Don't Fall Into A Melody (Part 1)

This is easier said than done. As humans, we are very musical. We tend to have certain accents and inflections in our speech because we come from certain parts of the world, and in some cases, a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking that we need to sound ‘announcer-y’ when we’re reading commercial copy for Voice Overs. In today’s blog, we discuss a couple of ways to keep yourself from falling into a melody and keeping your performances flexible to changes in direction.

First of all, why is it so important not to fall into a melody? For starters, in real world auditions, we usually get two takes. And for obvious reasons, Casting Directors don’t want two takes of the same thing. They want to see how malleable you are, how well you take direction and shift gears.

Often when we practice reading the copy as we wait for our turn in the booth, what happens is that we tend to adopt a particular read. And this is something very hard to break out of because our brains are trained to remember music and melodies. And while you’re not fully conscious of it, your brain will remember the musicality of your phrasing, unless you have certain skills in your toolbox.

So here are a couple of exercises to add to your bag of tricks (Make sure you record yourself as you practice these exercises):

1- Before even analyzing the copy, read it backwards. This is a great way of capturing each word on the page without creating a melody in your head for the read. Start from the bottom of the page and read backwards, all the way to the top. (Ex: The last phrase on this paragraph would read the following way: top-the-to-way-the-all…)

2- Use constriction and release. By this, I mean that you contract and relax your muscles as you’re reading. It could be as simple as shrugging the shoulders up and down as you’re reading. This may seem strange at first, but as you practice this exercise you’ll notice that:

a. The constricting and releasing of muscles affects your read in a positive way
b. You won’t fall into a melody because your body won’t remember at exactly which points of your read you constricted and relaxed your muscles.

That’s it for today. Next week I’ll share some more ways of avoiding the melody trap while reading for commercial copy.

For more great Voice Over tips, info on Voice Over Coaching, Bilingual Voice Over production and Songwriting, please visit the Berne Media Enterprises page.Until next week, may ‘The Voice’ Be With You, and thanks for spreading the word!