Pilates to care for your voice

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Breathing from your diaphragm is different than breathing from your chest, it uses your core and your belly pushes out as you exhale rather than your neck and doing all the work as your shoulders rise to your ears. There are many benefits to diaphragmatic breathing for your voice. First,  you can get out those marathon sentences with no commas, or periods that just keep going and going and going in one breath instead of having to go back and edit out a breath in the middle just to get through them 🙂 Diaphragmatic breathing is also great for relaxation, expelling even more carbon dioxide from our bodies, and is the way the body is designed to breathe.

Here is a quick video tutorial on how to breathe this way

It helps to have a strong core when breathing from your diaphragm and Pilates is one of the best ways to improve your core strength, particularly for vocal health. According to Cari Cole in 8 Ways to Improve Your Vocal Health,

“Pilates are better than abdominal crunches.

Six-pack abs are a hit at the beach, but not all toned abs are created equal. More often than not, people do abdominal crunches to strengthen their abs. While it may look good, it’s the exact opposite of what a singer needs to support a healthy voice. Short, contracted abdominal muscles can cause vocal problems because there is no room for the diaphragm (the muscle that supports the singing voice) to descend and it creates constriction in the throat muscles, which will not help you sing better. Pilates lengthens abdominal muscles while strengthening them, giving you support from your diaphragm while improving your vocal technique.”

Have you noticed a difference in your voice and endurance when using diaphragmatic breathing?

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10 ‘other’ benefits of working out for Voice and On-Camera Talent

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exercise-illustrationWe have all heard about working out to look good and help keep the flub at bay. I have found that there are many ‘other’ benefits of regular exercise for voice and on-camera talent, that don’t get much press, if any.

  1. Increases performance ability – cardio makes for a strong heart and lungs which make for increased performance when doing those marathon never ending voice over sentences that just keep going and going without any punctuation or pauses to allow you to catch your breath 😉
  2. Better range of motion so you can do more – working out keeps all of your muscles functioning at the peak including improved balance and flexibility. Sometimes on-camera work requires physical activity, voice-overs often do too. What a shame to lose a job or be miserable while doing it because your body isn’t able.
  3. Increased confidence – working out makes you feel better, feeling better makes you more comfortable, feeling more comfortable makes you more confident, and more confidence makes for a better performance.
  4. Stamina to go for those 10 – 12 hour days on set or in front of the mic – whether it is standing, moving, or sitting for long periods of time, your body can handle it like a pro because it is strong and flexible and ready to work for you instead of causing pain and slowing you down.
  5. Your voice performs better – when your core is strong, both front and back, your muscles are prepped and ready to work for you not against you. Especially in voice-over work where we breathe with our stomach not our chest, having a strong core is key.
  6. You feel good – you are in a better mood and more relaxed, so it becomes easy to ‘smile’ as you read voice-overs for hours on end, you don’t have to force yourself to do it.
  7. More energy – working out increases energy rather than depleting it, I don’t know the science behind it, but I know it is true!
  8. Better health over the long haul – better health means better quality of life which means you can keep working and enjoy life longer.
  9. You ‘need’ less or no caffeine for energy – after tapping into your real energy you don’t ‘need’ as much or any fake energy. Caffeine negatively impacts your vocal performance and your skin’s appearance, so the less you consume the better.
  10. Last, but not least, it definitely never hurts to look your best especially for those on-camera jobs 😉

What benefits have you noticed from exercise that help your voice and on-camera work?

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How singing improves voice-over performance

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Lately, I have been increasingly doing longer sessions and am reminded that much like runners can sprint at a speed they can’t maintain for a marathon, I can’t do everything with my voice during a long read that I can for a :60 sec spot.

I’ve started actually doing the warm-ups that I’ve always been told I needed to do, instead of just the :30 sec warm-ups I had been doing. (Imagine that, my teachers were right! :)) One of the things I’ve found that I most enjoy and is the most effective, is to sing.

Now, I’ve always been told that I can not sing. I went to School for Creative and Performing Arts where we are tested in several categories; signing, art, music, dance, acting, writing, and tech theatre. Your score in each discipline determines if you can take it as a major, a minor, or you can’t take it at all. I didn’t score well enough to even take singing classes 😦

But, I love singing and have always wanted to be able to do to it. So, a few years ago, when I shared a house with an incredible singer in Nashville, I began to imitate her warm-ups and started practicing singing, even asking her questions about where I should feel notes in my body etc. I also began to notice a change in my voice over work and realized they have a symbiotic relationship. As in my singing helps me to do a better performance with voice overs and voice overs help me to sing better.

I’ve begun to add some vocal warm-ups for singers into my warm-up mix and not only do I enjoy them, but they are making quite a difference when it comes to long sessions. To make the most of these exercises I needed to find out what my range is, and for someone who doesn’t even sing Happy Birthday at parties, I had no idea? That’s where this handy video comes into play.

Turns out I’m an alto, with a large range, which must be why I like to sing along to Fleetwood Mac!

For me, the difference between the voice over warm-ups and singing warm-ups is that while they are both GOOD :0 The singing warm-ups help condition my voice to perform for an extended period of time. It is a deeper work-out for my voice. Whereas a voice over warm-up like a tongue twister is a just before you get in front of the mic, last min work-out. Both are necessary when doing long form narration and I’m grateful that I get the results I need from singing warm-ups.

Oh and BTW – not one but two strangers have complimented me on my singing lately – ha! 😉

What kind of warm-ups do you do and why?

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Thank you Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

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Thank you to Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas for asking me to share about how important audiobooks are from my perspective, as both a writer (check out my historical fiction book here) and as voice over talent. You can listen to samples in my demos tab here. GPaxVoxcrop1 GPaxVoxcrop2

You can also connect with Lighthouse Publishing, get your free audio book, and see it live here.

Where do you like to listen to audio books?

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