Pauses, emphasis and imagery

So after the usual warm up and breathing exercises that we begin every class with we started with a strange activity. We were each told to carry our bags over our head with one hand while we read a Shakespeare sonnet. We had to walk around while we read and every time we came to a full stop, we had to stop put down our bag, walk to another persons bag and pick that up and start reading and walking again. Then we introduce that every time we reached a comma we had to change direction and every time we read a colon we would have to go up on our toes. It was confusing and difficult to try and remember all these things while reading but it was also interesting as it made me realise that each punctuation was different and when reading the text normally I couldn’t just apply the same pauses and inflection to all of them I had to ensure they each sounded different to make my pace and tone more interesting.

We then paired up and we given another Shakespeare extract, from the Merchant of Venice. We read the first few lines to each other. I found this exercise a lot of fun as my partner asked me different questions and I had to answer them by repeating all the lines but putting emphasis on the section that would answer the question. It was definitely interesting and required me to think quickly about the different types of emphasis I could put on each line. When I read all the lines together at the end of the exercise, I was able to put all the different tones of emphasis together so that every individual word stood out.

I felt a little silly during the next exercise at first. We were working on imagery, and so we were each given a copy of a poem that was full of it. We then had to face the wall and pretend to paint the descriptions on the wall as we read through the poem, It was awkward at first, but once I started I found it was easier to go with it and create the picture. We them had to describe our picture when reading the poem. It sounds complicated, but it was really good for creating energy and enthusiasm in my voice and the painting exercise allowed me to create the image in my mind with my voice.

Mostly these helped me realise that I sometimes fall into a bad habit of sounding monotone when I read aloud but hopefully if I continue to use these exercises I can work on my vocal skills to prevent it from happening.

Breathing on through

So once again, voice class focussed on breathing techniques, this time in connection to actual speech, as well as the soft vowel sounds we used the previous weeks. It was an interesting experience as it gave me a new knowledge about my breathe control.

We started out as we always do, with the yoga exercises to increase the strength in our diaphragms and also relax us, allowing the breathing exercises to work better and flow more smoothly. We worked our way through the different poses, escalating from breathing to the soft vowel sounds, ‘fffff’, ‘vvvvv’ and ‘mmmmm’. The poses are called the Sun Salute yoga sequence. As I’ve probably mentioned in my previous post, I’ve never done any yoga or anything like yoga, but I have to say it is extremely relaxing and so far has really helped me explore my breathing.

After we finished our usual routine we moved on to a new exercise, which was strange but interesting. To begin we were told to form a circle. We then turned to the person of our right and gave them a compliment. After we finished we had to repeat the compliment 3 times, without actually speaking them. We had to think them to the person, once breathing in, once breathing out and once without breathing at all. Although it was a strange exercise it was very helpful. I had to concentrate on the rate I inhaled and exhaled my breath, so I could time it with the words I was thinking and this made me aware of the amount of breath we use to speak and the rate at which we take it in. This will be extremely helpful for me as one of the problems I feel that I have with my vocal skills, is the fast pace with which I speak. This exercise will be useful for me with this especially.

Keeping with the idea of breathing through words, we were each given a segment from the script of Hamlet. In this segment the opening sentence was at least 6 lines long. We went through it bit by bit, trying to say all the lines in one breath. We started with a few words and every time we repeated it, we added the next few lines until eventually, we had said the entire line in one breath. It was a difficult task as I had to instantly judge how much air to let out on particular words, how fast or slow I needed to say each word to ensure I had enough air to finish the final words.

By the end of the class, I was successful in completing the activities, and they it helped me realise that there is a great deal I can accomplish with my voice that I never imagined possible.

Voice Classes

Hey there! So voices classes have commenced, and to be honest they are very different than I expected. There’s a lot more physical work than I thought there would be. I never really considered that my voice could be strengthened by physical activities.

Mostly we’ve been doing yoga poses, strengthening and relaxing the muscles so that we can use our voices more efficiently. I found some of these quite difficult. We had to get into the prayer position and let out different sounds; like drawn out ‘f’ and ‘v’ sounds. This was difficult as in this position there wasn’t much room to take big enough breathes needed to hold the sound for a long period of time. However, the more we worked on it and the more I’ve practised by myself, I can understand how this exercise will be helpful in increasing the control over my voice and my breathing.

Breathing is also an important part of working on my voice. We do lots of breathing exercises in and out of class to help with it. The yoga is very helpful when I’m working on my breath control. It relaxes me and allows me to really focus on how I breathe, which isn’t something I would do in everyday life, because breathing is an unconscious action. Really focussing on it lets me direct my breathing, taking deeper, slower breathes which helps my voice as I have more air to manipulate how my voice sounds.

Although I haven’t been able to look at any of the main issues with my voice that I mentioned in my last post, I feel like I’ve made a solid start and can’t wait to see how my voice develops during the next few weeks.

1st Voice Analysis

Hey there. I’m Megan and this is actually the first blog I’ve ever had. So the reason I’ve started one is for my drama and english degree in uni, I have to analyse my voice to help me improve my vocal skills and gain some more control over it.

Over the course of the next few weeks I would like to work on certain things concerning my voice. I tend to speak quite fast, as I’m Irish and the majority of people do speak quite fast, so I’m hoping to work on slowing my pace and controlling it so that I can be more understandable. I also mumble slightly sometimes so I want to focus on pronunciation and diction as well. I believe that there are some good qualities in my voice which could be improved further, such as projecting my voice to be heard clearly and accent work.

For part of this first assignment we had to record our own voices which was strange because no one really wants to hear themselves talk on tape, for fear of sounding horrendous. Although that was strange enough, It was also difficult deciding what to talk about. In the end I decided to read a section of the play we were studying. After listening to it, I noticed that I sometimes stumbled on words that I had trouble pronouncing and that I sometimes put too much stress on the end of a word; such as the ‘ry’ in ‘bury’ and the ‘re’ in ‘there’. I once again noticed the pace of my voice and noted that I would need to slow down, if I were actually performing the scene. My volume and emphasis sometimes faded during the recording so I’ll need to work on keeping my voice consistent instead of having it all over the place.

Despite finding it slightly awkward, it was interesting to listen to my voice ¬†and analyse it in such depth. Hopefully it’ll help me in the long term and I’ll improve over the course of the term.