Saturday, April 07, 2007

ON ACTING: Getting Rid of the Vocal 'Squeaks'

There is a story about Lauren Bacall, the sultry-voiced Hollywood actress of the mid-twentieth century (also the wife of Humphrey Bogart). The story: when she came to Hollywood as a teen-ager, she was cursed with a high-pitched squeaky voice. Becoming very soon aware (her agent starting bugging her?) that that could be a career-busting problem, she started to go up to the Hollywood Hills, under the famed Hollywood sign, and practice reading scripts aloud in her (at first, artificial) deepest voice. Before too much time passed (and with much dedication) she trained herself to (naturally) have that deep-throat-voice that charmed and fascinated millions of her fans. Practice makes perfect.

To those actors who might have a high-pitched voice (not a natural tenor or coloratura but rather a 'squeak' due to inordinate tension in the throat and chest), I offer an exercise--not quite as glamorous as standing under the Hollywood sign (the cops would probably roust you now and put you on medication, anyway)--but often as effective: stand up against a wall, back against it, keep your buttocks and shoulder pressed tight against the wall throughout, and speak as loudly as you can...WITHOUT EVER REMOVING YOUR SHOULDERS FROM CONTACT WITH THE WALL (thereby thwarting any possibility of speaking from the 'scrunched' chest and nose rather than from the desirable diaphragm and mouth where all full tones originate and exit). A FINAL HINT: Imagine a mouth at your belly button and practice speaking from it!

Practice five or ten minutes a day. If your throat gets are probably doing it wrong! The chest and throat are still tense (constricted). Speak from the belly button...remember! And speak louder and louder as you get more practiced.


Blogger Myles said...

got it! thanks..

6:48 PM  

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