Do you know how to sound older or younger than you are? In this podcast, Cristina Milizia talks about how to increase – and decrease – your vocal resonance using proper vocal technique. This is a valuable tool that voice actors can use to increase their vocal range as well as their opportunities for work. Cristina also teaches you how to use your voice in a healthy way that won’t damage your vocal cords.
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Your instructor this week:
President, Global Voice Acting Academy
Cristina Milizia has been professional voice talent & on camera actor for over 23 years. Beginning her career at the age of eight, she has recorded for thousands of toys, games, commercials, & online media platforms. Her credits include Disney Jr.’s Doc McStuffins, Mattel’s Monster High, and Riot Games League of Legends.
Cristina Milizia is the President the Global Voice Acting Academy and a full time voice over talent. She is an expert in toys, gaming platforms, children’s media, vocal technique, animation and video games.
Performing regularly for clients such as Mattel, Nintendo Wii, Electronic Arts, Leapfrog, Riot Games, American Girl, Hallmark, Disney and Discovery, Cristina’s versatile range of character & commercial voices has established her as one of the leading female character actors working in the voice over business today.
Cristina’s experience also includes working as Voice Talent Coordinator & Localization Expert for Creativity Inc (2003-2008). Collaborating with clients such as Hasbro, Mattel, & Disney Character Voices, Cristina’s extensive knowledge of the casting world is an experience she now uses to help coach other talents towards realizing their goals within the realm of voice over.
Welcome to Voice Over Experts, brought to you by voices.com the number one voice over marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform and succeed from the privacy of your own home, and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else. Now for our special guest, Cristina Milizia.
Cristina Milizia: Hey, my name is Cristina Milizia and I’ve been a professional voice talent for over 23 years. I’m also the founder and President of the Global Voice Acting Academy, an organization dedicated to helping voice talent across the world achieve their personal voice over goals. Check us out at globalvoiceacademy.com.
Today I’m going to talk about how to increase and decrease your vocal resonance using proper vocal technique. This is a valuable tool that voice actors can use to increase their vocal range as well as their opportunities for work. As an added benefit you’ll be learning how to use your voice in a healthy way that won’t damage your vocal chords. Let’s get started.
The basics. You know how your voice sounds absolutely fantastic when you’re in a large, cavernous room? Performance hall? A church, or even in the shower? The reason is that you are surrounded by hard surfaces in that room. Sound waves are bouncing off the walls and creating an echo. Not only does this make the voice sound louder, it all makes it more resonant.
This is because certain frequencies are being amplified and the additional echoes are smoothing out any wavering notes, making them less noticeable. Everyone sounds better with a little reverb. So in these large places with hard surfaces, volume, reverb and resonance are all working together to create a beautiful sound.
Today I’m going to teach you how to give your voice that same extra boost of resonance by modifying the actual physical space of your mouth. Lastly we’ll do the whole process in reverse, shrinking the space to create character and kids’ voices, the jaw. To begin, let’s talk about the jaw.
The jaw needs to be relaxed and in a nice, open position for increased resonance. If you are trying to increase the richness of your sound you will want to keep your jaw free of tension and let it hang loosely as you speak. Keep the vowels as round and open as possible using only lip movement and very minimal jaw movement to articulate your words.
To feel how much you can change your sound without ever moving your jaw, try this exercise. Start with the loose, relaxed, open jaw position by saying the word, “ah.” You mouth should be open; and leave it hanging open. Now, put your finger on your chin to keep your jaw from open or closing during the exercise. The change in sound will occur from the shape and space available in the back of your mouth and throat only.
Alright, here’s the exercise. So start with that big open jaw position and say, “ah, eh, e, oh, oo, and use only the back of your mouth to differentiate between the sounds. Do not move your jaw. Let’s go ahead and try it together. Finger on the chin, ah, eh, eu, oh, oo. Remember, you can use your lips. Just don’t move your jaw. Ah, eh, eu, oh, oo. Try it a couple of times on your own.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, isn’t it amazing how much you can actually say those vowel sounds without ever moving your jaw? Notice how much more rich, deep and full the sound production is? If you would like to increase the resonance of your vocal tone and voice over work, this is the place to start.
I’m going to do it both ways for you so you can hear the difference. Here is if I just let my jaw say the vowel sounds with me, letting it do whatever it wants. Ah, eh, e, o, oo. Okay, and now with the open jaw position, my finger on my chin, not allowing my jaw to move. Ah, eh, ee, o, oo. Hear the difference?
The soft palate. Next, we’re going to learn where the soft palate is and how to use it properly to increase vocal resonance. This is one of several secret weapons of having a richer and fuller-bodied vocal quality. If you naturally have a younger sound like I do, or even a breathier or nasally sounds, lifting the soft palate will also help you get a deeper sound quality. Let’s start by locating it.
Touch the tip of your tongue to the top of your mouth, making contact to just behind the front teeth. Now, draw your tongue back across the roof of your mouth towards the back of your throat. You will the dome with ridges and then you feel a hard bone at the back. If you keep going you will feel that behind that bone, the tissue gets soft and go up into space, too high for your tongue to reach the top of it. That soft tissue going up beyond your tongue’s reach is your soft palate.
