Well, no, but it can really help.
We all know that the most important training a Voice Actor needs is ‘acting training’. While many VO’s already have at least a BA in theatre and as such would have likely learned some basic vocal technique as part of their training. Many more voice actors have come to VO as a second career after quitting their desk job or whilst transitioning out of that and won’t have any training at all. Being very smart cookies however and listening to the advice from all around them, they will invest in acting classes of a wide variety, but for those in this latter category, the ‘voice training’ part might get forgotten in all the excitement about characters and confusion about mic technique.
Ok ok, but, WHY do I need Voice Training?
Well, like I said, you don’t HAVE to train your voice, but given that voice actors and singers are using their voices much more like athletes than the regular person on the street (aside from teachers, preachers and prosecuting lawyers etc) you’d better know how to fully care for you instrument if you don’t want to repeatedly lose your voice or suffer debilitating vocal injury.
But I want to just do commercials and tags, that’s not very demanding.
True, but how many professional voice actors are there out there who can make a great living ONLY doing that? Not many I’ll tell ya’. The truth is, we nearly all of us audition for (and hopefully book) video games, toys, e-learning, industrials or audiobooks. All of these categories of voice over demand a LOT from your voice, which when it comes down to it, is relying on two tiny moist membranes in the back of your throat! Not knowing how to protect them seems a little…shortsighted?
Alright, so now you know WHY you need to properly train your voice, how do you actually fill in that missing piece and get the voice training you need?
A great place to start is to get singing lessons with a well respected voice teacher.
Ask your friends and colleagues who they use, find out what kinds of things they’ve learned in their lessons and sign up for a lesson or two to try it out.
What will I learn?
A great voice teacher will show you how to warm up both physically and vocally and help you to understand the different areas of your voice and how to use proper technique so as to reduce the chance of injury. They will make sure your breathing is not restricted and that you are singing with the least effort possible. They will encourage you to try different kinds of singing styles as you build confidence and listen to your concerns.
An excellent voice teacher will do all this whilst also making you feel comfortable and empowered on your journey.
But what if I don’t want to learn to sing and I just want to know how to look after my voice?
That’s fine too, but, as a voice actor, you know that you want to be as creative and flexible as possible right? So the ‘baby dragon toy’ audition you just got, also sings. What are you going to do? Skip the audition because you’re not a singer? No of course not, you’re gonna sing like a dammed dragon (let’s hope you warmed up first so your not shredding your cords) but then you book the gig and all the way into the studio you’re thinking “omg I’m not a singer, I’m not going to be able to repeat what I did in the audition and they’re gonna find out I’m a fraud and they’ll tell my agent I suck and my career will be over.” Lol. Relax, you’ve got all the confidence because you took a couple of months of singing lessons and know what the heck you’re doing. Right?
Learn from the best whenever you can.
I recently had the priviledge to be coached by Jennifer Hale, ( if you don’t know who she is and you ever want to work in games she’s THE industry titan for women, look her up. Jennifer Hale IMDB ) The thing you will hear her emphatically demanding of anyone who will listen again and again and again is “drink room temperature water” which is true, but even louder she says
“get singing lessons and learn how to use your instrument”.
So, do voice actors need to be able to sing? Not like Pavarotti no, but knowing how to care for your instrument and how to hold a tune can be really bloody useful!
Have a fantastic rest of week, you singing dragon master you!