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Acting classes; Acting classes for voice-overs: Beyond the introduction. Part 2 of 2.

Edge Studio

NOTE: This is the second post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 1!

Are you an established voice artist? Is it time for you to become a voice actor? Even if a lot of the jobs you’ve been doing can be properly described as voice acting, there’s always something more you could learn. The added experience could be helpful. It’s sure to be interesting. And if you choose the right teacher, school or studio, it will ultimately be fun.

How should you go about it?

If you haven’t yet read Part One of this discussion, please do that now. Like most things educational, you learn better if you understand what you’re trying to learn and why. You’ll benefit from getting a proper introduction to acting before you really dive in.

In fact, rather than formally pursuing acting further, you might decide instead to broaden your foundation to include voice and speech training, or singing. Or consider adding another genre to your skillset, or working with a business coach to develop a particular specialty that is not genre-specific. All these skills are useful in expanding your voice-over capabilities.

But let’s assume you’ve had an introduction to acting, or some experience in school , and you want to take it further. What should you look for in an acting curriculum or teacher?

Ask around. The best sources are working actors who know you and have had a variety of experience themselves. By all means, ask your VO coach, vocal coach or other people you work with. Agents are another good source (if you don’t waste their time), even if not your own. Check out your candidates online, and if you can, talk to their more experienced students.

What is acting process is taught? Stanislavski System, Strasberg Method. Stella Adler. Sanford Meisner. Michael Chekhov. Uta Hagen. Practical Esthetics. Theater Games. At the introductory level, these may not come into play as such. If you know something about them, you might recognize the technique you’re being taught. As you become more serious, you will come to see what approach(es) your teacher favors. You can take things as they come, trusting in your teacher’s acting and teaching technique. But you might discuss it at the outset. A prospective teacher’s response might itself teach you something. And, depending on the scope of your knowledge and your attitude, it may tell the teacher something about you.

Will you eventually learn how to act for yourself, or will you be dependent on the teacher with every new role? In other words, will you be inspired, or bullied? Even if a teacher prods or embarrasses you into reaching beyond your inhibitions, at some point that should no longer be necessary. Will you gain techniques and confidence to sort out a role, develop a character and perform successfully on your own? Or are you always told you’re somehow “wrong,” always requiring the coach to guide you in the process? There are all sorts of dangers in the latter situation.

That warning aside, learning to be an actor is an ongoing process, and serious actors invest years of study and practice, with a large measure of trust. Are you prepared to give it that dedication? Or are you looking more for some quick tricks? If you don’t plan to hang in there for at least some of the long haul, you may not reap full benefit from the early exercises, or may not reach an epiphany. A shorter-term learning environment might better suit your needs and budget.

If you’re considering a school, also consider the teacher. If you audit a course, know if that teacher is will be yours. If not, the audit may nevertheless be instructive, but won’t tell you all you need to know for an informed decision.

How many other students will there be in the class? Get a specific number and do the math. Are there so many than your own performance or practice time will be just a few lines, or one-time through?

Does the class include performance, or are students to participate in a project outside of the class, perhaps culminating in a “free” performance? That might be good. Or it might not be what you want.

Be candid about your goals. If you intend to remain solely a voice actor, you might be treated equally. Or you might not be regarded as seriously as a young student on a stage or film acting track. (Even if that distinction would be wrong.)

Will you be on your own in each class, or will you be partnered with a fellow actor each week, or even throughout the course? What if they do not show?

Does the teacher spend more time touting themselves or reminiscing about their past experiences, at the expense of relating the experience to you or getting you into a scene or exercise? This is reasonable as an introduction, and may bolster your confidence in their knowledge. But if it happens continually and meanwhile you’re not growing, get what knowledge you can, and move on.

Do you have a comment or suggestion? Please send to [email protected].