Voice or Teach?

by | Mar 21, 2010 | Coaching, Training/Education | 5 comments

More and more I’ve been thinking about all the great voice-actors who are teaching:  Pat Fraley, Deb Munro, Marc Cashman, Hillary Huber, Bettye Zoller, Harlan Hogan…


I mean, is teaching VO more lucrative than DOING VO?

If you can do both, then, of course, more power to ya!…but all I EVER wanted to do was VO…not teach VO.

Do you reach a point in your VO career where you want to teach more than voice?  Don’t you just want to put all your waking energy into getting better VO jobs?…wouldn’t that pay better than putting all your energy into teaching VO?

Do you reach a point where teaching VO is more FUN than doing VO?

I’ve been anchoring local TV news for 30 years, and I’ve never reached a point where I want to coach TV newscasters for money.  I LOVE mentoring others trying to get a leg-up in the business… but coaching people to be better broadcasters?  ‘Doesn’t appeal to me in the least.  I’d rather just anchor.

So I ask…why teach?

The only variable I keep coming back to is money.  It must be more lucrative to teach than to voice.  Maybe ego.  That would motivate some, I guess.

Of course, you can’t just set up shop and teach VO without having DONE it to the point of respect.  THEN you can legitimately hang out a shingle, and expect to get students.  Right?

Maybe the pros who are teaching are just more naturally drawn to teaching or suited for teaching rather than voicing….

This is just stream-of-consciousness thinking-out-loud, here…

I’m trying to understand this.

I’m doing a session at VOICE2010 on social networking, but it’s not because I really want to.  I was asked.  I’m not getting paid.  People say they’re interested in what I might have to say.  Maybe I can help.  I could see where ego comes into it.  It’s nice to be wanted…but I’d much rather spend that time voicing a sweet national network spot at union rates.

Could it be that picking the low-hanging fruit is too irresistible?  I mean, there’re all those eager newbies who say “…I’ve always been told I have a good voice…could I do commercials?…” Do they make it more lucrative to teach than to voice?





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  1. Chris Wagner

    I totally am thinking the same thing. I think it’s easier to teach because there is a pool of readily available students. And the competition is less fierce, whereas the competition for actually doing voice over is much greater by a number of factors.

    I don’t begrudge anyone who decides to teach, it’s not a slam dunk, there is a lot of work that must be put into it. And most of them do an excellent job.

    But how do you keep on top of your skills, and still be considered an expert in your field, if you are not actively doing the very stuff that you teach.

  2. Scott Whitney

    What an interesting consideration, Dave. Kind of harken to the ‘those who can’t do, teach’ line, bu clearly that’s not the case in VO. Without a track record, who would attend?

    I look forward to the feedback you get on this.

  3. Peter K. O'Connell

    At the risk of stirring it up again ;)I’ll throw in my two cents.

    The only reason I started up Voice Over Workshop a few years ago was that I decided I was tired of spending so much time on the phone offering free career advice. My time has a value to it and after I sat and did the math (counting on both my fingers AND toes, mind you) I realized that being a nice guy felt good but it didn’t pay good.

    And it turns out my children expect food on the table at least three times a day. Demanding little buggers!

    Now, in relation to the names you mentioned…I ain’t them. All of them are MUCH better teachers than me or I (see, I can’t even get the grammar right). Fraley’s syllabus has some amazing credibility to it.

    So I refer to myself as a voice over consigliere (http://blog.audioconnell.com/2009/09/22/voice-over-consigliere/). I’ll tell you what you want to know based on what I have learned over 27 years of doing this.

    Is it a money maker for me. It covers my time and I also don’t market it as hard as the other folks you mentioned. Aside from writing the Voice Over Entrance Exam (which is free – I am such an idiot)and having a fan page on Facebook (which makes me wince in embarrassment) people find me via…I dunno.

    Hope this helps,
    – Peter

  4. Philip Banks

    People buy into the “learn from the great voice actor …” culture because they don’t know any better. I’ve managed to scrape a living out of VO work for 20 years and the only thing I know is that I know more than a newbie but that’s not much.

    The key for a buyer of VO classes is DON’T BE IMPRESSED BY THE PERSON, be impressed by what the person can bring to the party ….YOUR PARTY.

  5. Deb Munro

    I am thrilled to respond to this one….what a great conversation. Of course I can only speak for myself but I DO NOT TEACH FOR THE MONEY…don’t get me wrong I make money but I have shown up to classes in other cities where I LOST money. Seems insane to some I’m sure but I am NOT in this industry for money…..I need to survive and I DO value myself, however I love it so much I just can’t help it. I really would do it for free, but know that this isn’t the way to a successful business.

    I teach ONLY because I was voicing an animation and I was booking tons of roles the first 6 months (I was a trained broadcaster ONLY at this point) and then I suddenly didn’t get any auditions. I had always thought I was a natural at everything I tried and other than broadcasting school, I didn’t feel I needed an education. Sad, but true. When I approached the casting director to ask what I was doing wrong, she said nothing…..I KNEW BETTER.

    A colleague convinced me to take a film course and I started liking what I was learning and the more courses I took, the better actor I became and I was able to teach myself what I was doing wrong. I was reading everything as a broadcaster. Every character I voiced had a sing song rhythm to it…..

    I realized that this particular casting director and many others in the industry, were too afraid to be honest with me and tell me what it was that I was doing wrong. I had spent 5 plus years as a casting director and I learned more than any coach can teach you by watching the actors first hand. I decided someone had to help others by being honest with them and give them direction.

    MANY of my first workshops were free……as I just wanted to help….it’s a part of my personality. Then I started seeing a higher demand for my help and I was too busy to just do it for free all the time so I gradually started charging. To be honest I didn’t mean to teach and really I still don’t. I AM A VOICE TALENT FIRST and luckily for me I still voice every single day…..the teaching just took off and people were so thrilled by my help it just made me feel so good inside…..again, part of my nature. I would have done it anyway so I might as well value that service and get paid (Much like what peter said).

    HOWEVER that all being said, it’s also taken off more than I planned and I am starting to neglect me! So I will be backing off from my workshop tours and focus on private workshops and online training instead while I work on ME again.

    I don’t want to quit (even though I should so that I can ONLY voice) because it just feels so good to be honest to people and them appreciate it. I’m honest and I don’t bull shit and I DON”T waste their money….I try to be the coach that I would want.

    I am not a coach who couldn’t so they taught….I am just a very honest person who DOESN’T BELIEVE that I own any information and it is all of ours to share. No one has to agree, it’s just how I feel.

    I know that I haven’t marketed my voice in years and it’s time to get back to that……I do work every day but imagine how much more I would work if I was still marketing and auditioning….I am just very fortunate that work comes to me. I worked hard to build my clientele………..so this is my focus for next year….to start marketing myself again…as well I have a little goal I am working on currently….to be either Canada’s OPRAH or the next OPRAH…so I can truly reach out to many and be a part of their journey….keep watching for this as it’s currently in the works…..

    So while some may do it for the money, this just isn’t ME! I do it because it makes others feel good, therefore it makes me feel very accomplished and proud that they allowed me to be a part of their journey and that is the reward!

    Thanks for allowing us to share (and thanks for the mention)

    Deb Munro


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