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Married To The Read

Don't let your work become too precious.

I have been coaching for a long time. Quite often sessions are recorded in the group settings, and for privates, coaches will either offer to record the session or it's fine to request it if they don't bring it up. I have listened to the recordings just a few times over the years. I tend to cringe when hearing myself in the class settings, so I have preferred not to listen back for the most part.

In my ongoing effort to always be improving my reads, I recently decided to go ahead and listen to two past coaching sessions. One was for a commercial script and the other was for a character. While the nuances and delivery styles were different, I could hear similarities in my delivery. The same stumbling blocks.

I quickly realized that while I thought I was hearing what the coach had been pointing out at the time, I wasn't really getting it. I heard what they had said and attempted to do what was being asked, but I really wasn't listening to my own reads the way I do when I hear others read.

I can pretty much on the spot pick out what could be done to improve someone else's read, as I listen with 'Director's-Ears' on, but for my own reads in the moment, I can't hear it. Why is that?

Two gold colored wedding rings and flowers on a white background

Listen With Fresh Ears

I think it's because I'm married to my words. They become precious to me and I don't want to change or mess with the creation that I have just put out into the world.

Listening back on the recordings, I could 'hear' exactly what the coaches had been talking about. It was so obvious. I found that I was able to coach myself as I was re-listening to my reads.

During both of the actual coaching sessions I had what I thought was the right way for the delivery. I couldn't lose it in the moment. I couldn't hear it. It's like the old words and way of delivery and energy were still reverberating around the room. I needed to let them settle before new words and energy could take their place. Clear the sound out of the room and out of my head. Hear with fresh ears.

I have heard that if you possibly can, it's best to take a step away from an audition before sending it in. The next day or even a couple of hours. For some sites where you need to submit quickly, like some of the most popular P2Ps, even taking 15 minutes away helps.

Let The Dust Settle

In re-listening to both of my reads, I felt like I had just been coached again, but at a different level. I read those scripts again, and by giving them some breathing room, I was able to approach the scripts in a different way. I was able to implement what both of the coaches had suggested that I try to do.

I found that the directions I was being given were mostly about going farther and about being myself. Not doing what I think a casting director is looking for, or me trying to attain a certain sound.

The main take-away was to just be me. That is what I heard lacking in both of my reads during the recorded sessions. I didn't hear me.

Once I had that distance, and listened with fresh ears, I could hear it loud and clear.

Debra Elaine is a California-based Voice Actor and Medical Narrator delivering professional voice over from her home studio via ipDTL & Source Connect. Learn more >>


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