The Trained Ear

Posted on May 29, 2020Comments Off on The Trained Ear

When I began training to become a voice-over talent, I was unaware of how much I would learn. I had taken a basic class at a local college that gave me a taste of what was involved, and I knew I needed additional training. I studied for twelve weeks with a fantastic teacher, Linda Bruno of The Voiceover Gurus, and when that was done, I thought I was ready to record my demo. Twelve weeks and I was prepared to dazzle clients! Uh….no!

With the guidance of a long-lost uncle (and audio engineering demi-god) I never knew I had, I quickly learned that I needed more training before I was ready to do the demo. So, my kindly uncle recommended another teacher, Julie Williams, and I commenced to the next level of training. Once Julie heard the dulcet tones of my New Yawk accent, she referred me to Monique Bagwell (an accent coach who helped me sound less like Brooklyn, NY, and more like Brooklyn, IA.)

So, a combined seventeen lessons more, plus a few webinars focusing on the types of reads I am looking to do, and I started creating my demo. Again, under the direction of Julie and the production of Uncle Roy, I know I have a demo that I hope will dazzle clients. To quote those two modern-day philosophers, Bill and Ted….EXCELLENT!

As with most voice actors, I am continually practicing honing my craft, becoming more flexible in the various styles of reads, and creating some additional samples to sprinkle along the way as I market myself. I recently found a script I had written for a radio spot I recorded for a local solar energy company I worked for here on Long Island. As I had done one of these before, I knew the process. The radio station would record and master the spot for broadcast, could provide voice talent for an additional fee, and prepare a script for an additional cost.

The owner of the solar company wanted the message to come from the company and spoken by one of the employees, in this case, it was me. So, I wrote the script, knowing it was a 30-second spot, practiced it, and then went to the station to record it. Other than some very vague direction, the engineer got me to record the spot with a couple of pick-ups and then did a quick edit. After reviewing it, the company Ok’d it, and it ran.

When I first heard it on the radio, I was excited at first, then I listened to my voice and realized that the mastering of the file made me sound like Les Nessman from WKRP. People I knew and who I worked with liked it, complimented me, and it was forgotten when it was done with its 6-week run. Until I found the script, I wrote, and I started to think. Then I listened to a recording of the commercial as it originally ran. To quote another great philosopher, Charlie Brown, GOOD GRIEF! And yes, the feeling that I felt while listening to the original was what Mr. Brown felt when he hit the ground after Lucy yanks the football away!

After having a good dram of single malt in the hopes of washing away the memory, I decide to re-write the script as if it were to be used for a FB video ad and then I re-recorded it. Instead of a sped-up 30-second, I stretched the read to just under a minute as I pictured the accompanying video. I removed some words that would not be necessary, as there would be a caption in the video. I stepped in front of my mic, fired up TwistedWave, and recorded it once more. The differences were not just amazing, but how they amazed me. The difference in the reads shows how much I have learned about the craft of voice over and all that it entails, from script interpretation to pace and intonation, that I know I am where I should be pursuing the career that I am.

So, to Linda and Julie and Monique and Uncle Roy, and especially to the radio station engineer whose best advice was to smile when reading, thanks for leading me on this journey.