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Who can I TRUST to train me?
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Cathryn Leasure
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:38 pm    Post subject: Who can I TRUST to train me? Reply with quote

Dear Seasoned Professionals,

I have been earning a little money on the side doing vo's for years. I would like to get into the business seriously though, and for that I will need some serious training.

Over the last few weeks I have researched vo-bb estensively, and the web even more so. The more I research, the more confused I become. My conclusion; everyone seems to be able to teach voice over, but who can REALLY teach voice over?

Also, please correct me if I'm wrong, but am I right in the assumption that vo training is one thing, but my mentor must also be in the position to help me market myself, and (hopefully) help me to get work? I would think that this is very important.

My research so far has turned up 3 possibilites:
- Susan Berkley - The Great Voice Company
- Dan Levine - Such A Voice
- Michael Minetree - The Voice Over Coach

Does anyone have any opinions on the above people/companies? Is any one of them better than the others, and if so, why? Am I on the right track with my research? I hope I'm not causing any 'toe treading' by asking this question!

Is there an excellent teacher out there that I should know about, but have not yet discovered? Is there something I should be looking for in a teacher? (Other than help with marketing - I have found a few who don't even mention this factor in their training sessions.)

Just to reiterate - I am not taking a shortcut in posting this request for information. I have done my due diligence, but who can I trust to give my hard earned money to? EVERYBODY seems so legit!

Thank you in advance for any help and advice.

Cathryn
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10472

PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone who claims to be able to teach you how to be a Voice Over should be taken to a local Kindergarten and made to eat the sand tray, 18lbs of Playdough, 3 Transformers and a blankie.

If you are able to use your voice as a Voice Over it is because you have an intuitive skill. Assuming you have the intuitive skill and MOST PEOPLE DO NOT then it is possible for someone with knowledge of the business and teaching ability to help you get better at what you do.

Whilst I would never imply anything negative about the 3 people on your list I would suggest looking in the former Welsh mining towns of the Rhonda valley for better options.

1 - Pay someone to give you an honest opinion of where you are now from listening to your demos. D.B Cooper will do it and she will tell you where to go from there.

2 - See 1

3 - There is no item 3
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Bob Bergen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 795

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:47 am    Post subject: Re: Who can I TRUST to train me? Reply with quote

Hey Cathryn!

My first question is, where are you????? Do you live in LA/NYC or any other big market that might have more teachers available to you???

Also, are you looking to study commercial VO? Promo? narration? All the above??? Different teachers specialize in different genres.

I think you are doing exactly what you should do. Ask around. Just keep in mind that just because one person loves a teacher, that doesn't mean they are right for you.

During my training days, I studied with anyone and everyone who offered a class. Granted, those were the days of $10 a week VO workshops. But everything is relative! I was also a teenager working in an ice cream shop part time for minimum wage, so $10 a week was a lot for me!!!

I also studied acting technique and improv. In fact, I wasn't out of a VO workshop until I myself started teaching. Training is vital! And you don't want your auditions to be your workshop!

I do agree with Phillip in that I believe one is born an actor. Just like one is born a dancer, sculptor, singer, etc. But all raw talent needs technique. You need training and technique so you are able to reproduce your God given talents on demand consistently each time.

The difference between a trained actor and a non trained actor is this: a trained actor makes choices and a non trained actor makes guesses.

Just this week I moderated a VO panel for The TV Academy. My panel consisted of top agents, casting directors, actors, and Marice Tobias who is one of the top coaches and demo producers in the biz. She's a "go to" person by agents on both coasts to guide their clients. Many of Marice's students are some of the top money makers in voice-over. One of my questions to her was, why do these extremely successful voice actors still come to you for coaching? She said that Broadway singers still work with their vocal coach. Dancers are in class during the day to be the best they can be for the show that night. Tiger Woods still has several trainers he works with religiously.

Bottom line: those who want to stay on top of their game need to study and train.

I share this philosophy.

So, let's get back to where are you??? I know there are many teachers out there who do tele-coaching. Lots of actors swear by this! I myself don't teach over the phone. Just not for me. I need to make eye contact. And since animation is so physical, the one on one, at least for me, is essential.

But that's just me. Again, I know many actors who say they get a lot out of the tele-coaching.

But I really do believe that one on one is best!!!!

If you are in LA, check out:

http://voiceoverresourceguide.com/la/04training.html

You'll find every VO teacher in LA!

