Voice Actor's Notebook

Tongue twisters with a voice acting twist

Tongue twisters for voice actorsIt doesn’t matter if you’re a budding beginner to voice acting or a seasoned veteran, I’m sure you’ve heard how great tongue twisters are to the profession — and they are. I, myself, have been doing them for quite some time as warm ups and as general “mouth calisthenics” to improve my reading and pronunciation.

But to voice over actors (both budding and well-brewed) they can be more than just cute little rhymes meant to train our tongues and boggle our brains when used in these unique ways…

Emotive tongue twisters

The previous post titled List of acting emotions for practice contains a list of basic human emotions that voice actors need to be able to produce at the drop of a hat. The post also contained some practice tips using those acting emotions.

Taking it one step further… why not try reading some tongue twisters using those emotions?

It’s actually a little harder than it sounds — especially when the emotion you have chosen to… well, emote… doesn’t quite match the tone of the tongue twister.

Break the tongue twister rhythm

Most tongue twisters come with a natural rhythm, flow, and bounce to them. As a new twist, try saying some tongue twisters as if you were talking directly to a friend — with the rhythm completely removed. (This one really is tricky!)

The challenge with this practice is to try to make the tongue twister sound like natural speech. Remember, you’re talking with a close friend and not “bustin’ a rhyme” 8) .

When I find that the rhyme or the rhythm is making it too difficult to say, I replace one or more of the words with “normal” non-rhyming words and then practice the read. Here’s an example:

Fred fed Ted bread, and Ted fed Fred bread.

If this is hard to read in a natural way, try changing the names:

Mike fed Peter bread, and Peter fed Mike bread.

Once you can do the read smoothly, put the original words back in. And, of course, don’t forget to add some emotion!

If you have any good tongue twister practice ideas, why not share them in the comment section below? 🙂

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