• Christian O'Boyle

Avoid Killing Your Voice

One thing I often hear from voice actors — new and veterans — is that they will sometimes hurt their voice for a project. As a general tip from many of us in the community, if it hurts your voice STOP! There is a way to create a character properly and then there is vocal slaughter.


If you are auditioning for a project and you are creating a character that causes any vocal strain, this may not be the best voice to use. The last thing you want is to be cast for a role that constantly hurts you everytime you record. One or two things will happen:

  1. You will not be able to constantly produce this voice and you may be recast from the project.

  2. You will cause so much damage to your voice that you cannot record.

The more vocal strain you put on your voice, the higher chance you have of permanently damaging it. This can result in vocal nodules, a calice like tissue that forms on your vocal folds. These nodules can affect the sound of your voice and prevent you from reaching your full vocal range. Many times, nodules have to be removed with surgery, which is not a 100% guarantee fix. Julie Andrews, the original Mary Poppins, developed vocal nodules and received the surgery. However, in her case, there were some complications and she never recovered her full singing capabilities. Other singers, such as Adele also had this surgery from overuse and straining of the voice.


When you are recording in the booth, and you start to feel tension, strain, pain; STOP immediately. It is best to take the rest of the day off than to “push” through and hurt your voice to the point where you need to take several days to recover.


We see this a lot of video game voice actors, as there are a lot of efforts, screams, dying, falling, swinging a weaper, getting hit and more. Many actors will be required to do several hours of this intense strain and most times, they are “out of commission” for 3-4 days after their session. This can wreak havoc on one’s voice and over time can permanently damage it.


Right now, the longest a studio session can be is 4 hours at a time. If you are doing a voice that you cannot sustain for at least 2-4 hours consistently, this may not be a voice worth doing. This goes for efforts, if you can only record for 10 minutes before you start hurting and “feeling” it, you are doing it wrong and should stop.


There are proper techniques to ensure that there is less strain during a session like this, however, even with proper training can still result in some fatigue. This can happen as even talking for a few hours straight will cause some discomfort.


Some ways to work on screaming properly is to study metal singing. Though, I do not advice doing this alone as you will not be able to tell if you are doing it correctly. It is best to talk to a professional vocal coach that works directly in this field of singing to help guide you and help develop your voice.


If you are questioning if you can sustain a voice, please put it in your back pocket and continue developing and training your voice. One day, you may be able to approach this character again using proper techniques and find that you can now maintain it without any pain.


Keep honing your craft, developing your voice and staying awesome!

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© 2020 by Christian O'Boyle Voice Actor | Seattle, WA | 818.452.3154 | christian@christianoboyle.com