Here's a list of whom I personally like:
Mary Lynn Wissner: commercial
Joyce Castellanos: promo/trailer
Voicecasters: everything!
Kalmenson and Kalmenson: everything!
Bill Holmes: commercial
Pat Fraley: animation/audio books/narration/ADR..whatever he's got going!!
Cynthia Songe: everything!
Leigh Gilbert: everything!
Richard Horvitz: animation
Jeff Howell: commercial/promo
Ginny McSwain: animation
Mark McIntyre: commercial/narration/promo/trailer
Marice Tobias: everything!

(and if I left anyone off, so sorry! just one cup of coffee so far!!)

Ask around! Visit their websites. Call and ask them questions. But I do believe one should study with a variety of teachers. Just like college offers a variety of classes and teachers.

FYI-NO teacher should ever help you get work!! A VO teacher is for education only! Some may offer marketing advice. Same may even refer you to agents. But don't go into this with the idea they will get you work.

And never take a class where the end result is a demo!!!!!!!!!! HUGE red flag!!!

Keep this in mind. NO ONE, be it an agent or buyer needs another voice. They have all the voices they will ever need!

What they do need, and what they don't have is YOU! Your style, your personality, your heart, your sense of humor. You!!! A good teacher will give you the skills to consistently and believably bring yourself to every piece of copy. It's your personality, your "branding" that will set you apart from everyone else, and give you the edge you need to stand out and get noticed.

The thing that kept coming up during that TV Academy seminar from everyone was, this business always needs brilliant talent! But the numbers are bigger than ever! And you'll get less time to prove yourself. After 4-10 seconds of your demo they either love you or hate you. You need to study and get to a point that making a demo is like going through the motions. VO is so instinctive, it's so easy, and your technique so solid, recording that demo is second nature.

There ya go! Got any more questions feel free to pop me a note!!

BB
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paddyo
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Joined: 12 Jul 2006
Posts: 973
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cathryn,


Paddyo
www.thepatrickoconnor.com
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Last edited by paddyo on Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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KaraEdwards
M&M


Joined: 21 Feb 2007
Posts: 2374
Location: Behind a mic or camera, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BOB! That was so well put!! Can I quote this post in the letter I send to talent who contact me for more info about the biz? You said it so perfectly!!
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Kara Edwards
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Bob Bergen
Lucky 700


Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 795

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Be my guest!

Wink
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RD Levine
Backstage Pass


Joined: 20 May 2008
Posts: 416
Location: Dutchess County NY 70 miles North of NY City

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob is one of the best coaches when it comes to the business of the business and animation look for his workshops in your area. Philip tells it as it is, no sugar coating and if he ever comes across the pond take a workshop with him. You need to look for people who are working in the business today not just selling classes and see what real working voice actors are saying about them not what google ads say. This board is a great place for learning search it. The most important thing to remember it not all about the voice it is about the acting making choices not guesses. I will add a name to Bob's list Peter Rofé commercial he is in NY.
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Cathryn Leasure
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Seasoned Professionals,

WOW, I expected SOME kind of a response, but not by such esteemed people, and with such amazing advice. I cannot thank all of you enough. It seems I WAS on the wrong track, and I'm so pleased I asked the question before going with my findings so far.

You have all given me a goldmine to work with, and work with it I will. Thank you SOOOO much.

Mr. Banks - I am English and so the Rhonda Valley line had me in fits. Thanks for that. I've read a lot of your posts, and they are all so funny.

I will take your advice and ask D.B.Cooper to evaluate my demo (which was done a VERY long time ago, in London, immediately after a 3 hour training course! BAD!). See, I'm learning. Now I know what she is going to think of my demo, I hope she will just be able give me advice on which vo avenue to pursue, IF she thinks I should be pursuing it at all. Which I really hope she does.


Mr. Bergen - Though I am English, I have lived in Florida for the past 10 years, about 80 minutes south of Orlando. During my research I tried to find coaches that I could visit personally in Orlando (though I don't know much about this business yet, I am a private music teacher, and so I do understand the importance of being in the presence of your student to get the best out of them.)

After being able to find no-one that I liked the look of in Orlando, my search expanded (hence finding the 3 people I listed), and I came to the conclusion that my training would have to be via phone, or the web. Though this is not ideal, training in this fashion is definitely better than no training at all. I am going to check out every single recommendation in this thread and see how many do web and/or phone training, though they probably all do in this internet day and age, and go from there. As you say, personal preference, is personal preference. You don't know of anyone reputable in Florida do you? A shot in the dark, but I thought I'd ask.

You ask which kind of vo I want to study. My answer: I don't know. The little vo experience I have, has been telephone prompts and short (very short) story reading. I recorded a few practice scripts recently, to see which I would prefer reading. Boringly enough, I seemed most comfortable with 'corporate presentation' type stuff. Though doing commercials sounds much more fun. I thought I could probably start my training with what I am comfortable with, and expand into commercials later, if my coach (when I find one) agrees with me of course.

