Acting Tips

Acting Tips: Articulation

Hi, there, folks. Today, we’re going to be doing a lesson on articulation, the way we use our mouth to form words and sounds. We’re also going to be looking at some tips to make sure you come across as a confident speaker of English in an interview kind of situation. Now, let’s just imagine that you do have an interview. Your heart’s going to be going “boom, boom, boom, boom.” And suddenly, all your English goes out the window, and you start making mistakes, and you can’t really talk properly. So we need to make sure we’rein our bodies, okay? And that we are present and alive in the room. I’ve worked as an actor for a few years, so I wanted to share a couple of warm-ups, a couple of starters that people do — that actors do before they go on stage. So I know you can’t see my feet, but we might start by making circles with our feet like this. So move them around, okay? Make those joints — so you’re doing this with your foot, and then with the other foot. So I want you to get off your chairs.

I know you’re watching me on the Internet. Get up off your chair. Let’s all get involved and move your right foot around. And the other way. And now, do circles with your knees, circles with your knees. Good stuff. And now, with your waist, let’s move our waist around. Move that waist around in a nice big circle, and the other way around. Great. Now, we’re going to do some shoulder rolls. Yeah. We’re making nice, big circles with your shoulders. And the other way. Great. Shake out our hands. I’ve got a pen in it. Shake it out. Move our head around. Be careful with the head. We’re going to do circles with our head, and when you get to the back, make sure your mouth is open. Do a big circle. And if you want to yawn, that’s just a sign that you’re relaxing. Okay? I’m going to move around like that. Great. Have a little shake out. Have a little shimmy, a little boogie. Great. We’re good to go.

Obviously, today, we’re focusing on the tongue, the lips, and the mouth. So let’s start by blowing through our lips. Do it after me. So the pitch, it’s going up and back down again. You try. Good. Now, I want you to imagine that you’re brushing your teeth with your tongue. Okay. You don’t have a toothbrush. You can’t find the toothbrush, so you’re using your tongue. Okay? You’re brushing all of your teeth with your tongue. Okay. Because to make clear sounds in English, you need your tongue to work hard. Okay? And now, brush the bottom jaw. This is a jaw. Okay. We’re going to brush the teeth in here. Great. And now, let’s just, you know, make some funny faces at me. I’m making some funny faces at you. You make some funny faces at me. Yeah? Move your face around. I know. It’s a bit weird. Obviously, when we’re breathing, we want to breathe from our stomachs. We don want to talk up here.

So try and think of breathing. Feel your tummy going in and out down here. Not up here. You might feel your ribs move. I want to see if you can breathe using your stomach. Okay? Now, we’re going to look at some vocal exercises. “Pa ta ka pah. ” Okay. So we’re going to look at making sounds which are exercises for the different sounds you make in English. And then, we’re going to look at some actual articulation exercises for really clear speech. And these are things you can practice, you know — I do it when I’m driving my car before today, so I speak clearly. Clearly hasn’t worked. Vocal exercises. Okay. So we’re going to start with “pa”. So we’re going to go “pa ta ka pah”. “Pa ta ka pah. ” I want you to repeat after me. “Pa ta ka pah. “Great. “Pa ta ka paw. ” “Pa ta ka poo. “It’s quite a rude word in English. “Pa ta ka pee. ” Okay. Bottom lip, top lip, they come apart. The bottom lip is blowing against that top lip. Okay?”Pa ta ka pee. ” “Pa ta ka pay. “Okay? So if you become confident with these, then you can repeat this bit a couple of times.

So it would be “pa ta ka pa ta ka pah. ” Let’s try that one. “Pa ta ka pa ta ka pah. ” Have a go. Great. And then, with these ones, “pa ta ka pa ta ka paw. “Okay. You get the idea. Practice those on your own time. That’s your homework, okay? It’s really good practice to try and do this every day to really develop clear speech. You might want to visit a voice coach at some point if you have a particularly crap speech. Now, let’s look at our Bs. So this is known as “unvoiced”, and this is known as “voiced”, with the voice of the actor. Okay? So “ba da ga bah”. Let’s work our way down here, again, repeating after me. “Ba da ga bah”. Good. “Ba da ga baw”. “Ba da ga boo”. “Ba da ga bee”. You know, like a bumblebee. “Ba da ga bay”. Good. So a “bay” is actually a noise that a horse makes. Did you know that? A horse can bay. All right. We’ve got a few other ones here because these are our consonants. Okay. Still paying attention? You’re doing really well.  Let’s have a go. So we’re going to start with the letter L. “La la la la. ” Have a go. Yeah. “La. ” So the tongue is at the top of the mouth, and it goes “la”.

