That’s me, on the right, with two of my “doo wop girls” singing Christmas songs and listening to my story.

One thing that I continually have trouble with is finding distinct voices for multiple characters. To me, it is very difficult.  And, lucky me, tonight’s rehearsal of “The 12 Dates of Christmas” focused a great deal on creating clear, consistent, choices  vocally for about a dozen characters –both male and female. Being a lady has helped me solidify some of the female voices more easily. Male voices, however, are awful. Anytime I drop into my lower register it just ends up sounding like “generic man” voice.  All of my men are sounding the same. In the “Missy-is-going-to-make-every-male-sound-like-a-lumberjack-or-make-her-vocal-cords-bilster” kind of way.

… this is where the director comes in. Blaine, recognizing that I am having difficulty, suggests thinking about making distinctions with musical techniques. Finding varied tones, placing the resonance of my sound within different sections of my body to create new texture, and flexing my vocal range to be able to hit many lower notes–comfortably.  These are the super basic, building block, sort of  things. Things that I should have been thinking about all along. Thanks Blaine.

Anyway, in our continued discussion, I found that putting voices into musical terms made it much easier to capture texture, tone, pitch, and personality.  And one step further, assigning an instrument to each character was equally (if not more) indicative of each individual. So, in my mind I have kind of formed an orchestra of voices;

Mary: Oboe. Emotive. She carries the theme throughout; higher register. Distinct.
Sally: FluteLight. Airy. A happy bird.
Aunt Kathy: Saxophone. Reedy. Brash. Alternating warm and harsh. Somewhat annoying.
Mom: English Horn. The “Mary” voice– only in a lower key.
Doctor John: Trombone.  Brassy. Brazen. Slide-y. Sleezy.
Maggie: Bass Clarinet. Dark. Rich. Low. Mysterious. Deep. Calm.
Caitlyn: Clarinet. Annoying. Prone to squeaking. Nasal.
Rob: Bass. Deep. Lethargic. Melancholy? Perhaps?
Tiny Tim: Violin. Playful. High. Youthful. Skippy.
Mr. Tim: Euphonium. Refined. Resonant. Mellow. Warm.

*these characters are semi-solidified.
*all voices are subject to change.

As rehearsal progresses, I hope my voice learns how to capture many new sounds. I hope my jaw learns to shift itself out and down. I will focus my nasal passages buzz with intense airflow. I will make my stomach a sub-woofer.  I will think of instruments.

I hope my trick works.

–Missy Teeters