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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Is Voice Over a Teachable Skill?

Well, here’s an interesting question I was asked the other day. Do I think voice over can be taught?  I gotta tell you, this one made me stop and think.

On the one hand, there is absolutely a certain level of innate talent that is involved. But on the other hand, voice coaches exist for a reason, and that reason is teaching others how to use their voice.

So, is voice over a teachable skill - yes or no?

The answer is yes and no. There are definitely things you can be taught in voice over, such as how to properly use a mic or use editing software. In terms of your voice itself, there are also plenty of teachable moments. Some of these lie in teaching you the proper way to project or how to control your volume. A great voice coach can teach you these things, but many of them are learned over time through practice and experience.

That said, there are plenty of things that cannot be taught. The magic of voice over is the ability to transform words on a piece of paper into something full of emotion and energy. Some people are just plain old incapable of doing this. That’s where the innate aspect comes in, and all the teaching in the world won’t enable you to do this if you don’t have a natural talent for it. Also, it's been said that actors, musicians/singers often make the best voice talent. They work from an innate ability to find emotion easily and express it as actors; as musical folks they "hear" in a specific way that isolates pitch, texture, dynamics and tone. This is not really teachable. However, one can acquire a sense of these abilities through awareness and practice.

Something else I would like to mention here: many voice coaches will claim to be able to “teach anyone how to be a successful voice artist!” FALSE. This is not true, and they are simply trying to sell their services and make money. I’m not saying all coaches are like this, but there are definitely some out there. I’m not saying you shouldn’t hire a coach, because I think many of them have valuable knowledge to impart. I’m just saying to be careful, and do your homework with them. Ask for references, find out what their experience level is, and understand that the material they give you to work with is nothing like the material you’ll receive from clients as a working voice over professional.

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