Caring For Your Instrument 101

by Walter Williams

As a Voice Over Talent/Actor your most valuable tool is naturally your voice, but it’s surprising how many people don’t care for this precious instrument.

In the past, cigarette smoking was the domain of many, however these people have now become pariahs getting their fix outside of buildings instead of forcing others to passively smoke their fumes.

Tobacco is one of the most deadly enemies of healthy lungs and throat, along with excessive alcohol drinking.

A day in the life of a Professional Voice Over actor shouldn’t start with caffeine either.

Apart from being a diuretic (meaning more trips to the bathroom during your recording session) it coats your tongue, teeth & throat and makes it difficult to give your best early read.

You’re better off having Green Tea or Pineapple Juice with your breakfast and saving the coffee break for morning tea if the cravings not too strong.

Exercise is also key to a healthy set of lungs and pipes.

Make a morning walk, jog or run before or after breakfast a part of your daily routine to loosen up your body and get the blood pumping.

While you’re pounding the pavement stretch not just muscles but your larynx as well by singing or talking out loud…it helps if your dogs with you so you won’t be institutionalised.

One of my personal favourites for getting my naturally deep bass notes going is George Ezra’s opening lines to, “Did You Hear The Rain?”

Even your morning shower is a great place to stretch the  muscles in your arms and legs and get the energy flowing.

Gargling with water can help the tonsils too!

Bonus: Exercise makes you look healthier & fitter for your Profile shot.

A few products I always stock at home are Betadine Sore Throat Gargle, Fishermans Friends, Fess Saline Spray, Extra White Chewing Gum, Vicks Inhaler and Vicks VapoDrops.

The Sore Throat Gargle is mainly if you feel a tickle coming on, so you can kick the dreaded lurgy in the head early, because if this is what you do 24/7/365 then time out with illness means downtime with no income being generated.

You wouldn’t leave home with your car keys, wallet & mobile phone so don’t forget your Fishermans Friend.

It’s a must have to put in your toolbelt! 

Just when you think your throats worn out after a big session take a break and one of these and you’ll be good to go for a few more hundred words.

Of course don’t ever stress your throat to the point where you could cause long term permanent damage.

Walk away from the job and take a well earned break to rest your instrument.

Hot Tip: Always move the hard sells to the bottom of the to-do pile…start with the conversational reads.

To avoid any mouth clicks in your recording technique I recommend the Spray as a natural way to clear your nasal passages for congestion relief so you’ll breathe easier.

For those old enough to remember typewriters we used to clean the keys with a gum based product, so the sugar free Gum has a similar effect on cleaning out food particles in your teeth that can cause more noise in recording projects (your workmates will thank you too for your fresh breath confidence).

The inhaler works like the spray to clear out the sinuses as do the drops, designed to soothe the throat and clear the nose.

Once you’re in the studio tongue twisters are a great method of getting your tongue into action and ready to face the work day.

My fave is “What A To-Do To Die Today” it may sound a bit morbid, but it’s fun and is a great warm up exercise.

Google it, trust me you’ll love it.

Elocution experts have been recommending this one for years.

Print the lyrics out and keep them in your studio, briefcase, handbag or make notes on your mobile device.

There are plenty of other warm up exercises, but some of it’s overkill.

And of course stay hydrated by always drinking plenty of room temp water, NOT iced water or fridge water because they tend to constrict your vocal chords.

Now you’re ready to take on the world of voice overs with more weapons in your armoury. 

(In my Best Movie Trailer voice) Winter is coming…(after Christmas and New Year)

{Please read Disclaimer quickly}: 

[Seek medical advice before performing any exercise, T& C’s apply]

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