Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

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. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Vocal Performance and Acting Technique: Making Choices

The colors your voice chooses determines the message heard.

Masterful vocal performance and great acting have many parallels. For one thing of course, acting usually involves the voice to some degree. But did you know that to use the voice effectively requires certain acting skills? The third cornerstone of Power, Path and Performance vocal training involves a deep understanding of acting technique. Without it, the voice is useless.


If you've ever had a good acting coach or director, you will remember that acting is very much about making choices. Even with a script and directing suggestions, a lot is left up to the actor to 'make it real' A legendary acting teacher put it this way
Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances. -Sanford Meisner
So too, I would add, is singing!

Vocal Performance

The voice only exists to deliver messages. While we want to sing 'good' (perfect technique, stellar pitch, well executed vocal licks, Olympic extremes of range), and indeed the media, music business, American Idol culture makes this seem the vital focus, this is the classic 'cart before the horse'. Learning better vocal technique for all these things will absolutely give us more range of choices. But of what use is the most agile and technically excellent voice without a message to deliver?

The secret to great singing is that the choices the voice makes should cause the heart to understand something at soul level. A wise friend of mine put it well...
Vocal performance should elicit an emotional response. - Mike Davis
So too should acting... really, should this not be the goal of all art?

Getting The Response

In order to develop real value or any possibility of a viable career with your art, the end goal of all acting and vocal performance should indeed be to get a response, or reaction. We need to dig into our human communication paintbox and choose nuances of facial and body language, posture, degree and location of tension. A word said with a clenched poker face communicates something very different than a word said with a raised brow and loose jaw.

Breath and throat configurations change with these choices. Because of the resulting quality of sound, the listener would discern the different messages even if he or she couldn't see the speaker. It's why you can tell someone is upset when you first pick up the phone.

When using your voice to speak or sing, ask yourself what you are REALLY communicating - and to whom - through your choices of vocal tone, rhythm, volume, nuanced articulation. Go deep.. what's the message between the lines? I always say 'real singing is not for the squeamish'. For great singing and great acting, get stronger responses by making authentic, unique and more interesting choices in the service of delivering the message!

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