Looking after your voice

Victoria is an actress, freelance journalist and author
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Today I'm embracing a very rare occurrence. I am immersed in a state of bunged-upness, complimented by a persistent tickly cough which is rapidly throwing me into a state of grogginess. I'm positively looking at my life very un-positively.

I hadn't planned for this. I'm mid-way through reading an audio book, which has to match my usual upbeat, husky tones. I have narrated the first half of the book, which has been already been recorded, and my deadline for the second half is fast approaching. Rapid vocal recovery is required.

In a panic to regain full vocal health, I make a point of visiting my local “grocery” store, in my healthy Wholefoods town of Santa Monica, in California. I'm woman on a mission, and people who know me well, know that when I put my mind to something, I have an extremely powerful power-walk.

I've dusted off my list of remedies in my trusty red journal from when I attended the Central School of Speech and Drama. They detail the techniques suggested to look after the voice.

[pullquote]It's not until something breaks that you are reminded to look after it[/pullquote]

So, my kitchen is set up like a school chemistry lab. Hot lemon and honey with a hint of salt, echnicea, throat coat teas, steaming, resting, you name it, I'm doing it.

The thing is, it's not until something breaks that you are reminded to look after it. In this case, my voice. The actor's engine. My main form of coherent expression, without which creativity cannot communicate fully.

I wrote the above about a month ago and it taught me a harsh, but fantastic life lesson. The voice IS the actor's instrument.

If you want to become a master of anything, it takes awareness of knowing what's not working, a recognition of a reoccurring pattern that needs changing, and the courage to admit failure and do something about it, to succeed the next time.

I now take the time to really look after my voice, the same as I would in a yoga class, not continually beating myself up but resting when I need to, and listening to my body at all times.

What have your experiences been? Do you have any tips on how best to look after your voice?