VO coaching is the passion and business of Gary Terzza. An experienced VO talent, Gary has spent over two decades announcing on British television. He started his voicing career at ITV more than 30 years ago, moved on to co-present Citv in the late eighties and had his own radio shows. Back in 2005 Gary Terzza developed VOmasterclass™ a voice over training program helping beginners in the art of voiceovers. This offer has indeed attracted many students willing to earn money from their voices. Gary explains in this interview his approach to voice-over coaching amid the new developments in the VO industry.
Constantino de Miguel: Gary, you spent over 2 decades announcing on television, you started your voicing career at ITV more than 30 years ago then in the late 80’s you also had your own radio show. How did you decide to become a voice coach?
Gary Terzza: I think it was because so many people when I was doing voice-overs and a TV staff myself, so many people if I met them at parties, in a party or just chatting generally new people we met would say, “What do you do for a living?” And I would tell them, then they would say, “What? How do you… how did you possibly get into that?” And I used to think, well how do you get into that even though I’ve done it for a while. I thought, well that’s a very good question and I thought well there’s obviously a lot of people out there who would quite like to give voice-overs a go. So I’ve tried it and just to see if there was any demand here in the UK in where we are and there was, and lots of people started coming along and making inquiries and so on.So that’s really how the coaching session began.
CdM: And there is a demand for coaching right now because of the digital revolution: with a decent equipment you can start recording voice-overs. I guess that helps that demand from… I mean, that creates more people willing to enter the market with voice-overs. So we have often said that having a good voice is not enough to really get a voice-over job. This is obvious but not so for some beginners, so why is that?
GT: Well, it’s only a part of about getting… having the good voice; it’s mostly about what you do with your voice. I mean, the voice purely gives you a position in the market place, if you got a middle aged female voice for example and you come from Surrey down here rather up in market place in England, you will have a certain voice or a certain voice style. But it’s what you do with it, that’s the most important thing is getting the words off the page and I always go on to my students about that’s what it’s all about, getting those words off the page, bringing them to life, getting the meaning across. So the voice is important, but not as important as maybe you think it is.
CdM: So what are the other ingredients that are needed for a voice beginner to succeed in this industry?
GT: Well I think the main thing is apart from the voice of course, the main thing is that you know what you’re doing in terms of the performance, I think that’s important. You’re able to respond to direction, you also need some basic recording equipment which is much, much cheaper these days; you can do quite a lot with a very decent condensed USB microphone. Many of my students have kind of gone off and done stuff with that. Your computers, software like Audacity which is free and the marketing… I think the marketing is often the bit that people forget about and that’s just as important as well. So it’s a mixture of art and business and some basic technical skills as well, those are the 3 main strands that you need.
CdM: And one also element is of course, voice coaching to get proper training, why do you think is important to attend a voice coaching and get proper training?
GT: Well I mean you could argue that actually you could be self-taught, a bit like a musician in a way and I think that is perfectly fine and legitimate. But if you need someone to mentor you and you want someone to guide you through the labyrinth of the voice-over industry then I think certainly, a coach can do that and just demonstrate what it should sound like. And that there are so many things to take on board: from pricing, to how do I respond to this, how do I get the energy in this particular piece, why am I sounding so flat? You know, lots and lots of questions that a coach can help you with. So it’s really having an extra pair of ears, I think that’s what it is, an extra pair of ears and someone to say, “To tell you what, why don’t you try it like this.”
CdM: Exactly because it’s not just about the reading techniques, how to breathe properly, but everything that surrounds this work like marketing and the fact that you are in your home studio, but then you have to get out there to knock on the door of this potential clients. Well knocking on the door is just a metaphor because nowadays it’s through the internet or maybe a phone call with some luck. The thing is practice makes perfection, practice like for a pilot who flies many, many hours and then by flying so much then he actually learns. So that’s in my case also how I learned, but also I benefited from my colleagues who were very much ahead so they taught me how to really talk to the microphone. So probably some people are also disenchanted with some coaching, some trainings that they promised that… well you will get this training and you will be able to start a career, it’s not that simple right? You need a time and some luck too.
GT: I mean you can have a spectacular beginning. I have one student who after leaving the studio she got a job for a 1,000 pounds within just 48 hours. That’s very rare, that’s very rare and interestingly she didn’t do very much afterwards, I think she was so dazzled by the whole thing. I mean hard work really putting in… you made exactly the right point about putting in the flying hours and it is about that is, you know, So it’s about putting in the work, putting in the practice, putting in the leg work for the promotion and the business side as well and the recording side too.