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Roger Love
said would you please I've got a headache. They
just let me sing.
I’m ready and stop... What an introduction. I'm in
the back and I am growing by two inches taller, three
inches taller; I think that now I may be able to pursue
my real dream of playing in the NBA. Please sit
down. I want to be the oldest and the shortest guy
in the NBA.
One of their huge mistakes was they bought me a
toy holster, gun and cowboy hat when I was about
four years old. Then I truly realized the power of
holding people hostage. Because, whenever they
would have any kind of people over I would come
out in my full gear, keep people at bay, sing every
song I knew and a whole bunch of songs I didn't
know that I was making up the words to.
As he said I'm a voice coach. Most people have no
idea what to expect when they're about to be spoken
to by a voice coach, but my philosophies are very
This lasted quite a while until they realized I had
blanks. I did not have real ammunition and then
they were like maybe this isn't perfect, but I always
knew I wanted to sing.
I believe that success in life and one's ultimate ability
to influence someone else is directly linked to the
sounds that come out of your mouth. At best some
of you are making sounds that are holding you back
in life and at worst some of you are making sounds
that are potentially ruining your lives.
I would sing anything. I had this beautiful life,
singing and singing, and then I had a little bump in
the road. At 10 years old I was diagnosed with a
thing called osteomyelitis, which are tumors in my
When you were young, it was just a few minutes
before dinner and you really wanted that cookie that
was in the jar, you reach your hand in to get that
cookie and your mom sees you and she says - get
your hand out of the cookie jar Roger, and you say I
want it, and she says it isn't going to happen.
Back then in the dark ages of medicine what that
meant is I started having surgeries and then I was in
a wheelchair for over a year in a non-walking cast
for over a year, in a walking cast for almost a year
and I didn't stop limping and get use of my right leg
until I was in high school.
I would like, if I have the permission, to teach you
today why I believe with all of my heart you didn't get
that cookie and how from now on you are going to
get that cookie.
Now it's probably nothing, but then it was a big deal
and they didn't know what it was, so I ended up
having to go to a handicapped school because I
couldn't go to regular school.
When I was very young, there was no question what
I wanted to do with my life. I was always singing. I
was going to be a singer no matter what, you could
not shut me up. Luckily my parents weren't the kind
of parents that looked at me in the back seat and
I was pulled out of my lovely safe singing all the time
environment. I gained a lot of weight, I couldn't keep
in contact with my friends, I couldn't have play dates
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and I was going to a handicapped school on the
phone every day.
At that point, I'm thinking I could own the market and
not make $75 an hour. I was like I'm in. I'm 16 ½, I
get driven over to the studio because I don't even
think I was driving at that time, and my first day as a
voice coach.
When I was 13 or 14 and starting to relearn how to
walk, I could only walk in a pool a number of hours a
week, but I was looking for some way to regain the
power I already felt from the time I was four or five
years old to the time I was 10, because I thought I
was the luckiest person in the world and I still think
I'm the luckiest person in the world.
By the way, did I mention I had never been taught
how to be a teacher? I was a good student, but he
didn't bother spending any time teaching me how to
be a teacher so I knew nothing about teaching, zilch.
My way to regain power in my life was literally
singing. That was my ticket. I was lucky enough to
be given just enough talent that people didn't say
shut up and I used that, rebuilt my life and kept
singing and then I eventually lost the weight and
went back to high school.
I never thought I'd be a teacher, God bless you -
God bless us all. I was not trained to be a teacher.
My first day here's Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys,
here are the Jackson’s, here's Luther Vandross,
Stevie Wonder, Bette Midler, Madonna - this is my
first day.
When I was 13 and a half I had begged my mother
and father forever to give me singing lessons, take
me to a voice coach. Yes, I can sing but I'm sure
there's so much more I could learn.
Can anybody say out of your limits? Out of my
mind? I am way out of my comfort zone. I have no
idea how to teach any of them anything. I know the
exercises but I can't even play them all the way up
and down. The exercises went something like this.
