Green Shirt Studio

3 Simple Voice Exercises to Free Up Your Acting

Vocal exercises

Relieve tension with these vocal exercises

One of my favorite quotes to use in my acting classes is a simple proverb: “Tension is who you think you should be; relaxation is who you are.”

Often in acting classes, I see actors on the brink of major steps forward in their work, only to find tension get in the way of progress. Instead of releasing into something new, they tighten and grip onto something familiar. In those moments, having a few tools to help you release that tension will translate into breaking new ground.

While no quick tips will ever be a suitable replacement for in-depth physical and vocal training, here are a few simple voice exercises that can come in handy in those moments when you find yourself wracked with tension. With these simple steps, you are encouraging the release of habitual tensions many of us carry: the lips, jaw, face, tongue and belly.

  1. Massage your face
    With the tips of your fingers, begin gently massaging your forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, jaw and chin. Use firm, slow strokes in a circular motion. Then gently trace your fingers along your nasolabial folds which run from each side your nose to just outside the corners of your mouth. Repeat this a couple times. Now, place the heels of your hands on the sides of your face, and firmly drag them in a downward motion encouraging your jaw to relax towards the floor. Repeat this a few times. Let your lips part as your jaw begins to hang towards the floor. Now breathe in and out through your gently open mouth.
  2. Stick out your tongue
    No really. Slide the tip of your tongue out of your mouth over your lower lip, reaching toward your chin. Don’t strain; reach gently. Let your tongue stay there for a moment as you take a few relaxed breaths in and out through your mouth. Notice the temperature of the air on the back of your tongue as you breathe. After three slow, deep and relaxed breaths, let your tongue slowly slide back into your mouth and let it melt onto the floor of your mouth. Repeat this whole process a few times. Breathe through your mouth throughout.
  3. Breathe into your relaxed belly
    Now, with your tongue melted on the floor of your mouth and your jaw hanging loosely towards the floor, take a few deep breaths into your belly. With each breath, pay attention to your belly. With each inhalation through your mouth, let your belly expand effortlessly and release. With each exhalation, let your belly fall softly towards your middle. Take several breaths like this, feeding in the impulse to release even more tension with each breath.

While certainly not comprehensive, these few steps will help you find a little more release and relaxation as you train and perform. Follow them in the moments you feel tense and you will begin to cultivate the habit of release in your work. What will you find on the other side of your own habitual tension?