The importance of warming up for recording Voiceovers - by Nic Redman
So, warming up. At the moment that means putting on extra layers in my studio, but let’s assume the landlord has fixed the heating and we want to warm up our voice. Where to start?! Well, your voice is fed by the breath, which is housed in your body. So the best place to begin is getting your body in a free and warmed up state. This doesn’t mean 3 hours on the treadmill at your local *insert gym franchise here, a bit of exercise and some stretches can free the main muscles groups ensuring that your breath is ready and your voice can be free. A load of jumping jacks or running up and down the stairs, even walking the dog or your gerbil will get you warm, then carry out some stretches which focus on the neck, shoulders and ribs, with a few sexy pelvic circles thrown in for good measure.
Next is the breath. I like to begin my day by reminding myself of the natural reflexive action of the breath. Voiceover requires both deep breaths to sustain long wordy phrases and short, often snatched breaths, both of which can lead to excess tension, which is the enemy of a clear voice. Five or ten minutes on the floor in the gloriously chilled semi-supine (see footnote) position, exhaling the breath out and allowing the new breath to reflexively drop back in reminds the body of how things should work.
If you focus for a second on the tiny moment when you’ve released all your breath and just before the new breath drops in, you’ll get a good idea for how the body instinctively knows to breathe. We are ‘breathed’, we don’t ‘do’ the breathing…totes deep man, but something which is often forgotten by VOs as we require breath to do our job and have to make sure we have enough of it.
Next stop, the vocal folds. The beautiful, totally not weird looking vocal folds. Step one. STEAM! Cannot stress this enough. Steam hydrates the folds at the source, killing any germs that may be building there at the same time. It is essential for good vocal health. Next up, the boys need a bit of a massage, especially if you have a long day of nattering ahead. So start with a gentle hum, exploring your pitch range, up and down. This massages the folds with gentle contact and wakes them up. Follow this with some lip trills, or horse lips as they are sometimes known, blowing the breath out with the lips held together so you sound a bit like a tuneful horse. Again, play around within your pitch range, exploring the register.
Finally a few tongue twisters to get the articulators working (I post a #tuesdaytonguetwister each week via @nicredmanvoice if you need a few ideas) and you are good to go!
Stay hydrated, stay relaxed and you are voice ready. God speed fellow chatterers!
(footnote: This hails from Alexander Technique which is worth a google if you’re a voice person but is basically on yer back, knees bent up towards the ceiling allowing your feet to rest flat on the floor about hip width apart, hands resting on the lower belly, I mean abs, toned abs….)