Thursday, September 5, 2013

Articulation is not instantaneous...

It often takes many years. 

I recently heard an interview with John Mayer on the CBC Radio One program "Q" with Jian Ghomeshi. If you've never listed to this show, by all means check it out. It's streamed on the Internet, rebroadcast in edited form on American Public Radio and available via RSS feed as a podcast.

Mayer was talking about his maturing process as a singer songwriter. He really is a brilliant artist and quite articulate at the same time. During the interview he simplified something many of us already know.  He compared his career to the young student just out of high school and college as being armed with this fantastic vocabulary and eagerness to use those newly acquired words.  They often write using that vocabulary without the maturity needed to properly articulate.  He said at first you want to show everyone what you can do with those words but it takes 5-10 years before the writing matures. That's the way he looks at his own career.  You can hear the podcast here:

Now, when I listen to the radio I usually multi-task and was busy doing something else when I heard that interview.  I stopped what I was doing to make some notes so I could write about it here. It suddenly dawned on me that the John Mayer analogy applies to other situations as well including TV news broadcasters, who are are prime example of this.  The young journalist comes out of college with this raw energy, armed with new tools and a big vocabulary. They spend several years in very small television markets maturing and learning how to best to use those new tools and discovering their niche.

Then it it hit me. The same thing happens in our world of voiceover. A new voice talent is eager to use all the tools he or she has acquired during the many hours of coaching and classes undertaken to enter this field of work.  I think that's one of the reasons that many of the leaders in our industry are quick to point out that it take several years of perseverance before success can be realized.  During those years the talent matures and discovers a particular niche, like: character voices or storytelling or medicalnarration.  It often takes time to figure out strengths and weaknesses.  Like John Mayer said it might be several years before a talent can properly and appropriately articulate with the VOICE.  Instant success is rare and often peppered with years of struggle learning to use that voice in a way that is marketable. Even seasoned talent have to occasionally rediscover and retool to keep up with the trends and the demands of an ever changing youth driven industry.

So what do you think?  Am I in the ball park here?


  1. I think you are right on target. In my limited experience doing voiceover for training videos and the like, I can listen back and cringe at my early work and how stiff it was. Compared to some of the later stuff I did it's night and day. My voice didn't change, my language didn't change, what changed was time and my ability to use the tools I had more effectively and sharply rather than trying to dump out the whole toolbox.

    1. Thanks Mark. Glad you found my blog a worthy read. I appreciate that you took the time to comment. Thanks again.

  2. You need to try everything and see where you fit, once you find it you can save time auditioning for jobs that you aren't really right for. It's all just part of the experience!
    Irish Voice Over


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