Back to Basics

A friend of mine is a tutor who is mostly involved with coaching students on test-taking to improve their scores. Recently, however, he was given the job of working with a broadcast journalist who had been having trouble on her job. It seems that the station she worked for had recently switched from reading from paper to reading from a teleprompter. She, for some reason, was having difficulty reading the teleprompter. This would lead to a panic situation wherein she would become completely tongue-tied and flustered. Needless to say, it was a situation she needed to remedy if she was going to continue in her present occupation.

So the tutor, who is not a speech pathologist, began to experiment to see if he could get to the root of the problem. He went about this methodically, trying one thing, observing the result, then trying another. He asked colleagues who had taught voice and diction for advice; since he had a theatre background, he talked to former teachers, all the while continuing to experiment. Finally he hit on a process that helped immeasurably: vocal warm-ups. He found that if the client did vocal relaxation exercises prior to reading aloud, things went better. Then he added tongue-twisters and other articulation exercises that actors use for vocal warm-ups. The results were amazing.

The exercises seemed not only to relax the client’s mouth and throat, but her in general. She became much less stressed at having to work with the teleprompter, which led to a much more relaxed and articulate presentation. Once the breakthrough was made, it was just a matter of designing a custom vocal warm-up routine for the client that would maximize articulation and relaxation. That, in turn, increased the client’s confidence in her ability to use the teleprompter successfully.

The solution was essentially a case of returning to the basics of vocal performance. This whole situation made me think how useful it is for any artist to revisit basics from time to time. We have a tendency in our work, regardless of the area of arts in which we are involved, to move toward more complex work, work further and further removed from basic rules and principles. Sometimes we get so far away that we lose our moorings. Those are the times we most need to get back to basics.

Perhaps it would be better if we did not wait until we were so far removed from the basics of our respective arts to embrace them, since those basics are the foundation upon which our artistic endeavors are really built. It certainly could not hurt to periodically review basic practices and principles, and it might actually improve our work. Revisiting fundamentals can be especially important when we, like the client in the above story, are undergoing changes or entering a new branch of our art.

Intermittently going back to basics can not only remind us of foundational principles and practices of our arts, it may also remind us of why we are working in the arts to begin with and serve to refresh our creativity, and that is never a bad thing.

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Date: Sunday, 21. July 2019 22:25
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Creativity, Education, Quality

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