Holistic Care of Your Instrument



The following is an excerpt from the VMD Issue May, 2018. I hope you enjoy! If you don’t know about the VMD you can get more info on here.

Physical care of your Voice – Your Instrument

In our first set of classes – back in April 2018 –  we talked a lot about how a solid career in voiceover starts from the inside out. How the health of your body, mind and even spirit integrates and is essential for performance, stamina and longevity.

There’s a reason I talk so much in class about the mechanical structure of your voice machine – your Instrument – and how to best maintain it.  This is because it’s a critical component to your success – especially in the beginning of your voiceover career.

You have to understand the importance of taking care of your instrument. There are some great products that I recommend that can help you maintain the health of your voice. For those of you not in class with me we have a list of product recommendations on the website. I talk alot in Class about the importance of diet, exercise, rest, rejuvenation. You might think “blah blah blah” when you hear that, but truly, if you start a healthy regimen now you’ll be very grateful later.

Mental & Emotional Preparedness makes a HUGE difference!

I had a session recently that was only a 2 hour booking. I was told that it’d just be a couple of pickups from a previous episode and some lines in my characters’ voices. It was for an interactive children’s book based on a series. Sounds like no big deal, right? Wrong. When I got there I had 4 episodes, 163 lines, three characters, all talking to each other, VERY s-l-o-w-l-y (so young kids reading along can keep up).  Two of them were extremely vocally stressful, with three takes of each line. Had I not kept my instrument in good working order, I would have been blown out in the first 15 minutes. 

Not only did I have to rise to the occasion physically, I had to get through the mental issues of not receiving the script beforehand. I was going to be grossly underpaid because they didn’t tell my agent what I was in for, and I had no recourse in the moment because I signed the contract before I saw the scripts. 

I had to suck it up, do an on-the-spot mental and emotional reset, remain positive and professional, and deliver a top-quality performance.  So what does that require?  Well anger management, for starters!  Generally we have a fair idea about what we’re stepping into before we take on projects.  There are always variables, but in this case, the sheer quantity of lines and vocal stress required by this job necessitated excellent physical condition.

The deception of the producers intentionally throwing me into this situation felt like betrayal, (I’ve been working with them for two years – they know better). If I hadn’t meditated this morning and had the tools to deal with it mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, I would’ve screamed at them and walked out.

You CAN damage your Instrument

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is the kind of job that can cause permanent physical damage.  I know the person who booked this with my agent didn’t know, nor did the director, so to take my rage out on them in the studio would have been inappropriate and misdirected.

I realized this evening that despite the surprises and massive physical stress, I’m feeling ok tonight.  My mind has been on balancing the mind/body/spirit every day since beginning these classes, and thankfully, I practice what I preach. I also teach what I practice, and if you’re interested in delving into meditation there’s a guided meditation download available on this site here.

Take care of your instrument, folks.  The WHOLE instrument!

Many times new voice actors skip over the non-physical aspects of what make great actors great. What makes great actors great? Well for one thing they’ve done a lot of “inner work”, in addition to developing their physical chops.

Part of the reason I spend SO much time in my classes teaching inner game stuff (how to handle upset, how to handle “hits” to your confidence, how to handle disappointment etc) is because these kinds of experiences like the one I described above WILL happen in your voiceover career. Be it an audition, a session, or out on the convention circuit. It’s not a matter of IF its a matter of when.

I realize not every voiceover lesson is gonna teach this. I also realize not every voiceover teacher WANTS to go that deep. I personally think it’s critical for a long and solid career.

Alot of us enter into our voiceover career focusing on the physical side of our craft. All that stuff (mic technique, breathwork etc) IS important, and I teach on that too, but being able to handle mental and emotional curveballs is the difference between getting the gig and KEEPING the gig. In the long-run that’s what I want for you. Longevity as a Voice Actor. I want you to not only know HOW to look after yourself and your instrument, but also how to look after yourself mentally and emotionally as well.

Take care of your instrument.
The WHOLE instrument.
Until next time…
Be well!

Steve Blum
Steve Blum

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