Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog: March 2016

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Making A Career In Voiceover: Interview with Linda Bruno

Linda Bruno
NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click on the title of this post and go online to hear.
Available also on iTunes, Google Play and Android podcast apps

My audio interview today is with New York based voiceover talent Linda Bruno. There is nothing like speaking with a master of any art, and Linda's career credits speaks to her mastery of not only the art of voiceover, but the business as well. And to top it off, she continues to train her voice in the endless pursuit of higher levels of ability, and protection from strain. It is my great pleasure to work with her every week from her office to mine, over Skype.

Some of the topics we discussed include:

  • What the preferred term for her line of work is.
  • The trip to Miami with her father when she was 18 and the kindness of a pro that lit the fire for Linda's voiceover career. 
  • The current state of business for skilled voiceover talent, and what Linda does to stay competitive in the field. 
  • What it means to work union (SAG-AFTRA) vs non-union.
  • The really fun stuff: How Linda met Meryl Streep backstage while doing 'voice of goddess' at the She Awards at Radio City Music Hall.
  • The not-fun stuff: How she deals with difficult clients who don't know what they want.
  • What it means to be a professional with a great reputation in this field.
  • How improv classes can be helpful for honing voiceover skills.
  • How acting can help with message delivery in voiceover as well as singing performance.
  • Why Linda still takes vocal lessons.
  • Why Linda believes it's no longer necessary to have an ISDN line for voiceover work.
  • Her practical advice for those interested in developing a professional career as voiceover talent. 

More about Linda Bruno:

Her website is www.LindaBruno.com. She can be contacted there.

From voicing promos for National networks to making you laugh with character voices to providing your pharmaceutical or banking information over the phone, Linda Bruno has been tagged a renaissance woman. Linda’s voice is used daily for Television, Radio, and multimedia formats all over the world. Currently she is the voice of HSN – Home Shopping Network, Disney Jr for South East Asia, Fandango, The Weather Channel as well as the voice of “Alex” for United Airlines’ website.  And some of her specialties include retail spots and auto dealerships. Her voice has been described as the perfect mix, appealing to both the male and female demographics. She’s the girl next door or young mom with diversity for dramatic interpretations while still maintaining an approachable feel. Her Studio: Sennheiser 416 Mic, Pro Tools with Source Connect and Telos Zephyr for ISDN sessions. Turnaround time: Three to 24 hours.

Credits: Walmart, Pfizer, Disney Asia, HSN, The Weather Channel, Fandango, United Airlines, TLC – The Learning Channel, CNBC, CNBC Asia, CNN, Stride Gum, VH1, Nickelodeon, Verizon, Costco, McDonalds, AT&T, Kraft Foods. Various radio and TV stations across the country. Local and Regional auto dealerships including Mercedes Benz, Acura, Jaguar, Kia, Chevy, VW, Lexus, Honda and more.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cracky, Weak, Strained Middle Voice? 4 Fixes


Your middle voice should blend in your range like this baby zebra- 
hard to tell where one ends and the other begins!


NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click on the title of this post and go online to hear.
Available also on iTunes, Google Play and Android podcast apps.

 
Middle voice. The easy notes. Right. Those notes in the middle of one's vocal range can be surprisingly difficult!  There are many possible saboteurs, for instance the breath pressure may be unbalanced, fragile notes through the passagio may not be set up properly, the throat channel may have some constrictions, or there may be problems with the surface of the vocal cords. Here are 4 issues and fixes for common middle voice problems:

1. Breath Issues: 


  • Your inhale is wrong. If you take too much breath, you can cause tension in the upper ribcage. If you don't take enough, your ribcage won't be open enough for your diaphragm to control itself.
  • You aren't supporting your 'easy' notes with enough power. They are weak and uninteresting.
  • You aren't controlling your 'easy' notes. You may be allowing too much breath pressure to lean on those notes, pushing them off center.

Breath Fixes: 

Check your posture throughout inhaling and exhaling ... make sure you're staying flexibly tall, head balanced over your heels. Make it a habit to breathe into your lower abs and back, not your chest, so your lower ribs widen. Keep the bottom of your ribcage flexibly wide as you sing for control, squeeze your butt for power and pull- don't push - your voice to apply support.

A bonus cause and fix for breath issues: Pain. If you have pain in your upper spine, shoulder carriage or ribcage, seek out the cause and the fix at your doc, physical therapist, chiropractor, Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais practitioner.

2. Facial Language Issues:


Most people are surprised at how facial language (or the lack thereof) affects the voice! To create richly resonant middle voice pitches, your voice wants access to movement. This includes lifting and morphing the ceiling of the throat channel, which won't happen without eye language. It also requires a flexible, movable jaw that can give the tongue a free ride, keeping the tongue root relaxed.

