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Sound choice

People love their voices and if they are good enough, they teach others how to go vocal with style. Razvin Namdarian tells more.

education Updated: Jun 20, 2012 13:30 IST
Razvin Namdarian

Way back in the ’60s, when radio was the prime source of entertainment, Radio Ceylon ruled the airwaves in India. One of their most popular announcers (along with The Voice Amin Sayani) was voice trainer Manohar Mahajan. He had at that time been working with the station for almost a decade, presenting programmes and interviewing greats like Noor Jehan (a popular singer of that era) and building up quite a fan following. Today, he continues to work as a voice artist and a voice trainer, imparting the immense wealth of his experience to younger people.

So was the progression from voice artist to voice trainer a natural one? “After spending 40 years in the industry, I felt the need to impart the benefit of my experience to those seeking to make a career in this field.” It took Mahajan three years just to plan the course and he focused on aspects like, “copy basics, effective communication, voice articulation, anchoring on the radio, television or stage, working in a studio and marketing of the voice trainee,” he says.

Where the Capital is concerned, “Delhi does not have an adequate number of good voice trainers. People calling themselves voice trainers here lack the proper techniques that a good teacher needs. Therefore, there is lot of scope for someone who knows the tricks of the trade,” says Shamshir Rai Luthra, founder of the training programme Talking Rich. “A good voice trainer must remember that his job is to give a distinct personality to his trainee’s voice, and also help him stand out as a performer, whatever be his field of activity,” adds Luthra.

The man who has trained several celebrities, including film and TV actors, educationists, businessmen and beauty pageant contestants feels that it is dedication that alone may help a voice artist evolve as a voice trainer. “A voice trainer is like a classical singer – his relationship with his student is governed by the guru-sishya parampara,” says Luthra.

So, what does a voice artist need to know? Those who don’t have proper training tend to speak and make voice modulations from their throat, while this should come from the abdomen, “they will ruin their voices in a few years,” says Mahajan.

Besides the usual work of radio jockeys, dubbing artists, etc, voice trainers are also employed by call centres and BPOs for training their staff in picking up or dropping accents. You can use your voice for diamond auctions, dealer conferences, audio books as well as e-learning. Many company CEOs and executives and those in the service industry are opting for voice training. In fact, as Mahajan says, “there is no bad voice, one only needs to know how to use it; after all, your voice is your ‘second face’!”

With inputs from Pranab Ghosh, in Delhi

What's it about?

Voice trainers bring out the latent talent in a person’s voice. They teach one how to intonate, energise the voice and give it expression. A voice trainer teaches aspiring voice artists how to interpret copy (script) and change their voices according to the situation, location, etc. In a call centre, a voice trainer trains students in US or British accents and eliminates regional accents

Clock work
12 noon-2 pm: Holds sessions with students
2.15 pm: Lunch
3 pm onwards: Works on script translations, dubbing and recording freelance voiceover assignments

The payoff
On an average a voice trainer charges about Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 for a six-week course

. Experience as a voice artist
. Command over the language
. Knowledge of grammar
. Good communication skills
. Ability to change training content as per student's requirements

How do i get there?
There are no specific educational qualifications required to be a voice trainer. A basic graduate with a good command over language and sufficient experience in the field can become a successful trainer. A degree in linguistics is beneficial

Institutes & urls

Manohar Mahajan course in Voice Training, Mumbai
. Nimble Foundation, Mumbai
. Peach Communications, New Delhi
. Indian Voice Training Centre, Mumbia, New Delhi, Pune, Bangalore
. InSync Studios, Conducted by Nandoo Bhende, Mumbai

Words in Action, UK
. Presenter Promotions, UK
. Estill Voice Training, Pittsburgh, USA
. Voicetrax, San Francisco

Pros & Cons
. It's a great feeling nurturing new talent and passing on the knowledge one has gained after so many decades in the profession
. Freelance options easily available
. There aren’t any cons when you are in a career you really love

Where’s your lesson plan?

Shamshir Rai Luthra insider talks about the evolution of a voice trainer

What are the opportunities like for an aspiring voice trainer?
The options are many provided you do not limit yourself. You may earn a living training people like call centre executives, sales executives, showroom managers, administrators of any social or business network who communicate through video or audio files — and therefore need voice training — school teachers, who teach students the finer nuances of voice communication and personal development. Or you may work as radio presenters, voice artists, even motivational speakers, provided you have the proper mooring and right training.

Do voice trainers need any formal education?
To become a voice trainer you need to train yourself but no formal degree is required. A voice artist needs training to evolve as a voice trainer because as a teacher you do not have to master a craft… You have to help others master it. Now there are three aspects to it. First you become a lecturer and share your experience with your trainees. Then you become a teacher. You prepare a lesson plan, a curriculum, which most of the so-called voice trainers fail to do. Then you become a trainer — a person who can wield his whip to bring out the best in the worst of voices.

What kind of money can one earn as a voice trainer?
A full time voice trainer in a call centre or a BPO may earn something between Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000. You can also work as a freelance teacher working in summer camps and earn anything between Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 per class depending on your experience.

Can one survive financially as a voice trainer? Is the money good?
If you are damn good at what you are doing, yes you can. Moreover, there is a shortage of good voice trainers in Delhi. Looking at the pace at which the electronic media is growing one can only get enthusiastic. The visual medium in the online space, however, is still buffering. Therefore, there one becomes more dependent on the audio medium, hence the requirement for voice gurus. Moreover voice trainers must not stop at just improving one’s voice… They must ignite a fire, which will lead one to think clearly and speak convincingly.

What are the challenges that this profession offers?
The big challenge is that everybody in this country needs to stand up and talk fearlessly. Voice trainers should not pass themselves off as celebrities but teach one to think clearly and speak authoritatively. A voice trainer does not only train your voice but your mind as well. Moreover there’s nothing wrong in helping others.

Interviewed by Pranab Ghosh