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Meet the Industry : Voice Over Coaches and Instructors

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

July 25, 2007

Comments (8)

Voice Over CoachesWhat is a voice over coach?

What do they do and what qualifies them to teach?

Why would you need one, how do you find one, and what can they offer you?

That's a lot of questions, isn't it? Good thing we have the answers!

Learn more about this integral role in the voice over ecosystem and why it pays to be educated and trained as a voice over actor.

When it comes to the becoming a voice actor, it is strongly advised that training is sought out and taken on with interest and vigor.

While there are many different avenues that education can be consumed there is one definite way above all others that rises to the top as not only the preferred method but also the most effective: receiving personal instruction from a voice over coach.

Many voice over coaches as we have learned before have worked in the voice over industry as voice actors and have reached a point in their career where they have much to share and pass on to other people who perform voice overs for a living.

Just as a voice actor may specialize in a particular niche of voice over, some teachers are renowned for specific areas of expertise.

Some examples are coaches that focus on commercial voice over, coaches that are expert narrators, others who create character voices, and those who tend to have musical or theatrical backgrounds that add to their voice acting instruction in general.

As we've come to see, there are many different ways you can study with a voice over coach or instructor.

1. Private instruction in person
2. Private instruction over the phone
3. Group instruction in person
4. Group instruction over the phone (teleseminars)
5. Group instruction over the Internet (webinars and podcasts)

Private Instruction in Person

Private instruction in person is most effective when pursued on a regular basis. It is through private instruction in person that a voice actor will be able to track their efforts and further develop their skills one on one. Studying privately with a teacher in person is often preferred as a teacher is able to observe and demonstrate physically with more ease than instruction provided over the phone.

Private Instruction by Phone

Private instruction by phone is one of the more convenient ways to learn about voice acting as you don't have to be in the same vicinity as a voice over coach to receive an education. Many students have found that this method works best for them if they are based in an area outside of where voice over hotbeds are to be found such as New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago.

Group Instruction in Person

Group instruction through workshops and seminars conduced in person gives the attendees a different kind of education, similar to a classroom style education where a teacher is responsible for reaching a variety of different people as they present their material. These options are quite popular and many teachers tour with their workshops to cities across the US. Many students will fly in for a workshop to a central location for a number of reasons related to studying with a specific teacher, honing a particular skill, or simply for the sheer enjoyment of community that these educational opportunities provide.

Group Instruction by Phone

Group instruction over the phone known as teleseminars feature an instructor presenting on a given topic with callers on the line who are generally muted. Near the end of a call, the teacher will usually open up the lines and release the mute functionality so that questions can be asked or clarifications made. This also presents time for people to come in on the call and thank the coach for their efforts too, providing feedback if they like.

Group Instruction over the Internet

Online training is also an option that is favorable depending on what a voice actor's needs are. Webinars and podcasts are excellent ways to join in on a lecture topic or discussion. Many webinars are free to attend and simply require that a long-distance phone charge be incurred in exchange for listening in. Questions can be asked in real time of the instructor and a Q&A period opened up toward the end of the webinar.

On a similar note, receiving podcasts are nearly always free unless stated otherwise. While they are not as interactive (you can't ask a question and get a response in real time from a recording), they are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be listened to from anywhere. Follow up questions can be sent to the instructor, usually by email from their website. A podcast is more a less a "taste" of what you could learn from the coach if you decide to study with them.

Just as a voice actor uses their voice over demo as a free sample or calling card, voice over coaches are able to promote their services via podcast or writing articles for blogs and online publications.

Another way for teachers of voice acting and voice over to promote their services is through writing books or producing training CDs. Many instructors are also authors. You can get a really good feel for how a teacher will be in person from reading their books. I know because I've read enough of them to see how their personality comes through on the written page and how it correlates with how they teach or are in person.

Through their publications and or podcasts, you'll learn more about what they can do for you, but one of the best ways to measure how qualified a teacher is to teach you is by reviewing student testimonials and reviews.

Credibility can be measured by a voice over coach's career successes, personal success or the success of other people they have taught.

Studying with a credible teacher is very important. Be sure to check references and read any biographical information you can find related to their teaching career and education. Referrals are often the best way to connect with a teacher and students who love their teachers are very good ambassadors for them.

A sign of a great teacher is that they care about you as a person as well as a student. Teachers who invest this level of interest in their students are more likely to help them succeed throughout their career and connect those individuals with opportunities for advancement in the field of voice acting.

