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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pauley

Voice Exercises for Speaking

I spent a week this summer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's workshop on Acting Shakespeare. I really enjoyed the course, though it was difficult and physically harder than I was expecting.

Given how important the words are in Shakespeare's plays, it is not surprising that we spent quite a bit of time working on our voices. The exercises were different than ones we use for singing, though the same principles apply. We attempted to speak from different centres of the body, whilst in singing we often talk of singing in different registers. We attempted to speak from our groin, heart, head, and solar plexus. Some of the exercises involved having another actor putting pressure of the relevant part of the body. I was fascinated that attempting to speak from the solar plexus increased the amount of anxiety and fear that could be heard in the voice, and that it was very different than trying to speak from the heart.

We also did voice exercises that reminded me of Laban Movement exercises only instead of moving the body using particular speeds and movement directions we did that with the voice. Using similar terms like "slashing" and "floating" we used changed the tempo, volume, and register of our voices to produce these effects.

This is the second time I'm attended at summer course at the RCS and I hope to get the opportunity to do so again in the future.

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