To continue to prepare for performing to young children for our Theatre In Education project. The purpose of the session was to learn about the effect that our voice will have on children and what will we need to change and strengthen in our voice. By the end of the lesson the aim was to have revisited this from a couple of weeks ago and then look at some breathing exercises.
In a previous session, we talked about the aspects of our voice which would need adapting for this performance and we revisited this again. This is important to revisit because it is a vital part to the final performance where we need to keep our audience interested through the story and our voices. If our voices are not varied, then it will cause them to lose concentration because young children will do very quickly. Despite this, Lynn reminded us that if we get our voices right, they should always be engaged because they should have nothing else worrying them, unlike adults who may switch off and think about something they might be doing the next day. The aspects we have to be cautious of in terms of voice the most include:
- Talking in a high pitch because this is how children would most likely respond, therefore, we can be on their level. By making certain words a certain pitch, we can emphasise them and it will keep the piece more interesting throughout. Emphasis is also important because certain parts of the scripts will need to be emphasised so our audience will not get confused later. This is something that I believe will be a challenge for me as I have not performed to children that many times and I don’t often vary my voice. Therefore, I know that I will have to go out of my comfort zone for this project.
- We need to ensure that the volume is at the correct level, if we are too loud, we may scare our audience but if we are too quiet, they will not be able to hear and will switch off.
- A lack of clarity when we speak will also lead our audience to switch off, as well as that, if they don’t understand what we are saying, they won’t be able to learn anything.
We then moved onto breathing and voice exercises, we had to count from 1 to 15, starting with 1, then 1,2, followed by 1,2,3 so you would always go back to the beginning. The aim of this exercise was to control our breathing and to try to do this exercise all in one breath. We then had to pronounce certain letters with a long breath with the aim to be able to keep in control. The next exercise focused on glottal stops, we all stood in a circle close together with our eyes closed, one person was picked to lead and say “Ha” and everyone else had to follow with their eyes closed. This was all about concentration and being able to use the glottal stop correctly as it will require stopping the word abruptly, shutting in and controlling your breath which wouldn’t normally happen. I also learned more about the diaphragm, after locating it, we breathed everything out and I noticed an ache in that area because it was tensing. I didn’t realise that the diaphragm had extra air which would only be released when there was no other air left in there.
For the final exercise, Lynn wrote a sentence on the board: ‘Yes, I will grow stronger as I breathe more thoughtfully by being open with my ribs and expanding my awareness’. To start off with, the exercise was similar to the counting one, where the sentence was split and had to speak in just one breath to try to control and expand out breathing. Then we focused on accents and had the task of speaking the sentence in an accent that we could decide. I first tried it in a posh accent, I noticed that I dragged out certain letters such as ‘I’ and ‘U’ and it was all coming out of the back of my throat, not brought forwards. I also attempted it in a Manchester accent where the ‘O’ was dragged out and brought right forwards, finally I noticed that every time I pronounced ‘I’, it sounded like ‘ar’.