Standard American Accent - With Robyn Scott | Skill Collective | Skillshare

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Standard American Accent - With Robyn Scott

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      American Accent: Introduction


    • 2.

      Accents Are All About Sound


    • 3.

      Rules To Follow With Vowels & Consonants


    • 4.

      The Little Words


    • 5.

      An “In” For Every Accent


    • 6.

      Slates During Auditions


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Conscious & Unconscious Listening (with bonus exercise)


    • 9.



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About This Class


Acting is hard enough and an accent is merely a tool we take out of our acting toolbox and it needs to live in our cellular structure in order for the audience to believe and buy into the character that you are playing.

In this course I am going to help you with a Standard American Accent.
This is an introduction course and my method is to break down the sounds, put them back together and ultimately throw them away. The lessons in this course are:

  • Accents are all about Sound

  • Rules to follow with Vowels & Consonants

  • The Little Words

  • An “In” for every accent

  • Slates during auditions

  • Breath

  • Conscious & Unconscious Listening (with bonus exercise) 

I truly hope that you will enjoy this course and that it gives you the tools to work on perfecting your Standard American accent. Please be on the lookout for more accent courses from me in the future.

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1. American Accent: Introduction: hello to all you actors out there, whether aspiring or professional or anyone who just loves accents. My name is Robin Scott. I'm an actor who lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. I graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1995 where I studied drama, and I have Bean lucky enough to work in all the genres. So theatre, film and television. Most of my bread and butter money comes from voiceover work, and I work with actors, universities, form schools and privately. For the last 25 years, I've been known as the Accent Girl. I'm a bit like a parrot. I truly love accents and have always been fascinated by them. Over the years, I've come up with a simple technique of how to help actors sit in the truth of the accents and then throw it away to clarify the term throwing it away. My intention is for the accent to be secondary, to sound as natural as possible. I think acting is hot enough. No matter the genre you're playing in and being an actor myself, I know how important it is to feel safe for me. It's simple. We are storytellers, and our job is to sit in the truth of the emotion of the characters were playing. We have to honor them. We just change up the style of acting to the genre. Were working in an accent is merely a tool we take out of our acting toolbox, and it needs to live in our cellular structure in order for the audience to believe and buy into the character you were playing. I call it the three o'clock in the morning, a wake up call and go do the accent American, British. So I get you to a place where you're not thinking about it, worrying about the correct sounds. It just falls out of your mouth effortlessly. In this course, I'm going to help you with standard American accent. This is an introduction, and my method is to break down the sounds, put them back together and ultimately throw them away 2. Accents Are All About Sound: accents for me are all about sound. All accents come with their own rhythm, their own musicality, if you like. And it's about getting to grips with the song of the accent when we sing, whether we are good at it or not. If I sang cause I'm happy, you know I'm singing off key, but you here knows that I'm singing the Pharrell song. So whatever accent you working on, you need to hear it as much as possible. Which is why my method is not about physical placement, but rather sound. I'll be giving you some homework a bit later. Toe. Help you with that. That's why the Southern accent or dialect are always easier for your ear to hear and therefore easier to access because it's very musical. It has dips and troughs, so ha on Tammy and I love to saying dips and troughs. But while practicing your standard American accent, I would suggest that you don't watch or listen to anything with the Southern accents or dialects in it. 3. Rules To Follow With Vowels & Consonants: So let's look at some really simple rules to follow All my actors. Follow these from the professionals to my six year olds, and if you learn them and follow them, they will help you. Although I don't work with placements, you might find the following helpful. Because the majority of my actors are from Cape Town and English speaking South Africans. They tend to have very flat vowel sounds and place their sound in the front of the mouth. Now, 80% of the standard American accent is placed at the back of the mouth and into the throat , which can be a difficult sound toe access naturally. Example. Car rear mirror So South Africans will say water American water. So instead of fixating on placement, it's rather and awareness when attempting this accent. Please, guys, remember, this is a guideline, and they will always be exceptions to these rules. Let's start with vowels. The A vowel is fat round and must be stretched and pulled water. When you practice this fat vowel sound, it helps to drop your lower jaw in order to help open the sound up, the overall will predominantly give you three different sounds. Oh, as in Oh, my goodness. Example Chou who? As in who? Chocolate cake Example. Shoe and, ah, as in Ah, at the dentist Example Dog. Once you've figured out which sound the is requiring, it helps to put a silent letter A before the oh, it's a trick to help your brain and mouth open up the sound Example tuh Oh toe, Sure. Uh, do shoe Duh odd dog like the A and ovals, The evil must also be stretched on the silent. A trick also works really well here Example but ad bad Le e lead the you've all will give you two different sounds. It will either be a short, hard sound as in up or umbrella all it will be a longer, softest sound with a slide scoop as in stupid with this longer you sound it helps to rewrite the word with the e w sound to help pronounce it properly. Example Stupid The I've al is very different to the rest of the vows. It