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6 Ways To Get Over Those
Voice Over Practice Walls
By David Goldberg
Director & Owner, Edge Studio
We all find reasons to procrastinate. And practice is very easy to put off.
Here are six practical ways to get over the stumbling blocks that may keep you from practicing every day.
1. "I can't find a quiet place to practice."
Who cares!
For practice, background noise is okay. (It's just not okay for auditions and real jobs.
So if it's too loud where you live:
  • practice in a room at a local community center,
  • ask your health club if you can use their sales office,
  • work in a classroom after school has let out . . .
  • even practice VO in the shower instead of singing!
At Edge Studio, people have told us they practice in their car or minivan (quiet, sound absorbent, comfortable). Some in their closets.
One guy even told us, "I stand in my bedroom and speak into my wife's pants, as that prevents echo."
Does practicing with others around make you feel self-conscious? It shouldn't.
You're a professional, doing what a professional does. Others respect that, even if they don't fully understand.
And if you're still self-conscious, consider the guy with the pants.
2. "I'm new at this and not sure how or what to practice."
Practice at least 15 minutes a day, every day, reading not just the kind of VO material you specialize in, but also other copy to prevent monotony and help break you out of bad habits.
Even read your junk mail - there's a steady supply, it's a daily cue, and if you can make it sound real, you're doing well.
Very important: record yourself and listen back with a critical ear.
For practice, almost any mic and recorder will do. But if your recorder's not handy, get your daily practice in anyway.
3. "I'm not a beginner anymore. I don't need to practice."
Granted, Mel Torme and Elvis didn't sing in the shower or hum to pass the time (so it's said). But they sang virtually every day, no doubt.
A-Rod didn't hit all those homers without ongoing practice, either.
You, too, should perform every day.
Obviously, an actual gig is not the time to warm up, flex your pipes, and spot ruts and bad habits you may have developed.
Every pro, no matter how experienced, benefits by keeping in shape and improving or broadening their capabilities. Regardless of your experience level, you need to practice.
4. "I don't have time to practice."
Oh? How do you find time to perform?
Make practice time a routine part of your business day, because that's what your VO career is - a business.
Time of day doesn't matter, but you might take a cue from novelists and other creative writers. Many of them get up relatively early and write for an hour before the day "really" begins.
Or they write from 9 till noon then call it a day.
The good news is, your practice doesn't need to require three hours, nor even one hour. Even a few minutes a day can have a dramatic effect if you're consistent.
5. "I'm just not the consistent, regimented type."
That's not unusual. Okay, practice when you can. But don't put it off.
Here's a trick: you undoubtedly have several "what should I do next" moments in your day. Make VO practice your standard answer.
Then, just do it.
Finding some sort of "trigger" is the way to overcome procrastination, lethargy, or laziness. Like physical exercise, once you get in the good habit of practicing daily, you'll find it much, much easier to remember it and do it. And you'll enjoy it more.
6. "Sorry, there always seems something more interesting or more important to do."
Ain't it the truth. It might be a day job, kids, unforeseen circumstances, anything.
But it's either a daily occurrence that you can schedule around, or a temporary situation you will come back from.
If fitting practice into your schedule is still difficult, make a list. Write your schedule down.
Think of yourself as a business. Running a business involves certain responsibilities, not all of them fun.
The good news? Voice over practice is a LOT more fun than many of the professional responsibilities most other people have! And if you ever doubt its importance, listen to some of your old practice recordings.
I guarantee, if you've applied yourself in regular daily practice, you'll sound better today.
Have you found a practice technique that might help others? Let us know!
David Goldberg is a voice-over producer, coach, and the owner of Edge Studio, a major voice-over recording studio and voice-over education company based in New York City, with additional studios in Fairfield, CT and Bethesda, MD. Edge Studio offers a large variety of in-person and telecourse workshops, including Talk & Pro 101 seminars. It also produces audio for major clients including Disney, VW, Microsoft, National Geographic, and frequently casts voice talent who have trained and produced demos there.


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Comments (8)
Cat Smith
12/4/2011 at 3:46 AM
I like the suggestion of using my junk mail. There's no shortage of that in my SPAM filter or even my snail mailbox. I intend to start using that method tomorrow!

Also, I was just thinking today that I need to treat myself more like a business so the timing on your pep talk was right on. Thank you for this article.
Lee Ryan
8/17/2010 at 12:45 PM
Good advice. I think many of us take our pipes for granted, since they're always there, and some of us (guess who?) don't practice, until we have a gig coming up. That's for the motivation - I needed the nudge ... er, kick in the pants!
J. Christopher Dunn
8/13/2010 at 3:29 PM
David- Excellent advice. I look forward to my practice session each day. It's a bit longer than 15-minutes and I add some time for production.

Each morning starts with practice:
-Body and vocal warmup
-10-minute cold read
-Vocal stretch - a number of lines acted with different character voices
-Practice three scripts of various types with multiple reads
-Take my best read and produce a finished product - suitable for a future demo.

For me, it's the best way I know how to prepare for a day's schedule of sessions and auditions.
Bill Brewer
8/12/2010 at 10:58 AM
David, A Very good article. I practice when watching TV, While Driving and at every opportunity. I also take weekly voice lessons.
Maxine Dunn
8/11/2010 at 5:30 PM
Hi David, thank you so much for this great article! Sometimes when I'm really busy with work I put practicing on the back burner and I know I shouldn't. Because the more you practice, the better your work gets! :) Thanks for a timely reminder. - Maxine
Jennifer M. Dixon
8/11/2010 at 10:43 AM
I have to drive some distance every day, so I practice by reading out loud all the signs and billboards and to make it interesting. One day I'll read them with a French accent, the next day angry/happy sad, and the next day with different attitudes, etc.

I'm a singer, so I also do scales and vocal excercises along the way. This makes it fun and it seems I get to my destination a little sooner. I do have to watch the speed limit tho!!!!

Thank you, David, for some good ideas. I'm trying to get the picture of the guy speaking/singing into his wife's pants out of my head. :-) Whatever floats your boat, I s'pose. TeeHee!!!
M.C. Tapera
8/11/2010 at 10:20 AM
I was lucky enough to have David as my first VO trainer, and this is one of the first things he taught me. Thank you for all you do, David!

It's only in the last few years that I've truly begun to understand how key creating practice is. It's as elemental as brushing your teeth, or working out, or chewing your food thoroughly. To take the metaphor further, all of those things are worth doing well (thus the importance of listening to the results with an ear toward improvement, as David notes).

I find I need a little outside structure, and so many greats in the VO community offer free vocal workouts and lessons on their sites and YouTube, that there's something for everyone.

(Specific exercises may make a difference for you, too, Linda! You had had that with music, I'd wager).

Anyway, how helpful and lovely to get this pearl from you, David ... Cheers!
Linda Naylor
8/11/2010 at 12:49 AM
Dang, David, you have nailed me. For the last 40 years I have been a Concert (classical) Concerto performer. I have never NOT practiced. Eight hours a day, for 5 months -- -practice --- for the 40-minute perfect performance. I loved it.

Now, entering the VO world, I am bored with practice. Thank you for kicking me in the butt, and opening my eyes. I will practice tomorrow, and every day from now on. I really thank you, for slicing my juggler vein.

Linda Naylor
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