Education definitionWhat happens when you’ve been studying for years and it seems as though your newly acquired education is contradicting or not in sync with what you’ve learned (and paid good money for) in the past?
A conversation sparked in the Working Voice Actors Group on LinkedIn has inspired this post.
What do you think?

A Difference of Opinion

Conflict is never a pretty thing.
Inevitably, we all encounter conflict, and while not always a physical thing, conflict can be a matter of contrasting ideas, techniques or philosophies.

Even if you are studying with some of the best in the business, should you study with more than one of those people, you’re likely to encounter a butting of heads or difference of opinion as each of those teachers has their own perspective, experiences and methods.
When you are paying for lessons, seminars or workshops, you might find that you are being taught a number of things, wonderful things, but all the same, potentially conflicting information.

What do you do in such an instance? Do you take only what you want from certain instruction? Have you stopped studying with other teachers altogether to avoid this?
Looking forward to hearing from you,

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Stephanie..
    Another great topic. This can be broken down into two sections:
    Seeing it as a detriment or seeing it as a benefit. If choose to see it as a detriment, that is if it starts impacting the quality of your paying gig, thereby reducing your ability to get those vital projects, then yes you need to do whatever it takes to keep yourself on your game.
    If you choose to see this as a benefit, whereas you can take snipits of pertinent and helpful information from each teacher and incorporate those traits into your own routine and it helps rather than hamper your ability to get those vital projects, and maybe helps you get more, then great. 🙂
    Thing is, the reason in the first place that you get conflicting information is that different people all have their own style. Teachers don’t give you things and tell you that it’s the only way it needs to be done in order to be successful, they tell you to take what you can and that they are merely presenting their approach to what techniques and routines made them successful.
    The overall goal being to learn what you can, and develop your OWN set of tools from everything you’ve been taught cumulatively. This can help to keep from creating an “army of drones” and to help set you apart and make what you offer unique. 😉
    Great topic!

  2. Since I am a person still learning to improve my craft this topic intrigued me. What I have found to be most effective for myself is a “gleaning” technique…every author/teacher has something to offer and so I gather bits of pertinent info pertaining to current questions or techniques and use them to MY best advantage. Many great teachers differed and even disagreed…didn’t mean they were wrong in some way, it just means that it takes many views to make a whole picture

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    I agree with Adam Fox’s detriment versus benefit approach because it addresses the importance of personalizing your work methods.
    I had an extremely intelligent professor for my first year of college, but for some reason I wasn’t having any success with his methods. After much discussion about it, he recommended I study with someone else who had a completely different vocal approach. It was like magic! My new teacher and I made amazing progress!
    Their methods conflicted quite a bit, and even though I didn’t grow the way I would have liked to, I did learn a lot from the experience. My brother was looking for a teacher at that time, and when he told me of his difficulties, I recommended my former teacher and they’ve had a great working relationship ever since. Because of my prior experience, I was able to help a student in need by recommending someone who wasn’t right for me, but had a wealth of knowledge for the right pupil.
    Learning about and understanding the difference between their methods opened my eyes to the possibilities within voice and the personal needs technique should fill.
    Thanks for the great topic!
    All the best,
    Ashley Huyge

  4. Hi Steph,
    I believe my recent experience spurred that conversation. I’m glad you picked it up here, to expound upon it more. I think we got 40 some responses. Lots of opinions and they just keep coming!
    Since the weekend, (when the coaching commenced), I’ve done a lot of introspective thinking on the subject. I’ve been doing voice work for 22 years now. I am always trying to achieve a higher level, because no one can know it all. In that 22 years, my voice has served me well. I thank god that I’ve been able to cobble out a living at it. OK enough fluff! On to my thoughts after a week of digestion.
    1. Seminars, coaching, call it what you will are designed to see things from another experts opinion. It doesn’t mean that it’s the right one.
    2. You don’t want to pay experts to tell you how great you are, or pat you on the back. You want insight – often times we don’t hear what objective outsiders are hearing.
    3. Take away what you need from the experience. And toss what you don’t
    4. The key is to find yourself, uncover your own voice and not to mimic someone else. They already exist.
    5. Lots of the top working guys need to get re-tweeked in order to continue at a hight level – I think they call it a tune-up
    The tools and techniques I garnered from the weekend, I actually applied to a few sessions. The client was like: “What are you doing? That’s not what we want!!! I had to redo both sessions.
    Go figure.
    Then I go and book a national spot for an airline. The client said it was from my existing demo. Oh what a tangled web we weave.
    Ed V

