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Vocal Wellness: Give Your Voice Some TLC

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We use our voices all the time but have you ever considered giving your voice a little TLC? We sat down for a natter with Voice Actor and Vocal Coach Nic Redman to find out more about vocal wellness.

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and about vocal wellness and why it's important?

My name is Nic and I'm a voice over artist and voice/accent coach based in Manchester. I trained as a voice practitioner at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and now I work as a visiting lecturer at various drama schools and actor training facilities, as well as running monthly workshops in Manchester and Sheffield covering all sorts of voice techniques and accents. I also have a one-to-one practice helping people with a variety of voice, accent and communication related issues - everything from learning an accent for a show to helping with public speaking and presentations, or even just vocal clarity and volume.

Vocal wellness is something we take for granted as we speak and communicate every day. We learn to speak as we grow up and it becomes such a habitual process that most people don't give it a lot of thought. Like many personal wellness areas, the voice only gets thought about when there is all of a sudden a problem. So perhaps you lose your voice or you find yourself needing to give a presentation but nerves get the better of you and your voice goes all wobbly or tense. Your voice is an accumulation of your upbringing, education, social experiences and much more. It's created by the life you lead and so is a very personal instrument. When it goes wrong it can have serious physiological effects. Or, conversely, it can go wrong due to psychological or medical problems. So it's important to have a real awareness of your voice, its capabilities and how to look after it.

You run a series of events called Voice Workout at Sheffield Theatres. What can people expect at these events?

The sessions are designed for anyone who has an interest in voice. We get a great mix of people coming along to work on their voice - everyone from actors and performers to people in the corporate world and even preachers. We all use our voice every day for communication, so the sessions are really open to anyone with a voice and an interest in exploring it. We cover many topics: warming your voice up; physical release and breath; vocal range and clarity. We also look at text and accents. The sessions are designed to be drop-in, so you can come along to one or more and just join in easily.

Are we right in thinking you've got an exciting collaboration coming up this year? Can you tell us about it?

I formed Northern Voice Collective at the end of last year with a couple of other wonderful voice coach pals based in the north with a view to providing different sessions with different practitioners. So I'm hoping one of the other women can come over and give participants a flavour of other styles of voice work. We're delighted to be hosting Barbara Houseman, one of the leading voice practitioners in the world, in Manchester on 23 and 24 February. She'll be doing two days of voice and text classes aimed at anyone with an interest in voice, as well as a day specifically for other voice trainers and teachers. It's important for us coaches to keep on top of our technique too.

In addition to improving vocal wellness, what would you say are the wider benefits of coming along to a Voice Workout session?

They're really a lot of fun so that's always beneficial. I like to think they provide somewhere for people to come and meet others with a shared interest, which is incredibly useful on a personal level. The sessions often involve a lot of stretching and physical release, one of the major factors to improve when working on voice, so most people leave feeling revived and de-stressed after a bit of physical work.

And finally, where can people find out more information about Voice Workout and how to book on to a session?

The sessions are up on Eventbrite - just search 'Voice Workout Sheffield' or 'Voice Workout Manchester'. I can also put people on the Northern Voice Collective mailing list if they'd like the odd announcement about what we have coming up. I'm on Twitter - @nicredmanvoice and @northernvoiceco - so please say hello there. And I have a website, www.nicredmanvoice.com, if anyone would like additional information.

Interview by Felicity Jackson

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