One of the biggest differences between amateur voice actors and real professionals is that amateurs simply do not know how to breathe correctly. Breath support and control can either make or break a read. To find out if you have proper breath support, see if you can read this entire retail ad in one breath. Don’t tense up. Stay relaxed, breathe in, hold the air in for a split second to let it settle, and read the script aloud.
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Did you make it? If you did so without turning blue or sounding strained, pat yourself on the back. If not, you need to develop your lung capacity and breath support.
Without proper breath support, somewhere in the middle of the copy, the actor’s breath becomes strained, runs out, and stops. Reading a lot of words in one breath requires the same focus, relaxation, and air intake as a swimmer preparing to swim the length of the pool underwater. Without a thorough cleansing breath to expel the old air
and a deep intake, the swimmer sputters to the surface gasping for air only seconds after diving into the water.
Getting a good breath does not involve moving the shoulders up and down or puffing the chest out unnaturally. Proper breathing engages the diaphragm and rib cage as the airs rushes into your lungs.
Place your hands just above your waist with your fingers on the back and your thumbs on your stomach. Tighten your abdominal muscles, open your mouth, relax the throat, and gently inhale. You should feel a sideways expansion of the ribs.
In a relaxed state, your lungs are in balance with the air pressure outside. As you inhale, muscles surrounding the lungs cause your lungs to expand. This expansion causes the air pressure inside of our lungs to be less than the pressure outside of our lungs. The air rushes in!