Face Fixes:

To wake up and activate a frozen face, it helps to remember the raison d'etre of the voice: which is to deliver messages! Even if you're singing to a deaf person, they should be able to read your lips and your facial movements and understand what you're saying. This will give your middle voice the freedom of movement that gives those notes access to resonance placement where they sound best.

3. Register Mix Issues. 


Your vocal apparatus hasn't developed the flexibility, strength and coordination to create a continually changing mix of chest and head registers throughout middle voice. So, you bring your head voice down too far, and/or you push your chest voice up too far. In a well-mixed middle voice, the top of chest voice will sound a lot like the bottom of head voice. But Instead of mixing, your head and chest voices are separated by the frustrating crack we call a vocal break, and sound like they come from two different people. So...
  • You compensate by singing what should be middle voice notes in head voice, and those notes sound weak, dark and hollow. This is tiring to the voice, due to the over-lowering of the larynx.
  • Alternately, you try to sing those notes with unmixed chest voice, sounding harsh, thin and yelled. You over-raise your chin and larynx, interfere with the healthy tilting of the thyroid cartilage, tense your neck and throat muscles, and create vocal abuse which will eventually strain or damage your voice.

Mix Fixes:

Train your voice! Yes, some people naturally develop a good mix, possibly from growing up in a family whose lineage includes professionally trained voices. But even they can have an off night of singing and develop counterproductive technique dysfunction. Vocal exercises and knowledge can grow, protect and maintain the health and ability of middle voice, and the rest of the range, too.

The Power, Path and Performance method I teach shows you how to power your voice path up and back before pulling through your face to mix your registers smoothly, create rich resonance with no strain and heal vocal breaks. Dramatic improvement is instant, and then you learn to make the techniques habit.

Think you can't do vocal training? No matter what your budget or time constraints, where there's a will there's a way. Of course, studying the free resources of this All Things Vocal blog is something anyone can do. Check out my vocal training packages on my website. Contact me if you'd like to discuss personal vocal lessons.

4. Vocal Cord Issues


Unhappy, swollen, dry, infected or inflamed vocal cords don't sing middle voice notes very well. One of the tell-tale signs of vocal cord damage is a glitch in the middle voice. Sometimes this is due to a swelling, polyp, nodule, hemorrhage or other lesion on the cord surface, sometimes in other tissues of the vocal apparatus.

Vocal Cord Fixes

Use common sense if you've been sick. Don't sing until it doesn't hurt your voice. Make sure you are well hydrated. Have throat soothers like warm herbal tea or diluted pineapple juice with you when you practice.

Don't worry too much about needing surgical intervention; most of the time, even with vocal cord damage, with good information and training you can take the pressure and strain off and the voice can heal itself. BUT... If in doubt, check it out! If your middle voice continues to be missing, weak or strained, go see an ENT doctor who specializes in voices to rule out anything serious, such as cancer, Laryngopharyngeal Reflux or Spasmodic Dysphonia.

Whatever the issue that is plaguing your middle voice, do get it conquered. Great vocal performance is NOT all about the high notes!

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Monday, March 14, 2016

St. Patrick's Day and the Voice



Tis the season for pots of gold, green bear and lucky charms! St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a day for drinking oneself silly because of the exception the Catholic Church in Ireland makes in its Lent drinking prohibition for that one day. Yelling out-of-tune anthems from alcohol-dried/numb vocal cords sounds like a great way to lose your voice for a bit. Wanna celebrate a a little more sanely? Here are some suggestions:

Learn some Irish folk songs. Check out 'A Bard's Celtic Lyric Directory' just to read the lyrics.

Eat a lot of green! Go for the natural leafy kind, as in the traditional Irish meal of corn beef and cabbage. You might even try a green drink (fresh veg juice). Don't be surprised if you are offered green water in places like Chicago.

Wear green somewhere! Pinch anyone who is not wearing some green. It's only fair!

Play games like Pin the Tail on the Leprecaun. (That's better than pin the tail on the pitch:)

Sing, lead the crowd in Irish drinking songs while imbibing more non-alchoholic'/ concoctions than Long Island teas and  beers. Especially watch the Irish coffee... drying on two counts.

Bless someone the Irish way! Here's my Irish wish for you dear reader:
May the road rise up to meet you (not beat you!)
May the wind always be at your back (better gas mileage to your gig.)
May the sun shine warm upon your face (your throat relaxes with warmth.)
and rains fall soft upon your fields (as long as there's a tarp over your gear!)
and until we meet again (maybe at your next vocal lesson.)
May God hold you in the palm of His hand. (Always.)

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Monday, March 7, 2016

How Much Is a Million? Celebrating All Things Vocal Blog



Thank you all for joining me here... you have viewed this blog over a million times! If you are reading this and haven't subscribed to get new posts... sign up here!

I hope you keep reading and sharing... let me know if you have a subject or question concerning the voice that you'd like me to post about. It takes a village (of readers) to inspire this blog!

Meanwhile, celebrate with me and enjoy the video!

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