They did some research and took me to a voice
coach in Hollywood who absolutely was the most
famous voice coach in the world, an amazing man
who had all the stars- Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra,
Bette Midler, Madonna, everybody and I started
studying with him at 13 and a half.
There was a really difficult exercise that goes like
this and all I could play was…
You're on your own. That's a long way to be leaving
people on their own. I couldn't even play the
exercises. I'm like okay, I'm freaking out. I'm
thinking; what can I do to pull this off?
My mother had to get a full-time job up until that
point she was an amazing housewife and a
wonderful mother. She had to get a job and work all
week to give me two voice lessons.
Here is a 16-year old guy, all these people are super
successful, they're all driving up in fancy cars, and
they’ve all got multi-platinum albums, what could I
possibly give them? I thought the first thing I could
do was instead of being just a 16-year old, I'd just
pretend to be my voice coach who had this big
booming powerful voice, lots of volume, melody and
bigger than life. He was a cartoon character in my
I think at that point that might have been $70 a
lesson, it was so long ago I don't remember, but she
had to work all week and she was so glad. She
never complained once. She worked all week so I
could do two voice lessons a week.
By the time I was 16 my voice teacher said I've got
to go away to Canada and there's nobody to take
over the studio. Do you want to come over after
school? I said; do you want to tell me how much I'm
going to pay you?
I thought, they seemed to like him, what if I just
sounded like him? I immediately just pretended I
was him and started making the sounds of his voice.
I started speaking louder. I started adding more
melody. I started paying attention to how fast or
how slow I was speaking and that seemed to be
He said I'm going to charge $150 an hour, of which
you can keep $75. This is a good deal I'm thinking.
I'm not thinking about his half, I'm thinking $75 an
hour. I could never make that as a box boy.
They at least weren't leaving in the middle of the
lesson. Then I thought well I know I can sing so I'll
just do a lot of singing and I'll pray to God that they
hear something in my voice that they want. I started
signing and they're like wow that sounds good
Roger. I'm like really you like that? Why don't I
teach you how to do that?
business and there was so much to learn. It was
wonderful, every day was Experts Academy.
Every day people were coming in. They knew so
much, I taught them a little bit about what I know and
they would teach me so much about what they
know. Year after year after year it became so
positive and I still, like I said before, I am the luckiest
person in the world.
So in the beginning it was imitation. I would make
sounds, they would hear something they liked
because literally I did find I had an ability to go very
low to very high and do it very evenly without any
pressure or any straining, I could do things with my
voice that were pretty cool, and they heard that.
You never know who's going to call that day.
Sometimes it's an easy job - sometimes they're like
hey, do you want to give live in Ibitha and vocal
produce Def Leppard in the hey day, you know, 15
years ago?
All I had was I'm imitating the way my voice teacher
sounds, I can play the exercises at least up, and I
can sing well enough that maybe they'll hear
something they can't do and that's where I started.
Sure, I've never been to Ibitha, it sounds nice, it
sounds like there's an ocean. There is an ocean,
there's a view; I'm in. Sometimes the jobs are easy,
sometimes the jobs are hard, like he told you about
Walk the Line.
Six months later when my voice teacher came back
every single one of his students said they didn't want
to go back to that voice teacher they all wanted me
to be their teacher. Surprised the heck out of me.
What he didn't tell you is that Reese Witherspoon
and Joaquin Phoenix had hired a voice coach and
had been working for months and months to do this
film and 3 ½ weeks before they had to go and
actually film it neither of them could sing.
He said; do you want to come in as a junior partner?
I said of course, I do, so I joined at 16 ½ years old
and became the second in command of the most
successful voice studio in the world.
Some would say handed to me on a silver platter
some would say it seemed like a paper plate and I
had to figure out how to put beautiful things on that
paper plate.
Reese was done with the picture and walking away.
