That’s the nickname a high school teacher would call me by whenever he saw me in pep band during a basketball game. If you know anything about jazz music or great trumpeters, you know that nickname did not originate with me, and while I was a decent trumpet player in high school, I was no Louis Armstrong.
But what made Louis Armstrong great at playing the trumpet, coronet or even singing? What made me a decent trumpet player? What made Allen Iverson a great basketball player? Yes, Mr. Iverson, we are indeed talking about practice!
Natural ability can only get you so far, but taking the time to practice a skill and learn new techniques is critical if you want to get better at something. What’s that old saying? “Practice makes perfect!” I’m not sure that practice really does make perfect, but it certainly makes better. I got better over the years playing trumpet because I spent time practicing. I think the word practice just means doing again and again. The more you do something, the more proficient at it you are likely to become. Don’t get me wrong here. Just because you practice something, doesn’t mean you’ll get better. I can practice tap dancing all day long, but I’ll never get better at it because I have absolutely no idea how to tap dance. With a teacher or instructions, that’s a different story. It’s going to take some effort on my part to seek out, discover and engage in some study of the voiceover industry in order to become a voiceover artist. I’ll then have to practice what I learn to become a better voiceover artist.
I’ve begun reading through the book, Voiceovers, Everything You Need To Know About How To Make Money With Your Voice, by Terri Apple. It was recommended to me by several people on the professional social networking site Linkedin through some voiceover groups I belong to. In it, she explains and exercise where you take a short, one sentence script and practice reading it out loud. Not just practice reading it out loud, but writing down some adjectives for different moods and reading the same line in each different mood. So, I did. As suggested I also recorded each and played them back. It gave me the chance to hear if what I was saying was actually in that particular mood. It was fun, but it was practice. Ultimately what it did was engage me to think about how I was reading the copy according to the mood or spec (if this were an actual script from a potential client). I even took it in a slightly different direction and decided to take those adjectives I had written down, some of which, she provided to get me started, and read the actual adjective in the mood represented by the word. For instance, I read the word sarcastic, in a sarcastic tone and the word dramatic, in a dramatic tone. I actually found that when I read the adjective in the mood it described I was able to give that word meaning with the way I said it even better. Then going back to the line of script, I’m better able to read that script in each particular emotion.
Now that I think of it, reading the same line in different moods is a lot like practicing my scales on the trumpet. Today it was fun because it was new, but tomorrow it might not be as fun, but it certainly will be necessary.
Practice, practice, practice. I’ll need to dedicate myself to it if I’m going to get better and be successful. If you’d like to hear some of my practice session from today, check out this link to my Adjectives For Mood mp3. And don’t be shy, let me know if you think I accomplished the correct mood with the associated word.
As always, thank you for your continued interest in my journey into the voiceover industry. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my blog via email to get each new entry as it comes out. I wish you grace and peace wherever and whenever you are.