Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Sights and Sounds

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

In the 1960’s, Dad’s business was electronics repair and he worked out of the shop in the basement. The business failed due to rapid advancements in technology and Dad couldn’t afford to stay current. While the failure made for any number of difficult moments in family dynamics, it was not without its perks. Since some people didn’t pick up or pay for the repairs, Dad claimed the goods. For instance, we were among the first households on our block to have colour TV. We had more than two or three different record players, the kind that were in a portable suitcase.

Dad also subscribed to Popular Electronics and in his ample free time he built several of the projects published in the magazine. The best of that lot was the close-circuit Jack-o-lantern he rigged up one Halloween.

One time he repaired a reel-to-reel tape recorder. In order to test it, he brought it up to the kitchen and recorded our voices. What a hoot! I LOVED the sound of my voice on tape and I have ever since. I suppose it’s the novelty of the experience. You hear something that should sound familiar, yet it does not.

People have commented favourably on the sound of my voice over the years and I was hired for a couple of voice-over gigs. That was fun. I’d like to find more voice work, perhaps recording books or educational material for the CNIB or other disability support agencies.

I am somewhat surprised to hear that people are uncomfortable about the sound of their recorded voice. As you can imagine, I cannot relate to this. I understand it completely, of course. Just as I understand that people find it unbearable to watch themselves on video. That too is something that is foreign to me. That’s because, I suppose, I’ve rarely been recorded on video. During my theatre days I was hired to act in a TV ad for a London car dealership. I didn’t mind what I saw. I wasn’t great, but I wasn’t horrible.

The first time I was filmed was when I was in grade 7. The local TV station recorded our school’s string orchestra for a multi-school Christmas special. I played viola. I was very excited to be part of the production and even more so when the time came to watch the program on TV.

“It’s on!” I hollered and the family gathered to watch.

The TV host introduced the numbers. I could barely contain my impatience. I thought something along the lines of “Yeah, yeah, very nice Mr. Announcer. Move along, let’s get to the part where we see ME!”

Finally we reached the point in the program where our school performed. I may or may not have squealed.

A wide shot. Was that me?



A close shot of the conductor. That was Mrs. Evers, the music teacher who encouraged me to take music lessons.

Yet another view, this time the woodwinds. Ugh, boring!

Another wide shot from the same camera as before. I was still not in the image!

Another view of Mrs. Evers, the percussion, the stupid woodwinds AGAIN! What about the viola player? The song was almost over and I did not get any camera time!

I was very close to tears and pouting the way only a disappointed ego can. I took some comfort in the fact that my family was equally discouraged.

It was almost over: the final few bars of music. I was about to let the tears flow when Dad shouted, “There you are!”

On the very last note the very last camera shot was a tight closeup trained on the viola player as she drew her bow over the strings.

"Viola Rose" (pastel 8x6) by Rita Kirkman - click on thru for her painting blog.

“Viola Rose” (pastel 8×6) by Rita Kirkman – click for her painting blog.

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51 replies

  1. What a great story- the whole thing. I hate the sound of my voice-the tone is so annoying I shudder to think of people having to listen to it!! 🙂


  2. Ah yes, the reel-to-reel has brought many a good man down for sure… well, at least one anyway. Was around fifteen or so and musically inclined I was. Elvis was just getting started in his early career and I felt I wasn’t far behind. I could sing anything Elvis could sing and I don’t mind saying, just about as well!

    Enters the infamous reel-to-reel…

    Mom’s best friend had a boyfriend who owned a reel-to-reel and mom suggested he bring it over and record me some evening (you know moms – she thought I was Elvis reincarnated also). And so he did. I put on an Elvis record, picked up the mike and sang my little heart out. When I finished and the boyfriend hit the ‘play’ button my little world came crashing down and I was devastated. I wasn’t for sure who that was singing on that tape recorder but if it turns out to be me I will never sing again for the rest of my life! 😕 (It sounded so good in my head… really!)


