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Episode 15: 5 Minute American Accent Practice

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by Katherine Beck in American accent tips
09/02/2021

Episode 15: 5 Minute American Accent Practice

Today I am going to teach you how to practice your American accent in just 5 minutes a day.  If you ever struggled taking a voice class then you will love this easy to do American accent practice routine.

In today’s episode, I am sharing with you my top 5 Favourite voice warm up exercises to help you sound American.

 

 


This episode will help you to understand why you should warm up and choose the right exercises for your vocal warm up to sound more American.

By the time you finish listening, you’ll know:

  • My 5 minute short accent prep
  • How I overcame my own boredom towards voice exercises
  • Why 5 minutes of warm up a day is better than nothing!

If this episode inspires you then I’d love to hear from you! Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram stories and tag me @katherine_beck_ !

Then follow me on Instagram to go ‘behind the scenes’ with me and my own journey as an American accent coach and Voiceover Actor.


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LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Ready to learn how to master the All American accent? Download my FREE guide and let’s get started. Download my free American accent guide

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Katherine Beck  00:00

You’re listening to the All American actors podcast, Episode 15. In today’s episode, I’m going to share with you how you can easily practice your American accent in just five minutes a day. That’s coming up next. Ready to go behind the scenes and learn what it really takes to build a sustainable career as a working actor in the US film and TV industry. Join me Katherine Beck, your all American accent coach, as I give you the insight and inspiration to take action on your career, learn my best tips and tricks to performing with an American accent and hear from working actors and other industry professionals. To give you a comprehensive overview of this biz we call show. This is the all American actors podcast. Before we jump into

