Saturday, February 04, 2012

One Question - #1 - Learning Routines and Finding Time To Practice

Several months ago I emailed subscribers of my VenTips email newsletter and asked them to submit their toughest "One Question" that was a challenge to them in regard to ventriloquism, writing, marketing, comedy, whatever.

I received a lot of really good questions and I'm now going to start posting the questions here and answer them as best I can. I'm calling the series, "One Question." (imagine that!)

The first question is kind of a two-parter, but the topics tie together.

The question comes from Will Jacobson from Lexington, KY:

"I have a hard time learning routines and finding time to practice. Any suggestions?"

Here is how I've always approached practicing and learning a new (or brushing up on) a routine. First, once I have my script written for me and my puppet, I record it using a microphone connected to my computer and the free audio software, Audicity and read the routine as I record it. Then I either burn a CD of the routine or put it on my iPod. Then I listen to it over and over at home, in my car, whenever I get the chance.

It works the same as when you hear a song on the radio over and over. Soon you can't get it out of your head (sometimes that's a good thing...other times not!) and before you know it, you can sing along and have all of the lyrics memorized.

Do the same thing with your vent routines. Listening to it on a recording, then talking along with it, then doing it without the recording can cut 60% off of the time it would take you to memorize a script if you were just trying to learn it from paper.

As an aside, I know a lot of people don't memorize routines. They use cue cards or cheat sheet reminders hidden on their set somewhere on stage. In my opinion, and again, this is just my opinion and the way I personally do it, I've always memorized my routines. It's just the way I've always done it.

When I know I have a script memorized, I always have a lot more confidence with my act while on stage. When I am in command of my routine, it allows me to ad-lib some, get side tracked and still be able to get right back into the script again.

Another benefit of memorizing a script is that it is very easy to brush up and recall it if you don't do that same routine for a while. Just like you remember certain song lyrics forever, you'll find once you've committed a script to memory, it comes back to you quickly when you need it again.

As a test, I pulled out the written copy to a routine I haven't done for over 2 years this week as I was perparing to write this post. I read the opening two or three exchanges between myself and my figure and then I put the paper down to see how much I could remember. I was able to do about 80% of the routine that I had not done in over 2 years on my first try. I could spend 20 minutes looking over it, or listen to the recording once or twice and it would all come back to me.

I have all of my routines on CD, my iPod and my PC so I'll always have them to reference when I need them. Again, the key is that they are on audio and listening greatly speeds up the learning of the routine! Try it!

As far as finding time to practice - I know how hard that can be with everything else going on in our lives.

I use a variety of techniques. First, I always consider practice time fun - not a chore. And I try to practice short periods of time more often than trying to do one really long practice session a week. So, I'd opt to do 10 minutes of practice a day rather than an hour once a week.

I try to practice at home the same time every day so it becomes a habit to do it.

And I practice whenever I am in my car. When you realize how much time you spend driving around during the day, it 's a perfect opportunity to work on your routine and voices. You CAN fit in a consistant practice regiment it you think of ways to do it!

I hope this information is helpful to you. Look for the next installment of "One Question" soon!

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1 comment:

Allpro puppets said...

I heard practicing in front of the mirror helps, is it true? I think its nothing like performing in front of a crowd and instead of that if you can ask some of your friends to join you while you practice can be much effective, plus it would be free entertainment for your friends.