On my bookshelf

  • "The Breathing Book" by Donna Farhi
  • "Confessions of a Public Speaker" by Scott Berkun
  • "My Freshman Year" by Rebekah Nathan
  • "Power Presentation" by Patsy Rodenburg

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Accent Reduction

I'm spending Saturday mornings working with a wonderful couple from Columbia who are polishing their standard American. I think if someone were to walk in on one of our sessions they might think that we are from some strange planet. Mirrors poised, we watch our mouths shape new sounds. We sing "It's a small world after all" and feel the weight of the vowels.

As I am teaching IPA to acting students, one curious young woman asks, "Do you really love language?"
"Yes!" I shout in response. I'm reminded of this interchange as I help this couple contemplate the sound "r" for over thirty minutes.

In the process of sharing the accent reduction work, I found a very helpful website that narrates simple news articles in an appropriately slooooowwww fashion. Print it out and then listen along. Once you have done this a few times, tape yourself and begin to identify the differences.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Keep it up!

I've just finished teaching at a summer intensive where I had the opportunity to introduce voice work to aspiring actors. I felt lucky to be sharing such empowering information, on the other hand, it was hard to leave people when they were just beginning to feel something new, taste some potential. The scope of voice work is a lifelong exploration.

I became aware of my own desire to delve deeper into the work, and due to time constraints (and a very active and demanding 15 month old) I realize that my private exploration will have to suffice. I'm trying to make time to re-commit to my own practise.

Here's a simple physical and vocal session that is easy to follow:


So to the SFUers who are missing "Vocal Practise" and the "Summer Intensive" gang who are heading back to jobs, family and other provinces, here's a little workout to keep you vibrating!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Memory. I'm fourteen and I have spent almost all afternoon lying on the front lawn in my pink and black striped bikini reading Moliere. We live on 5th Ave. (Puyallup, WA. not New York City) which is one of the busier streets in the little town whose only claim to fame is hosting the state's fair every September. By the evening I have absorbed enough sun tan lotion, car exhaust and UV rays to make my brain function at less than optimal levels. This puts me in the mood for one of America's great summer past-times: a cheesy, fluffy summer flick! As the streets take on that neon pink and orange hue, the popcorn and pop comes out as I plop myself down on the floor and indulge.

I've gotten quite sensible in my older age and, when given the choice, I will usually opt for "An Inconvenient Truth" over "Spider Man III". As soon as the temperature hits thirty, though, I am gone. All of a sudden, my craving for things light, fluffy and downright fun emerges. What does all of this have to do with voice, you ask? Well this week's "Question of the Week" seems to suite my humour. It's not particularly heavy and the answer is a whimsical one, at least according to the sites I will direct you to.

In the midst of this heat wave, ten bodies filled a hot studio and began to breathe, with relish. Now what happened was predictable, everyone began to yawn. Big juicy yawns. When asked why this was the case, I gave my usual response, the physiological theory, "we yawn because we want to draw in more oxygen." Usually this does the trick, but this particular group was keen and the questions continued. So I thought I would track down a little more information. Here's several cute and helpful sites that informed me that my theory is purely that-- just a theory. In reality, no one has discovered the definitive answer for why we yawn.


Just remember, though, whether we know why we yawn or not, it's ability to open up the soft palate and create more space in the lungs is helpful for voice work. So yawn away!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


The long Canada Day weekend is over, the maple leaf tattoo I temporarily affixed to my shoulder has rubbed off and I am back in the office! We’re in the midst of planning blogs, podcasts and fall workshops and as I update my suggested reading list, I realize that one of the seminal voice texts, “Freeing the Natural Voice” by Kristin Linklater, has been updated. It has taken me awhile to track it down, but as I peruse her new website and check out her brief video outlining the key elements of voice work, my passion for this type of training is rekindled. So for a little inspiration, check out the audio/video component and the intro, and for those of you who continue to ponder, “Do I breathe through my nose or my mouth?” check out her voice notes section: