Would a painter leave his (or her) easel sitting out in the rain? Would a violinist not take the utmost care of his (or her) violin? When something is your livelihood you guard it, almost with your life. Being a creative performer my instruments are my voice, my body, and my mind. I have to nurture these things in the same way mother would her child.
As an actress, spoken word artist and speaker; it is very important that my voice has variety. Can it be strong when necessary? Can I project my voice to the last seat in a venue? Can I be heard and more importantly can I be understood? Do I need to work on my articulation, pronunciation and enunciation? Do I know how to use the right inflection and intonation to effectively get the point across? Can I correctly master dialect? Can I completely drop my own dialect? It’s important that I exercise my voice by doing warm-ups and other exercises. It also important to protect myself against illness by being properly nourished and wearing the proper attire during cooler weather. It’s also very important that I don’t damage my vocal cords with excessive or years of drinking and smoking which has been proven to be harmful.
My physique is also a very important part of my business. I need to have endurance, stamina and agility for times when I need to dance (and don’t mention singing simultaneously). My walk and posture need to exude confidence. No director wants to work with an actress who constantly needs affirmation and can never fully commit to a physical action because she isn’t exactly comfortable in her own skin. When you don’t love your body, it’s painfully obviously to everyone else. (Especially if your job is to study human behavior and body language.) Nobody will listen to a motivational speaker whose posture says, “I’m unhappy” or “I’m depressed”. These things are very important. I work out because I want the best instrument possible. I eat healthy because I know it’s essential that I remain energized and in good health. Eating healthy not only gives you energy but it helps your body function at it’s peak, grows healthy hair and beautiful skin that doesn’t age as quickly.
Everyone in the world has to use their mind and brainpower. Being able to quickly think critically and creatively is important. Having an interesting interpretation, a vast imagination and impressive memory is essential for cold readings, auditions, writing poems, plays and speeches. Being a creative thinker helps you get yourself out of unpleasant situations. Being innovative puts you steps ahead of your competitors. I train my brain by constantly reading and learning new things learning how to think positive and by doing creative visualization and memory exercises.
To many people this seems like too much work or maybe like huge sacrifice. I say create a paradigm shift. Have fun with it instead of viewing it as work. Enjoy it. A wise man once said, “don’t judge your success by what you have but by what you gave up to get it”.
What’s your instrument? How do you train and hone your skills?