Flyering - Don't let it ruin your voice!

Flyering takes its toll on the best of us! Have you found a good technique for cutting across the crowd? Or do you find yourself straining to be heard? 

We're now halfway through the Edinburgh Fringe and I, for one, am noticing a cacophony of tired, croaky voices on the Royal Mile. If you feel you are adding to this (or not able to contribute at all!) then please read on...

These tips should set you on the right tracks for a healthier, more effective 'flyering voice':

(Please also make note of my previous blog on how to look after your voice at the Fringe, to ensure you're doing everything you can to treat your voice well)

  • Warm up!

You warm up for a performance, so why not for flyering? Try to do a full body, breath and vocal warm up before heading out for the day. 

  • Use your upper resonance

This has many different names, some accurate in description and some less so. What it means is that you can be speaking at the same basic pitch as usual, but you can access higher 'harmonics' which travel well, allowing you to be heard above the general hubbub of a crowd.

One simple way to begin to access these higher harmonics is to add this exercise to your warm up:

Speak for a few minutes with your tongue completely out of your mouth, so that the body (not the tip) of your tongue is resting on your lower lip for the entire time - never retreating back into the mouth. The challenge is to make sure you can still be understood, despite not having the habitual use of your tongue. This will be very tricky at first, but make sure you don't cheat - either try it in front of a mirror or ask a friend to check for you. 

The result should be that after a couple of minutes of speaking with your tongue out, when you come to speak normally once more, you will have greater awareness of your tongue in your mouth, and you will be accessing higher frequencies as a result of loosening the back of your tongue. If you are new to this exercise, then do not expect the results to last all day - your tongue is a creature of habit and will try to retreat once more - it may even do so as soon as you swallow! Build the exercise into your daily routine to train a new habit. 

Another way to access these higher frequencies is to use 'twang'. If you already know to achieve this then go ahead and try it when flyering! If not, then it may be best to book a lesson with a voice coach to make sure you find the correct sound. 

  • Don't try to be louder by pushing too much breath out!

It's a common myth that more breath = a louder sound. This is not scientifically true - for more information, attend day course with Anne-Marie Speed and Ed Blake on Breathing, Support and Estill. The bare bones of it are that pushing more breath out means your teeny tiny vocal folds (in your larynx / voice box) have to work really hard to vibrate - and it's the vibrations which make the sound waves which travel to people's ears, not the breath!  Your vocal folds are really clever and they will help you to regulate the out-breath, so let them do what they're good at!

You can try to keep on top of this by making sure you're not engaging your abs and squeezing the air out whilst speaking / singing. Try to keep that area free from tension, so that it can work freely for you. 

  • Work with a Voice Coach

There are many other ways to keep your voice ticking over nicely and to make loud, safe sounds, yet most are best achieved through one-on-one voice work with a teacher.

Throughout the Fringe, Nicola Redman and I are offering pay-what-you-can voice coaching for anyone who feels they need/want it. If you'd like to know more, get in touch with one of us and we'll be happy to help! 

If you've left Edinburgh already but feel that voice lessons would be beneficial for you, then do still get in touch - I work privately in London, and Nicola is based in Manchester. We may also be able to recommend teachers elsewhere in the UK / the USA.

If your voice is HURTING:

The best thing for you is vocal restDon't push yourself to the limit as this might lead to bigger problems further down the line. This is easier said than done when you have performances to do, but if at all possible, please heed this advice. See my previous blog for further advice on looking after your voice.

Happy flyering!