Monday, August 27, 2007

Vocal Work

I had a difficult, but potentially productive moment, today. The UH voice coach, Jim Johnson, told me that I have the cloudiest voice and fuzziest diction among the graduate actors. At first, he went so far as to say he thought I might need to go over to Communications Disorders for speech therapy. It was immediately apparent to him that the problem is my soft palette--I don't get it high enough--but he wasn't sure if it was a physiological problem or not. He had me say some text. Then had me repeat the text with my nose plugged, so that my soft palette was forced to raise, which did the trick. Suddenly, my diction and tone were both clear, ruling out an underlying physiological issue, such as a borderline cleft palette. That this is not the case was good news.

The bad news is that I need to do "uvular push ups" at least ten minutes a day from now on and begin paying close attention to my daily speech as much as possible. Ideally, the increased awareness--as well as muscle flexibility--I develop will not only clean up my tone and diction, but give me a far greater pitch range in speaking than I now have. At the moment, though, Jim sees me as "uncastable" (funny enough, Jim also said that my tone is clearer and that I am easier to understand when I'm singing, rather than speaking.)

No one's pulling their punches, in these parts.

That's why I'm here.


dennis said...

Wow, we have the identical speech problem. I had to go to a speech pathologist over the summer.

Another exercise that helped me was placing the tip/front of your tongue behind lower front teeth and pressing the middle of the tongue up to the roof of the mouth, "tongue push ups". Helps with flexibility.

Rae said...

Damn David. They really aren't pulling puches are they? I never noticed that you had terrible diction. Especially since we were doing Shakespeare. But I guess Jim is the expert. "uncastable"?! That's harsh. But like you said, that's why your there. Sounds intense, but it also sounds like you are learning a hell of a lot. Lots of love. Rae