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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What You Need to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a Voice Coach

I’ve said it a few times before on this blog, so at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say it again: When you’re just starting out in voice over, you need to hire a voice coach.  An experienced voice coach can give you a number of advantages – help identify your strengths and weaknesses, show you how to train your voice, teach you new methods, networking, the list goes on.  However, before you make the final decision on a coach, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself to determine what you need in a coach and to ensure that the coach is qualified.

1. Career-wise, where am I? 
Are you brand new to the voice over industry, or do you have experience?  If you’re new, your reasons for seeking a coach are pretty obvious.  You need help getting started and honing your vocal skills. However, if you’ve worked in the industry before, reflect on why you’re considering hiring a coach at this juncture in your career.

2. What do I want to achieve by hiring a coach?
This correlates closely with the first questions.  Before making a selection, think about what your reasons are for hiring a coach, and what sort of outcome you’re seeking by doing it.  Is your goal to learn something new, like breathing exercises or how to expand your range? Or are you wanting to isolate your weakness and get tips to overcome them? Whatever the reasons, figure out what they are beforehand so you can focus your sessions on them. Or maybe you need help in evaluating what your "signature" voice is or your "money" voice. And working on refining that unique quality.

3. What are this person’s qualifications?
 This is an important one. You definitely don’t want to waste your time or money by hiring someone that is inexperienced or won’t be able to help you meet your goals.  Find out what qualifies this person in vocal coaching – ask them who they’ve trained with, what other actors they’ve worked with, and what their coaching style is.  Are they experienced in the areas that you want to make improvements? Can they realistically help you? If not, then keep looking until you find someone who is. Be aware that their are many so-called coaches out there who are not very qualified to be teaching at all. They are simply aware of the excitement today over the voiceover industry and are there purely to take advantage of the naive newcomer. Before you sign up for an online VO workshop, check out the background of the instructor first. Look for the biggest names and do some research. Maybe ask a working pro you know who they may recommend.

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