During the school year, I read out loud to my kids about an hour a day. I consider myself an adequate narrator, in that I have good diction and sufficient volume. However, as I mentioned previously, not all voices are suited to "vocal acting," and I'm definitely one of them.
When it comes to using varying sounds for different characters, I've got two options:
1) My regular voice
2) My voice about one octave higher
Seeing as I've never read The Hobbit myself, I had no idea that the book was full of so many characters. Thirteen dwarves, a hobbit, and a wizard--not to mention the trolls and the goblins and the spiders, and of course, GOLLUM. When I got to the chapter where Gollum has a bunch of speaking parts, I worked myself into a hoarsey mess while saying again and again, "GOLLUM," and "MY PRESSSSHHHHHUUUSSSS." I eventually showed my kids a video of what Gollum is supposed to sound like, thank you, Andy Serkis. They just shook their heads at my total inadequacy.
Well, we were rolling along just fine until we got to the chapter with THE DRAGON. [For those of you who've not read the book, spoiler alert, THERE'S A DRAGON.] A DRAGON WHO TALKS, I might add. Well, I took a deep breath and did my best dragon impersonation, trying to imagine what a big ol' scary talking dragon might sound like. Not two sentences in, my ten-year-old looked at me with disgust.
My boy: "Oh, for crying out loud, Mom. That is not what a dragon sounds like."
Me: "How am I supposed to know what a dragon sounds like?!"
My boy: "Well... use a lower voice. And... add heavy breathing."
At this point, I was laughing so hard I was crying, all the while both boys were imitating a rather squirrel-sounding dragon. I finally collected myself to start reading again, but lo and behold, I could not, COULD NOT say the dragon's lines without dissolving into laughter. Fortunately, we also have the audiobook at home, so I can make the guy on the CD do the hard work of voicing the dragon. This is definitely a case where a MAN is needed for the job. No frou-frou dragons allowed in this house!
[Oh great. I have just sidetracked myself into quoting the first Shrek movie.]
Donkey: "Oh, what large teeth you have! I mean, white sparkly teeth! I know you probably hear this all the time from your food, but you must bleach or something 'cause that's one dazzling smile you got there! And do I detect a hint of minty freshness? And you know something, you're...
[the Dragon looks closer and Donkey sees she's female]
Donkey: A girl dragon... Oh, sure, I mean of COURSE you're a girl dragon! You're just reeking of feminine beauty!"
As I was saying. We are nearly done with our reading of The Hobbit, and I can say that as a first-time reader, the book is AWESOME. So full of creatures and adventure and I cannot wait, cannot wait, CANNOT WAIT to see what Peter Jackson and his team of MAGICIANS do to transform the book into film. I will be seeing both movies in the theater, because they are certain to be brilliant. Also: Richard Armitage plays the main dwarf, Thorin, and how could one such as I not want to see that on the big screen? I've already warned the hubs that he should expect a little starry-eyed drool to escape from my person. I mean, what's not attractive about a big, hairy dwarf? Nothing, I say. Nothing.
Disclaimer: All links to amazon are affiliate links. Your purchases help pay for my admittance to the theater. December 2012!