happiness is a great voice class

Although I attend all too infrequently so that I can be at home with the growing fam, I am allowed back in to study occassionally with the great teacher and my friend Toni Silveri of The Voice Actor Workshop here in town.

Quick plug: Toni is bringing into Buffalo her long-time friend Pat Fraley on August 16-17 for two classes. The Saturday workshop “The Silly, The Serious and The Subtle” character voice class is full but there are a few spots left for the class I am attending on Recording Audio Books. Contact Toni through All Coast Talent to reserve your spot.


I was talking with my friend Amy Snively yesterday. She’s a marvelous voice talent in Los Angeles that you’ve probably heard on network shows as a promo voice or as a narrator (her commercial work is cool too). In a wonderfully wide ranging conversation she hit on a theme that that people have brought before me many times: why do you (me) attend voice over classes?

The question is usually meant in a complimentary way (I think) as if to say you’re very talented and knowledgeable about all things voice. You should be teaching not studying.

Well I do teach (if you can call it that, compared to the scores of more thoughtful tutors in our industry) but I am so knowledgeable about voice and about life that I know just how much I don’t know. You may have to read that again to grasp the intent. The point is: there is always something more to learn. Our brains may have a finite capacity for knowledge but I’m pretty sure I’m still only using a ¼ of the tank in my cranium. So I need to keep filling.


Amy wanted me to consider private coaching as all of my learning as been in a group environment when it comes to voice over. She and many of my peers have accomplished great things in this format. I probably should try private coaching to actually compare but my inner-sense (and certainly experience) tells me I learn more in a group setting. Your mileage may vary as we all learn in different ways (best to check under your own hood for directions on preference.)

Maybe I’ll change my mind after I try the private route.

It could be that I “think” I prefer the group setting because of the solitary nature of our business; the chance to interact and work with peers helps renew my joy for voice over. “There are others like me, I am not a freak!” (Or at least the other freaks are very nice and I enjoy their company.)

But I think it’s getting input and direction from my respected teachers and insight from my fellow students that helps me improve so much in both my performance and my mental game. I will grant you that in a workshop setting, you would have to respect and value the opinion of your fellow students for this to be applicable and if you didn’t get a good group at the outset, you’re pooched). There are nuggets of voice over and performance gold all around in a great VO group class.


There is always some epiphany I come away with when I study with Toni and the rest of the class who are by and large some of the most talent and under credited voice talents I have worked with in twenty-five years. Their talents and mine are always magnified under Toni’s tutelage.

Last night I was encouraged to use a narrator voice that to my ear sounded awfully but the class went nuts over it!

That to me is just one great example of why voice talents need to study: we as voice artists cannot rely constantly on our own ears to ensure our performances nor can we rely on the clients’ ears. Why?

Our ears are too used to and accepting of our own VO quirks and short cuts that can (long term) hamper our performance. And clients are not professional voice talents; they’ve hired you because you sound great to them so even if you know you offered a slightly flawed performance, they may love it. Well great, the check cleared and the client’s happy but should that in itself be enough? If you are a true voice professional, I say no.


As we approach VOICE 2008 in Los Angeles in early August, there’s a lot of talk now about voice training. That event will bring together voice talents from around the world with some tremendous teachers – it’s a group learning setting where I know I would learn lots but I am not going. Why?

Cost? Not really as I have airline mileage points and hotel stay points that make travel a minor cost issue and certainly the show is not cost prohibitive. But as I told Amy ultimately the time and travel commitment is – I have to justify to myself taking a lot of time away from my children and my wife to pursue my professional education. And I’ve already done a lot of training this year.

Deb Munroe who is based out of Vancouver, B.C., came into Toronto a few months back to hold an advanced training of her Mic & Me Workshop. It was a two day event but I came up for only one day. What a fireball of energy Deb is! She’s a very focused teacher who helped me further my “everyman” persona is a great way. She’s a charmer and a go-getter who really helped everyone with their VO needs. You’ll see her at VOICE. Please tell her I said hi.

Stevie Vallance presented her Tooned In Workshop on character voices also in Toronto this summer. She is a multi-talent performer, a three-time Emmy nominee and one-time Emmy Award winner who continues to excel in the animation field, having served as a voice actor and voice director on many network cartoon shows. That was a wonderful vocal work out where I again was introduced to some new talent while also working with old friends.

Combine that with Fraley’s workshop coming up in August and that’s plenty of workshops for me. Though I would love the networking I would do in LA, its very unlikely that I’ll attend….this year.

What have been your training experiences this year and how did they go? Planning on any workshops and what are your goals for the workshops? Let me know.

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3 Responses to “happiness is a great voice class”

  1. Thanks for the great info. I hope you’ll follow this with some more great content.

  2. PA:

    You’re very welcome.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  3. […] a few years ago and I was very pleased to hear she caught wind of my announcement of the seminar from this blog and reserved her space. While not exclusive to her voice over talents, Elaine explained to me how […]