must be kept short on and not pulled and stretched. We always put a silent a before the I to keep it nice and short. Pull it towards you. Example le I've life. If you don't use your silent A or stretch it too long, the chances of you slipping into another dialect, especially Southern, are very high. Example. Laugh, which is seven. So that's wrong. Life standard American. That's right. A clever little trick when you come across I on its own or the I've all starts the word replace it with e y e I example island I'm I'll I or ice with some words that start with the I've all as in is on. And if it helps to rewrite the I sound as an e h sound to help with the pronunciation example IHS th s is if e h f yes, still keep this sound short. Never, ever pulled the I've all, no matter what sound it gives you remember We are still speaking English with an American accent on top of it, and some balls will change Example We don't say, Oh, this is my husband, David. The A vil changes to an ivo, so make sure you apply the I've all rules. When that occurs, the word becomes husband. Watch out for when that happens, especially at the ends of words. If you Don't your accent wilder up for me? The most important rule when attempting the standard American accent is the letter R. If you get this rule correct, you are 40% there. The letter R must always pop. Give it weight. When you sounded out, whether it's in the beginning off the word, read the middle of the word birds or the end of the word water. It must always be heard if you come across the wood with more than one are. Don't panic and worry about getting tongue tied. Forget about the first are and just head for the second are and make sure it pops, for example, with the word corner. Simply concentrate on hitting that last, are your brain Will do the first are automatically corner the letter T. Now I call this the chicness T. When words end with the letter T. As in bat or cat, the T becomes very, very soft, like you almost can't hear it. Remember to practice the exercise, the four saying the word count bad. Be aware not to remove the T altogether. As subtle as the tea is, it's still there, barely audible on, but still there for example, the word bloat. If you do not do the chicness t, the would will change to blow. Everwood has the letter t in the middle or has a double T in it, as in water or butter letter. Then the tea can become a soft D water butter letter. Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule, like the word until it's not a Ndele. And that just sounds, really. It's common sense, so sound outwards. Words ending in i n g ing always sound out the full ing at the ends off words. Never cut the words short. By dropping the G, you will drop out into another dialect Southern or even New York. Running or swimming. That's wrong. It's running or swimming. That's right. Woods, beginning with H words beginning with an H, always have a slight out breath, and we must hear it. Example. Hot here, happy and words ending or the letter Why will give you two different sounds. It'll either be a long sound, as in a double E as in body, or it will be a short I sound as n fly replace the why with either the double e all the short I sound. The body was found by the river when the second letter in the word is an R or an L place. A silent a in between the first letter off the word and the R or the l example but right, right far lower flour. It's a very subtle, extra little syllable. It's not blue, as in the animated character Baloo the Bear, but rather blue. Apply these easy, simple rules to the vowels and constants and really sound them out in a pie. Tonton way. Onley. Once the sounds start to feel like they are seeping into your bones Onley, then can you attempt to throw the words with the accent away. The dog sat on the mat and barked. The dog sat on the mat, embarked. 4. The Little Words: I would like to give you a list of some of what I call the little words. And we have to say these ALS the time. And I get my actors to learn the list verbatim off by heart. And it's also really lovely warmer before you start your practicing. So listen to me is saying the word first and then join me when I say the word a second time . And obviously I can't do all the words in the English dictionary. So here we go. Oh, oh! Uh uh, It it waas waas and and be be. But But if if is IHS so so. No, no. Yes, yes, you. You to to who? Who? Where? Where? What? What about about and in as us do do the the four four a or, uh and or Oh, we we Well, well, has has that that this this those those not not off off. Now, now on on our our into, into Shall shall. Well, well, would would, Can, can Can't can't like like Here. Here, there, there, being being Go, go, come, come. Um And up, up, down, down Then. Then left. Left, right. All right. I want want Honey Annie and and counting. 1234567 eight, nine, 10. 123456789 10. Now there is a reason why I did the counting to 10 at the end off the little word list. 5. An “In” For Every Accent: and that brings us to our introductions for our slate. Now, whether we are sending a self tape or are auditioning in person, we are required to do our intros in the accent. For me, it's always been the first line of defense, the first thing that directors and producers are seeing. So it's vitally important that we nail the accent legs. Who knows? If we don't, they might not want to. Then we're onto watching the activists. So really practice your slate in the accent. I know it off by heart. It's a three o'clock in the morning. Wake up, moment, I'll do mine. Hi, I'm Robin. I'm 54 I'm with artists one and I'm auditioning for the role of Sally. Its importance to know what your height is in feet and inches, as this is the American system 6. Slates During Auditions: always have an accent in its a trick, and I've been using this for my entire accent acting career, and it helps me tremendously. I haven't end for every accent that I can do. If you ask me to do a Scottish accent, I simply think of my in, which is the word Aberdeen, and I say it aloud a couple of times. Albertine, Albertine, obviously, and the accent on then my brain knows, or she wants to do that brilliantly, sends messages to my ears and mouth on. And well, here we are. This trick helps to drop you into the accents that you're not having to spew it out coldly . My standard American N is actually the first line of my intro for my slate. Hi, I'm Robin. I like it mainly because of the aspirated H in the word high aspirated just means up breath and, of course, the ah, in my name that I know I have to pop Robin. All my actors use this as they open the door into the audition room, or just before they're about to record their self tapes under their breath, saying they're n. It can be a word or you can count to 10. 