The voice is the instrument of communication for the actor or public speaker!
Become Master of Your Voice Now!
- Do you feel like your voice is getting in the way of your acting?
- Are you having problems with losing your voice on stage?
- Does your voice fatigue easily?
- Do you sometimes feel tension in the throat or neck when you speak?
- Can you speak over loud sounds and yell and scream, when needed?
- Does your voice limit the way you are perceived by others?
- Is your voice no longer representative of the person you truly are?
- Do you hate the sound of your voice?
- Maximize your vocal potential by increasing vocal resonance, power and freedom!
Why Does an Actor Need to Do Voice Work?
All of the serious acting conservatories usually require an actor to do two to four years of voice work. The voice is the instrument of the actor and if the actor is limited by his or her voice, the voice can actually hinder the actor’s free expression. The actor also needs to be able to portray a wide variety of characters and he or she needs a flexible vocal instrument that is able to assume another personality. A conservatory program will usually cover freeing the voice, finding vocal power, increasing resonance, diction, the phonetic alphabet, dialects and sometimes even singing. In Los Angeles, most actor’s who take acting classes study only acting technique. Therefore, the actor needs to find a voice teacher on his or her own to study voice work so that their training is not deficient in any way. If you take voice lessons in Los Angeles with Heather Lyle, she will teach all of the vocal techniques taught at the best conservatories today.
A Few Comments on Voice Work and Daniel Day Lewis
In 2008 I attended an interview with Daniel Day Lewis, one of the best actors alive, regarding his movie “There Will Be Blood.” In the movie Daniel Day Lewis has a very unique voice. Mr. Lewis said that to create his character he had to first create the voice of the character and by delving deeply into the voice, the character emerged. He also spent time listening to recordings of American speakers in the early part of the 20th century to develop a dialect that was more authentic to the period that the movie was set in. I had an opportunity after the interview to speak in depth with Mr. Lewis and he said that voice work has been an extremely important part of his acting technique. Today he feels that too many actors undervalue its importance, to the detriment of the art form.
In 2012 publicity interviews of Daniel Day Lewis, for his movie “Lincoln,” he spoke again of voice work. Daniel said that he spent a year researching the dialect used in the time of Lincoln and once again developed the voice, first, as a window into Lincoln’s character. He, then, practiced the voice for 2 and 1/2 months and when he felt he had mastered it, sent recordings of himself speaking as Lincoln to Spielberg. In an interview with Oprah Daniel said that he felt that “the voice is the fingerprint of the soul.” Very few new actor’s emerging on the scene possess a voice that can captivate an audience like Daniel Day Lewis’.
I also attended an interview with Joe Wright, the director of “Pride and Prejudice, “regarding his movie “Atonement” that won the academy award for best picture. Mr. Wright had a voice coach on set for the rehearsals before shooting started and decided to keep him on set for the whole shoot. He started each day of the filming with a vocal warm-up for the cast, crew and himself. He said that he found that the actor’s performances were deeper and more inspired after a vocal warm-up and felt that the voice work was invaluable, and a way to spark greater creativity for not just the actor, but for himself and the crew as well.
Uncover the Authentic Voice
Many actors and professional speakers have never truly used their authentic voices. Unfortunately, the free uninhibited voice we all possess as toddlers becomes squelched early in life in response to social conditioning. We learn very early that loud, wild vocal sounds are not acceptable and by the time we enter school, most of our creative sounding is gone. As the years go on, our breath becomes more shallow and we hold back our voice more and more, disconnecting from it. Through a sequence of breath and voice exercises the actor can reawaken the voice that roars within and regain the primal voice connection.
The Breath-Body-Voice Connection
The vocal cords are the oscillator of the voice but without the flow of air to excite them they remain quiet. Without air there is no sound. To attempt to use one’s voice without air will only cause vocal tension and possible throat damage. So, it is paramount that the actor or public speaker get in touch with his or her breathing and learn breath management skills. When you learn to make the breath-body-voice connection the results are dramatic. Lyle will teach you how to breath from the core of the body and then release the voice freely, connected to the breath.
Use the Voice as it was Designed
Actors and public speakers alike need to understand how to use the voice correctly to avoid vocal fatigue and abuse. The voice is made of a series of muscles that can be trained like any other muscle in the body. With the assistance of a trained voice teacher, the actor or public speaker can build their voice into a powerful, expressive healthy instrument.
Optimum Pitch Level
It is necessary to discover your optimum pitch level for healthy speaking. Everyone has a certain pitch level that is most optimum for extended speech. Many of us tend to speak too low in our register or in an unsupported way. Have you ever met anyone who speaks too high in an unnatural little girl voice? Have you ever met someone who is obviously lowering their voice to sound more masculine or mysterious? Speaking for extended periods at an unnatural pitch level can be harmful, so you must find out the healthiest pitch level for your own unique voice.
Most speakers use only a small part of their voice when they speak. The throat center is one of the most tense areas in the human body. Many actors and public speakers feel vocally choked and suffer from throat pain. Jaw tension and tongue tension are also detriments to vocal freedom. By learning how to release the voice from the core of the body and vocal exercises that loosen the different parts of the vocal instrument, the actor or public speaker can experience the pleasure of vocal freedom.
