.:Private Speech, Dialects and Accent Reduction Coaching:
Students come to me for a variety of reasons: dialect coaching for an audition, acquiring a "General American" accent, or even ongoing speech correction. I've coached individual actors for film, stage and television roles as well as whole casts for voice and dialects and corporate clients.
I coach via Skype or in my home for full sessions and am available for last-minute adjustments via phone or Skype.
For corrective speech work and accent reduction, I require my students to purchase Edith Skinnerís "Speak With Distinction." While I do not follow her speech model exactly, I find her exercises to be very useful for drilling purposes. I supplement with handouts Iíve created over my past 20 years of work. "Speak With Distinction" is available online new and used. Any edition is acceptable. Students will also need a recording device. This is for homework, so itís best to use whatever is handy and comfortable (I donít listen to the recordings).
For dialect work, students work from my researched materials. If they have a system with which they are comfortable, they may bring the materials to our session. A recording device is highly recommended (see above).
For more information on classes, contact me directly.
During the first session for speech or dialect work, I do an assessment of a studentís current speech habits and discuss what theyíd like to accomplish. I map out speech goals and provide exercises to help students meet their speech challenges. Each week I evaluate the studentís progress and assign new exercises or encourage them to repeat the work, with corrections, until they have mastered the sounds, rhythms and intonations of the speech they are trying to acquire.
I suggest that students practice each sound for no more than 10 minutes at a time (they may wish to do several sessions a day, but no more than 10 minutes at each session). This time commitment is usually very easy to maintain, and since daily practice is necessary for success, it should be budgeted into a studentís schedule (like lunch). See notes below for FAQs about the duration of training.
For auditions or coaching for film or TV roles, I usually work with the actor on the actual script and make myself available by phone for last-minute script changes. If the actor books the role, we can continue to work on the dialect/speech to be sure it is natural and consistent. I am also available for on-set coaching, if the need arises.
Teacher's Note About Accent Reduction: The most common question asked of me regarding accent reduction is, "How long will it take?" The honest answer is "I don't know." Everyone learns differently - some are great at mimicking sounds and others have to work hard to hear the differences. It also depends on how much time you spend. Retraining your speech muscles to behave differently from the way they have for how ever many years you've been speaking another language, takes DAILY practice. Students who take the time, improve faster. I can give you the tools, but only you can do the work. Changing your speech is like training for an sports event - you wouldn't jog once a week and then think you could win a marathon! I've worked with students from all over the world and, honestly, some languages take more time than others (Japanese and French are difficult, for different reasons), but everyone can make an improvement. Lastly, it is very important to be fluent in English before beginning accent reduction work - this isn't the same as an ESL class. It's difficult to work on HOW to say a word, when you're still not sure of WHAT to say. If you need more English instruction, take it before you try to improve your pronunciation - it will increase your chances of success! Regardless of your ability, with daily practice you will begin to see changes within a few sessions.
My past accent reduction clients have been: Argentinian, Austrialian, British (London and Manchester), Belgian, Bulgarian, Brazilian, Chinese, Ciprian, Columbian, Costa Rican, Cuban, Danish, French (Swiss, Parisian, Canadian, Corsican), German ("high German" and Barvarian), Honduran, Isreali, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Persian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Madrid), South African, Sweedish and Turkish.
Private instruction is $100/hr. at my studio or over the phone (Paypal available). Contact me to discuss corporate, on-set or production coaching rates.
Deborah has taught for over 20 years at schools and workshops all over the country including: The Pittsburgh Playhouse School, The Second City Training Center in Chicago, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Stella Adler Academy in Hollywood.
Plays coached include: Waiting for Lefty, Private Lives, The Anarchists, Arcadia, The Crucible, A Christmas Carol, The Diviners.
For more information on classes, contact Deborah directly at debsalebutler[at]gmail.com.