A student of mine recently inherited a nice chunk of change, and she wanted to know if she should invest it all in her new voice over career.
She was looking at hours of advanced coaching, new audio equipment, a few custom demos, and a nice Studiobricks vocal booth. My approval would mean she’d burn through everything her grandmother had left her.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure this would be a smart decision. I think it’s always wise to leave a little nest egg for a rainy day. But there was more at stake.
Every investment means taking a risk in the hopes that you’ll get a solid return in an unpredictable world where nothing’s guaranteed. Any investment is always an uncertain trade-off between risks and rewards.
I’ve seen aspiring talent spend a lot of money on acoustic panels, microphones, preamps… the whole shebang, (encouraged by their coach!), only for it to end up on eBay because things didn’t work out. So I turned to my student, and had “the talk.”
“How badly do you want to be a voice over?” I asked.
“How badly is badly enough?” she retorted.
Then I told her the story of my friend Luke, a talented amateur organist. Luke called me up one day and said he had found this piece of music called “Suite Gothique” by French composer Léon Boëllmann. Even though it was beyond his technical ability (especially the famous Toccata), he was madly in love with the music.
As soon as the score arrived, Luke started practicing day and night. In fact, he refused to rest until he got all the movements down.
“Can I play it for you?” he asked.
An hour later I was at his home. When Luke opened the door he looked like a zombie.
“Forgive my appearance,” he said. “I’ve been living on Red Bull for the past few days.
“But Luke, your HANDS,” I cried. “Your fingertips are red and swollen! Are those blisters that I see?”
“I know, I know,” answered Luke. “I practiced this piece until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I just HAD to. It’s like a good book that you can’t put down until it’s finished. Call me crazy, but I’ve never felt I wanted anything as badly in my entire life.”
With his last bit of energy he played the piece to me, and I was blown away with what a “little” bit of motivation can do to a rational human being.
“I get it, I totally get it,” said my student after hearing this story.
“Now, I’m not suggesting you ruin your vocal folds by obsessively practicing a script you really like,” I added. “That’s not the point of this anecdote.
Before you part with your inheritance, check in with yourself to see if you really feel this burning desire inside of you, A deep desire to be a voice actor that’s like a flame that cannot be extinguished.
If the answer is an emphatic YES, go for it!.
If it is a lukewarm MAYBE, please don’t.”
PS Last week I told you that my wife and I both got COVID. She ended up in the hospital, and I did not. Her symptoms were severe. Mine were very mild. Both of us are now officially cleared, and we are slowly getting back to our regular lives. I say “slowly” because we both are still very tired, and the effects of COVID can linger on for a long time.
Please do not underestimate this nasty virus. It’s still with us, and it is dangerous. We live in a supposedly low-risk area, and we still got infected. Do whatever you can to protect yourself and those you come into contact with.
Thank you to those of you who have reached out with words of support. Your well-wishes, prayers, and kind thoughts have strengthened and comforted us. We appreciate it very much!