Learning Lip Control
It is time to practice in front of a mirror. Assume the Ventriloquial Mouth Position, hold your jaw motionless and begin with the Ventriloquist’s Alphabet. This is all of the letters except the labials:
A, C, D, E, G, H, I, J, K, L, N, O, Q, R, S, T, U, X, Y, Z
When you see movement of lips or jaw, make a mental note of how that movement felt. Soon you will be able to determine when they move just by how your face feels.
Always try to say the your letters and words as clearly and distinctly as possible. At this stage you are going for clarity, not speed. Speak slowly and sound out the letters while making sure your lips and jaw do not move.
After repeating the Ventriloquist’s Alphabet several more times, move your jaw and lips without words just to relax a bit. Then repeat the entire exercise.
Continue to practice until you can say all 20 letters without any trace of lip or jaw movement. To gain complete control over these letters you should practice this exercise daily.
Speaking with the Ventriloquial Mouth Position, try saying these sentences:
He said, “Hello, how are you?”
I said, “Just great, thank you.”
We’ve used only easy letters so you will be able to concentrate on keeping your lips and jaw still as you say the sentences. Don’t think you are finished just saying them once or twice. You must continue to practice every day. Even the pros practice daily.
If you continue to have problems with lip movement, or you don’t have a mirror to practice with, here is another tip:
Use a pencil!
A pencil held loosely between the lips will allow you to feel when the lips move.
Here are some other easy sentences to practice with:
Ask us early to try tasty chili.
He’s too old to go out in the cold.
You could do this, too, dude!
These phrases should be practiced three ways:
- Your Natural Speech,
- With use of the pencil, and
- In the Ventriloquist mouth position in your puppet’s voice.
Now let’s try holding a conversation with yourself. Your lines will start with a V for Ventriloquist. F starts the lines of your Figure or Puppet. This is great practice to help you switch back and forth between your voice and your puppet’s voice.
V: Good morning.
F: Did you have a good night’s rest?
V: I did, thank you.
F: What’s next on your schedule?
V: I think I’ll shower, brush my hair.
F: Oh, great! Are you going to sing in the shower?
V: I might.
F: Oh, good, will you use MY voice, please?
F: You need the practice. And by the way, when you brush your hair…
F: Use the mirror to check our ventriloquist mouth position.
V: Our mouth position?
F: What’s yours is also mine, you know!
Let your lips move as needed at this point. But keep your jaw still. Keep your voice forward in your mouth and pronounce each word as clearly as you can without jaw movement. Use a mirror or touch your fingers lightly to your chin to detect jaw movement. Stop on any word that caused your jaw to move and repeat the word until you are able to say it without any movement.
Practice often, pick up a newspaper, book, your homework or office work and read it aloud using your ventriloquial voice and mouth position.
As you read or talk aloud in your vent voice using the ventriloquial mouth position, you can try to form the words without the use of your lips, but this will be impossible (for now) on words that contain the labials: P, B, V, F, M, and W. That’s okay, let your lips move when necessary to say the word clearly and distinctly.
The goal at this point is to be able to notice how your tongue moves so you can speak easily and clearly in your ventriloquial voice. You want to be understood even when your jaw is held stationary and your mouth is in the ventriloquist mouth position.
Again, record these sessions so you can listen and correct any words you have a problem with.