Preparing for Your Voice Reel Session
This guide will take you through what you need to do to prepare for an effective voice reel or voice demo recording session.
Please read through everything carefully a few days before your session.
Your voice reel needs to last you for at least 1-2 years so it's important that you're in the best vocal and physical health. This is so your voice is at its best, and you can get the most of out of your session.
- Avoid alcohol the day before your session. Alcohol dries the voice (spirits especially) which will cause a lot of audible mouth noise (clicks) when you're recording.
- Avoid or at least limit your intake of tea, coffee and caffeine-based drinks on the morning of your session. Caffeine can dehydrate you and dairy products can increase mucus production, both of which can cause audible mouth noise.
- Smoking and recreational drug taking can damage the voice in various ways, including drying the voice, damaging the membranes of your vocal tract through heat and toxicity and constraining your breathing. It is best to avoid both on the days leading up to your session.
- Get a good night's rest the night before your session. Fatigue makes it more difficult to breathe and speak effectively and it will make your voice sound tired and tense.
- Make sure you warm up your voice and your body before your session. Stretches and a brisk walk around the block are easy ways to warm up your body, you may need longer if it is a cold day. There's a great list of exercises on this page http://www.nyee.edu/patient-care/otolaryngology/voice-swallowing/therapy/vocal-warm-ups (scroll to about halfway down)
- If your voice is affected by illness, including having or recovering from a cold, flu, cough, laryngitis or similar, please contact me before your session to discuss rescheduling. Your voice needs to be in its best condition to record your voice reel and I would much rather we reschedule your recording session than record when you sound hoarse, strained, congested or otherwise physically unwell.
YOUR SCRIPTS - COMMERCIAL, CORPORATE & DOCUMENTARY
- Choose your scripts in advance of the session and print out copies to bring with you, so you can make notes
- For commercial, documentary and corporate scripts, you don't need to learn them or practice them. Look over them once or twice and then put them aside so that they're fresh for your session. Commercials in particular need to sound natural and genuine, and it's more difficult to achieve this if you've rehearsed the script in advance
YOUR SCRIPTS - BOOK EXTRACTS (AUDIOBOOK SAMPLES)
- Please choose from a book or books (if recording two extracts) that you have read all the way through at least once, so you have context for your extract.
- Avoid the classics (e.g. Dickens, Austen, Hemingway, Twain etc) as these books have been recorded many times, including by well-known actors, and they won't offer the best showcase for your voice
- Avoid books that are very popular or well-known, as they will have either been recorded by the author (e.g. David Walliams, Jacquelin Wilson, Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman) or will be associated with a famous voice e.g. Stephen Fry's recordings of all the Harry Potter books, Kate Winslet's recent recording of Matilda
- Look for extracts from books (or chapters of books) that suit your voice age and natural accent. Audiobook producers will match books with a narrator's natural age and accent so it's important that your audiobook examples showcase this. Don't be tempted to record an extract from a book written by an American man in his late 40s if you're a 25 year old from Birmingham. Even if you really like the book, if it's not a match for your voice, there's no point in including it in your voice reel.
- It's fine to practise reading through your extract(s) a few times and consider what accents or voices you may use for different characters. This would be part of your standard preparation for any audiobook.
- The narration sections of an audiobook will always be read in your natural voice, unless it's a first-person narrative, in which case it may be read with a particular accent (depends on the book)
- Dialogue sections are a good place to include accents. RP, Standard American and regional British dialects are all useful accents to demonstrate for audiobook producers. Only include accents that you can do to a good standard, as you would be required to maintain them over several days of recording
RECORDING IN THE VOICE BOOTH
- My voice booth is a small standing booth, so please come wearing comfortable clothes and footwear that you can wear all day or is easy to remove! Here's a picture of it (and me!) - the ceiling has since been lifted
- Jewellery that dangles or is liable to make noise will need to be removed during your recording session
- If you have long hair, please bring a hair tie or clip so you can tie it back during the recording session