Choosing a voice coach – part 2

In Choosing a voice coach – part 1, we looked at some of the different types of lessons out there and how to find the best match to your learning style. Now in part 2, we’re going to talk a little bit about what kind of person you want as your coach. Should he or she be a full-time voice actor already? How about a professional director (but not necessarily an actor)?

Here we go again…

To be, or not to be

There are differing opinions floating around the Internet about who makes a good voice acting coach: a voice actor or a voice director. First, let’s define what these two are and then look at some of the benefits of studying with each.

The “voice actor” coach:
This type of coach actually is a voice over actor with years of experience working in the field.

They know:
-how to adjust their reads to match certain styles.
-what it’s like to be directed by someone else.
-how to run a voice-over business.
-how to handle difficult clients/directors.
-how to pull out characters from within their psyche.

The “director” as a coach
This type of coach maybe has never worked as a voice actor, but instead directs voice actors on a daily basis on behalf of their clients.

They know:
-exactly what they want to hear from voice talents.
-what the current trends in advertising are.
-who wins the auditions and why.
-what qualities make a voice actor a pleasure to work with.

Which is best?

Saying with 100% certainty that one kind of coach is better than another is impossible. A lot depends on where you are on your journey as a voice actor.

In my opinion, pure beginners should study with a coach who also is an experienced voice actor. Here are my reasons:

1) Often during lessons you’ll feel stumped about how to preform a certain kind of read. A working, experienced voice actor can immediately demonstrate the read for you. A “director coach” usually can’t. I actually heard a very popular director coach admit this out loud! The coach said, “I don’t know how you voice actors do what you do. I could never do it.” This is not good for the beginner.

2) A voice actor coach really knows how to break into the industry. They’ve “been there, done that.” They know all about the struggles and can give advice on how to overcome them.

3) Equipment advice. Many directing coaches don’t own a home studio. They don’t have to record or mix down or convert or add compression etc. etc. etc. Beginners need someone who knows this stuff.

But don’t forget them

Now I know that it sounds like the “director” voice coach is a bad way to go. But it isn’t. I believe that for beginners it isn’t the optimal way. Once you have become a working voice actor (i.e. you have a professional demo and have a few clients) then moving on to this kind of coach is good. You’ll get training from another point of view: and that’s a very good thing.

Which leads me to…

You gotta roam

If you believe that you’ll only need one voice coach to get your career going and then you’re done studying, then you’d be wrong. Your voice acting career is always in a state of growth. Maybe you’ll spend a year or two with one coach. Then maybe switch to another. And then another. And then another.

At the beginning stages you’ll probably have lessons a few times a month, maybe even once a week (if you can afford it.) But once you reach full-time or maybe even part-time status, then your lessons will be less frequent.

Maybe after focusing on commercial reads you’ll want to focus on audiobooks or corporate narration or even animation. Studying with a voice coach who specializes in specific areas is a very good thing indeed.

What’s next?

Good question. And just like I said at the end of part 1, your comments and emails will help me decide!