Narrating audiobooks has provided hard but valuable lessons on how to use the voice effectively. Experience has shown what can make my voice husky, croaky or seize up altogether. These tips will prove beneficial for your voice when it comes to audio book narration.
Things to Avoid when Narrating Audio Books
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Vocal care is essential if you want to narrate books as a career, and some things are so obvious, they are almost not worth mentioning: avoid smoking, excessive alcohol, mucous-producing foods such as dairy and irritants such as hot spices, stress, get plenty of rest and so forth. Other things are not so obvious.
I have learned the limitations of my voice when narrating audio books, and what to avoid if you want your voice to perform at its best. Here is what I have learned:
How to Take Care of Your Voice
My voice performs at its best after a rest, so I will conduct the most challenging sections of my narration first. This might be a dynamic scene or character voices that lie at the limitations of my vocal range. A deep male voice or a shrill woman’s voice, for instance.
My vocals start to seize up after about 40 minutes of narrating. The extremes of my vocal range get increasingly husky as my voice gets progressively less supple and tired. There is no point in pushing things. The voice is a stubborn organ when it wants. When it’s had enough, you have to rest your voice until the next session.
Another thing I have learned is to avoid carby foods and excessive drinks before narrating. My stomach gets growly and hiccups are likely.
Don’t Narrate If
Do not narrate if you going down with a cold, having a cold or getting over a cold. You will sound nasally regardless of taking cold cures or blowing that nose. Be patient and wait at least a week after the cold has gone. The mic never lies, even if you think you don’t sound nasally during the narration.
My voice likes to narrate in a warm, not-too-dry room. Cold air makes my vocals seize up, and I will therefore avoid going out on a cold day before narrating, and of taking peppermint sweets, Fishermen’s Friend or lozenges (although some recommend this). Personally, I find the vapors chill my vocals making them go husky.
Avoid chatting too long on the phone before narrating, as the voice will get tired and husky before you even start. This goes for pushing the voice to the limits of its range before recording. So avoid having an argument, screaming or bellowing for any reason. Also avoid strenuous exercise, as labouring breaths could strain the throat.
Voice Narrating Tips
Before narrating, conduct some gentle vocal exercises. You don’t have to sing through the octaves, simply read aloud a short excerpt of your script, changing pitch. Don’t push your range too far or strain your voice.
Also give the nose a good blow and sip a little water to hydrate the mouth. This will reduce clicks and slapping sounds of the mouth. Don’t down pints, as this can actually strip the away the natural saliva, causing a dry mouth.
Also worth remembering is that the voice is affected by hormones: the time of day as well as the time of the month. Both will affect the dryness of the mouth and the vocal range. Sometimes, I can hit those lower notes better than others.