Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hitting the Library for Voice Over Practice

In learning a new skill, you can never do enough study on your own, even if you don't know what's important yet. Every skill I posses I studied on my own with the exception of writing (though continuously studying writing, I had great college instructors) and that includes ballroom, tap, singing, and percussion. My initial research of voice over lead me to a great book at my local library entitled "Voice and Speaking for Dummies". I really enjoyed the technique, basics, vocal types, and exercises. I even uploaded the cd of voice exercises to my computer. I liked how the cd gave techniques on finding your natural voice pitch. It suggested that if you nod along and uh hum in encouragement (like you would a friend) that's your natural voice. 

That's a standout bit for me because right when I started getting serious about practicing my speech, and general voice technique, I noticed with nerves or tiring my voice was climbing higher in pitch, and I used the uh hum to reset it many times. I was still just working on speaking smoothly, with intended breaths, and the same volume throughout. Sometimes I used the whisper voice, sometimes I used the regular volume, and sometimes I projected. I was really just messing around with my instrument and getting re-familiarized with it, then reviewing my recordings.

My background as a youth was a singer. My experience as an adult has been more as comedic show host, and some phone sales and phone customer service. Some of those voice styles or attitudes would definitely start to help me now. I was looking to get as much actual knowledge before presenting myself in a real-world setting. My neighbors must have wondered what I was doing sitting at the pool talking to myself. But, it's a lot like sports or dance, you have to learn to move your mouth and be articulate, but not too much on the articulating, that sounds over rehearsed.

It's actually a good thing I didn't practice on my own too often, because I would have made myself memorize shoddy voice technique. I had a few habits already as I arrived to one of many private lessons with my new coach Melissa Moats. One of my habits was breaking up the flow of a sentence, for no good reason.  Even after I obtained privates once per week, I continued to go to my local library to take out Shakespeare books. The long monologues with difficult words gave me tons of work on cold reading, which would come in handy later.

It turns out there will be a lot of times you won't see a script for very long before you have to perform it, and so this monologue practice was getting the cold-reading muscle ready. You can never be too ready for cold reading is how I now feel. You have to be ready, but loose. I checked out monologues for actors, 'how to' books, and anything that was long-winded directional material I could speak to keep fine tuning my utensils IE: throat and mouth muscles. Let's face it, no one talks this much in daily conversation.

The scripts I'm being given now (Nov. 2013) for practice are anywhere from short one to three sentence commercial scripts (radio and TV), to a paragraph or two intended to be voice over and informational or commercial videos. I'm very glad I've worked to get my mind around reading large chunks of information. Hello corporate instructional work, I think I'm getting ready for you. Right now I'm sanctioned by my instructor to do phone hold work (IVR), and we're working on character development and creation (I have six in progress). My teacher is showing  me how to construct characters from thin air. A talking broom, a wig,  a bug, they all have voices. I'm excited about continuing to explore all the areas I might fit into in the voice over  industry. Right now I am encouraged that I have the ability to cater to kids or adults with my voice. Oooo goodie, unlimited possibilities. [Cue song: "A whole new world..."] 

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