Hangin’ With The Voice Coaches – Part 1

One week, a few weeks ago, I spent time with three different Canadian voice coaches: Mike Kirby of Voiceworx, Sunday Muse who specializes in coaching for animation (especially kids) and Deb Munro who enthusiastically trains future oral specialists in Vancouver. 

I’m hoping to sit in on one of Sunday’s upcoming workshops so I’ll write more about her and the world of animation coaching at that point but I’m convinced she’s a pro who takes her coaching seriously (www.sundaymuse.com).  And she’s charming too.  I’ll also write more in a future post about the infectious Deb Munro who does workshops across the country and has a lot of interesting events in store for the voice-over world, including a Voice Olympics cruise in September (www.debsvoice.com/MakingWavs). 

Meanwhile, the legendary Mike Kirby invited me to sit in on his documentary and narration class, the second of 4 nights of training that his Voiceworx program offers in their Monthly Voice Over Workshop (www.voiceworx.com).  I love sitting in on workshops.  It’s not so much the perverse pleasure of watching nervous first-timers tremble as they step to the mic, alone in the booth, while 7 or 8 of their fellow peers watch and listen intently.  It’s that I like to know what goes on in these courses.  What are they teaching the youth of today?  I really want to do more of this, so I can have an informed opinion when people ask me – and believe me, they do – where they can get voice over training.

I spent 3 hours not only observing Mike Kirby putting voice students through the documentary narration paces but participating as well. What?!  This was not in the contract.  I’m supposed to just drop by these workshops, a mysterious figure lurking in the back of the room, quietly observing the proceedings.  But Mike insisted I read aloud with the students and even sent me in the booth at the end to read a corporate piece.  That aside, I really enjoyed the experience!

Running the agency from my home office – or by blackberry from the pub – I don’t always get the chance to be in studio with talent, especially up and comers.  I always love the mix of characters who are drawn to pursuing voice work in various stages of their lives.  Everything from the bearded 50-something documentary buff to the young actress just brushing up on her voice skills to the 20-something fashion maven who shows up late, wearing the big white Russian winter hat and red high-heeled boots.

Mike assigned each student a narration script, ranging from a standard Boys and Girls Club of Canada corporate piece to a character driven docu-drama monologue from a character looking for drugs on the streets of Mumbai.  He would direct and critique each aspiring performer, all the while mixing in observations about the industry and spinning anecdotes from his long and distinguished career in the biz (www.mikekirby.ca). As mentioned, this is one of 4 nights in the Voicworx intro program, each one taught by a different instructor. 

I look forward to sitting in on future Voiceworx sessions. I look at Mike Kirby and other voice coaches as talent scouts for my agency.  They get to hear up and comers and either send them my way when they complete their training, or tell me to run for cover!


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3 Responses to “Hangin’ With The Voice Coaches – Part 1”

  1. Kalebarkab Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I want to find good pop music. Help me please.

  2. banchoco Says:
    July 12th, 2009 at 3:29 am

    Thank you. I am pleased to read your article.

  3. Todd Schick Says:
    August 5th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Wow. You got some pretty lame responses to such a well-written piece, Roger. I’ll try to do it justice….lol!

    I’m surprised to hear the Mike had you in the booth, likely the reason for your mention of it. After all, you weren’t paying for the privilege of being there….where others were. In calling you up, Mike, I feel, was short-changing his class.

    Don’t get me wrong…I’m sure they learned something from you and you were great :-)! My point is, time in the booth is paramount for a student, because in a class of 8 people, they get very little of it.

    That said, I’ve personally never been a proponent of the VO “class” structure for training, for the very simple reason that students get very little time behind the mic. Indeed, I’ve heard demos produced over at Voiceworx via his course and well…..I think these folks still haven’t landed their first gig, if you know what I mean….. ;-)!

    Alternatively, I think that Voiceworx and other services like it do serve a useful purpose….as you mentioned – the veritable cornucopia of characters wandering in to see if they’ve got what it takes. People need to experience (get a taste) of being behind the mic and really, this is one of the only avenues they have.

    There’s also the school of thought that different coaches bring different perspectives to the table…..and for those who are developing their skills on an on-going basis, can benefit from this type of instructional variety.

    However, my fear is that students get false hopes about their chances to get work simply because coaches take their money. After all, it’s a business. Mike, or any other coach, is not going to tell their student that they suck and have no chance of making it whatsoever…..because if they did – well…..they wouldn’t be in business for very long, would they?

    Once again, great post Roger!


    Todd Schick

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