Blog Love from Mama VO
I’d like to introduce you to a part of your body that’s as equally as important as your voice. What on earth could be equally important!? I am a voice actor! Clearly, it’s all about my voice! Mmm-hmm.
I’d like to introduce you to your ears. Those two unassuming little guys hanging out on either side of your head. Did anyone ever tell ya as a kid, “You have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak.” That’s a tall order for a voice actor, but there’s a lot of truth in that statement.
When you’re learning the art of voice acting, one of the most valuable things you can do is listen. If your dream is to land a narration gig, narrating a documentary series on The History Channel, you should spend time watching and listening to those read styles. If you’d love to become a commercial voice actor… You best be watching some commercials! And often! No fast forwarding! #busted Or if you think audiobooks is your thing… the same advice applies. Listen to them! I’m not suggesting mimicking other voice actors. You are, in fact the special sauce that will get you booked once your VO skills develop and take shape… But what you can do is familiarize yourself with different reads styles. Each genre has it’s own unique set of ‘rules.’ I use that word loosely. For example, you wouldn’t read a disclaimer with the same approach and intention that you’d read an eLearning piece to a first grader. Hopefully. 😉 Listen for pace, phrasing, vocal projection, tone, inflection, emphasis, mic technique, the list goes on. What do you like about the person who did book it? What worked? What techniques would you apply to your own performance if reading for that particular genre? And which genres resonate for you? These are all things you can listen for.
Your ears part two:
When working with clients, producers, creatives etc… It’s our job to listen… closely… to what they are asking for. Sometimes it’s such a subtle nuanced change they’re requesting. Other times they’re re-writing the whole script on the fly and they expect us to have our listening ears on and to keep up! They’ll change their minds and then change their minds again. “Did you get that?” Check. Got it! No time for day-dreaming during sessions. It’s hot-seat time. When recording in live sessions we are the talent. We craft written word into spoken word. However, it’s based on someone else playing our instrument. “Please inflect upward on the first line, emphasize the word ‘that’ on the second line, smile more here and less there, and please pick the pace and energy up over all. And I’d like to hear it in a Southern accent. You do that, right? Okay, we’re rolling on take two.” And that was an easy example. Having a great voice, whatever that means… is one thing. (They’re all great, btw, it’s just knowing where yours fits)! Understanding how to listen, interpret and then perform what someone is asking is where the true skill lies. They are the conductor and your voice is the orchestra. No big deal. So, listen up. Tune in. Time is money, and the people who hire us expect us to be on our toes, bring our ‘A’ game, and to get things right within a few takes. Oh, and what’s the ‘right’ way? However your client wants it.
Please baby your ears. And listen twice as much as you speak. At least when you’re in a recording session. 😉
Oh, and you get to practice ALL of this during every. single. workshop. at TVAS. Hear ya later, Voice-i-gator.