How to Acquire an Accent

Accents – believe it or not – are not easy.  Let’s face it, if you’ve spent 20, 30, 40 years using your head and facial muscles and your tongue to speak words in a particular way, and tuning your voice to go up and down in pitch the way your friends and family do, it is going to take some degree of effort to retrain your ears and those muscles to do it differently on demand. Dudley Knight and Phil Thompson have been working for many years to study the challenges of “Speaking With Skill” (Dudley’s book is a Goldmine). They devised a training methodology that integrates beautifully and effortlessly with any voice training system you care to name. Last year I attended the KTS …

Moving on Again!

Knight-Thompson Speechworks training was Intense, with an intentional Capital I. Three weeks of immersion in the mechanics of speech and accents was thrilling, exhausting and deeply satisfying.  I was surrounded by enormously talented individuals, all with unique styles of delivery when it comes to teaching and coaching, so there was as much to learn from my fellow students as there was from the teachers. I also managed to fit in private coaching sessions with Joan Melton (One Voice), and Marya Lowry.  Boy oh boy did my voice get a workout to die for!!! I am now moving on to stay with friends in New Jersey for the next three weeks, where I will be head down-tail up writing and rehearsing, …

Knight-Thompson Speechworks Rocks My World

Two weeks training in Knight-Thompson Speech and Accents was intense, challenging and unbelievably satisfying. I feel like a newly repotted plant, a bit wobbly above ground, checking out how much room my roots now have to spread out into, and seeing the world from a whole new perspective – albeit one with a familiar quality and a recognisable contour. The training is deeply practical and intellectually demanding, and I love that combination.  It’s all about awareness, in that you must give your full attention to what is actually happening inside your body, how it moves and is moved by your breath, your thoughts, your needs or desires. That, as such, is what I’ve been working on for many years. The …

Real and Virtual Travel Adventures

I’ve just returned from a 3 days trip to Sydney, the first time I’ve been there for quite a few years.  It came about because of an invitation to run two workshops for the NSW Speech and Drama Association‘s annual seminar.  They wanted to sample my warmup programs for themselves, so that was the first session.  For the second one, they gave me free range, so I chose to work with them on Shakespeare cue scripts. They also very generously invited me to spend the whole two days with them, joining in all of their activities, including lunches at Bill & Tony’s, dinner at the Pullman Hotel, and a lovely wander down to the Harbour to see the last night of the Vivid …

Accent on Voice

Accents are often the first thing on the minds of young actors, and there’s no doubt being able to speak with different accents is a useful skill.  This article  came to me from my dear friend and colleague, Amy Stoller, one of New York’s top accent coaches. The author shares his experience of discovering that his Pakistani accent had modified itself quite unbeknownst to him, as he lived for years in the States, and how he realises now how much cultural, social and even political baggage  – if not downright prejudice – is attached to the way people pronounce their words. My own experience confirms this, albeit in a pretty mild way, compared to the challenges faced by people from different …