The email came from Malden, Missouri. Deep in the “bootheel” of the Show-Me state.
A budding voice actor had just finished reading my book, and was taking seriously my admonition to get good coaching before going much further down the road to VO success.
Not that it’s backwater, but Malden is 150 miles from nowhere. The nearest big city is Memphis…maybe St. Louis. The preponderance of good voice acting coaches live in New York City and Los Angeles (and environs). Sure, there are good coaches in other big cities: Minneapolis, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, etc….which only underscores the solution for many who are seeking a good coach: remote sessions.
I’m not just talking newbies here. To keep up with the rule of thumb that you should get good coaching once-a-year regardless of your accomplishments, even seasoned VO’s may choose the remote coaching solution. Live in San Diego, but Pat Fraley is in LA?…that Skype session is looking pretty good compared to a 3-4 hour commute one way.
Good coaches have protocols for managing remote sessions. Some ONLY do remote coaching as a matter of course.
I’m about to give you two lists of bullet points. The first is what you should expect from your remote coach, and the second is what your coach will expect of you. It’s not definitive, but these are good basics that have served me well.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT
- a clear idea beforehand of what your sessions will cost and how to pay for it
- an understanding of how long the session will last
- a 24-hour notice if they have to cancel
- to accept their preference of medium (phone, Skype, Google Hangout, etc.)
- an advance look at whatever material you’ll cover in each session (unless improv is the lesson)
- coach punctuality at the appointed time
- a business-like approach to the session (while remaining cordial)
- an idea of what you should be working on until the next session
- what the next session will cover
WHAT YOUR COACH WILL EXPECT
- that you acknowledge the agreed-upon compensation
- that you diligently work to schedule each session and stick to it (be prompt)
- that you will notify them at least 24 hours in advance of an absence
- for you to come to the session prepared (will have done your homework)
- that you will honor the time allotment you’ve agreed on (i.e. 50 minutes in an hour session)
- your business-like attention to the material at hand
- your cordial respect as a student of the coach’s standing in the relationship
- prompt payment
- honest feedback about what’s working for you
Student/Coach relationships run the spectrum from cozy to stiff. Does it really matter, if you’re getting good training? Talk to your coach about what you expect. What your style is…how you respond to certain cues. Working out those nuances can lead to a lasting and nurturing relationship that over time, can be mutually beneficial.
Sooner or later you may get a chance to meet your coach in person. That’s always great. I’m sure there’s a good cafe in Malden.