123456789 10 was try it. It really, really works. 7. Breath: Let's talk about breath. Any time you're attempting any accent, you will need more breath. If you drop out of the accent or full over your lines nine times out of 10 it's because you've run out of breath. You haven't taken a deep enough breath to sustain. Hold up the accent. Have an awareness of your breath all the time. Remember to take lovely, deep breaths at the beginnings of sentences on. Look out for commers, where you can snatch breaths. All actors should know the importance of breath control. And if you don't start doing some breathing exercises for me, acting is about breath. How does my character breathe? What is the emotional state of being for my character in the scene? How will that affect my breathing? And on top of that, I have to do all of this with an American accent, which has to be believable. And it's not easy. I have a very, very simple breathing exercise that I call the bubble technique, which really helps to expand not only your lung capacity but helps with your out breath as well. So get a glass of water or have a glass of water and a straw, please, guys, not a plastic straw. Let's hope our planet invest in a metal metal straw if you can and are able to, and you are going to take a deep breath and blow bubbles for as long as you can. But they're not allowed to be big fat bubbles. They must be pretty consistent, tiny little bubbles all the way through until you have completely run out of breath. Sounds easy. It's not. The other brilliant benefit of this exercise, told to me by two e and T doctors is that they've discovered that our vocal cords respond positively to the vibrations that occur with me. Blow bubbles and it's strengthening them. Plus, when we do any deep reeling exercise, we just feel more relaxed and happier. So it's a win win Happy days. 8. Conscious & Unconscious Listening (with bonus exercise): Now I want to give you some homework. I want the sound around you as much as possible. We all have those friends who aren't actors, and they go away for a week on holiday and return home doing the accent from whichever country they were visiting. Super annoying. But we actually can't be annoyed with them because they is have continually heard a sound, and they can't help but repeat it. So one asks, Well, how was your holiday in the U. K. P, sir? Absolutely smashing Loved every minute of it. When in reality, Peter sounds like this. You are Nermin. It was amazing. So here's the thing. If we could all travel to the country of the accident that we're working on and stay there for a month, out years would be surrounded by the sound, and we would pick up the accent much quicker. But that's not always possible. So you're going to start conscious and unconscious listening. This is the homework pick, a movie and all Siri's that 90% of the characters are speaking in a standard American accent, and there are thousands my go to is homeland. Not only are the majority of the actors speaking in the correct accent, but the acting is of a very high standard. Kick back and watch the first episode for pure enjoyment. Then pick a scene that you enjoyed from that episode. Pick a character and really listen to the sounds that they are making pick words, just words and parrots or copy them saying the word out loud. Pause were wind. We listen and repeat slowly, loudly in an almost heightened way when you feel like the sound is as close to the sound they are making, then you may throw the word away, making it sound more natural. They could be long words or little. It doesn't matter. Guh blasts gah lasts glass pa Picture pa Picture picture. This part of the exercise could be done 3 to 4 times a week for about 15 minutes. The last and final part of the exercise is probably the most important, and this is the unconscious listening Have the episode that you've previously watched playing on Repeat as much as you possibly can, without annoying everyone else in your household, and it doesn't have to be allowed just playing in the background enough for your ear to pick up the sounds. A lot of my actors will record the episodes and pop the earphones and and listen when they're going for a walk or Iran played in their cars, etcetera. It's about having sound around you as much as possible. This homework is key, and I still do it. Please, please stay clear when picking something toe watch that it has no Southern New York, Boston or other American die elects in it. Your ear will get confused. For instance, actors always asked me if they can watch friends and the answer is no, because the character Joey is from New York. So when you're choosing your foam or Siri's to watch, always make sure it's the right accents. And if you're unsure, ask someone that you trust or Google guys. 9. Conclusion: the standard American accent is by far one of my all time favorites to do. It can be unapologetic, loud and hard. So really go for it. See the dialogue coming out of your mouth in a straight line, always attacking the words from the front and then throw it away. The cat sat on the mat. The cat sat on the mat. If it starts to feel foreign in your mouth, then you are on the right track. My method is super simple. It's about breaking the sounds down, building them back up and then throwing them away. But in order for it to work, you must do the conscious and unconscious listening in conjunction with learning my rules and tricks and applying them to your dialogue. Accents are hard. Not everyone can hear them as easily as others. So take your time and be gentle with yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day. It's all about repetition, repetition, repetition, which is about discipline. If you don't put the work in, it won't work on a scariest. They could be. Have fun. They must be joy in the journey. Otherwise, why are we doing this? It has bean, my pleasure. And I hope I have helped you even the smallest way with your standard American accent. Please be so kind to rate review and share this course with fellow actors as it helps us to create more content for you in the future. Thank you and be brave.