“Phoning” In A Performance

12 Feb

     As I’ve gotten more training in voiceovers, I’ve been conflicted by those like Marice Tobias who profer…yea, insist…that wearing headphones during performance limits what the voice actor can do. 

     To someone who entered this field via Radio (back when it was Radio, not just a satellite relay service), this has always been hard to grasp.  I mean, aside from the fact that in Radio we usually had to have the headphones to hear the other elements we were mixing together…how can you tell if you’re giving the performance you intended to if you aren’t able to properly listen to yourself?  Well, the idea is:  listening is both a blessing and a curse.

     Having tried it both ways (and now work with only one side of the ‘phones on), i have to admit I can sometimes hear a positive difference when I’m brave enough to go without the headphones in the booth, but have never really come close to understanding the reasoning behind the concept…until now.

     In a recent story online at cnn.com about a singer who had suffered the loss of her voice from overuse and her slow recovery, there was this quote from a noted vocal trainer.  Even though it’s aimed at singers, it makes a certain amount of sense to this voice actor as well:    

…John Deaver, voice coach to Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles since 2005, who has also worked with Cher and other celebrities.  Deaver’s advice is: You can’t be a singer and a listener at the same time. Some people critique everything that comes out of their mouth, but listening to your voice too much is a form of hesitation, he said.

“Singing is aggressive,” he said. “It’s gotta be: ‘This is me, take it or leave it.’ “

     I suppose it’s akin to the feeling of not giving a full on-stage performance when part of your mind is concentrating on your blocking.

     Knowing how inept I can be at muti-tasking, it’s not much of a stretch to admit I could possibly be putting myself more into a performance…if part of my mind wasn’t split off and distracted somewhere, “running the mixing board” at the same time.

     ‘make any more sense to you?

— over and out —


2 Responses to ““Phoning” In A Performance”

  1. Amy Snively February 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Thanks! This makes sense. I really prefer to work with cans, but I’ll experiment with this again.

  2. Nick Archer March 18, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    This is the biggest problem that I have recording voice talent. Most perform with 50% of their brain and listen to themselves with the other 50%. Just use 100% to perform and then use 100% to listen back, it will make a huge difference in your reads.

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