Happy New Year, Everyone!

I am very excited to be in the midst of my 3rd year teaching Voice Acting Classes under the Find Your Voice-Voice Acting Institute shingle in Cleveland and at Donna Belajac Casting in Pittsburgh. Over all, I've been teaching this work for over 25 years. In all these years there are a few "constants" that I felt were worth sharing if you are thinking of taking a voice acting class or producing a demo with me, or someone else for that matter.

Visit http://findyourvoice-voiceactinginstitute.blogspot.com for more information about me and the classes I offer.

In my experience, people who are new to voice acting/voice over work have many misconceptions about the work, and therefore, can be prey to scam artists with empty promises. The most common misconception is that if you have a great voice, can read and speak English, then you can make a living in voice overs! How hard can it be for crying out loud?! Harder than you think.

Here is just some of What you should know before you study V.O.!

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO LEARN IN A VOICE ACTING CLASS?
Proper breathing techniques, vocal warm-ups, elocution exercises, body placement, copy interpretation skills, how to train you "ear", voice maintenance, home work exercises, studio/business etiquette, other resources for learning and everything in-between toward expanding your voice acting repertoire for a wide variety of "reads". Where marketing is concerned, you should learn the best marketing practices for your region. There are subtle differences in the way that artists in large markets like New York, Los Angeles & Chicago do things from the way artists in smaller markets like Ohio, PA & Michigan do things when it comes to agency representation, self marketing, home studios, websites and demo production. That's just the tip of the iceberg. If you are new to this work, a group class will offer much more than private coaching and it is much more affordable.

WHAT SHOULD I BE WARY OF?
1. Any voice over training that is offered by phone! I don't mean telecasts or other media classes that only disseminate information. I mean primary training sessions where you are reading copy and getting feedback from an instructor. They are out there. There are a dozen reasons why this is a bad idea, but mostly because a good instructor needs to see and correct how you breathe, use your body and facial muscles, while you work. Tension is the death of voice work. If I can't see it, I can't correct it.

2. Any Voice Over school visiting your town for 1 day, telling you that you have a great voice and can earn a living with only a few weeks of training. After that 1 day introductory class, you will have to get the rest of your training out of town and/or over the phone! They charge thousands of dollars which includes a full length demo that can't possibly compete in the real world with so little training. Not to mention that these demos entirely too long and contain little to no production sweetening (sound affects and music). I've heard these demos from students who come to my class after an agent told them that their demo won't cut it. This is no way for the novice voice actor to train.

NOTE:
Your demo is your calling card to the world. It tells producers that this is the very best you can do. You should never produce a demo until you have learned and practiced what the pros know about being a voice over artist. How long do you suppose they spent training? I can assure you, it was not just a few weeks and they didn't spend thousands of dollars to produce their demo.

A full length demo is a 1 minute mp3 and/or CD, consisting of 8-13 cuts that you carefully select and rehearsed with an experienced Demo producer/director, and recorded at a professional recording studio AFTER you have trained for a bare minimum of 8 weeks if you already have some acting training and much more, if you don't.

A demo produced by any reputable producer in Cleveland or Pittsburgh should cost you no more than $600-$800. With Find Your Voice, that fee includes between 4-6 hours of preparation, rehearsal, recording session and post production revisions. If you take the time to do it right, know one will ever know that you are a newbie and you won't have to revise your demo for a few years.

3. Beware of an instructor who has only ever been a director, producer, engineer or ad agency exec, but has never been a voice over artist - especially if you are new to this sort of acting. Voice over work is acting work, no matter what you are voicing. You'll gain much more knowledge from someone who has been successful behind the mic and behind the desk.

DON'T SOME PEOPLE JUST HAVE NATURAL ABILITY?
Even if you are an experienced stage or film actor, there are specific techniques that you will only learn in a class or on the job. (but trust me, no one wants to pay you to learn!) Even if you were born with a warm, rich voice, it doesn't guarantee that you'll be able to interpret the copy with the proper 'point of view' and acting skills needed. Some of the most unusual voices work behind a mic because, in part, they have learned to interpret 1 piece of copy in a variety of ways and how to market themselves like a business owner.

WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE CHOOSING A VOICE ACTING CLASS?
1. Get a few books on the subject at the Library. A book won't teach you how to do voice over work, but it will reinforce what I'm telling you about training and give you a good idea about the business end. You'll also read great war stories from the most successful voices in the business.

2. Listen to professional voice over demos so you can compare any instructor's demos with the ones from the top artists who are making a living doing voice overs. http://talentdemos.com/female_voice_talent.htm is a good place to start for Cleveland talent demos.

3. If you are interested in Find Your Voice-Voice Acting Institute classes, visit http://findyourvoice-voiceactinginstitute.blogspot.com for demos that I've produced at area recording studios, class info and more.

The next class in Lakewood is on Mondays, March 8-April 26 6-9pm and in Pittsburgh on Thursdays, February 4-March 25, 6-9pm at Donna Belajac Casting http://www.donnabelajaccasting.com

Now, more than ever, your investment should produce measurable results, whether you pursue a voice over career, or not.

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Comment by Jean Zarzour - LIPSCHTICK! on January 15, 2010 at 10:11pm
Thanks for your reply Philip! Actually, I did address the first part of your claim that "a very important piece of information is missing" under the "WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO LEARN IN A VOICE ACTING CLASS?" section of my post, though I only covered a very small portion of what one should learn. Didn't want to write a book.

As for what makes the 1-4% of artists "stand out" over the rest....well...don't mean to tread on any egos but, when comparing apples to apples talent-wise, the only difference is that only about 1-4% will do the Marketing, selling and networking required on a daily basis, which is the 1st most important thing about this business.....even over talent. I know some 1 trick VO artists who work consistently because they put "it" out there, in addition to being great at what they do, reliable, likable and all that good stuff.

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