  5. This is a great topic!! And it’s often the elephant in the room. Someone you respect recommends a teacher to you. You take the class, only to find out that for whatever reason the teacher doesn’t float your boat. You are like oil and water.
    The negative person with the chip on their shoulder will turn this to anger and feel like they wasted their money. The positive person will take whatever it is they can out of the class and take it with them. Even if it’s just 5% more than they came in with, that’s 5% more than they had before.
    When I was a student I studied with everyone who offered a class. Some were amazing. Some were “OK.” And some totally sucked. Believe it or not, I even learned from those that sucked. LOL-I learned what NOT to do if I ever became a teacher. I learned from the other students. I made the best of it, added it to my bag of tricks, which eventually went from a bag of tricks to concrete technique. My technique is a conglomerate of a variety of acting, improv, VO, etc., skills which I absorbed as a student. I pass on these nuggets to my students.
    At the beginning of each of my classes, I tell the class that everything I teach isn’t “the” rule, it’s “my” rule. It’s techniques and ideas that work for me. I think it will work for you, too. All I ask is that you commit to this for the next 8 weeks (or the weekend, if the case may be). Then, after the class is over keep what you liked, and disregard what didn’t float your boat. Mine should be just one of many classes and workshops throughout your journey. With each class you take away a nugget. Eventually you have your own solid technique made up of dozens and dozens of nuggets.
    Every time I work I gain a nugget. And I continue to pass on these new nuggets to my students.
    I know it’s expensive! But hey-what profession isn’t? And it’s disappointing to spend hundreds of dollars on a VO workshop only to feel you got 5% out of it.
    Ask your doctor if they ever had a professor in medical school they hated. Ask how much it cost that quarter??
    This is life. The average VO investment, from classes to demos to union dues is about $7500-$10,000. Think your doctor got a degree for $10,000?? I hope not!!!!!!!! 😉
    And yes, there are no guarantees that come along with your $10,000 VO investment, Life has no guarantees. It only has opportunities. Odds are against you when you tackle anything in show business.
    But you never know unless you try. And it won’t happen at all if you dive in half asses. And attitude is more than half the battle. Go in with the mindset that you will take the positives and disregard the negatives, without the need to dwell. Dwell and regret take so much energy, and are so counterproductive!
    And if you find techniques and styles conflict from class to class, just commit to the class you are currently in. At the end, if there is still conflict, toss it out. That said, it may surprise you that at some point you find yourself revisiting what you threw out only to find that you now “get it” and organically are able to combine it with the rest of your nuggets.
    Or not!! 😉
    Have fun! And enjoy the journey!!!

  6. The bottom line is this….although it’s not good to hear conflicting teachings, EVERYONE will! I was originally trained as a broadcaster. It took me MUCH training and a variety of coaches to break those habits and advance as a freelance voice talent however I’m so grateful for those teachings because now I can read both as an actor and as a broadcaster which gives me more versatility.
    What is right and wrong anyway? The clients NEVER know what they want till they hear it so it’s all about creating your own style. If you ONLY follow one teacher/coach, I believe this to be a HUGE mistake. If you take a little bit of this and a little bit of that from each of us that have succeeded as voice talent and coaches, then you’ll be able to create your OWN style.
    Remember they don’t need more voices, they need more personalities. Trends change by the day so there is, nor can there ever be, any RIGHT OR WRONG….just trial and error. Sometimes you’ll get it and sometimes you don’t. It’s the clients that decide and guess what, THEY ARE COMPLETELY UNEDUCATED in our craft.
    It can be difficult to get coaching that steers you in a direction less desirable for your needs. It will take time but you’ll start learning who the good coaches are and who is a waste of your time. Remember though it takes a bad course to know what a good one is.
    Read the forums, talk to previous students and research your coaches so you can guarantee a great learning experience. This is a highly skilled but fun craft therefore the classes should be fun too.
    A small warning of advice (short of a very small handful of exceptions) – if you are taking a workshop or even a long format course (short of broadcasting) that promises you a demo at the end…..keep this in mind “How do they know you’re ready when they’ve never worked with you before?” It’s very frustrating but promising a demo out of class is a tall order and one I myself WON’T do. You need to be 100% ready to produce a demo which means you have to be able to pull off what is suggested on there INSTANTLY….not having to piece meal it together line by line or needing direction to mimic etc. Even though you’re in a hurry to get the work (which means you’re in a hurry to get the demo) Don’t RUSH THE PROCESS. IF you were becoming a surgeon or a lawyer, you wouldn’t rush doing the operation or fighting a case…you’d want to know EXACTLY what to do first. As there is no second chance in this case. Same with your demo and this craft……MAKE SURE YOU’RE READY so that you can compete against talent that truly are
    That’s my two cents
    All my best
    Deb Munro

  7. Hi Stephanie,
    I’m rather new at this, but I find it useful to hear different, even conflicting advice. I know who I am at my core, and what I hope to accomplish, and I take what I think works for me at the time. If (when) later something stops working, then I have alternatives in my head from various other people’s approaches and I use something else.
    No one should feel paralayzed by conflicting advice; just do what feels right at the time. There is always going to be some trial and error and that, also, will continue to happen.
    Susan Shaman

  8. Simply put? Remember the saying 99% of inspiration and 1% perspiration? I often found myself eventually taking over a lesson or two when sent on many courses within broadcasting (thank God this was sponsored), without any training prior to this, what played the biggest role was my hands on experience in the relevant fields.
    Now don’t get me wrong I have learned a lot too, but the motivation to still bear the “training” was at least I was getting a certificate to add to my portfolio.