To be a successful voice artist you need coaching. No…wait, to be a successful voice artist you need good voice coaching.
Getting Started With Voice Coaching
In the grand pantheon of voice artistry, although I am getting regular paid work, I am still a relative novice compared to those artists who have been there and seen it all; from their respective recording booths.
The Coach Selection Process
Having researched the pathway to a successful career, I started as most other artists, by getting some coaching. I visited Linked-In, twitter and Google and typed the magic works – ‘voice actor coaching’ being met with a wide range of options.
I then selected by area and after a few emails and some light vetting, I had my first coach. We met at his home and he talked at length about all of the bad students he’d had and the mistakes everyone makes in the industry; and how bad the industry was. The same industry I wanted to break in to. Suitably deflated, we started our first session and I read a script that he had written for an environmental agency.
I read the script over and over again and after the hour session learned only to reel back my pacing a little and to annunciate better.
I appreciate that this is a key quality for a voice artist and shrugged off the negative comments; this guy wasn’t cheap so he must know what he’s talking about right? Or he wouldn’t be out there as a coach…right?
Keep Calm and Carry On
I went to the coach for a further three sessions and we seemed to do the same things, read a script over and over and focus on pacing and annunciation.
I had since won work on Voices.com and excitedly told my coach I was to be the voice in a golf TV advertising campaign in America. This was a mistake, the ‘coach’ launched into a tirade of how those sites were a waste of time and no-one gets work on them and they are dragging the industry down.
So Tell Me About You
I then asked what type of work the coach had been receiving, was he with an agency? I was told that he was a vocal coach solely and didn’t have time or interest in being a working artist, save for the odd ‘special’ script.
After three sessions I felt I hadn’t progressed much beyond a focus on the very basics and was honest about where I wanted to be and what I wanted from a coach. The coach replied that he didn’t feel I was good enough to make it as a full time professional.
My confidence had taken a massive hit and also my enthusiasm for working in the industry. I had also spent all the money, earned from Voices.com and had little to show for it apart from a bad experience; and a very bitter taste in the mouth.
At this stage I genuinely thought about giving up; but that’s not how I work. This time, I would go to someone I knew and trusted. My old acting mentor Robert Warren, from a series of plays I did when in University; OK so he wasn’t a voice coach but honestly, how much worse could I feel. I explained the experience with the voice coach and we talked at length about it.
“There are few poisons more bitter than the advice of a failed actor”Robert Warren
Robert mentioned that my experience had all the hallmarks of me working with a bitter, failed actor; jealous of anyone who looks to be heading where they couldnt.
Unlock The Characters Inside
We then talked about me and my goals; which was a welcome change of pace and agreed to do a few sessions together. Roberts’ focus was ‘unlocking’ the characters I had hiding inside me; something he was very skilled at.
Whether I was to do a read for a commercial or play a character role for a game; the result would be me channelling a character type – a wise businessman, an evil king, a character in a children’s book.
I would be imparting a character on the read – bringing the words on the page to life, adding the necessary emotion; the correct intent. In short I was becoming a voice artist, step-by-step, word by word; I could feel it.
We also worked on warm up exercises, taking care of my voice and ensuring I was primed, ready and prepared for every read – like a consummate professional.
I found the sessions, fun, informative and hugely energising. Above all, I left each session feeling like I was getting closer to someone who could be a full-time professional voice artist. Rather than questioning whether I should even be doing this.
I have steadily been achieving more work and am proud of my growing portfolio. from recent work I have been successful in winning.
My next step will be to find more specialist voice coaching. I want to develop my hidden skills within my mouth by using different techniques to further broaden my range and skillset.
Learning From Mistakes
In our next blog we will explore the best ways to find that voice coach and the method to avoid bad coaches – believe me I have learned the hard way; and want to help so you don’t make the same mistakes.