A Lesson Learned from Kenny Rogers

  You’ve got to know when to hold ’em….know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run’….Admit it. You’re humming that song now, aren’t you? I’ve been told, on more occasions than I’d care to admit that I resemble country singer Kenny Rogers (BEFORE the face work!). I enjoy his music, have for a very long time, but it wasn’t until today that I actually learned a valuable lesson from it. In fact, one that I’m going to institute into my business model for voice over work – in a way.

  If you follow me on social media, or know me personally, you’ve been ‘privileged’ to hear or read one of my rants on how loud it can get in my neighborhood. Especially when I’m recording. Motorcycles, trucks, a seemingly never ending parade of LOUD cars, leaf/debris blowers, and my all time favorite – small personal airplanes. Those incessantly buzzing little BUGS that seem to know exactly WHEN I intend to record, because as soon as I step in my ‘booth’ there they are! Circling. Mocking me. See, we live about 10 miles north of a small airport, which has quite a few pilot schools. So, these are little ‘trainer’ planes, and honestly a lot of folks just clocking flight hours. And that generally means circling. Circling. Circling. CIRCLING! Seems our neighborhood is right in their ‘sweet-spot’. Far enough outside the city, but close enough to the airport for THEIR comfort.

  Now, I know that external noise interruptions are not unique to my situation. A LOT of my colleagues experience the same sort of issues. Many of my colleagues have purchased ‘insurance’ policies against such demonic situations in the form of audio booths. Some people call them vocal booths, sound booths, etc. Whatever label is placed on them, to me, they’re the ultimate dream! Some day….some day I WILL own a Scott L. Peterson booth of my very own, and I shall love it, and cherish it and call it George! But for now, it’s just beyond the horizon. So, in the mean time I’m much like Prometheus chained to a rock who had to suffer the eating of his liver by an eagle on a daily basis. I have to put up with NOISE, and learn to work around it. Record between interruptions. Line….pause. Line…..pause. What should take me 30 minutes to record ends up taking me an hour and a half. Why? What, weren’t you paying attention earlier?! Interruptions for a narrator can be very destructive. Acting requires a ‘groove’ (at least for me). When you’re trying to record a sensitive passage (where a couple has discovered their deep bond of love for one another), it’s pretty danged hard to deliver lovey-dovey lines when all you want to do is SCREAM PROFANITIES TO THE SCOURGE THAT IS EATING YOUR BRAIN!! Sorry. Lost a bit of control there. So…what’s a boy to do? That’s where Mr. Kenny Rogers comes in.

  Know when to hold ’em (understand when to stay the course and plug on through despite the planes, cars, motorcycles, etc), and know when to fold ’em (accept those times when it’s just better to call it a day – no matter how long you’ve been trying – and leave the ‘booth’). This is where I’m at right now. Yes, I have a fast approaching deadline to deliver my latest audiobook, but staying in the ‘booth’ and TRYING to get this recorded between interruptions, is actually more detrimental to the process than shutting the system down and doing something else. At least for me.

  So, I guess if you’re looking for a moral to my story, it would have to be: Know thine own self. Take stock of the situation, and if it’s actually better to walk away from the task at hand – despite the gnawing, nagging fact that you’re working against a deadline – do it. Walk away from the microphone. Think of your performance. If all that external noise that is CONSTANTLY interrupting you is beginning to frustrate you, it’s going to show in your performance. At least it does for me. Now, once I’ve saved enough for one of those beautiful Scott L. Peterson audio booths, well, this blog post will be a humorous anecdote that I’ll look back on one day and just laugh…and laugh…then walk in to said booth, close the door and NOT hear all the motorcycles, trucks, a seemingly never ending parade of LOUD cars, leaf/debris blowers, and my all time favorite – small personal airplanes.

Stay Groovy Peeps! 
 – Al