I graduated with a degree in classical music from the Royal Northern College of Music, in Manchester, England. Coming from an arts background, I totally agree with the ongoing tuition theory. No-one is ever good enough to quit learning, in life even, but especially in the arts. In fact, my creed is 'Knowledge is Power' - unoriginal I know, but it just about sums up my personality.

I will also keep in mind studying with various teachers, but as you mentioned earlier in your post, the cost of tuition has be counted in the equation.

Please don't get me wrong. I presumed that a coach would 'help' me get work, not 'get work' for me. You did qualify this by saying that some coaches do offer marketing advice, refer students to agents, and help with WHERE to look for work. This is all that I was meaning. I would never expect a coach to be my agent! Just a nudge in the right direction, and I'll do the rest.

You have given me a lot to work with, so I'm off to work with it. Now I know how helpful this forum is, and how kind the people on it are, offering such invaluable advice for free, I'll be posting again with other questions. You know I have a million! But first things first!

THANK YOU once again. You're all amazing.
Cathryn Leasure
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Bob Bergen
Lucky 700


Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 795

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cathryn,

If you are interested in character work I'm teaching a weekend animation workshop in Orlando in November. Here's the scoop:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=69769373680

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RD Levine
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Joined: 20 May 2008
Posts: 416
Location: Dutchess County NY 70 miles North of NY City

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take Bob's workshop it's well worth even if there's no deli from Katz's (inside joke). Bob teaches about the business of the business and what he teaches about characters, works with all types of voice work. You get to have Bob work with you in right in the booth helping you bring out the best in you. He helps you find the way to making choices not guesses in the copy. If you learn one thing it's worth the cost of a ticket but you will learn more than one thing.
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Lizden
A Zillion


Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 8707
Location: The dark recesses of my mind

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cathryn!
Welcome!...another Brit! Yay!...now Philip & David & Miku, & Mike, and Simon won't feel so outnumbered! Wink

I think the advice you have gotten so far is SPOT ON! (Isn't this community AWESOME!)
Bob, I REALLY need to take your class the next time you come to NYC....I HATE it when life gets in the way of my FUN! Rolls Eyes

First of all, I applaud you in doing your research, that's a HUGE step that a lot of people skip. Good for you!

You also mentioned Phone Prompt & Corporate Narration as being your comfort zone at this point, there's nothing wrong with that!
That's the bulk of my VO business & I'm a full-timer! (at 4 years, no where near as long as some other esteemed members of this board, but hey, I'm paying my bills & living my dream doing what I love every day!)

Yes, I do some commercial work, but bilingual corporate work is my bread & butter and although it's not the glamorous side of the biz, it is fun!....don't dismiss it, it's paying VO work, and that's what you want, right? Laugh

I'll add two other people to your list to check out:

Elaine Clark for commercial & Narration
Harlan Hogan for the business side of the biz
They both also wrote VO books that I highly recommend (Google them or email me for that info)

You are on the right track! Keep it up!
And once again: WELCOME to the madness...and don't get Todd wet Ninja

Peace!
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mcm
Smart Kitteh


Joined: 10 Dec 2004
Posts: 2600
Location: w. MA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Randy Thomas is in Florida, although 3 hours from you. She is a top talent, and although I don't have personal experience of her teaching, others here do. My very educated guess is that she's a great teacher as well.
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Chrissy
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that if you can take Bob Bergen's workshop it's amazing. He's so talented and such a nice guy. He makes learning fun and non-threatening.
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CarynClark
MMD


Joined: 28 Feb 2007
Posts: 2692
Location: Fort Myers, FL

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Cathryn!!

I need to take the time to go back and re-read all of this great advice you've received. Once I saw Bob answered, I knew you were in good hands.

RE: Randy Thomas: Randy's been my mentor (we live in the same town) but she doesn't have time to coach, unfortunately. She does do a class/workshop once in while (probably about once a year). I'd be more than happy to add you to her distribution list, if you like. Let me know.

I'm more curious though... you said you live 80 minutes sound of Orlando. Where exactly? I grew up in the itty bitty backwoods of Sebring, FL.

Smile
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"A positive mental attitude and having faith in your ability is quite different from being irresponsible and downright stupid." - Dave
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Cathryn Leasure
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I have been silent for a day or two. I had a root canal on Friday afternoon and by Saturday I was laid up in bed in agony with an infection. I've been there ever since.

I can't believe that even more helpful advice is still coming. I thank you all so much.

I have a lot of work to do!

Cathryn
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