Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What's It Like to Work with the Voice Whisperer?

First of all I am not going to reveal any secrets to the training or details of what I learned.  But, in this blog I want to share a little about my experience with the grand lady of voice training Marice Tobias.

It is a known fact that voice work involves regular training and re-training. I have worked with Marc Cashman & Lau Lapides, and participated in workshops which such notables a Rob Paulson. I've watched the videos of Nancy Wolfson, Anthony Meindl and Bill DeWees and am ever vigilant in my search for learning opportunities.  When at conferences, I always try to ask my peers about their voice training experiences. One name seemed to surface time and again – Marice Tobias.  Along with her name I would hear comments such as: “She's great if she'll take you on,”  “she only works with the top voice actors,” “she's expensive,” “it's a life changing experience,” “she worked with Marlon Brando,”  “It's tough to get into one of her workshops,” “she's the best.”  After hearing all of those I figured I would never get the opportunity to work with Marice Tobias. I figured that opportunity would never appear in my lifetime.

Then one morning a few months ago during a weekly accountability stand-up group, Rosi Amador mentioned that she was thinking about inviting Marice to come to Boston to do a workshop.  Did I hear that right? Boston?  That's only a few hours away. Rosi was persistent. She and Marice found a date and the workshop was announced - April 11 & 12, 2015.
Rule of Thumbs flyer
 Rosi forwarded the flyer to me. It would take place at MixOne Studios, right around the corner from Fenway Park in Boston, two days before the opening game for the Red Sox 2015 season. There's a reason for mentioning that.  Hang on.

I quickly checked my PayPal account balance. YES! There's enough to pay for the workshop. Within a couple of key strokes the payment was on its way to TobiasEnt. Fingers crossed. The wait begins. Will I be accepted?  Moments later, the email confirmation came from Marice. I was in. Then panic set in.  What have I done? Am I ready for this? Am I good enough?

Rosi and Brian Amador, being the generous, kind and welcoming people that they are, invited me to stay at their home while I was in Boston.  I am so thankful for their generosity. The three of us along with seven others showed up that Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Mix One for the intensive two-day workshop. As it turns out, a few of the people had participated in previous workshops with Marice and gave us reassurance when we arrived that it would be a spectacular event.  That it was. All day Saturday we took our turns in the booth then returned to  master control for the discussion, evaluations and direction.  I made mental and written notes of the nuggets of information Marice would share. Regardless of our level of experience, she was kind, empowering and generous with her constructive critiques. No negatives. No yelling. All positive.

Several of us went to a nearby restaurant for dinner that evening and Marice joined us.  I didn't expect that she would bless us with her company for dinner and the light chatter that ensued.  After dinner we retired to our respective abodes and our writing assignments.

Sunday morning at 10 we were back at Mix One for another day of work. When time came for lunch we all decided that it was such a nice day that we would walk up the block to Tasty Burger. When we arrived, there on display on a picnic table, were the three Boston Red Sox World Series trophies.  We figured it was just a little promotional gimmick to celebrate the season opening game that would take place the following day.  Several of the group found places to sit at a table, while the rest of us, Marice included, sauntered up to the counter and found seats there.  As we were checking out our menu, the waitress told is that The Red Sox has purchased 2,015 burgers to celebrate the opening of the new baseball season and that we were among the people that would get free burgers and cheeseburgers complements of the Boston Red Sox. I heard Marice say that is was one of the best burgers she had ever eaten.  We were in Boston learning from Marice Tobias and having lunch provided by the Red Sox. It doesn't get any better than that.

At the end of the day, after another afternoon taking turns in the booth and more nuggets from Marice, we all exchanged handshakes and vowed to stay in touch as we prepared to go our separate ways.  The crowning touch to the weekend was the hug we all got from Marice.  It was like we were saying good bye to Mom. At least, that's how I felt.