Reading Aloud 8: Vocal fatigue
- Reading aloud 1: The basics
- Reading Aloud 2: Character voices
- Reading Aloud 3: Narrating
- Reading Aloud 4: Cross-gender voices
- Reading Aloud 5: Working with microphones
- Reading Aloud 6: Recording tricks
- Reading Aloud 7: Breathing
- Reading Aloud 8: Vocal fatigue
- Reading Aloud 9: Things that go wrong
- Reading Aloud 10: Stage presence
- Reading Aloud 11: Making Sense
- Reading Aloud 12: Narrating with first person
- Reading Aloud 13: Sam A. Mowry
- Reading Aloud 14: Stumbling and the Sagan Diary
- Reading Aloud 15: Choices & Compromises while recording Rude Mechanicals
- Reading Aloud 16: The Common Cold
- Reading Aloud: Dealing with stage fright
Vocal fatigue is something you’ll have to battle when you’re doing a book signing or working a convention. The voice is created by a set of muscles and it can wear out. There are a lot of things you can do to keep it in good working order, and a lot of things you can do to hurt it. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of normal behavior that’s damaging to the voice.
The same things that make it a diuretic will dehydrate your throat and, combined with overuse, contribute to losing your voice. (This includes tea.)
Water is your friend.
Citric acid drinks–like lemonade–can cause your throat to generate mucus to protect itself. This will make you sound froggy and can lead to coughing.
Pineapple juice is your friend.
If you want a vitamin C boost, go with pineapple juice. It’s not a citrus. If you are already mucusy from a cold then try hot pineapple juice to help break up the mucus and soothe your throat. (It’s good, but you’ll have to try it to believe me)
To create a whisper, you constrict your vocal cords and force air past them. It’s sort of the vocal version of a mute on trumpet. It’s one of the most fatiguing things you can do to your voice.
Subvocalizing is your friend.
It’s really just talking very, very quietly. You move your mouth, as if you are speaking and only let a little bit of air out.
The constant stress of speaking can just wear your voice out the same way that running a marathon can exhaust your legs. Right…but what can you do?
There’s a couple of answers to this one.
- Vocal rest-When you feel your voice getting tired, stop unneeded chatter. We’ll pretend you’re fabulously successful and on a multi-city book tour. Wait until after the book-signing to call home, and then keep the call short. Don’t give in to the temptation to read your story outloud five times before your big reading.
- Drink plenty of water-Like an athelete, you need to keep your instrument hydrated.
- Pitch control-I can do a hundred pushups if I alternate it with other activities. Moving your voice slightly, very slightly, up or down can get it out of the area that is suffering the most fatigue. (Next time you are losing your voice, hum through your range. You’ll find that certain places are fine and others seem to be non-existant.)
Finally, learn proper breath support. I highly recommend taking an acting class or singing lessons to learn to project.