I’ve been remiss in not posting some additional thoughts about my weekend in Seattle, studying again with Marice Tobias, especially my reflections on my experiences on the second of the 2 days. Here are a couple of thoughts that I hope you’ll find helpful.
One of the things I like best about these weekends with Marice is getting to study as part of a group, and in particular a group of really talented people. There’s something about being around really talented people that brings out the best…at least that’s the way it works for me. We all brought our A game to the weekend and every one of us went home with a new definition of our A game, a definition that’s in sharper focus than it was.
The other thought I’d like you to chew on has to do with perspective. Maybe a brief story about a conversation I had with my daughter last week will help illustrate the point. Karen and I were talking about how we both know a lot of people here in North Carolina who don’t have stereotypical “Southern” accents. This is mainly because Charlotte, and the entire state for that matter, has become a destination for people from other parts of the country, especially the Northeast and the Midwest. As part of that conversation I mentioned in passing that there’s a difference in accents in different parts of the South. Folks who are natives of North Carolina have a distinctly different sound than do those from Alabama or Kentucky, etc. Karen commented that my ears must be more finely tuned than hers because she can’t distinguish those differences. Now, I’m not an expert on dialects, but I am beginning to hear these finely shaded gradations of difference from one regionalism to another.
Those same kinds of finely shaded distinctions apply to the best voiceover work. Narration for a corporate marketing piece might bear a resemblance to a documentary narration, for example; but there are differences. Sometimes subtle. Sometimes considerable. Voiceover for a national television commercial has a different tone than work for national radio, even if the commercials are for the same client and about the same product.
So, whether you do a lot of dialect and character work, or almost none, tuning your ear and your voice to these distinctions and differences will make a difference on whether you book work or not. Because the clients know what they’re looking for and if you adopt the wrong tone or style for your audition, they are just going to move on to the next talent. Working with Marice is like putting a finely honed edge to my instrument, and helps me tune my ears to the shadings and levels I have to be able to hear to do my best work.
Update: Kitzie Stern has some wonderfully insightful thoughts about studying with Marice that she’s just posted on her blog. Well worth your time.