Many actors and public speakers use only a small portion of their resonance potential. Resonance is described as a rich, sonorous sound. Without resonance the voice will sound dull and lack beauty. The resonators are the mouth, pharynx and nasal passages. By learning how to combine the resonators efficiently, everyone can have a beautiful, rich voice.
Widen the Vocal Spectrum
Through the discovery of all the possible vocal resonators of the body, the actor can possess a wide palate of vocal colors available for characterization. Most speakers also tend to speak on only a few pitches, rarely extending their voice higher or lower than what is habitual. Most speakers actually possess a much wider range than they realize. It is not uncommon for an actor to discover that they have two octaves of vocal pitches available for sounding. That means they have 16 possible pitches from high to low that they can shout, scream or whisper on.
The diaphragm and costal muscles are the power source for the voice. Most of us breath only in the top portion of our lungs at about the point of the collarbone. For conversational speech this is adequate, but for prolonged or heightened speech it is necessary to breath from the core of the body at the location of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that sits in the center of the body and divides the respiratory cavity from the abdominal cavity. It is attached to the base of the sternum and the lower ribs and the thoracic spine in the back. When we inhale the ribcage opens and the diaphragm lowers, giving the lungs room to expand and thus take in more air. Then the muscles of exhalation go into action. Another set of costal muscles close the ribcage and the abdominal muscles move upward, assisting the diaphragm in returning to its original domed shape. Singing and theater speech require us to delay exhalation, managing the voice on the breath. The minute we allow the exhalation muscles to overtake the inhalation muscles, we are out of breath and out of sound. In singing and theater speech the actor strives to achieve a sort of equilibrium between the muscles of inspiration and exhalation. The early Italian schools of voice called this equilibrium appoggio, which actually means leaning. By controlling the release of air and sound the actor experiences a feeling of voice support in the torso area as the abdominal muscles lean against the downward action of the diaphragm. By learning breath support skills the actor can project the voice from this power source, having tremendous vocal power without fatigue or stress to the vocal cords.
Articulation and Accent Reduction
Clear precise speech is paramount to the actor or public speaker. It is important to learn precise articulation skills to improve overall voice clarity. Heather Lyle employs the all inclusive Knight/Thompson method of speech education to teach you, as Hamlet said, to “Speak trippingly on the tongue,” combined with deeper voice techniques to open the blocked vocal channels in the body and free the voice. By working with Heather Lyle you will gain a deeper internal connection to your voice and uncover your true authentic voice.
If you have a distinctive accent you will limit your casting and be typecast into specific acting parts. To play a wide spectrum of roles it is necessary to be able to remove your accent at will. Although an accent is formed by years of habitual behavior Heather Lyle can teach you to alter your accent without loss of cultural or regional identity. You will learn Standard American Dialect, the dialect standard used in the entertainment industry. This dialect can be “put on” and removed at will, or you can learn to permanently replace your current dialect. The choice is yours!
Whatever your speech needs, Lyle is a compassionate teacher who is committed to assisting you in reaching the vocal heights you aspire to in the least amount of time in the most fun and efficient way possible.
During the first session for speech work, I do an assessment of a student’s current speech habits and discuss what they’d like to accomplish. I map out speech goals and provide an exercise program to meet their specific speech needs. Some of the physiological points covered are: breathing, resonance, how to engage the power source of the voice and keep the throat relaxed, remove nasality, increase the overtones in the voice to create a more pleasing sound, find optimal pitch for comfort and resonance, improve articulation and clarity, extend range, and for actors specifically, how to use character voices without vocal injury or pain.
For actors: How to apply newly learned skills to scripts and text. I am also available for on-set coaching.
For the business professional: How to apply newly learned skills to speeches and presentations. Also how to give a good speech, how to remove unwanted filler words and pauses and how to engage your audience.
For teachers: Teachers are extended use speakers and it is very important for them to be trained in how to correctly use the voice for an extended period of time. Teachers are more inclined to get vocal injuries then any other demographic of people on the planet.
How long does it take?
Without voice training, few people will use their voice correctly, so I can usually make a difference in someone’s voice in one lesson. Of course the more lessons you take the more you learn and the better your voice becomes. I recommend a commitment of three to six lessons to start. For some that is sufficient, for others more time is needed. It also depends on how motivated you are to do the work on your own. The results are usually exciting and dramatic, so, I find most people are eager to dive in and make changes. Remember, you are not stuck with the voice you were born with, with new-found knowledge it can be trained to become your greatest asset. Get Voice Lessons in Los Angeles today.
Individual Instruction is $150 an hour. Contact me for corporate workshop or on-set or production coaching rates. 310 200-0506
“I had the pleasure to work with Heather for several months after almost loosing my voice. I am a TV host and thru out the years I experienced huge tension in my vocal cords. The lack of technique and simply trying to hard was getting me to a point of loosing my voice and performing with stress. After taking a few lessons with Heather and using the exercises and information on this book I had an amazing comeback. I can only thank Heather for her care and patience. I highly recommend her book and working with her to anyone who professionally uses his/her voice.”
– Marco Antonio Regil, Spanish TV Host/Dancing With the Stars/Minute to Win It/The Price is Right
You have been a great help to our doctoral economic students helping them reduce their accents and be dynamic presenters. Your track record on the last two:
University of Chicago professor and Yale professor!”
– Mark Grinblatt, Senior Associate Dean and director of the UCLA Anderson Ph.D. Program: Anderson School of Finance and Economics, UCLA