Voice Over Education Blog

September 2013

Improve Your Daily Practice Right Now


One of the favorite parts of my work as a voice over coach at Edge Studio is teaching the popular Technique 101 course. Although I've been teaching it for awhile now, it remains new as I continue to learn from our students. Every call has a unique group dynamic. Each new collaboration creates a vital Q&A session, but one question is common to all groups: “I can't wait to try these techniques -- what's the best way to practice? How should I start?”

It's a terrific question, and the answers to it are as varied as the voice talent themselves. No two voices are alike, and talent come to the challenge from many different backgrounds.

No matter what our path to practice, doing it daily is essential. Many students find it helpful to assign their daily practice exercises to specific categories, breaking the work down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

In my upcoming book, 365 Tools, Tips and Tricks for Voice Over Excellence, I divide training into five sections. Detailed exercises in each section comprise a useful structure for personalizing your daily practice.

  • Vocal Development
  • Voice Over Technique
  • Ear Training
  • Voice Acting
  • Literary Analysis

In the Vocal Development category, we put things like breath awareness and support, creating a daily warm-up, and learning about and practicing vocal health. We work on the quality of our unique instruments.

How to Keep Your Sanity as a Freelancer (Part 2) by Kristin Price


Part 2: Once you’re busy, stay in control

Depending on where you are in your career, you might be amused by the concept of being “too busy.” Maybe your response is, “Bring it on!”

Good for you. But in taking on clients, don’t fall into a trap similar to the one I’ve described above. Beware of several stress-causing, time-wasting scenarios that are very common.

Scenario 1: Overly-Demanding Low-Budget Jobs. Sometimes lower-budget clients are less organized, which can lead to unanticipated re-records due to script changes or indecision about the delivery style. These lower-budget jobs can still be a great way to get experience and build your confidence. And to be fair: there are also lower-budget clients who are quite lovely to work with. But make sure they aren’t crowding out the market-rate ones! Having five $50 jobs in a day is much more stressful than one $300 job … and makes you less money. If those $50 jobs hurt your ability to land the $300+ jobs, it’s time to re-focus your marketing. You may need to (ahem) “break up with” (some would say “fire”) a client or two. There’s no need to trot out the “it’s not you, it’s me” spiel. Simply thank them profusely for the work and explain that you need to raise your rates. Perhaps you’ll share a digital handshake and part ways … or maybe they’ll offer to pay you more!

Scenario 2: Time-Zone Confusion. Suppose you’ve promised to deliver audio by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. At 2:05, the client sends a furious email wondering why you missed the deadline. Oops! You forgot to specify that you meant 5 p.m. in your time zone! To prevent this embarrassment, be sure that your location and time zone are easy to see on your website, and don’t depend on your client having seen or remembered it. Always double-confirm deadlines, specifically.

How to Keep Your Sanity as a Freelancer by Kristin Price


What’s the #1 issue that will hold you back from launching your awesome voice over career? Time management. Well, you can manage to do better.

Whether your delay is for valid reasons (your current job got super-busy, or an unexpected family event), or whether it’s just from procrastination, excuses, a subconscious fear, whatever -- without time management, putting your new career on the back burner can kill it before you even get started.

And even if that’s not your #1 issue, it’s important to understand. Because time management is also the #1 issue that will drive you crazy once you have that awesome voice over career.

Your voice over clients will ask if you can complete a lengthy project by tomorrow, clients in other time zones wonder why you aren’t answering their e-mails immediately (not realizing it’s 3 a.m. your time), home-studio editing can take three times as long as you estimated. And you’ll still have conflicting demands on your time, like going to the gym, or your kid’s recital, or a rush job that you planned on being an all-nighter.

This isn’t to say you should avoid a voice over career. It is to say that running your voice over business will require a certain level of time management skills.

Learn these skills, and you, your clients, your family, everyone will be happier.

Part 1: Keeping your start-up plan on track

How Improv Can Make You a Better Voice Talent by Vanessa Richardson


Most people have done it. Some people do it all the time. We step into an office, classroom, party or club meeting in front of strangers, and, armed with only a few notes or preparatory thoughts, we wing it. We try to relax, breathe and go with the flow. But it’s easier said than done; our lives are not scripted or planned.

That’s improv. In these situations, ordinary people generally succeed, but who hasn’t encountered a false or slow start, distracting nervousness, going blank, or later thought that “if only I’d said _____”?

The same applies at the mic. Learning improv skills and techniques – and practicing them – helps you deliver better voice over performances, whether you’re following a script or not. But in voice over, there’s seldom time in the budget (or the producer’s patience) for you to “get your juices flowing” or move past a series of false starts. Is there a basic way to gain the skills and confidence needed to improvise well and quickly? Yes.

It’s called listening.

In our everyday lives, we all need to listen, being aware of our surroundings and open to a change in direction. This is a key reason why (as actors such as Meryl Streep have long advised), listening is at the core of acting. Listen to the other actor. (Or if you prefer, your character should listen to the other character.) Even when you’re working solo, listen to yourself

.

Also listen to your producer, director or client. They are, in effect, your scene partner. The better you listen and are able to take direction in a relaxed and positive manner, the more able you are to make them look good.

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