The tongue sort of flicks forward. “La. La la la la. ” Now, we’re doing this one. “Lala lala lala. “Now, this one. Loads of “las”, huh? “Lalala lalala lalala. “You have a go. Okay. And then, you can obviously practice this with all the different consonants. So I hope you know the difference between a vowel and a consonant. Write down for me, please — a little test. What are the five vowels in English? Okay. What are the five vowels? Have a little write-down. What is it? A — yeah. It’s A, E, I, O, U. And a thing that is not a vowel is a consonant. So here, we’re practicing our consonants noises. We’re going to do one more, and we’ll do it with the letter T. So “ta ta ta ta”. So what you’re doing is you’re putting this letter in here. So once you’ve done L, then you’ll put T in, and all of these will be Ts. Yeah? And when you’ve done that, all of them become Ds. Yeah? Do you understand? Okay. So practice that. Let’s have one more go. Okay. We’re doing Ts. “Ta ta ta ta. Tata tata tata. “Great. “Tatata tatata tatata. ” Yeah. “Tatata tatata tatata. ” Right. Now, I don’t know if you’ve gone to the theater, but sometimes, you’ll get actors about an hour before, and they’ll be walking around going “unique New York, unique New York”.

It’s the weirdest place you could ever imagine being in a theater an hour before. Let’s go. “Unique” — it means “different”. “Different New York. Unique New York. ” And then, “NewYork unique”. The idea is to repeat this as fast as you can. So it’s like, “unique NewYork, unique New York, unique New York”. Okay? Have a little go. “Unique New York, unique New York. ” Great. Let’s go on to this one, “red leather”. Okay? So this is a test of this TH sound. So your tongue tip is coming up to the bottom of these teeth here. Your tongue is going there, “leather”. Okay? “Red leather, yellow leather. “And then you repeat that until you’re bored off your perch. And then, making sure we’ve clear SH noises. Look at all of these SHs and Ss. So we don’t want to sound like [makes sounds]. If you watch television, you’ll become aware that– actually, I’m not going to slag them off because I might get in trouble. You might know who I’m talking about, people who can’t make W sounds or — actually, all their Rsbecome Ws. My name is blah, blah, blah.

So let’s have a go at SH. “She says she shall sew a sheet. ” “She”, as in my friend Connie– Connie is saying something. If it’s a direct speech, it would be a little bit like this,” she shall”. It means “she will”. “Sew” — if I “sew” my shirt up, I get — I sew it up; I make it — I repair it. Okay? “Sew a sheet” — you know, a bed has a sheet on it. “She says she shall sew a sheet. ” Let’s all have a go after me. “She says she shall sew a sheet. “Yeah. Okay? So practice it. Ps — “Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. ” “Peter the piper” — he plays the pipe. He picked — I pick you to practice my video. “Picked a peck” — it means a little bit. “Of pickled” — means with vinegar is stuff — “peppers”. “Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. ” Lovely. Now, our T and our D with words. “What a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two. “So that’s quite a weird phrase, isn’t it? I know this is becoming a bit long. “What a to do?” That means what a shag. What a pain in the ass. What a bad thing to die today– today, as in today, not tomorrow, today. “At a minute” — you know what a minute is– “or two” — or two minutes — “to two”, as in “two p. m. “What a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two. A thing distinctly”– or we could put “a thing very, a thing very hard to say” — “but harder– okay. It is meant to be A. “But a harder thing to do. “One more altogether. Repeat with me. “What a to-do to die today at a minute or two to two. A thing distinctly hard to say but a harder thing to do. ” What it’s saying is its really quite difficult to say this practice thing, but it’s even more difficult to actually die today at two minutes to two.

What I want you to do — I’m going to let you off with no homework in the form of a quiz today, but you’re going to write these down — if you’re good students. Otherwise, I’ll whip your ass. I want you to write these down. I want you to practice them. Okay? When you’ve got an important interview, bring them out. You know, go to the toilet, “What a todo to die today at a quarter to two to two. A thing distinctly hard to say, but a harder thing to do. ” Okay? Practice them. When you’re in the car, write them down.