15 April 2014

How Do You Value Your Own Practice?

How do you value your own practice?

It’s easy at drama school to do your own practice.

You have assessment criteria to meet.
Some lecturer or other is encouraging you.
There are guidelines and deadlines.

But after, things are different. And maybe you never experienced this, because maybe, like many successful actors, you never went to drama school.

You know the industry has expectations of you. You know you have to be of a certain calibre to get the plum jobs. You know you have to be ready for that audition that is going to pop up tomorrow, this afternoon, in an hours time.....

I think many actors look in many places to keep them on track... whether it’s workshops, private sessions or online. Much of the time there is an outside source pushing toward that goal - the audition, the opening night, the visiting guru workshop.

What many artists lose sight of is the way in which they value their own practice. Consider this for a moment.... how is it that you value your own practice? Because if it’s from an outside source, as mentioned above, chances are, what you’re doing is sporadic and soon loses momentum after the goalpost has faded into the distance....you’ll only have to pick it up all over again when the next goalpost is erected. What have you done in the meantime?

What if we valued our practice at another level?

Place a value on your body - think of how alive and responsive your whole being is after you invest that bit of time warming into it, stretching it out and encouraging it to come to life and play. Then think how much more weight and value your voice and thoughts have on those around you.

Place a value on your knowledge - instead of constantly looking to that outside source for the answer, spend a week working on a poem or some other voice based work. Observe, listen and diagnose. You’ll be surprised how much you have retained and can do for yourself, without even having to step out the front door.

Place a value on your instinct - what is it that’s good for you today as an artist. Stop regarding someone else's ideas of a good warm up or voice session as superior to yours. What is it your body needs today, at this time, under these circumstances - stillness, activity, rest.... learn to value your body’s judgement, because it knows better than you do.

Place a value on your time - what is one hour worth to you - not in a monetary sense, but in a sense of being with friends, or reading a good book, or seeing a show. Now calculate all of the hours you have put into your voice practice - are you that apathetic that you could let this all go to waste?

So ask yourself again....how do you value your own practice?

13 December 2013

So Long Drama School.......... What Next?

Edmund Goulding helping two actors kiss 1927

So for the last semester / year / three years - however long you have been training - you’ve had a prescribed method of practice. A prescribed amount of class/rehearsal time in which to practice, refine and (hopefully) experiment with your technique.

All of a sudden the big world of “what next?” is looming ominously in front of you, and that world of structure seems an awfully difficult thing to adhere to over the holiday season.

It may be that you are in a different space where you do not have privacy - staying with family. It may be that you take on extra work, or fly off on holiday. Following are some of the best tips I know in maintaining your voice work during the times ahead:

1. Give yourself a break - Do it, and don’t feel guilty about taking a holiday. Get out and about to galleries, the beach, the mountains. It’s all going to serve in feeding your artistic self, and you need the time out.

2. Set yourself a deadline - It’s so easy to get caught up in the hurly burly of the festive season and New Year...before you know it, it’s Easter and you’ve not got your routine back in order. Set a date to start back - just like you would have to if you were taking a holiday from a regular job. Maintaining your skills is your job until your next paid gig.

3. Write it down - What is it you’re going to do? Write it down, tick it off as you go. Give yourself a visual of your habits and set yourself goals, as well as noting your discoveries.

4. Undertake a Program - There are plenty of opportunities to evolve as an artist - even for the fiscally challenged. Get your hands on a copy of ‘The Artist’s Way’ and follow the program (or perhaps one of the books listed here) or arrange early morning classes in voice and movement to kick your day off.

5. Work with like-minded actors - Set yourself some dates and skill share - it’s free and you’re more likely to do it because you’re working with a group.

6. Take yourself somewhere different - You’ve been voicing in a studio for three years - try the beach, a cave, the top of a rolling hill - a change of scenery may be just the inspiration you need.

Remember - it is now your job to improve and expand your skills through exploration - you have the basic grounding to do this - don’t be afraid of what is ahead - seize it with both hands - just be ready when opportunity comes knocking.

5 December 2013

The Top 5 Stocking Stuffers for Voice Lovers

So, this is probably the geekiest gift list you’re going to see this Christmas, but I’d list each one of these as an essential for every Voice Professional:
1. A Personal Steamer - every actor should have one. It may be small, but it could literally save your voice. Remember to consult your voice professional on exactly how and when to use this. There are many varieties, from handheld to electric.

2. Longman Pronunciation Dictionary - an invaluable resource for Actors and Voice Teachers with both British and American pronunciations, including preferences according to demographics and eras. I've had mine since 2006 and it is one of my most valuable assets as both a teacher and performer. This newer edition also comes with a CD and over 225,000 pronunciations.

3. Stage Ready Pack - I’m not pretending I don’t have a vested interest in this.... but the product has been picked up by a leading Neuroscientist for studies into lessening all types of anxiety (details coming soon). So if you know someone who suffers from stage fright and has trouble hitting the ground running in performance, this little package under the tree is just the ticket. Packs can be orders through myself or here.

4. The Morrison Bone Prop - the articulation device for superior speech. The Bone Prop is back....and it’s sexy! Have a look at these babies. Sure beats the bit of plugging spaghetti on cheap string I had as a student. If you're going to wear it for three years, wear it with style.

5. Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation CD - From the team that gave us the wonderful Shakespeare on Toast, listen to Shakespeare being brought to life with this unique audio download of Shakespearean pronunciation; a must for anyone who has ever wondered how Shakespeare sounded to the audiences of his day. This download offers listeners the chance to hear England's greatest playwright performed by a company of actors using the pronunciation of his time.

Would you like to add to the list?

Wishing you all a wonderful, safe and happy holiday period. Be on the lookout soon for Love Voice 2014  brochure.

Love Voice!