protecting your voice for voice over

Voice Actors, Protect Yourself!

Some great advice on protecting your voice!

Since I have been teaching acting for the stage, screen and voiceover acting for the better part of my life, I have always been tuned into the human voice and how to take care of that wonderful instrument.

Here are just some of the valuable things that I have learned over the years through training, experience and reading what the experts have to say about maintaining your voice and improving your performance:

Vocal Health and Performance Do’s

  • Hydrate: It takes about 45 minutes for a drink of water to achieve proper hydration, so start hydrating early.  Keep room temperature water nearby. Do not drink cold drinks.
  • Sleep: Get plenty of rest.  Skip the rock concert the night before an important recording session 🙂
  • Virgin Olive Oil:  OK…weird, but opera singers do it and it works for dry mouth.  Swish mouth thoroughly with a capful of virgin olive oil.  It reduces mouth noise and clicks when recording.
  • Tea With Lemon or Honey: Great to soothe a sore throat.
  • Massage your face with your finger tips: This helps to relax facial muscles and open up sinuses.
  • Green Apples: Eating a few slices, like Granny Smith green apples, can help cut through mucus.
  • Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice or water with lemon: Both great for keeping mouth moist and throat clear.

Vocal Health and Performance Don’ts

  • Coffee: Here’s one you don’t hear about too often, but caffeine can cause constriction of sinuses and throat.  The same goes for alcohol.
  • Dairy Products: Both can coat mouth and clog sinuses.  Avoid when going to a class, audition or booking.
  • Smoking: Obviously….don’t do it. Your voice over career will be a lot more fulfilling if you’re alive 😉
  • Eating: Avoid before a recording session or eat something very light that is easy to digest.
  • Being Uncomfortable: Never go into the booth knowing you should have used a rest room to blow your nose, clear your throat or use the facilities. Get to your destination early to give yourself time to relax, make yourself as comfortable as possible and start warming up your vocal instrument.

NOTE: These tips are going on the assumption that you are already using the essential techniques of proper placement, breathing, support, posture, etc. If not, seek training from a qualified voice coach.

A real world example!

I just saw Bryon Cranston of the hit TV show Breaking Bad portray LBJ in the play All The Way on Broadway. He was remarkable and was on stage speaking for almost the entire three hours. In reading about how he is handling his first Broadway role, he says that in order to perform eight times a week, Monday is the day he DOES NOT SPEAK – at all!!! Talk about commitment to your art and taking care of that precious voice.

YOU ARE IN CONTROL of your vocal health, and isn’t it nice to be in control. It’s easy to take our vocal instruments for granted. If you want to be a VO actor, you need to be aware of what keeps your voice strong and healthy.

Just like with any physical exercise, you will need to experiment and find out what works best for you.

Let us know what your go-to techniques, tips, and tricks are in the comments section below! …or any other stories related to vocal health…

Be well, vocally and otherwise!
Sandy Stefanowicz

About the Author: Sandy Stefanowicz

Sandy-Stefanowicz-smBefore joining Voice Box, Sandy was with a large area casting company for almost 12 years serving as a casting director, acting teacher and education coordinator.  At Voice Box Sandy is the Professional Development Coordinator, where she guides aspiring and working voice over actors as they make choices about professional training.  She also teaches acting and offers consultations for college and career guidance.  Sandy holds an MA in theatre from Villanova University. She has appeared on stage, in commercials, feature and independent films. In the area of voiceover, she is the voice of Children’s Dentistry. Before working full-time in the on-camera and voiceover industry, Sandy headed up the award-winning Ridley Drama Group where she directed for the stage and coached performers for stage and screen for over three decades.  Outside of the US, she has taught acting in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Japan. Sandy has been named to the Who’s Who of America Teachers.

7 thoughts on “Voice Actors, Protect Yourself!”

  1. This is a great article, Sandy.
    I had heard about some of the things you mention like eating a green apple slice before a recording session but never the olive oil swish…What a great idea and extremely useful tips.

    1. Thanks Shar! I know your technique is just to be perfect in every way! ..and humble!

  2. I make a batch of ginger root tea weekly and it clears all the inflammation.
    Here’s a simple recipe: Ginger Root (peel, wash and chop in small chunks), squeeze 4 lemons (without skin because it gets too bitter),put into a large pot of water and cover until it boils and then cook for an additional hour
    keeping it covered,turn off heat and add honey to taste. Leave ginger in pot for a day and then remove. Tea is great hot or cold and can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

  3. Cool Charlene! What form does it come in, or do you need to prepare it in a special way like Robin’s ginger root tea?

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