The best way to get a kinesthetic sense of this space to yawn. When we yawn we automatically raise the soft palate. Try yawning a few times just to feel how open the back of your mouth and throat are. Now, to feel the movement of the soft palate more directly, keep your mouth closed and yawn again. You’ll notice you can do the same exact movement with your jaw opening wide, just keeping your lips closed to do the yawn.
Try it a few times, paying close attention to what is happening in the very back upper region of your throat and mouth where you now know the soft palate to be. Can you feel it lifting? It will feel like a big hollow domed space hovering above where your throat goes down into your airway.
Exercise for the soft palate. Once again, let’s start with the loose, relaxed, open jaw position. Put your finger on your chin if you need to to keep your jaw from opening or closing accidentally during the exercise. In fact I recommend putting your finger on your chin at all times during these exercises. It really helps.
Remember, the change in resonance will occur from the shape and space available in your mouth and in the back of the throat only. So with your open jaw position, just say ah. Good, now we’re going to do a note, ahhhh. Put your finger on your chin and one more time for two seconds, ahhhh. Now let’s do the same thing, and after two seconds I want you to try your soft palate. So basically feel like you’re about to yawn, or try to yawn mid-exercise.
Here we go. Ahhhooo. Let’s try it again. Ahhhh. Did you hear the sound difference? Let’s try it two more times, both of us together. Ahhhooo, ahhhooo. You’ll get the hang of it.
Your tongue. The last thing we’re going to talk about in regards to changing you vocal resonance is the back of the tongue. The tongue is actually a huge muscle. Look at any diagram of the throat, head and mouth and you will see for yourself. Your tongue has an enormous impact on your sound. To see just how dramatic this change is, try this exercise for me.
We’re going to start with our same ahh sound and then lift the back of the tongue to the roof of your mouth, actually touching it and then letting it come down again. Here’s what it will sound like. Ahhhnnnahhh. So lift the back of the tongue and touch the roof of your mouth mid-way through the ahhh and then lower it again.
Here we go. Ahhhnnnahhhnnnahhhnnnahhh. Good, now we’re going to try it one more time. And this time when you lower the back of the tongue, try to really pull it down as far as you can and open up that back space so you have extra room for resonance. Ahhhnnnahhhnnnahhhnnnahhh. Good!
Now, let’s put it all together. The jaw, the soft palate and the back of the tongue for increased vocal resonance. So, taking our same ahh exercise, we’re going to start with that loose relaxed open jaw position, putting your finger on your chin if you need to. We’ll do two seconds of ahh with your natural sound and then two seconds of expanding your vocal resonance chamber by lifting the soft palate and lowering the back of the tongue.
Here we go. Ahhhoooahhh. Ahhhooohhh. And remember, if you’re getting some jaw movement try to feel like your jaw is nice and open from the beginning. Ahhhoooahhh. If you’re doing it right, the sound quality should become richer, fuller and louder immediately. It should feel like someone has suddenly blown a small balloon in the back of your mouth. Imagine feeling like you have a rooftop dome on top and a rich, open space on the bottom that rounds everything out.
Okay, last. Let’s do this in context and try speaking the sentence, “It’s important for voice artists to learn how to care for their instruments.” So if I were to speak this regularly, “It’s important for voice artists to learn how to care for their instruments,” now we’ll do it with added vocal resonance. Ready? “It’s important for voice artists to learn how to care for their instruments.” Good! Let’s do it one more time, and remember to lift the soft palate and lower the back of the tongue, nice open jaw.
“It’s important for voice artists to learn how to care for their instruments.” It’s interesting to note that if you are doing children’s voices you would control these same anatomical elements to create a younger sound. Kids have shorter vocal chords, small mouths and a small resonance chamber. To create a kid’s voice you would then need to collapse the resonance chamber in order to mimic the anatomy of a small child. Let’s give it a try.
Let’s start with our same ahh exercise, ahh for two seconds and then shift into a smaller resonance chamber for two seconds. There are two elements to this. Number one, shrink the jaw space by smiling as wide as you can. You can even thrust your bottom jaw slightly forward to minimize the space. Number two, lift the back of the tongue close to the roof of your mouth so you can almost feel it on your top molars. Let’s try it with our exercise.
Ahhhaaaa. Did you hear the difference? Ahhhaaaa. My pitch even shifted. Ahhhaaaa. So now, here’s our sentence again, spoken both ways. “It’s important for voice artists to learn how to care for their instruments.” And now, shrinking the space, “It’s important for voice artists to learn how to care for their instruments.”
If I raise the pitch it will sound even more dramatic, “It’s important for voice artists to learn how to care for their instruments.” “It’s important for voice artists to learn how to care for their instruments.” Now, getting the acting down is a separate element but that is up to you and your voice over coach.
Well hey, thanks for listening and I hope this has been helpful to you. This is just a small glimpse into what vocal technique can truly do for your voice. For information about coaching, demo production, home studio and recording services, group classes, webinars, business and marketing or any other professional voice over service, you can email me at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out our website at www.globalvoiceacademy.com. We work with talent all over the world.
For additional information about vocal health, check out our YouTube channel where we post free educational lectures and webinars from our team of experts. Thanks and happy practising.
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