Being Present in Your Voice

byLiz Eckert

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Liz Eckert is a voice teacher at the Maggie Flanigan Studio in New York. In this video, Liz discusses how actors can be fully present in their voice.

Voice and Speech Class Maggie Flanigan Studio - Liz Eckert 01

Liz Eckert – Voice and Speech Class at Maggie Flanigan Studio

How Actors Can Be Fully Present In Their Voice

A preoccupation with “getting it right can cloud an actor’s ability to sense what is actually happening in the present moment. You’re not in your body, you’re in your head, which is spinning with a critical eye. When training is approached in this way, learning is framed around an imagined external measure of success, versus true internal growth, which looks different for each individual. That’s why I love working with Meisner trained actors, they are out of their heads and rooted in the present moment.

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"It’s important to distinguish the difference between being specific and being correct."

Liz EckertVoice and Speech Classes

From time to time, after a vocal exercise in class, a student will ask, “How am I supposed to feel?” This question puzzles me because there is no way I as a teacher could possibly know how another human being is supposed to feel. When I teach a technique, it’s not to get a prescribed result; it’s to help the actor be fully present in their voice and alive in the moment. Presence is not a result; it’s a process. It comes from a relationship that the actor has with herself, her scene partners, and her audience. When an actor has a set picture of how she’s supposed to sound, or how a scene is supposed to go, then she takes herself out of those circumstances that support spontaneity and truth, and into a place of planning and fabrication.

Within the framework of technique, it’s up to the actor to chart her own progress. Who you are is your raw material as an actor; your voice, body, imagination, experience, memories, empathy, observational eye, and intellect. Full access to all of that is what the Maggie Flanigan Studio strives to develop. No human being can make that happen for any other human being; you have to take ownership of the technique and use it to strengthen your artistic backbone.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between being specific and being correct. For instance, some actors seek help in pronouncing things “properly.” The fact is, there is no gold standard of pronunciation in English, and the last thing an actor should want to hear from a fan is, “You pronounced everything properly.” What’s more important is to be understood, and to get intensely specific about how different sounds are made and how they can be used to craft a character, express feeling, create atmosphere, and affect their scene partner. These sounds serve a greater purpose; a mythical correct execution of them is not a useful purpose in and of itself.

It’s important to have a technique and acute awareness as an actor. But when it comes down to it, it’s about the people in the room. No one gets an Oscar for doing a tongue stretch correctly. But if in doing that exercise, you release a tension that has gripped your throat for decades, and if by releasing tension in your tongue and your throat, you are able to unleash a fullness in your voice that you have not experienced for as long as you can remember, and now you have complete access to this power of expression that you can put into your text, well, that’s something. That’s you being freed through the technique to be fully present in your work.

Voice and Speech Class for Actors - Maggie Flanigan Studio - Voice Class 1

Voice and Speech Class for Actors – Maggie Flanigan Studio – 917-789-1599

Voice and Speech Classes for Actors at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Learn more about voice and speech classes for actors at the Maggie Flanigan Studio by visiting the voice class page on the Maggie Flanigan Studio website ( https://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com ) or call the studio at 917-789-1599.

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