First off, when she was hired for that picture they
told her she would not have to sing. That's not nice,
not nice at all. She is not a singer. Joaquin is even
more not a singer.
I still continued to do everything I wanted to do with
singing, going to college, moving on with all the
aspects of my life and I would teach all afternoons,
all evenings, and all weekends.
Three and a half weeks before they have to go to
Nashville and start actually filming the scenes where
they're supposed to be singing, Reese calls me and
says I am desperate. I cannot sing. I’ve been
wasting my time with another voice coach can you
help us?
I learned very early on that I absolutely love to
teach. I love to teach. I love to sing, but I love to
teach. I'm not one of those people who teaches
because they can't sing. You know those who can
do, those who can't teach?
She came in that day and we worked together that
one day and then she brought in Joaquin the next
day. We worked together for 3 ½ weeks and in that
time I had to teach them how to sing, teach them
how to sing like the character.
No, I'm one of those people that believe that a
teacher learns a certain amount from his teachers,
but an amazing teacher learns an incredible amount
from his students.
I had to produce all of the singing for the film and the
soundtrack, all the songs - get them all recorded
because T-Bone Burnett who did the music he's a
genius, but he doesn’t really do vocals.
Here I was in the position of working with the most
incredible people in the world in the entertainment
That was a tough gig. The hardest part was for the
first week and a half every day with Reese she's
incredibly talented but an unbelievable perfectionist
and at the end of every day she'd say I'm not good
enough and I'm going to be embarrassed so I'm
leaving the picture.
body and we think we're powerful. Then somebody
else is like what why are you whispering?
We speak and we think we're omnipresent and they
say are you sick? Do you have a cold? How're you
feeling? You're like what? So we don't know what
we sound like. I say it's time we all took
responsibility for the way that we sound.
Not only did I have to do my work so I had to spend
all of this time convincing Reese Witherspoon not to
leave the picture. When she left the money goes. It
was only being funded because she was in it. Are
you with me?
I say that since the '60's there were incredible
ground breaking studies that basically tried to prove
when I speak to you, what is it that makes you
believe the things I say?
My job was 50% voice coach and 50% shrink.
Thank God, I've spent so much time with Tony
Robbins and John Gray. Thank God, I don't just
think of myself as a voice coach because I would
have no idea what to say.
I'm sure you've all heard these statistics, but I'm
going to bring them more to life today. The statistics
that you've heard say that when someone speaks,
only 7% of the words they use count for effective
communication. What does that mean?
I had to keep her in that picture. My magic in the
outcome of that movie wasn't the singing part, my
magic was keeping her in the film and making her
believe, that in the end I promised that she would
sound good, Joaquin would sound good and I would
do anything that I needed to do to make that happen
and she believed me. That to me was the magic.
We live in a world that is consumed by that 7%. If I
knew exactly what to say then I could achieve this
result. I want to get a raise. I've made a long list of
all the things I'm going to say to my boss. I'm going
to go in with my list memorized because I stayed up
all night memorizing.
You know, I believe that most people hate the sound
of their own voices. I believe that most of us don't
know what we really sound like. In the olden days
when we used to buy answering machines and we
would record our message, you know where this is
going - I'm going to record a message, I've got a
couple minutes here before I leave.
I only take 58 minutes for lunch every day. I bring in
my own paper cups every day instead of wasting
your paper cups. It's a huge long list. I present my
list knowing full well that he's not only going to give
me a raise he's going to make me a partner in the
company. He tells me I'm sorry, we're going to have
to let you go, we're downsizing.
Hi, this is Roger Love I'm a nice guy. I really am -
don't you want to leave a message? Beep. I listen
back - boring, nasal, disgusting, why would anybody
call me? That's not good.
Why, I had such good words? Look at my list. It's
double spaced. I prepare all of these words I'm
going to say to someone I'm so excited about going
on a date with. I think about her, I get butterflies and
I'm so excited, I've written out a list of the
conversation topics so I don't run out.