00:56

today’s episode,

Katherine Beck  00:57

I want to give a massive shout out to Alice Lloyd who sent me this five star review. First off, the title of his review says exactly what I needed right now. And in the review, he says, I always thought the idea of a general accent was a bit bland. So hearing Catherine and her guests talk about it is such a breath of fresh air, motivating and educational with actionable exercises to do and goals to hit each episode. subscribed and looking forward to more. Wow, Alex, thank you so much for that amazing review. And I’m so glad that you’re really loving the podcast. The things that I’m saying on this podcast are resonating with you and helping you out. So keep listening, because I’ve got some really amazing episodes coming your way. And if you want to be featured as our star listener of the week, just leave us a five star review, like Alex to this podcast could be this one that you’re listening to right now. And I’ll give you a shout out right here on the show. And by leaving a five star review. It helps our podcast gets seen by more and more actors. So if you liked this episode, go ahead and leave us a review. All right, let’s jump in. And can I start by letting you in on a little secret. Back when I was in college, taking voice classes. I hated it. I hated voice classes. I remember lying down on the floor breathing touching on sound. And I was so bored. I was so so bored. And look, the training was good. The teacher was doing her job. She was teaching the material correctly. But the exercises weren’t really working for me back then. Because I didn’t really understand the why I was thinking, why do I need to do these silly exercises? How are they helping me? How is this going to help me act better? No one told me why I was doing the exercises. And I was too young and too shy to ask why. So instead, I would go through the motions in class, but not really understanding the goal in mind of doing the exercises. Years later, I realized now the importance of those exercises. And in fact, it’s funny because some of those exercises are similar to what I teach how I teach my voice exercises. But what I recognized is, is that if we don’t understand the why it’s hard to do the exercise correctly, and also maximize the exercise to get the biggest benefit from it. So for me when I teach, when I give my actors warm up exercises, I make sure you understand the why why you are doing the exercise and what you will achieve by doing the exercise. And I really target my exercises to be specific to what you’re learning. So in this episode, we are going to look at my five minutes short accent prep that I teach my actors. But I will tell you this even if you’re not an actor, so if you’re out there and you’re listening, and you’re not an actor, if you’re looking to create clarity in your speech, so you can deliver your message in a clear and powerful way. Well, I will tell you, you will definitely want to incorporate these exercises into your day to day routine. And these exercises I am going to share with you have two goals in mind. Number one is to create space. And number two is to release tension. You might be saying well what do you mean by that? Well, when we look at our articulators, and more specifically the moveable articulators, so we’re looking at your lips, your tongue, we’re looking at your lower jaw and your soft palate, these parts of the body help us form speech sounds, and often we carry tension in these areas, or we may close up the space within the mouth. And so what this does is it constricts the sound keeps it within the body, which can do things like reduce clarity, making it harder for your audience to enter. understand you, which is not what we want, right? We want our audience, whoever it may be to be able to understand us to hear our message to get our point of view. So, by creating space and releasing tension, we do just that, we are able to create a vocal impact to be heard, to be understood the idea that you have something to say of great importance, and you have the right to be heard. So, with these five exercises I am going to share with you you will be able to do just that. Now, will you be able to achieve results? Or are you going to notice results within one day? No, I mean, you might notice a difference. But overall, the long term results you’re looking for, it’s not going to happen in a day. You know, if you think of it like working with a personal trainer, or if you’ve ever done some sort of working out training program, it’s the same sort of thing, you don’t notice that after one workout, you might notice that maybe you know, two to three weeks after starting, you start to notice those results, you start to notice those changes. And you’re working with muscles inside the mouth. And your speech muscles, your articulators are just like working on muscles with your personal trainer, you know, your biceps, your triceps, but instead we’re working on our lips or tongue. And basically what we’re doing is we’re allowing the body some patience and time to build up these new patterns of movement to build strength in those muscles to create flexibility in those muscles. And then we will start to notice those results. But the two goals in mind are to create space and release tension. Now let’s go through my five exercises. And like I said, it should only take you five minutes a day. And obviously, if you’ve got more time to work on warming up your body and your voice by all means you can do a 20 to 30 minute vocal warmup. But I’m being realistic in these days, I find that most of my actors don’t have the time, they tend to put it off, they say they don’t have time for it. So that’s why I created my five minute accent prep. Because I guarantee you’ve got five minutes in your day, I guarantee that you can bring this into your daily routine, but you just have to put your mind to it, you have to create that time, you have to think about doing it every day, make it a part of your morning ritual, you know, so like you have breakfast in the morning, you do your five minute accent prep. And don’t worry if you get confused by the five exercises I’m about to share with you because I am going to be providing you with a link where you can download your own copy of my short accent prep. So make sure you download that and you can use it as we go through today’s podcast or later on. Okay, so let’s talk about the five different areas that we want to focus on. We want to focus on our lips, our lower jaw, our tongue, our soft palate, and we’re going to tap into the chest resonance, we’re going to look at resonating the sounds within that chest cavity. So let’s first talk about what I call my fish lip exercise. This is for the lips. And the goal is to release tension primarily in that upper lip, a lot of us tend to have stiffness or tension in that upper lip and we want to loosen that tension so that we can round in shape the lips specifically for the American accent. But again, like I said, this will help create clarity in your speech. No matter what you’re using these exercises for if you’re not an actor, this is also going to help you as well. So you want to imagine you’re like a goldfish swimming in the water. So you’re going to extend and protrude the lips outward, almost like you’re puckering up for a kiss. And you’re going to keep repeating that exercise really stretching and rounding the lips and feeling those muscles within that area start to open up. Alright, so that’s the fish lip exercise. It’s super easy, but you will find that your muscles do get tired. And that’s a good thing. You’re working those muscles. The only thing you want to look out for when you’re doing these exercises or any exercises is that it doesn’t hurt. You don’t want to do anything that’s painful or uncomfortable in that sort of sense. You want to work within your comfort zone don’t force the muscles in any sort of way. We don’t want to create any sort of additional tension or injury. So just gently as you do these exercises are adding exercises work comfortably in your own comfort zone don’t overly work the muscles. Then the lower jaw. This is super easy. You’re just going to massage the lower jaw so you’re looking for that jaw hinge so you know how you open and close your jaw. And you notice that when you bite down and chew on food, you can feel a little jaw hinge on the sides. You can massage just right around that area. Just little small circles with your fingertips gently massaging, any sort of tension you feel, and then all around what we call the master muscles. So those are the muscles that help you chew foods when you bite down, you might feel those muscles there as well. And you want to just massage around there as well. So it’s just all around the lower jaw. Okay, and that’s gonna be really relaxing and soothing as well. So if you’re getting ready to do an