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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Ventriloquism "instructions" (beginner's complaint) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Avrakdavra
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I have been looking at five or six vent books from the library and noticing that the most typical means of describing how to produce the "difficult" sounds is something like this: "To make the sound used for 'b,' place the tongue against the teeth and say 'd,' while THINKING of the 'b' sound.

Well, maybe it is just my background in linguistics, but, for me, sounds are made up of elements such as point of articulation, voicing, and so on, and telling me to THINK of a letter without specifically stating what to do with my tongue, lips, teeth, larynx, lungs, etc. is essentially meaningless. I can't make a sound by "thinking" of it.

Can someone recommend books or tapes that instruct using more concrete (ideally scientific/phonological) terms for how to make the sounds of the vent alphabet?

I an nost grateful.
Druce (thinking of 'm's and 'b's)
olivertwist
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Steve Taylor's video "Voicing Your Dummy" gives very good descriptions of where and how to place your tongue to produce the substitute sounds.
http://www.stevetaylorpro.com/videos.htm

Oliver
ventman
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In addition to Steve Taylor's video, the best explaination of the sound subs I found is from the Paul Winchell video "Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit" if you can find that video I highly recommend it.
harris
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Along with good lip control, it is even more important to create a character within your puppet and a meaningful relationship between you and the puppet and your audience.

Check out World/Vents on the Yahoo Group for some good feedback.

Even after 25 + years as a vent I still practice most days. The 30 minute ride to my Counseling Gig, gives me time to practice and to create dialog.(along with writing and improv during shows)

Although I use to do the Vent/Magic thing full time, it is now a "side line" to my nearly normal job as
a Nearly Normal Counselor.

I learned with: the Maher Tapes, Library Books, Col. Boley Tapes and learning from my mistakes.

I continue to learn.

Mark Wade's Book is not a how to but a How to use what you know. It is called (I believe) Kid Show Ventriloquism.



Enjoy the journey.

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
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Avrakdavra
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Thanks to all for the advice.
Bruce
BIlly James
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If you go to http://www.maherstudios.com you will find some excellent teaching tools.
One is the Maher course of ventriloquism which consists of 30 individual booklets and a video tape.
Another is an audio tape or CD by Bob Neller.
These are both great! I own both and can highly recommend them.
Once you sort out where to put your tongue etc. the labials still don't sound quite right, but as you practise each day they just become more and more like the actual sounds until you can't tell the difference, it's freaky!
I think it's probably a bit like learning to do the splits - once you know what to do it still takes a little practise until you're actually doing it, but if you practise you WILL do it.
Good Luck
Billy

PS I wouldn't recommend practising the labials while doing the splits.
Avrakdavra
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No, certainly don't want a split lip...

Any suggestions vis a vis the Taylor materials versus the Maher course?
olivertwist
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I started with the Taylor tapes and so may be biased towards them, but I have also completed all the Lessons of the Maher Course (but not the final test).

There is more information in the Maher course but for learning sound substitutions and writing comedy I think the Taylor tapes are better. But I think it's a good idea to study all the material you can get, for completeness.

Oliver
BIlly James
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OK....have you got your cheque book ready!

I agree with Oliver that it's a great idea to get your hands on all you can.
As I said, I have the Maher course and the Bob Neller CD, but I also have ALL the Steve Taylor videos, 2 Bill Demar videos, Lee Cornell's video, Mark Wade's advanced ventriloquism DVD and I had Paul Winchell's video for a number of years.
I have learned something valuable from each of the above resources.
Once again I agree with Oliver that the Maher course is great for the sound substitutions and vent exersizes (no splits) and Steve Taylors tapes have a lot more regarding comedy. However, if you want to see some REALLY great manipulation you'll probably want to get 'The Bill DeMar Show' DVD.
If you're like me you'll probably end up getting the lot anyway, so the initial decision comes down to whether you want to start off with a fair amount of reading OR DVD watching. If I had to push you one way or the other I'd probably suggest the Maher course.
Hope that helps

Cheers
Billy

PS If it makes you feel any better I've just put a down payment on a figure for $1200.00US, and with the current US vs Australian dollar exchange rate that would buy all of Sydney and parts of Tasmania.
Avrakdavra
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Thanks, again Oliver and Billy. I assume that, like with so many interests, if I am sufficiently bitten by the ventriloquist bug, I will wind up spending absurd sums in the long run.

My main concern now is just to get off on the right foot, especially in an area where I seriously doubt my ability to become even modestly competent, much less accomplished. The sites hawking the instructional materials not surprisingly promise that anyone can, with practice, learn these skills, but I must admit that this seems exaggerated to me. Only one way to find out of course...

