intermediate and advanced voice over training together doesn’t work

audio'connell's voice over workshop

This is my opinion: as an “advanced”voice talent – I don’t want to train with an “intermediate” voice talent.

If you are an intermediate voice talent, you shouldn’t want to train with me either.

I saw a post from somebody for a future “Intermediate/Advanced” voiceover training session and it simply ticked me off.

I have many friends are various stages of their voice over careers whom I deeply respect and with whom I will gladly spend hours professionally and socially – but I only want to train with those voice over talents who have my experience level.

Here’s my self-fish but I think smart reason why: I am focused on moving forward from where I am to a better performance place when I train. If my instructors have to take two steps back in a group training to help someone catch up, I lose. I lose time, I lose momentum and I lose direction.

I paid my money and I want to get my money’s worth from a professional voice over teacher. Voice over trainers also need to stay focused on one level of talent, not be switching back and forth – their concentration falters and their students lose.

An intermediate voice talent may get some benefit working around advanced voice talents by learning from example but it also may (probably more than “may”) intimidate the hell outta these intermediate voice talents who (like all of us) have our moments of self-doubt. A training session is not the optimal time for such unnecessary self-doubt.

I see traveling teachers do this combination Intermediate and Advanced training all the time during their weekend sessions. I understand it’s a factor of the amount of time available. And that’s an inexcusable response.

“Whoa! O’Connell, you’re pretty full of yourself today, aren’t you?!”

No more than usual, actually, but time is not the real reason: don’t focus on the economics of ensuring a full class for the training day or weekend (training is a business, no shame in that) by mixing the class to benefit the house.

Better I think to focus on the students’ abilities, build THAT class and let the learning flow. Teachers will enhance their reputations and their pocket books at the same time.

And, oh by the way, the voice over students will learn a lot more.

Ain’t dat da point?

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10 Responses to “intermediate and advanced voice over training together doesn’t work”

  1. Peter, I agree with you! I’ve been in mixed level classes and it’s increasingly frustrating to be in what’s billed as a higher level class that allows students with little-to-no training or experience. My question to you: how do you find classes that adhere to an advanced level of experience? Everywhere I look I see mixed level classes, or classes that advertise as advanced but the content is clearly geared toward newbies. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to get the training and attention I need is through private coaching, but that gets expensive fast. It feels like a bit of a catch-22.

    I differ with you on one point: I love working with those more experienced than I. I learn from them as much as from the instructor, I find it challenging and invigorating. I don’t find it intimidating at all but that’s because (like many actors) I have a huge ego. 🙂 It takes a lot to intimidate me.

  2. One of the most naive beliefs or phrases is “Our voice over community”. I know people who do voice overs, I know people who want to do voice overs, I have friends who are or want to do ’em but we are not and never will be a community. Your career, your path, your needs.

    Group/mixed coaching sessions are about someone grossing $3-4000 for a weekend because they need the money ….Dats bidnizz!

    Private coaching is the way ahead but the coach should be selected in the same way you would select a Lawyer to get you out of jail.

    For those who simply buy into “Woot it was awesome, I learned SO much from ….” Ask specific questions to add as much detail as possible. Do not be fobbed off with “Phew, well it was so much” or “Difficult to nail down what I learned”….ANYONE who learned something CAN quantify it even if it is in slightly abstract terms so do not let them off the hook.

    For those who don’t know I have never attended a single coaching sminar and have never had one day of voice over training in over 20 years.

    Peter, shall I leave my soapbox here or take it with me?

  3. Cia,

    I imagine you are not easily intimidated 🙂 and good on you for that! Its why you’ve been successful.

    It is a challenge with teachers to find those that just do a working pro or advanced group with no intermediate. But they are out there. And then there’s the coaches challenge of determining the level a potential student is at – in some cases it’s evident but sometimes its not.

    The best way I have found is to talk with the the teacher, explain very clearly your goals and concerns and if get the answers you want, go for it. If not, then don’t spend the money and tell them why.

    Thanks for visiting – your insights are always welcome here!

    Best always,
    – Peter

  4. Philip:

    First, your soapbox on this blog is made of stone, etched with your name and placed under a spotlight in perpetuity for all to see. You are always welcome here.

    And I agree with your points.

    I will only add that I train with a group (when I have time) because the mix of people suits me. Sounds selfish to say it that way but that’s how we should all train…in the manor or group that suits us individually. Everyone’s mileage may vary….including and up to not training at all.

    One shouldn’t train because they are supposed to train – one should train because they feel the need to expand and improve and have found a teacher or training setting that helps them achieve their objectives.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  5. Being selfish in the context of VO training is right and proper.

    Question – Where do I NEED to go next?

    Question – Where would I like to be or what would I like to be doing?

    Question – Having answered the above, who or what type of training is MOST LIKELY to be of most value?

    Possibility – Everyone with a voice could be the next big movie trailer voice.

    Probability – The majority are unlikely to ever be the voice of a movie trailer let alone be THE got to movie trailer voice.

    When you have explored every probability then have fun playing with ideas which may turn a possibility into a probability.

  6. I probably should do that.

    Possibly. 😉

    Thanks Philip.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  7. Great post, Peter. I couldn’t agree more. Many of the classes I take are with people of varying caliber; like Cia, I love working with folks who are more talented than me–their presence almost makes the level of skill I’m striving for more tangible. On the flip side, I get extremely irritated in classes with students who aren’t as advanced as some of my more serious colleagues, particularly when they take up more space than the lot of us together. In those situations, I try to make lemonade by working with those students in ways that enable me to strengthen my skill sets, but I’d much rather work with a bunch of people who are operating at a similar level. I’ve found that small group workouts with similarly talented people are really valuable, as well as private sessions.

  8. Hi Meghan,

    Thank you very much for your kind words about the post but even more for your personal insights into how you prefer to train when it comes to your voice over career.

    Like when we were back in school, we all learn differently to be sure…but in our “post-graduate” world, I think we almost have to be a bit more self-fish in our goals for training because so much (our livelihoods) is at stake.

    We’ll see if the voice coaches in the world take note of our collective observations and make some changes or not.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  9. I want to take it a step further. I don’t want to train with people of my experience level, but with people that are more accomplished and experienced.

    Someone at my level can’t take me to the next level. If I want to learn how to ski black diamonds, I need to find someone who has done that, and not someone who’s skiing on the same slopes as I am.

    Secondly, this person has to be a great teacher and not just a great talent. Very talented people can be lousy teachers because their ego gets in the way.

    I want someone who can get the best out of me, instead of turning me into a clone.

    At the highest level, it is never about acquiring new skills and techniques. Those should be in place.

    At that stage it is not about learning how to sing. It’s about creating art.

  10. Art?


    I’m creating ART?

    Geez, I need to charge more!

    Thanks Paul.

    Best always,
    – Peter

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