Stretching Exercises for Your Mouth, Tongue, and Lips A few simple vocal warm-up exercises done prior to your VO can be of immense help . These simple exercises flex the vocal cords and stretch the mouth, tongue and lips.
Start by moving the tongue around the whole mouth, in a circular motion: behind the teeth, up, and back towards the soft and hard palate. This exercises the tongue and avoids slurring the speech. Again, slow and easy, without over-doing it or causing any pain or discomfort. A couple of minutes should be enough.
Lips and jaw muscles: This may sound as if you’re being a child again, but it’s a good one: blow air through your lips and “blow raspberries” (what little children do and love it), and then with your upper lips. Again, two minutes or so.
Now open and close the mouth repeatedly; take your four fingers and place them inside the entrance of the mouth and count to ten. DO NOT OVERSTRETCH; just wide enough without it being uncomfortable.
The Obstruction Drill or the pen in the mouth:
For about 2 minutes-
- Find an article to read and place an obstruction in your mouth, like a Bic pen. Just make sure it’s clean!. Sit up straight or stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place the Bic pen between your front teeth as far back as comfortable and read the copy out loud as clearly as possible. The obstruction will force your muscles to overcompensate for the difficulty in articulating the words. Keep reading for about two minutes.
- Then take the obstruction out of your mouth and read the same piece of copy. You’ll notice how effortlessly and clearly you can now pronounce the words.
Humming, first the deepest note you can do, and then slowly make your way up the scale to the highest tone you are comfortable with. You don’t need any musical preparation or knowledge for this; just go from low to high in gradual stages to make pitch changes easier, keeping each tone for about 6 seconds. You’ll notice how your voice rolls out like satin!
Lastly, breathe deeply into your thorax and push your shoulders back. There’s nothing like having a chest cavity full of air to be able to exhale properly through those long reads.
I thought I’d record a short video to illustrate some of these:
If you want to do a few more here are some extra ones:
For about 1 minute:
- Grin as hard as you can and hold it for a few seconds, then quickly purse your lips, and hold. Do this back and forth a few times then quickly stick your tongue out. Stretch it as far as it will go. Then touch the back of your upper teeth with the tip of your tongue. Hold for 5 seconds.
- Say the word “wow.” Notice the positions of your mouth when you say the word? Your lips start out pursed and the word ends with your mouth open. Exaggerate the positions and repeat over and over as though you’re saying the word “wow.” By this point you should feel the facial muscles stretching in and around your mouth.
Learning to Control Your Plosives
For about 2 minutes:
- Hold the palm of your hand a few inches away from your mouth, about where you would typically place your mic. Then say, “Peter Piper Plums.” You’ll likely feel a rush of air with the P’s. That rush of air is what creates the popping sound through your mic.
- With full vocalization, practice saying “Peter Piper Plums” until you no longer feel the rush of air, or at least it ‘s significantly minimzed. Practice this every day for about two minutes and soon it will become second nature to speak in a way that will have you plosive-free, even in your regular day to day conversations.
Finally…don’t forget to get rid of those awful mouth clicks by munching on green apples!