You’re the Voice! Try and Understand That

Yes, I’m quoting John Farnham. Actually, I’m quoting Chris Thompson, Andy Quanta, Keith Reid and Maggie Ryder   – the people who wrote the lyrics.

You’re the voice, try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o!
We’re not gonna sit in silence
We’re not gonna live with fear
Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o!
(repeat until end of song) (courtesy of LyricsFreak)

I was reminded of this, yet again, by a recent discussion on VASTA (Voice and Speech Trainers of America) about the way some people can learn an accent (in the USA, this is referred to as dialect), for a role in a play, do it perfectly in rehearsal, but then slip up in performance.

Changing the way we speak is a huge undertaking. It may seem, to the uninitiated, like a superficial action, reshaping a few vowel sounds here and there, jiggling the intonation pattern of phrases, but those of us who deal with these things understand that it is never that simple.

Whenever we speak, or give voice to language, we express something of our very own selves. Many complex combinations of muscles are required to perform the most amazing dance within our bodies to allow our sound to be revealed to the listeners. We have spent a lifetime perfecting the way we do it. Trying to learn new ways of doing that incredible inner dance requires months of dedication – not just on the part of the voice coach, but on the part of the voicer.  It requires agility of mind and body, listening accurately, staying alert and focussed, and forgiving every perceived error so that we can start again, and again and again.

When non-performers (also known as “regular people” :-)) try to modify their accents, they very quickly learn that they are modifying part of their culture, their social behaviour and their very sense of who and what they are.  Actors often make the mistake of thinking its just a matter of learning new muscle memory. BIG MISTAKE.  If you learn an accent purely technically, you are not learning how to inhabit it, how to be someone who speaks that way naturally. As well as the physical technique, you also need to understand WHY the character speaks that way, what cultural mores and attitudes go along with it, as well as all the psychological and emotional life you explore as part of the rehearsal process.  When you understand, at this deep level, what you have in common with the character, and where you are different, you can begin to give yourself permission to Choose to be the same in every way, just in the moment of performing.  That means you will feel different to your usual way of being. It doesn’t have to be carried off stage with you. Let it go. Allow the next moment to be just as real, and that applies both on stage and off.

And if that were easy, we’d all be doing it!  So may I respectfully suggest that we honour our voices, as part of honouring ourselves, and make them clear in every way.  We don’t have to shout to be truthful, but we do have to be honest with ourselves, first and foremost.

What Form Below? – I hear you ask!

My humble apologies, to anyone who wanted to use the form I mentioned in my last post to express an interest in joining the Voice Class next week.  Click on this and you will see the form!

Ah, the joys of modern communication, eh?

Thank goodness we still have voices, for that vital face to face communication, and thank goodness we can come together from time to time to discover new ways of doing it even better.

In case you’re wondering how we do that in The Voice Class, well, amongst other things we move around and we make funny sounds, and in the process we learn how to listen to ourselves, from the inside, how to hear what our bodies are actually doing, and how they affect the way we sound. We hear our voices thrumming away inside ourselves, we feel the vibrations as they make their way out into the world, and we hear AND feel the vibrations others are making and we notice how that affects what we hear, and how we hear it.

All of this adds up to a more efficient voicing instrument, a more effective communication and creative expression, and a greater understanding of how the whole thing works – and why it is so important to know that!  Especially when we are performing, and even MORE especially when we are speaking words that someone else provided for us to speak.  And EVEN MORE especially when that someone is Mr W. Shakespeare.

Don’t you just love it? I know I do…

Here’s the form.  Go on, click – you know you want to.


Voice Alive!

I recently committed myself to take part in a three week intensive, full time clown training course with the fabulous Ira Seidenstein.  Terrified that I might totally exhaust myself, and run out of beans to do anything for the rest of the year, in fact I came out at the end quite invigorated and fired up, ready to take on anything 2012 can throw at me.

We worked with Shakespeare’s text, some of it placed in the mouths of actual clowns, some that you might never suspect of being clowns ‘as characters’, but then what is a character?  It’s a person. And if you are the person playing that character, and you happen to be a clown, then way-hey to go!

For example, in this clip, Anne Chaponnay, a French improv performer who came out from Paris to do the workshop plays Katherine, Princess of France, while I am her chambermaid, Alice, in a scene from Henry V.

I’m now very excited about the upcoming Voice Class, and the prospect of playing with some actors, singers, teachers, Mums, Dads, people of the world with a view to growing our voices, our self expression and our capacity for speaking great language ourselves.

Still a few places left. Get in touch, either by Facebook (Being in Voice), or Twitter (@flloydpk) or use the form below.



Beginners, Please!

I’ve been thinking for some time about producing an iPhone app for voice professionals and anyone else interested in taking care of the voice, and developing its potential.  My software development guru (my son Roderick) is standing by to turn my mp3 files into the actual app, so it won’t be long now.

To start at the beginning, I’ve just made a 10 minute recording of an introductory voice lesson for absolute beginners, offering a way in to vocal maintenance and for the development of power and flexibility of the voice.  Just for you, here it is. Please feel free to send me your feedback, I value your opinion.


Here we are again – happy as can be…

Just to let you know, I’ve transmigrated to a new hosting service provider, and in the process lost all my posts for the past 3 months.  Ah, what the heck, they’re just words, eh?  Anything important is bound to come up again, and again, and again…

The really important news is that The Voice Class 2012 is now open for bookings, shoot me an email, or phone me directly, contact me on Facebook or Twitter (@flloydpk).  Or just fill in the form below!

The class is for actors, however all acting skills are life skills, so anyone who uses their voice professionally will enjoy and benefit from this work.  We’ll kick off on Monday evening, 5th February, 7 – 9 pm. 8 classes, each Monday evening, until the end of March.

Looking forward to making beautiful, and strange, and unusual noises with you soon.