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VENT for Beginners! . . . Doing the basic stuff!! 

A really rad way to tell others about God! Fer Sure!

ven•tril•o•quism The art of projecting one's voice so that it seems to come from another source, as from a wooden figure.

dum•my A figure manipulated by a ventriloquist. The American Heritage College Dictionary 3rd Edition (Boston: Houghton, 1993)

LET'S GO ON AN adVENTure!

"Who said that?", your friend asks as he looks around the tree house. It was you! You've learned the art of ventriloquism. The word ventriloquism comes from the Latin word ventriloquus meaning "from the stomach I speak." Some sounds require the use of your stomach muscles, but your voice really can't come from anywhere but the vocal cords in your throat, therefore making your voice sound like it's coming from somewhere other than your mouth! And the fun has just begun! (JEEPERS!)

THAT'S WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE!

If you like to mimic sounds, you've already developed some of the talent a ventriloquist uses. All you need is a little instruction . . . and a lot, I repeat a lot of PRACTICE! (Sorry for shouting, but it's really important).

Stand in front of a mirror. (You should be really stoked by now!) Put your teeth lightly together and open your lips a little bit. This will look like a small smile. Now say the ABC's, being careful not to move your lips. Watch closely as you say each sound. (Are you doing it? EXCELLENT!)

As you try to pronounce the letters, some will seem almost impossible to say, but take heart, ventriloquists overcome this by using substitute sounds. For example:

LETTER__________SUBSTITUTION

B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D (softer, slurred)

P . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . T

M . . . . . . . . . . . . . . N or NG (soft as in song)

F . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TH (forceful TH as in throw)

V. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Th (softer)

W. . . . . . . . . . . . . . oo (as in moo)

 

P, B, and M are the hardest sounds to make without using your lips. For these sounds, imagine that the tip of your tongue and the back of your front upper teeth are your lips.

You can also substitute words. For instance, say noney instead of money and the audience may be fooled. Or choose a different word altogether - say yacht instead of boat.

As you rehearse, try saying your name, simple words, and combinations of words. As you relax and practice manipulating your figure, your audience will hardly notice that some sounds aren't just right.

YOU NEED A DUMMY! SO DUMMY UP!!

The illusion of ventriloquism is making people think words are coming from someplace other than you. That's why you need a dummy, figure or puppet with a moving mouth. To start with, try using your hand, or a white glove painted to appear like a puppet. Another idea is to slice halfway through a tennis ball and squeeze it to create a mouth that opens and closes. (Socks make great puppets too!)

When you move the mouth of your dummy at the same time you're saying words, people's eyes fool them - they think your dummy is talking. (WAY COOL!)

Try keeping your audience's attention on the figure by making it move. Practice making the mouth open and close for each syllable. Turn your dummy's head so that it faces the person he is talking to. Try making it as life-like as possible. Pretend your dummy is real. (AWESOME!) Raise your dummy's neck as you voice high notes in a song. (Be careful not to raise it too high). Make him shake or jump a bit to fake fear or surprise.

You can make some of your words sound muffled by arching your tongue as you speak. This gives your audience the impression that the words are coming from inside or behind something. For example: A voice coming from inside your drinking glass or from inside a box. (Be creative and come up with some of your own ideas).

Find a good character voice that sounds like it goes with your dummy by raising or lowering the pitch of your voice until you find just the right one. Try using a real nasal tone or give your character a southern accent. If you have an animal figure you can bring it to life by just having it make it's natural animal sounds. Such as, a dog barking or a duck quacking! Maybe it could whisper in your ear and you could interpret. (TOTALLY EXCELLENT!)

Put it all together (dummy, voice, movements and a cool costume), practicing first in front of a mirror, then with family or friends. You may feel silly at first, but the more you do it the easier it will become! And before you know it you will be performing in front of an audience and having BIG FUN! (WOW! You can BANG your hands together now!)

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