Still, my birthday is next month, and my wife is asking for suggestions for a gift--won't she be surprised when I ask for vent instructional materials! ("Why can't you ask for a drill press like normal husbands?")
Budihaha
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I will try to give another examples and I hope this help.

When we heard someone say gotlle of geer, or dottle of deer, our mid will receive it as bottle of beer. Even better if he/she say those without hard g or d and slightly near b. This can happen because there is some how a conection between ear and our memory.

Then try this:
Tihs is olny a tset. Pelas dno't try to crorcet tihs msis spllenigs. If you can unrdetsant tihs, tihs is a dieffern exmsalpe but bteewen eye and momery. Got tihs form a reecnt reeasrch in a unviesrtiy.

hpoe tihs hlpes.

Rgerads,

Budi Ha Ha
Budi H. Hadiwarsito
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BIlly James
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Quote:
On 2004-07-22 10:36, Avrakdavra wrote:

Still, my birthday is next month, and my wife is asking for suggestions for a gift--won't she be surprised when I ask for vent instructional materials! ("Why can't you ask for a drill press like normal husbands?")


It's a pity I live in Australia, otherwise your wife could join mine in the 'Why doesn't my husband ask for a drill press like normal husbands' therapy group.
Avrakdavra
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Billy,

My wife usually just calls her mother or sister, and they all think together about their husbands and shake their heads...

Another question:
Though very attracted to ventriloquism (enough so that I am willing to invest in learning the art), I have limited experience in seeing vents perform--just on television, really, and I've never seen a live performance. I know of course that there is a whole world of performers, writers, and styles out there beyond my knowledge.

Based on my admittedly limited exposure, it seems that vent humor is decidedly corny or even (please forgive me) cheesy. Is this just the nature of the medium? Can you suggest some performers who used ventriloquism in markedly different ways from the usual "...And they call me a dummy!"-type humor? What are your own acts like? Are there vents known for evoking tears as well as laughter, for inspiring wonder as well as amusement? Is there anything intrinsic to the artform that mitigates against other such expressions?
harris
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The vent event and other programs featured a man who did among other things a baby crying, a parade going by, talking to a head in the box, talking with someone on the phone, dancing with Fred Astaire, talking to his hand.

The ventriloquist, Guest, Wences, Lewis.

On the beginer bit...

I still consider myself a beginer after 20 + years in this fun endeavor. After watching the tape again this morning, I realized I have not done the phone or distant bit in a long,long time.

My nearly normal wife Annie is very supportive of my unusual hobby, part time job.

She even helps pick out new props and ideas for new bits for the NN Show.

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
BIlly James
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I know what you mean regarding the 'corny' style of vent. A great deal of the scripts I have seen have been merely a list of 'groan' type puns which have been put into dialogue form.
If you want to see some vents that are a real departure from the above scenario, go to these sites and take a look at the video footage there -
http://www.onastick.com
http://www.nolips.com
http://www.taylormason.com
These guys are all REALLY great at what they do. The footage on their sites is somewhat limited, but I have seen a lot more of these guys and they absolutely kill.
As far as creating tears as well as laughter - Bill DeMar has a piece where his partner (Chuck Norwood) does a monologue about all the years they have worked together and what life will be like once Bill is no longer around. It is a fantastic piece.
Cheers
Billy
Avrakdavra
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Thanks for the links, Billy. I am starting to get a better idea of the range and quality of vent acts. Now, perhaps you can help rehabilitate my jaundiced view of mimes...
BIlly James
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Quote:
On 2004-07-26 09:06, Avrakdavra wrote:
Thanks for the links, Billy. I am starting to get a better idea of the range and quality of vent acts. Now, perhaps you can help rehabilitate my jaundiced view of mimes...


Unfortunately I'm all out in that regard....however if you're looking to beef up your appreciation of synchronised swimming as an Olympic event, let me know.
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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The main thing is THINKING the intended sound while using the other sound. In time you will find you are producing 'hybrid' sounds that are so close to the intended sound, and come off so naturally, it will amaze even you.

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
pixsmith
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The folks at Maher are really great, and I have a few friends who really think the course was terrific. I am impresesd with the amount of information that is included, and the clarity with which it is presented. It makes an excellent starting point.

Re the "Think system", I think the point is to think the real sound in order to avoid feeling odd when you are making the substitute sound. It also gives you a different mind set so that words that might be phonemically identical will hvae a degree of difference in the way they sound to the audience.

Hmmm, reading that it all sounds a lot like the Music Man after all.

Cheers,

Pix
Parson Smith
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I guess its ok to pay someone to teach you, but the marble worked for me.
I just filled my mouth with marbles and started talking.
Every day I would remove one marble.
When I lost all my marbles I was a ventriloquist. Smile
Here kitty, kitty,kitty. Smile
+++a posse ad esse+++
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