My Acting Warm Up: Part 2

This is part two of my acting warm up.  During this part of my warm up I focus on my voice, and begin to work with connecting vocal sounds to body movements. Once you are done with this, you should really feel connected to your voice through your diaphragm, and you should notice your voice is lower.

Again, this may feel weird to you if you’re doing it for the first time, but like I’ve said before you’re an actor now and being weird is just part of the job.

Getting into the semi-supine position

  • First we lay down on our mat facing the ceiling and grab our knees gently pulling them towards our chest.
  • Then begin to massage and warm up your lower back by moving you legs gently around in a circle.
  • When you feel warmed up, bring your legs to the center position, then let go of them, and your legs will fall to the floor in a natural position. Ensure your legs are in line with your hips by checking the alignment by tracing with your hands from your hips to your knees. Don’t let your knees be wider than your hips.
  • Lay your arms out straight out to the sides, making a “T” shape. Your palms can be either up or down, whichever is more comfortable.
  • Let your head roll left and right.
  • Breathe deeply. Noticing the rise and fall of your diaphragm.
  • Now, we will begin to warm up the voice. Start with a private sound of, “ha ha, mmmm, ahhh.” Notice where you feel the reverberations. As you makes these personal noises your diaphragm will naturally be doing its job. Just notice it, don’t interfere with it.
  • You can move your hands down to your diaphragm and feel it rise and fall, and how it tenses when you make these sounds. (To make sure you are on your diaphragm place your hands with finger tips gently interlaced over you belly button. As you breath in you belly should go up and naturally unlace your finger tips)
  • You can play with pitch, noticing how the location the reverberations changes based on your pitch. The higher to pitch, the higher the place of reverberations, and conversely the lower the pitch the lower the reverberations occur.
  • As you warm up your voice you can begin to get louder, but do not do this too early or you may begin to strain your voice.
  • I do this part of the warm up for at least ten minutes, it may seem a bit excessive, but it is a very important part of warming up your voice.

Dropping the knees

  • Next we will release the knees. We will start by letting them fall to the left.  Do not force you knees down, just completely relax them and let them sink to the floor. At the same time let out an “ahhhhh” sound like a deep relaxing sigh when you sit down at the end of a long day. Do this several times on the left, then let them fall to the right side and complete the movement several times.
  • I always have to do this one a few times to really feel that my hips are letting go. The first few tries I always unconsciously tense my muscles and slow the descent of my legs, but once I loosen up I can really tell the difference, and there is more of a thud when my legs hit the floor.

Adding the head movement

  • After you are allow the knees to drop you immediately roll the head to the opposite side. For example if you roll your knees to the left, your head will turn to the right. While you are turning your head let out an “EEEE” sound.
  • Keep in mind that these are two separate movements, with two separate sounds attached to them. There should be no lag between either movement, but each sound should only be done while its corresponding movement is being done.
  • Do this movement several times in each direction, and then make it into a continuous movement for a few repetitions.

Adding the leg sweep

  • This is the third movement in this series, to be performed immediately after the head roll.
  • For this movement you will take the foot of the leg that has fallen on top, and while maintaining contact with the floor sweep the leg in a circular motion. You don’t want to stretch it too much, just keep the movement comfortable, and keep your foot in contact with the ground. While making this sweeping motion let out an “oowww” sound that lasts from when you begin the leg sweep until the leg comes back to its resting position.
  • Do this on both sides of your body several times.

Patting down the ribs

  • Once you feel warmed up while doing the leg sweep, we will pat down the ribs, further loosening up the diaphragm.
  • Once you have reach the apex of your leg sweeping motion, stop in that position. Bring the hand that is opposite the direction your head is pointed to your rib cage and begin to pat down your ribs while making an “ahh” sound.  Move your hand up and down your side while patting. You can play with pitch here.
  • You will do this on both sides of the body.

Waking up the voice

  • Once you have completed patting down the ribs return to the semi-supine position.
  • Using only your breath repeat the consonants – “h, k, t, p.”  We are not using what the letters are called, but the sound they make. The reason for doing this is to exercise your tongue, to make it strong to give you a fuller voice. Pay attention to what your tongue does on each letter. So it should sound like haa, kaa, taa, paa. The order in which this is done is very important, and for the life of me I could not remember how it was supposed to go, so my stupid way of remembering is you are going to do a haka for tapas.
  • After several repetitions of “h, k, t, p” we will engage our voice using “g, d, b.” While doing this play with pace and pitch. Notice where the resonance is coming from for each variation you do, notice the role your diaphragm plays in each sound.

Standing Up

  • Return to the semi-supine position.
  • For this example I will walk through getting up on your left side.
  • Bring your right arm up toward your head, keeping it in contact with the ground in a circular motion.
  • Once your arm reaches your face, turn your head to the left, and let your knees drop to the left. For this part of the exercise your right knee must be behind your left foot, so it is not the same fall that you were doing before, this is to set you up to be able to be able to move.
  • Keeping your right fingers in contact with the ground continue moving your right arm in the circular motion, once you cross your left arm begin to raise your upper body.
  • Ending in a sitting position.  During this part of the exercise begin with an “mmmmm” sound, and then as you near the end of the movement, move to ah “aaaaa” sound.
  • Now by shifting our knees and arms we will make a mirror image of this pose on the other side. Your legs should fall relatively easily into place with your left knee behind your right foot.
  • During this movement begin with an “mmmmm” sound and as your go into the final pose replace it with an “eeeee” sound.
  • From this second sitting position begin to push your body up, bring you left leg with a big sweeping motion around until your body is facing the other way from the second seated position.
  • From here you should be bent over, legs wide apart, and knees bent.
  • Now we do a spinal roll from this position until we are fully upright.
  • During this phase of movement you begin with an “mmmm” sound and as you near the final pose shift to an “ooooo” sound.
  • After doing this at least twice on each side I usually then do a few lines from a monologue of the scene which I am going to be doing shortly just to feel connected to my voice and get into the right head space.

Final Thoughts

Remember that warming up your instrument is vital to ensuring you get the most out of any acting endeavor. It not only wakes up your body and voice but will also put you into a creative state, being more open to new experiences.

If you like this blog please share it, if you don’t like it let me know why, and finally if you want me to cover any subjects in a future blog post let me know!

Never have a plan b.


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