audition, or you’re going to perform something in front of the microphone or on screen, just give yourself a little lower jaw massage can be really soothing as well can help calm the nerves. Next, we’re going to talk about the tongue roll exercise. This is an exercise that’s going to help if you have any sort of tension in the tongue specifically in the back of the tongue, a lot of us tend to carry tension back there. So we’re looking at releasing that tension. Now you want to start with your tongue tip at a position I call home base. So my students in American accent freeway, that’s my online American accent program, or my private students, they know what home bases, but for you listeners who aren’t familiar, your tongue tip is going to rest behind your bottom teeth at the lower gum ridge. So you can feel where that gum connects to the bottom teeth, you put your tongue tip there, imagine it’s glued there, then you’re going to roll the tongue out of the mouth. And so you’re going to feel that stretch in the tongue as it rolls out of the mouth. Try that. And when you do that, you’ll notice your jaw should be nice and open helping to create that space so the tongue can roll out of the mouth. The next part of the exercise is you’re going to retract the tongue back into the mouth and you want to see if you can get it to lie flat in the mouth, training that tongue to create more space with in the oral cavity, or the mouth can call it either one. And when you do that, you want to keep the lower jaw nice and open, what you may notice is when the tongue retracts back into the mouth, the lower jaw wants to close up and we’re closing up that space in the mouth, we want to keep that space nice and open. So make sure that jaw stays nice and open. And we attempt to get that tongue to lie flat. So that’s the tongue roll exercise. Next, we’re going to look at strengthening the soft palate. Now, if you do not know where your soft palate is, if you touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue, and you can feel it’s hard up there, that’s called your hard palate. travel back, and you’ll feel a bit of soft tissue, that’s your soft palate. And when you yawn, you’ll naturally feel that soft palate raise. So just try and yawn right now. Did you feel that stretch? Did you feel that lift in the soft palate. Now that’s what we want to work, we want to work that muscle to teach it to lift when we speak. And the more we work this muscle, the easier it gets. It makes it easier for that muscle to work with us in speech, and becomes almost like an involuntary habit, where I don’t even think about lifting my soft palate. But I know that it’s lifted, because I’ve worked that muscle so much throughout the years. Whereas when I was first starting out as an actor and doing voiceovers, I knew I had to work on my soft palate. To reduce my regional sound sounding like I was from Chicago, I wanted to have a more open and rounded American accent. So I worked on my soft palate, so that I could sound not specifically from Chicago, but from anywhere in the US. And that’s kind of what we’re targeting. When I say the all American accent, we want to sound like we’re anywhere from the US. And then obviously from there and working that soft palate, you can then manipulate that muscle to then put yourself into different regions to sound like you’re from Chicago to sound like you’re from New York to sound like you’re from California, you can start to play around with your voice like a musical instrument and create those shifts so that you can really pinpoint your voice your character to a specific area. But overall usually for auditions, especially if you’re coming from other countries, it’s great to develop this all American accent. Because it’s like a blank canvas. It’s a good starting point for the American accent. So we’re going to lift that soft palate again, I want you to focus on keeping that tongue tip at home base, like I said before, see if you can get that tongue to lie flat in the mouth. And you’re going to lift that soft palate and just yawn. Ah, good. And like I did you want to touch on sound men from there, you can start adding in words if you want to, you know you can count to 10 One, two, so it’s almost like a yawn as I’m saying the one and the two and the three and the four so that I can get in touch with that lifting of the soft palate. And once you do that, then you’re going to duplicate that action just take out the Aeon one too. So each time I’m thinking about lifting the soft palate, but I’m not going to yawn, but I’m lifting that soft palate. And this is going to be a struggle at first, I know it’s going to be hard, you’re going to feel that soft palate drop, that’s okay. Just keep telling yourself to lift that soft palate again. And the more you do this over time, the easier it will get. All right. And last but not least, let’s look at chest resonance. So again, we’re looking at the American accent, we’re looking at patterns of how Americans speak. And we tend to notice generally with Americans, we’re talking again about that all American accent being nice and open and boomy and resonant, we want to resonate throughout the chest cavity. And if I put my hand on my chest, I can feel the vibrations bouncing all over the place. A lot of people, you know, you might notice resonance in some other parts of your body. For example, a lot of people notice resonance in the nasal cavity on the nose. So for example, if you put a hand on the bridge of your nose and you start talking, you could say your name. Hi, my name is Katherine Beck, do you hear? Or do you feel any buzzing around the nose. Now when I do that, I can feel the buzzing in my chest, and not so much in my nose, because I’ve learned to create that nice open space, so that I can buzz those sounds throughout the chest cavity. So for you, what I want you to do is you’re just going to gently pound the chest. So you can hear me pounding my chest, and I’m gonna hum, I’m waking up the sound down here. Now we’re gonna count to 10 1234567, a 910. Now I’m going to keep my hand here on my chest. And I’m going to feel the vibrations down here, as I count to 10. Again, 1-234-567-8910. And if you’re following along with me, could you feel the vibrations, they’re in the chest, I bet you could. And hopefully they’re a bit stronger than they were before. So again, this is another fantastic, quick and easy to do exercise to work on your American accent. And that’s it. That’s my five exercises, and my short accent prep, it’s super easy and very doable to bring into your daily routine. So make sure if you don’t have time for a full vocal warmup, that you’re at least doing your five minute accent prep these exercises that I showed you to start maximizing your goals, which is to create space and release tension so you can sound more American. Next time the opportunity comes your way to audition or perform with an American accent, you’ll be ready to go. Now make sure you grab a copy of my short accent prep, I’ve given you the link in the show notes. Go ahead and grab that and you can follow along with the exercises and make sure you do that each day. Okay, I have one more really exciting announcement for you. For those of you want to learn a little bit more about voiceover, I am going to be doing an intro to voiceover workshop. That’s coming up on Tuesday, the 23rd of February at 7pm. Sydney time and what we are going to be covering in this workshop is all about what I think is the most important thing when starting voiceover is identifying your voiceover voice who you are, and how do you bring something unique to the voiceover market? It’s a really cool workshop. If you want more details, just head over to Katherine beck.com slash voiceover to register and find out more. And if you ever have a question for me, don’t forget to find me on Instagram at Katherine underscore back underscore, you can find me there, send me a DM and let’s chat. I would love to hear from you. And don’t forget, if you’re loving this episode, send me a snapshot of you practicing your short American accent prep. Just go ahead and tag me at Katherine underscore Beck underscore pop it in your Instagram stories, and I can’t wait to contract it. And coming up next week on the show I am going to be talking about why not practicing your American accent is holding you back from getting us auditions. And don’t forget to make sure to share the show with all your actor friends. Let them know what’s coming up next week and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become an all American Actor so you can be the working actor you dream to be. Until then go practice your American accent and I’ll see you back here next time.

GET MY FREE GUIDE

These are the EXACT steps I use to teach Actors (from all over the world) how to bridge the gap between process and performance.

Get my free guide!