There’s this old saying: “Only learn something once. After that you’re a total expert and will be lauded as a genius in your field.”
Just kidding, that would be ridiculous. How about this one?
“You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way.” -Marvin Minsky
My Origin Story or That Time I Googled Voice-Over
When I first decided to pursue a voice-over career, I was on a break from work. I was miserable in my job. Life circumstances had left me in a rut with little direction. I needed something I could be proud of. Something that was mine. It was time to pursue voice-over, but there was a big question that I had to ask: How do I become a voice actor? I ended up asking Google this question. Seriously, that’s all I did. That led to a link for Such A Voice and then some amazing conversations with lovely people about voice-over coaching. Finally, I told my husband I was going to invest in a voice-over training program to become a voice actor. I will never forget it because his face was excited for me, while his brain was probably thinking, “What the heck is she doing?” But, I had that tone he knows so well that meant: “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.” Shortly after, I began my voice-over coaching with Bill Sleeper for my commercial and narration demos, followed by an audiobook demo produced by Michael Yurchak.
After that, I never had to learn anything ever again and ended up building a whole career on learning all of the information one time!
I’m kidding… remember the first part of the blog post? We’re doing that again. Look alive.
I received incredible voice-over coaching from the SAV staff. They gave me an amazing foundation and a wealth of knowledge that I still use everyday in my work. I’ve built a successful voice-over business that I’m proud of. If I had relied solely on my voice-over coaching sessions and never sought out any other knowledge, I would be in a very different place.
If you’re serious about taking a passion and making it your career, your life, and your purpose, it requires a lot of you. Here’s the oversimplified version: you are introduced to a skill, you love the skill, you train in the skill, you do the skill for money or accolades. People say “Wow, look at their mad skills!” What you never hear is people saying, “Wow, look at how they keep improving their skills and investing in continued education like a serious professional!” However, that’s kind of the most important part.
Natural Talent is Not Enough
When I was four years old, my grandma signed me up for piano lessons. We discovered I had some natural talent. I had a knack for timing and musicality. By the age of eight, I was competing for a chance to tour with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. There were hundreds of competitors and only seven finalist spots. I played my Mozart Concerto for the judges and totally nailed it. I vividly remember walking up to the finalist list they posted on the bulletin board at the end of the day. If I was a finalist, I had to stay and perform again. If I wasn’t, I got to go to the zoo. I was an alternate, and all of the finalists were present, so I got to go to the zoo. My eight-year-old heart was thrilled because, ya know, penguins.
I competed for several more years before deciding being a pianist wasn’t my ultimate goal, but let’s focus on those four years between my first lesson and my trip to the zoo. I had natural talent, but that alone wasn’t getting me anywhere near that competition. First of all, I had an amazing teacher. She gave me the tools, provided me with honest constructive criticism, and encouraged me to grow, but even that alone couldn’t develop my skills. It was the hours, and I mean HOURS, of practice time and music theory study. It wasn’t always pretty either. Most of those hours were spent playing scales and chords over and over again to build dexterity. It was going through countless flashcards to remember time signatures, note values, symbols, music history, etc. It was playing one line of music with a metronome, increasing the tempo little by little. This usually ended with me laying on the piano bench sobbing while my grandma made me a grilled cheese. So, let’s drive all of this home.
Devour Voice-Over Knowledge
Soak up all of the knowledge you can about voice-overs and this industry. Take what serves you, let go of what doesn’t. Your needs are going to change. It’s just like reading your favorite book at different times in your life. You will find different lessons as you grow and gain experience.
Where do you find this info? If you’re in a Such A Voice Demo Program or are a VO Pro Member, you have access to a lot of information from VO experts. Watch the videos, listen to the bi-weekly teleconferences, and read the blog. Go back to all three of these resources and do it all over again. Don’t let it go to waste. In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your voice-over training is to ignore these materials. Listen to podcasts by VO professionals, read VO books, budget in additional
voice-over coaching sessions to keep your skills fresh, attend conferences, find voice-over workshops in your area, and take a local improv class. Invest, absorb, repeat.
One of the most motivating things I ever heard was on the ID10T podcast with Chris Hardwick. I’m paraphrasing, but he made the comment that even people like Steve Carell and Tina Fey, while they had natural comedic talent, had to train for years to become who they are.
So, I leave you with this question: Who do you want to become?
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About the Author
Tia Rider Sorensen is a voice actor and writer in the Salt Lake City area. She got her start with Such A Voice in their VIP program and has since completed over 50 audiobooks, several corporate and explainer videos, as well as some commercial and animation work. You can see more of her work at www.tiasorensen.com.