Coming Up with Just the Right Voice for your Puppet

Mysterious Canyons are Scary; Babies are Not

People ask me how I come up with the different voices for my puppets.  Here are some thoughts:

Let  the face of the puppet remind  you of someone and talk like they do:   Just today,  I was playing with  this little raccoon, thinking of how it  should talk.  It had a frizz  of hair below its chin which looked like a  goatee, a mouth with a wry twist and black “burglar” patches that  looked like  dark sunglasses.  Suddenly I had an image of a beatnik.  I  opened my  mouth and this hip, with-it kind of voice came out (but  pitched a  little higher, since this is a cute little furry thing).

Try  different voices until  you find one which clicks:  Willy the Wolf is  the star of most of my puppet stories (have a look at some of the  stories on  I have a warm  furry, gently silly voice for him.  But when I started using that  puppet, gosh, 25 years ago (!), I gave him a stately, intimidating  British voice and made him the wizard hidden at the end of the  underground maze.  But that just never worked for me, so I kept trying.

Shape  your face and mouth like the  puppet’s:  Purse your lips in just that  way, arch your eyes, put on that silly or wise or snarky expression.   What emotions do you feel?  What do you want to say?  Open your mouth  and let it come out.

Feel your hand as the soul of the  puppet and let it talk to you:  So if there was a little person there at  the end of your arm, how would it talk to you?

Still  stuck?   Just play.  Talk in a high pitch, then a rumbly low one.  Talk  bubbly fast, then syrupy slow.  Stick your tongue out and make a silly  face!  Maybe have the puppet start to tell you about itself.

Have fun.  Share with me any ideas you have and let me know if this was useful!

Mysterious Canyons are Scary; Babies are Not

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