I'm going to do that again because I still have a
couple minutes. I'm going to do it again. Who is
that person on that tape? That's not me. I'm way
taller I'm almost in the NBA already. You hear
yourself back and you're like, I didn't know I sounded
like that because we don't know what we sound like.
Clearly, I don't have to do that, I've been married for
20 years to the same woman who I still love. It took
her the first six or seven to realize if she had any
interest in me after we were married but now it's all
Some of us know what we sound like with sound
leaving our bodies and hitting other people, but
we're not in the habit of listening back to what we
sound like. We speak, we feel the vibration in our
Seven percent - why are we wasting so much time
worrying about content? Maybe Brendon's content
is worth more than 7% because it's some good stuff,
but the statistics still say the words we use are 7%.
Thirty eight percent– the part that kind of interests
me because I'm a voice coach, is tonality. The
sound the voice makes aside from the words. So
you're like okay, that's cool but what's tonality? I say
that's what I have spent years and years trying to
figure out.
That's how it started, because nobody was thinking
hey, I want to speak with more melody, they were at
the bottom. Like Brendon said, they were at the top
but at the bottom in that moment. My voice sucks
and I've got to speak to 500 people. That's the time
I better figure out what I'm doing wrong.
What is tonality and how can I teach tonality and
break it down into some very simple elements that
we all have control over? Tonality, if it's going to be
responsible for almost 40% of all communication; I
need to know how to use it, and don't you think it
would help if you knew how to use it?
I say it would've been great if they would've all
figured that out during the process while they were
gearing up to be famous speakers and famous
singers but it doesn't always work that way.
In the beginning, I would say absolutely not I am a
singing coach that is what I do. I would recommend
a vocal therapist and voice doctors.
Do you know how loud to get? No, who is
teaching you how to get loud?
Do you know how much melody to use? I
don't know.
Then after a while, I started thinking I should monitor
the success of these people that I'm sending away.
When people would call I would say no, that's not
what I do. I would very much like you to call this
doctor and then I would like you two months from
now to call me back or email me back and say what
your progress is.
Do you know how fast or slow to speak?
Do you know how much air to speak with?
Do you know how much nasality and how
much bass?
There are all these aspects of tonality that nobody
talks about. This idea that I'm just going to stand up
on stage and pretend everybody is naked doesn't
work for me. Most people don't look that good
naked, that makes me nervous.
What I noticed after a couple of months is their
progress was very slow. I started thinking that
whatever was out there for speakers to become
better speakers and understand their instrument
maybe wasn't enough.
I only have a small brain so I really need to break it
down into little bits that I can focus on and
understand. For 17 years I stayed with that partner,
that teacher. It was easy. I didn't have to get any
business, I just had to be a point and shoot
awesome voice teacher.
At that point, I spent years trying to figure out if I
could do the same thing for singers, what could I do
for speakers? I studied and I studied and worked
started taking clients because you have to have
somebody to work on, right.
I thought I was getting good, although now I think I'm
getting good. Back then I was getting a little cocky,
but now I realize that my best teaching is still years
from now and we should all think that way.
I started working and I started trying to build
methods. As I tried so much to gather information
and concoct incredible intricacies of giving them new
techniques I realized it all comes back to simple
again. Guess what, there's no difference between
singing and speaking.
We're as good as we are tomorrow. We're not as
good as we are today we're as good as we're going
to be tomorrow.
When you are singing your brain and body do
exactly the same thing as when you are speaking.
It's the same function physically.
So I stayed for 17 years and I only focused on
singer’s that's it. I didn't consider myself an
influence expert or a coach who worked with
speakers. What happened is I would get calls from
famous speakers and they would say look I'm having
problems with my voice.
When you're singing the brain thinks you're speaking
and is kind of wondering why you're stretching out
the words and why there's so much melody going on
that wasn't happening a minute ago, but everything
else - what your body does, what your breathing
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