Auctioneer's voice keeps going strong thanks to voice training and high-tech analysis

Posted at 9:35 AM, Apr 09, 2018

How does someone who relies on his voice for a living, such as an auctioneer, keep it in top form?

You may be surprised to find out what it takes to keep talking up success.

As exciting as it is to be in the seats during a live auction, imagine being the man behind the microphone.  "I just love excitement," said professional auctioneer John Korrey. "It's an art."

Korrey has been a professional auctioneer for more than 20 years, time he's spent solidifying his sound.

"There's not any two auctioneers that sound alike," said Korrey. "I can sit here and say countfive, 10, 15, 20, but when I put a chant to it, 'I bid five dollar bid now ten now fifteen fifteen twenty now twenty twenty thirty,' see I'm rolling my tongue and I'm adding some rhythm and I'm breathing."

Leading auctions, sometimes for hours on end, has taught Korrey one important thing.

"We're not a machine," said Korrey. "If it's equipment breaks ... a starter down ... you put a new one in.

"When my voice goes down I have no wage, I'm done," he said.

That's why Korrey spends so much time at the Colorado Voice Clinic, working with Kathe Perez to make sure his voice is okay.

"Let's start off with an easy feeling of breathing," Perez instructed Korrey. Then the two go through vocal exercises together. 

"Let's bring it down a key," Perez said. "A big brown bug bit a big brown bear, a big brown bug bit a big brown bear."

It's not just vocal exercises that keep his voice in check. A camera goes down Korrey's throat and gives doctors a look at his vocal chords in action.

"The strobe exam is an artificial form of slow motion that lets us look at the actual vocal folds as they produce sound," said Dr. David Opperman with Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center. "We can pick up subtle abnormalities in the way the chords are moving, if there's a tension difference between the right and left side.  And it's really revolutionized what we do in the voice industry."

Opperman said it's not just people like John who need to take care of their voice. Really it's anyone from teachers to customer service operators who does a lot of talking. He says staying germ-free, resting your voice for a time and rinsing your nose with salt water, can all help.

From old-school voice training, to high-tech analysis, who knew it takes a combination of care you can't see from the stage, to keep Korrey's voice, and the auction, going strong.