An athlete practices daily to train for competition. Without practice, the chances of success are greatly reduced. It’s important to teach the body how to move or react to situation so it can do so automatically without having to put much thought into it.
Like an athlete, voice actors should train. Doing so will increase the chance for successful auditions. An hour a day can make the difference between missing the mark or landing the job. Practice will not make you perfect; it will make you closer to perfect.
I start each morning with a warm up that includes body, facial, breathing and vocal areas. After I’ve warmed my body and vocal path and hydrated myself, I start my practice workout.
1. Cold Read
My job as a voice actor is to clearly read aloud my client’s scripts and add my vocal color. So, to improve my ability to read aloud I start my practice session with a 15-minute cold read. I subscribe to a number of magazines, ranging from AFAR to Wired, and each morning I read aloud from one of them. It’s a great workout as I’m challenged to read unfamiliar words and names, strange phrases, words that are written for the eye and not necessarily for the ear and there’s an educational element as well. I record these readings so I can monitor my improvement by comparing how I read a couple of months ago to today. I’m happy to announce that I’ve improved. You should too.
2. Stretch the Range
My voice acting coach, Veronica Weikel, starts each session by having me create as many character voices as I can from the multiple line script she’s given me. I love this so much that I’ve incorporated it into my practice and it’s become my favorite part. The sheet has six sentences that lend themselves well to creative interpretation. Here’s an example:
- Enjoy a walk on the beach with your favorite super hero and experience your childhood fantasy.
- Popular? No, I’m not popular. I just act like I am.
- About 10 years ago, your sister developed the desire for bigger purses. Now, she just carries around a suitcase.
- With that type of attitude you’d think it was easy being a nude circus clown.
- Night after night, it’s the same thing. “Igor, get another body from the cemetery.” Sheesh!
- Winning would be easier if you showed up for practice. The coached is not happy.
For each line, I come up with three different character voices and change pace, cadence, emotion and word emphasis for each one. Like the cold read, I record this and play it back as soon as I’m done. I’m happily amazed by the voices that come out of me.
3. Audition Rehearsal
The final stage of my practice session is to workout with some scripts. I’ve collected a number of them from jobs I’ve done, auditions, and from Edge Studio’s script repository. I randomly select three from my stack and treat each one as an audition. I mark up the script, record three takes with a slate and then listen to the play back. This will train your ear: you’ll begin to notice right away what worked in your read and what bombed. You might have a great idea how the script should be read in your head, but can you get it out the vocal path? This will help to improve that process.
Now that I’ve finished my warmup and workout, I’m ready to take on the day. I’m in the mindset to audition and feel confident that I’m doing a better at my craft today than I did yesterday. Practice can’t make you perfect, but it can make you a better voice artist.