Wacky Noises Indeed!

St Joan of Philadelphia – gazing at the “Rocky” steps in front of the Museum of Art.

Since I’ve been back in Liverpool I’ve been busy developing an online course for Reluctant Public Speakers. I’d be interested to know if you have any concerns about public speaking, and if so, would you be willing to share them with me? Here is a short form where you can offer some suggestions and/or requests. For anyone who fills in the survey, I am happy to respond to your particular concerns. Just include your email at the end of the survey.

I’m delighted to report that the “Voice of the Clown” workshop at the Voice Foundation Annual Symposium – Care of the Professional Voice – in Philadelphia on 31st May was an absolute HOOT!

The room was, as expected, not as large as it could have been, but still, larger than most. It never ceases to amaze me how many music colleges have modest, if not tiny studio spaces which don’t encourage much physical movement. Still, we managed. We moved all the folding chairs to the end of the room behind the grand piano and the comfortable couches, took off our shoes and got stuck in.

After a fast and furious but thorough physical and vocal warmup, I invited 4 participants to explore the first exercise moving longways down the room (only room for 4 at a time!). Very quickly I sensed that this was going to be most frustrating for the ones waiting to take a turn, so I ‘bit the bullet’ and called on everyone to try it out together. And they did. It was Ira Seidenstein’s ‘Nothing’ Exercise, which is normally done moving in a straight line, consciously moving the arms to create a shape in the air in front of the body, but in these circumstances the two dozen or so participants managed to weave in and out and around each other, never crashing into each other, choosing to stop, improvise, abandon, start again.

Then we tried it with the ‘Creative Twist’ which is ‘same but different’ (in Ira speak) and which culminates in improvised sounds arising from the physical impulse as one is moving with funny walks. Again, no crashing into each other, and most people quite happy to be engaged in their own personal physical, intellectual, emotional creative space – wherever that happened to be in the room at the time. I would say, much more than ‘quite happy’, there was a definite air of joy in the room by the time we finished. 50 minutes of focussed, energised, spontaneous creativity.

The Philadelphia Boys Choir performing at the Gala evening.

What is Authentic Voice?

Pamela Kay is a voice coach based in Bedfordshire, England. She has a weekly programme on her local community radio station, Secklow Sounds 105.5 FM, in which she discusses all matters voice, and shares some dandy vocal exercises with her listeners.

Pamela Kay

Here is an edited version of the programme which aired on 27th February 2019, in which Pamela interviewed me on the subject of Authentic Voice – what is it, why would you want it, and how to you get it? We didn’t manage to answer all of those questions, but we had a mighty good go at it!

In other news, I’ve been invited to present my workshop “Fully Integrated Actor Training: Voice of the Clown” at the Voice Foundation 48th Annual Symposium in Philadelphia “Care of the Professional Voice” at the end of May. I expect to learn a LOT more about the science of voice and vocology, and to have a lot of fun with a bunch of voice coaches, singers, speech pathologists et all bounding joyfully around the floor making wacky noises – and then some!

State of Play – a Clown Symposium

Just happened to spot these two wandering up Mount Pleasant as I arrived back home in Liverpool after the Clown Symposium in Ormskirk.

Now that was fun. Two days spent in the company of clowns, clown teachers, clown researchers, sharing ideas, concerns, challenges, and provoking each other to be even more generous with our ideas and our concerns.  All thanks to Barnaby King, senior lecturer at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, and his colleagues Richard Watt of the School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, Brian Desmond from Uni of Chester, as well as The Performer’s Playground and Teatro Pomodoro.

I had the opportunity to run a workshop, “Voice of the Clown – Literally!” and I cannot begin to express what a thrill it was, to have 30-odd clowns sighing and humming, Creatively Twisting their way into their fabulous voices and creating some wonderfully inspiring sounds along the way.

Let’s hope we get to do more of the same before long.

The view from my Ormskirk window.

Clown Secret

Ira’s book is out, and it’s wonderful.  It reads the way he is, total clown from head to toe whether drinking excellent coffee, describing the Creative Twist, side-coaching newbies in an exercise or just chatting. He reminisces and draws upon his lifetime experience of travel, friendships, clowning and teaching clown all over the world, sharing his unique philosophy – the ‘clown secret’ – which is also a philosophy for living a creative life, whatever your discipline.  

Clowning is challenging, as well as being life enhancing and very satisfying – eventually.  So is this book. Enjoy!

More workshops to come!

The Expressive Voice Workshop went down a treat last weekend. 8 participants from a great range of work and life experience joined in to fill the back room at 81 Renshaw with joyously wacky soundings, finding vibratory freedom in the Hungry Giant’s castle.

Some feedback:

Flloyd’s Expressive Voice Workshops offer an informative and professional blend of theory and practice that will benefit performers and public speakers alike. I definitely benefited from attending this workshop”

“I took away a tremendous  amount from your timely workshop (coming as it did, 4 days before my stand up set which was last night). Time went really quickly. My watch is unreliable and I didn’t realise the time had hurtled around to 3.45. I enjoyed all of it. I DID get the small part that I auditioned for so I shall be forgetting about projection and thinking more about the giant and resonance…. he really helped! So all in all. A very useful and enjoyable workshop. I would recommend it to others and come back again.” 

“Thanks again for your expertise and help at the workshop. I really enjoyed it and learned a huge amount. The elements which particularly helped me were the thorough background discussions, particularly of the anatomy involved. When I understand what’s happening on a physical level with any activity, I feel better able to tackle it. I also really liked examples you gave of poor voice control – the contrast of good and bad made it clear what we were aiming for, as well as being playful and amusing!”

“Thanks again for your expertise and help at the workshop. I really enjoyed it and learned a huge amount. The elements which particularly helped me were the thorough background discussions, particularly of the anatomy involved. When I understand what’s happening on a physical level with any activity, I feel better able to tackle it. I also really liked examples you gave of poor voice control – the contrast of good and bad made it clear what we were aiming for, as well as being playful and amusing!”

So now I am thinking of setting up regular weekly sessions, which will be in two parts.  The first hour will be a open drop in class, which will involve a warm up, and then working on whatever those present choose to work on.  The second hour will be limited to 8 participants, and will have a specific focus, e.g.

  • pure voice and vocal power;
  • range and colour (resonance);
  • clear speech;
  • accents;
  • Archetypes
  • textual analysis;
  • public speaking;
  • cold read;
  • audition monologues;
  • Shakespeare;
  • singing for non singers;
  • clown voice;
  • microphone technique etc.

Let me know in the comments if you have a preference for any of these, or other suggestions. Probably beginning in October.