Can an actor’s voice be heard around the world without leaving the comfort of their home recording studio?

It can if you are a master of accents and dialects.

According to New Zealand voice over artist, Toby Ricketts, a man whose voice currently works in three different accent marketplaces worldwide, they key skill to develop for learning a new accent is one that any voice artist has probably already mastered – the art of listening.

That said, Toby’s accent repertory was not always so versatile. Living in the UK until age 14, his family moved to New Zealand, which was right around the time when most kids are desperately trying to fit in at high school. “I got laughed at quite a lot for my British accent, and over about 2 weeks my brain re-wired and then I was speaking with a kiwi accent,” Toby reveals.

How does one learn a new accent?

Ricketts’ formula is simple. He shares, “You need to find a good example of the accent you want to master. Listen to it and hear what sounds are different to the way you currently talk. Record yourself reading the same script in the desired accent. Listen to that recording noticing where you made a mistake or ‘gave away’ the fact that you were imitating an accent. Repeat this process until you’ve mastered the script, then move onto another script.”

Toby Ricketts runs The New Zealand Voice Academy, an intensive two-day course covering all aspects of professional voice over.

The course teaches aspiring voice talent how to improve their skills as a voice artist, gain an understanding about the voice-over industry with a view to building a career in voice over or voice acting. Participants receive a professionally produced voice reel produced over the two-day workshop to help them get work. The next opportunity to take the course is August 16th and 17th, 2014 at George FM studios in Auckland.

Photo credit: Toby Ricketts

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