Some teachers even help students create or reinvent their voice over demos. This service can range in price depending on the overhead incurred or services included with the production from about $800 to a couple thousand depending on where you record and with whom. We'll talk more about this when we discuss audio engineers.

How do you find a voice over coach and pick the right voice over coach for you?

There are voice over coaches who actively participate here at Voices.com in our podcasts, on the blogs and webinars. There is also a beauty of a list at Harlan Hogan's website that lists teachers by location in the United States.

That being said, do any of you have a teacher you would like to refer?

Best wishes,

Stephanie

Related Topics: Chicago, industry, Los Angeles, New York, United States


Comments


    Hi Stephanie,

    My voice coach is Gloria Manon and she is top notch. Just do a Google search for her background.

    She is in Portland, Oregon.

    Eddie Eagle

    Posted by:
    • Eddie Eagle
    • July 26, 2007 10:58 AM

      Stephanie,

      Excellent article, as is so often the case here. Thank you. As I think you already know, Nancy Wolfson is my voiceover coach. We've worked entirely on the phone and it's been a superb experience. Here are 5 key reasons I recommend studying with Nancy:

      1. Nancy is plugged in to what’s really happening “on the ground” in the voiceover world in LA right now, especially in the commercial voiceover world. She has been a talent agent (she was Pat Fraley’s agent in the past), and today not only coaches all kinds of top talent who are booking commercial voiceover work all the time, she’s also involved in casting work. So, she knows what’s going on now. She’s not teaching something she learned 10 years ago, coasting on old, out-of-date information.

      2. Nancy is one of the most searingly honest people you’ll encounter in this business. She’s a very decent, kind human being, but she’s willing to tell you the truth about what’s working, what’s not working and what needs work, as far as your sound, your demo and your reads. And, finding someone who will tell you the plain truth is rare, especially among people you’re paying.

      3. Nancy is terrific working with people at whatever level. She works with top pros, mid-of-the-bench guys like me, and even relative new-to-the-business folk.

      4. Nancy’s instruction is extremely practical, put-it-to-use-today kind of stuff. She cuts through a lot of the myths and points out what works, what actually books and leaves aside a lot of the nice-to-know-but-not-really-practical stuff. Her instruction is clear, full of encouragement and enthusiasm. If you decide to study with her, I don’t imagine you’ll finish a single session with Nancy in which you don’t understand more about how to better approach your voiceover work and career.

      5. Nancy isn’t just about voice acting. She’s about business. She’s about helping you book work, or more work if you’re already booking work.

      Be well,
      Bob

      Posted by:

        Hi Stephanie,

        Thanks for another great article! Like Bob Souer, I too chose Nancy Wolfson as my voiceover coach (on Bob's recommendation).

        While we still have a long way to go, I can say after just a few sessions that what I sense about Nancy is that she really cares. And I say that because she never lets me off the hook and is willing to tell me what I need to hear regardless of how uncomfortable it may be to communicate such information.

        That tells me that she is really paying attention and is more concerned with making me a better voiceover performer than making me feel good.

        Rob Ellis

        Posted by:

          Yeah!!!! What Bob and Rob said!! In addition, Nancy is all dat and a hot wheel track!! Pleezbaleevit.

          Z

          Posted by:
          • B.Z.
          • August 10, 2007 12:22 AM

            I know it's a year later, but I've been studying under Nancy Wolfson's tutelage for a few months (in LA and via phone when I'm on the road) and I'm already booking - entirely because of her! Okay, she says it also has a little to do with my natural talent and over a decade of on-camera experience.

            Without hesitation, I recommend Nancy. Tell her I sent ya, so I can get my brownie points*!

            *free session

            Posted by:

              Lesley Bailey at http://www.voiceovergurus.com/ is who i would recommend. I have been making a living doing voiceovers for a long time and Lesley was critical in helping me nail the read every time. I think she offers a free consult because she doesn't want you to waste your money either. (now that's integrity!) Lesley coaches students in person in Portland, OR and everyone else through skype and phone i believe. One session with her is worth a million!

              Posted by:
              • Annie Meisels
              • April 18, 2012 12:17 PM

                Hi,
                I worked with both Mike Kirby (voice of Home and Garden TV in Canada) and Jane Eastwood (voice for Cheerios commercials in the 80s) to create my demo.

                Posted by:

                  I am a voice over actor and a voice coach with over 30 yrs in the business. Voices.com is a great site for those looking to get into the biz or for seasoned pros.

                  Posted by:

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