Five Tips for Your Vocal Routine
An actor’s voice is one of the most important tools in their toolbox. Below, voice teacher and instructor in A.C.T.’s San Francisco Semester Jessica Berman shares five tips for taking care of your vocal instrument.
1. Focus on posture and alignment, especially when speaking online.
- Drop down your spine so that your whole upper body is hanging from your tailbone (you can do this seated or in standing)
- Shake out your shoulders
- Gently roll your head and neck around
- Give your arms and legs a little pat and notice the sensations that you feel in your body
2. Use steam.
Using a steam inhaler is one of the best things you can do to hydrate your voice. It is an essential tool for maintenance, or for voices that are fatigued, over used, or if you’re dealing with illness. You can purchase a personal steam inhaler at most drug stores, or simply pour boiled water into a cup or bowl and place your nose and mouth over it, inhaling normally (be very careful not to burn yourself!). Be sure to wait an hour or so after steaming before using your voice at full force to allow the vocal folds to cool down.
3. Always warm up, even if you’re limited by time.
Even taking a few minutes to connect to your breath, shake out your body, release some easy, open vowel sounds (try “ahh” or “hey”), and flutter the lips can make a big difference to your long-term vocal health.
4. Warm down.
We know that it’s good for our vocal health to warm up, but we often forget about the benefits of warming down. Especially after a very vocally demanding performance or speaking engagement, or even just a long day of talking, warming down helps us to release physical tension and re-center. It can be brief—consider a few minutes of fluttering the lips, gentle humming, and lying down on the floor to connect to the breath and release muscular tension.
It’s simple yet extremely effective for opening up and creating space at the back of the mouth and relaxing the throat.