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Breath Deep


I was fortunate to spent my college years getting to explore my voice and breath. As an actor ( and singer) we are taught our voices can help us sustain performances, access emotions and much more. For me, as a teacher , I start all of my students ( of all ages) with voice and breath work. I find connecting to the impulse of our breath and the impulse to make sound can be the building block to accessing our emotions in a true way and make for a deep and connected performance. I mostly focus on the amazing Kristin Linklater’s techniques.

Kristen Linklater developer of the Linklater Voice Training Technique, says that her approach “is designed to liberate the natural voice and thereby develop a vocal technique that serves the freedom of human expression” Linklater’s work is based on the idea that every human being is born with a fully functional, natural voice which becomes compromised by habits as individuals try to communicate with the world. To be an efficient voice user, human beings should reconnect with the infantile natural function of the voice.( in other words, the way babies connect to sound freely and openly.) Linklater writes that there are two basic assumptions of the Linklater Voice Training Technique. The first is that each person possesses a two-to four-octave natural pitch range in which one expresses all moods, emotions and experiences. Secondly, each person acquires tension as a result of existing in the world and experiencing negative reactions to the environment. These negative reactions and resulting tensions can impede the effectiveness of the natural voice and communication in general.

Linklater , in her book” Freeing the Natural Voice” writes that the purpose of the Linklater Voice Training Technique is to produce voice that is in direct contact with the body’s natural impulses. ( we talked a lot about impulses in past posts!!) The natural voice possesses innate potential for a wide pitch range, intricate harmonies, and colorful textual qualities that translate into clear speech and a strong desire to communicate, something all actors of stage and screen can benefit from!

To achieve this free, natural voice through the reduction of bad habits requires actors to recondition the way they communicate. Linklater writes that, “perfect communication demands from the actor a balanced quartet of emotion, intellect, body and voice” This begins with physical awareness, relaxation of the body, and breathing awareness.

Finding awareness in the physical body and breath allows for a free channel for our sound and our emotions to travel. Through a series of exercises( in freeing the natural voice and freeing the natural Shakespeare voice) ,the Linklater Voice Training Technique works to create freedom in all the muscles of the body including those needed for standing, walking, bending, and especially those needed to produce voice and speech. The warm up exercises, I use from Linklater’s book and what I learned in college, focus on the way the body and voice are naturally used as opposed to focusing on imitation or artificially creating sound. As the exercises in Linklater Voice continue, students learn to “shape the rediscovered natural sound to achieve forward vocal projection of text with clarity and emotion to draw in an audience”.

Actors are encouraged to commit to a lengthy period of study and practice to allow the Linklater exercises to affect the voice.( I spent months just learning to access my pool of vibration, “ touch sound” and free my natural voice...I truly believe direct connection to the breath, voice and natural impulses can help create the strong foundation for any actor or singer.

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