I highly recommend Anne Walsh, Confidently Speaking UK Speech Coach, not only for accent reduction, but also dialogue coaching for auditions. She has a positive personality, very people-oriented. For my accent correction, Anne identifies not only the individual sounds (mostly vowels, but also problematic consonants). The speech pattern is the ultimate giveaway. She has unusual words and phrases to describe these patterns which enable me to picture the problem so that I can correct it. She could easily write a book with her own original materials. She makes up new drills for me almost every lesson, and finds great practice material. She is well-read, has an extensive vocabulary plus a great sense of humour! Though I had worked on speech extensively, having lived in the South growing up, casting people would ask frequently, “Where are you from?” a code for saying, “You have an accent.” I never had a problem speaking dialogue on film during a 15-year acting career. The difficulty was in regular conversation.
I had never trained as an actress and felt it was important to learn more about using my voice technically and correctly. Anne was recommended to me by a friend who trained with her at drama school and, as my background had been in TV and film, I was particularly interested in learning the correct application of the voice for stage work. My work with Anne was very varied and fun. We always started with a short physical warm-up to release any tensions in the body and encourage the voice to come from a free and unrestrained place. We worked on a large range of material, from Shakespearean text, poetry, prose and also scripts that I had auditions coming up for. The work was always incredibly interesting. I learnt how to serve Shakespearean language correctly by going through to the end of the lines, correct usage of vowels sounds; and obeying the rhyme and rhythm of the piece. Anne has a very clear and varied way of demystifying the abstract principles of voice work. I learnt a great deal about my own vocal tendencies through my accent and habits I had picked up and it was great to take scripts to Anne and experiment with different vocal approaches. I now feel much more grounded and flexible with my voice. I also feel I can confidently and correctly warm-up before a performance and have been working a lot more on stage since working with Anne. Anne is really fun and un-intimidating and I would recommend actors spend some time working with her.'
As a working actor of Iranian origin living in London, Anne has helped me over the last three years. I am fluent in English, but, my Iranian background sometimes influenced my pronunciation. There was a lack of consistency, even in my errors. I was interested in having a more neutral accent - if I wished to apply it. Anne worked with me regularly on the following areas; the lip-rounded vowels, the repositioning of my soft palate, and lateral plosion. As a result of her coaching I am now more consistent and have an increased awareness and control of my accent. I am also able to modify it with greater skill to suit the requirements for varying roles. In addition, Anne has helped me prepare for roles, for example as Osama Bin Laden, for the Omid Djalili BBC1 show, where we worked together to recreate and reproduce the vocal characteristics of a Saudi Arabian accent background. I am very grateful for Anne's kindness and expertise.
Being a French native speaker, my pronunciation was very poor and I had difficulties to communicating in English with other people, although had been living in England for six years. Anne and I worked together to "clean- up" my accent: the objective was to make my English sounds more neutral and therefore clearer. We focused on the placement of the tongue, correct use of the lips and breathing and practiced text reading as well as tongue twisters. My speech and my voice progressed massively and I feel quite confident now about it. I would like to add that Anne was very supportive during the learning process and I am very pleased about the work we accomplished together. She is a great teacher.
I have been using Anne as an accent coach for the last year. She has coached me for a range of accents as varied as Scottish and Croatian in preparation for auditions. I have consistently found Anne to be calming, professional, patient, thorough and most importantly confidence building. I always leave the lesson feeling confident about my accent, the remaining preparation and the audition itself. She also understands time is a huge factor for every actor and is incredibly flexible in lesson scheduling. On calling to arrange, Anne often gives me audio references to use before the lesson helping me feel I can start the groundwork instantly. Her methods are easy to understand and apply. I particularly value the wide range of resources she offers on top of the actual lesson such as regional background and perspective, phonetics lists, audio examples and relevant websites.