NIC REDMAN is an international Voice Coach who has taught character voicing, accents & dialects, voice & text, and voice for voice over work at RADA, LIPA, Arts Ed, East 15, Identity Drama School, The Actors’ Guild and The Actors’ Lab.
We caught up with her to give us her TOP 5 TIPS for approaching an accent.
Learning a new accent, eh? It’s an odd thing to write about really as it’s all about making sound. But here are a few top tips for the first steps in approaching a new accent;
1 – Find some authentic samples to work from. Sure, your actor pal Jimmy may originally be from Bonny Scotland, but has he had his lovely Scottish tapped /r/ beaten out of him in Drama School? Get a few samples so you can cross-reference any changes you hear. Some great resources are The IDEA Website (The International Dialects of English Archive), The British Library Sound Collections and The Accent Kit app. Stick a post on Facebook for the accent you need. People love recording themselves for you, makes them feel dead important and loved and that.
2 – Make some noise! You’d be surprised how many people I get for accent coaching who nod and agree with what you say but don’t actually make any sounds. The first step is getting the sound out there. Only then can you start to know if it’s good or bad.
3 – Imitate and mimic what you hear in your samples. I’m Northern Irish, so I am so I am, sorry… and when coaching Northern Irish accents the first thing I get people to do is take the mickey out of me. Playground fun style. Just nyeah nyeah nyeah along with the tone of voice you can hear in the sample. You’ll often be able to feel differences in where the accent sits in your mouth, or how your lips, tongue and jaw feel in your own accent in comparison to the new one. We call this the ‘setting’ of the accent, or ‘oral posture’ if you’re dead posh like. And it’s a great starting point to changing your sound.
4 – Record that noise. We hear our voice differently in our heads…something scientific to do with bones and vibrations and that. So it always helps to record yourself and have a listen back with a critical ear. Be honest with yourself. Compare your attempts with the samples you have chosen. What sounds wrong? Write that bit down and try it again.
5 – Have a good old gawk at yourself in the mirror. Once you’ve made some noise and feel you’re making a few new and interesting sounds that seem a bit like the new accent you’re trying to master, do it in front of the mirror. You might be able to see your lips are in a different position or that your jaw is moving up and down more, for example. Or that you’ve got spinach in your teeth. Which is a useful discovery anyway.
And once you’ve had a noisy play around? Call me. I’ll help with the other important bits that you can’t quite work out. That’s what us accent coaches are here for.
For more information or to get in touch with Nic visit – www.nicredmanvoice.com