please leave any helpful comments or methods you suggest for others in the comment box below.