I recently enjoyed working with an excellent comedian who was struggling with having to rage on stage without losing her voice. It’s one of the many highlights of our job, meeting people from so many different career paths and helping them reach their goals. I don’t often get to work with performers these days, as often they have specific voice coaches on standby, but our work can cross over into this area when asked!
We had a really fun and energetic session together and it took me right back to drama school days – learning all about how to scream and shout effectively without hurting your voice. We all know that feeling, a big boozy night out in a noisy pub, next day you sound pretty husky, going to support your football team and shrieking in delight from the stands, and later that day you can hardly speak.
As a professional performer you might have to shout at the top of your lungs 9 times a week. How do you do it safely? As with so much of what we do, preparation is key – warming up your voice so it has even half a chance of keeping up with the demands you are about to make on it, really physically engaging with what you are doing, these noises need to come from the whole body, not from the throat.
One simple exercise to try: Go to a wall, put one foot slightly in front of the other and then lean into the wall with your hands flat on it, elbows bent. Push hard, feel your back muscles engage – and then look directly ahead, imagine who it is you need to shout at and why, feel those emotions then have a go.. Does it feel different? Does having some physical urgency do something different to your voice?
I’m yet to work with someone who needs to rage on stage during a work based speech, but you never know when it might come in handy…
Written by Celia Adams