  3. Wow, you have done so much.


  4. Seems like they saved the best for last.


  5. My only similar “memory” – which isn’t, really ! – is that I used to be on Kindergarten of the Air on ABC radio, on Mondays. This might not seem to be worth reporting, but for the fact that the kiddies on it were chosen from all around Perth, and took their turn: meaning that everyone (else) would be on air roughly once a year.
    Not me. Every Monday, come hail or shine. I must’ve been as full of it as I am now, eh ? [grin]


  6. I LOVED the ending! Just absolutely perfect. And it was your dad who announced you were on the TV…


    • 🙂 Lois, you caught that little bit of bittersweetness!

      Of course it was over 40 years ago, and I was so focused on the TV, I could hardly have been aware of the reactions of those around me… but if you were to ask me to fill in the blanks as regards the others? Well, my brothers would have been mildly bored, mom appropriately interested, but no doubt distracted by the list of things to do elsewhere in the house, and my dad?

      He was my biggest fan.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That sounds so cool! We always had a bunch of broken electronics laying around. My father didn’t have the skill to fix any of it, but didn’t seem to be willing to part with it either.


  8. That’s what my son would call ‘the money shot’.


  9. Wow! I didn’t realise I was associating with a celebrity! (She says as she gets all breathy and giggly in her nervousness.)

    Photos, videos, sound recordings – hate them all. I never look, act or sound like I think I do. In fact, my voice sounds so different in recordings than it does in my head I suspect I may have faulty wiring.


  10. Oh yes, the Viola player is most important! Very important! I love the strings! This painting is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.


  11. Great story! – it sounds like you missed your calling in film and on stage 🙂


  12. A voice over job is something I dream of. If you can believe it I would love to be the talking animals. How fun would that be? i loved those reel to reel tape players too. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


    • That is so cool to hear, Sue! Have you looked into it at all? I’ve checked with the CNIB and gave it some serious consideration. They ask for a two year commitment (assuming you passing the screening) since, if you are reading a novel, it could take that long to complete with only one recording session a week. There are studios in Toronto and Montreal.


  13. My Dad also worked on electronic equipment at home. He was an electronics engineer at General Electric and got to test TVs at home. He made our first TV – a black and white one that sat in his workroom without a cabinet. He also repaired people’s TVs, and he had a tape recorder.

    I worked in radio. So I got used to hearing my voice on the air. It does sound different to your ears, I think. Best wishes on getting voice-over work. That should be fun!


  14. Wow, Maggie, I’m impressed. I’ve had my few minutes of fame on TV by sitting next to a guest on the Ray Martin Show. I got a shock when the camera rolled up and Ray started talking to him – still in the audience. I didn’t know where to look. You know how people on TV sneak looks at them self in the monitor. I went bright red! When I got back to Coleraine a friend asked me if I had been in Sydney. She was greatly relieved when I said I had because she had seen me and thought she was going off her head! I also show up in embarrassing wedding videos drunk and dancing or talking nonsense. And I was filmed doing a bungy jump with an earth shattering scream. My recorded voice is horrible because it sounds so ocker. 😀 😀 😀


    • Now I’d LOVE to be able to see the bungy jump video! You did a bungy jump? You are my hero!! Ocker voice, notwithstanding.

      Liked by 1 person

      • [blush, with pleasure] Unfortunately I went halves in the cost for the video with a Japanese girl on my bus tour and it was in the days when video copying was harder to get. Somehow we didn’t get around to it, and I let her take it home. I never got my copy, though years later she wrote and asked if I had received it. I bungy jumped in New Zealand, the first person from my town to do it. My kids were so proud of me. My husband thought I was mad. I’ll do a post about one day, with photos. 🙂


  15. Voice overs! If I could pick any career, it would to be a voice over artist. Back in my radio heyday, I did quite a bit of that type of work – it was fun, easy, and fast. I should investigate if there is a way to get back into that without access to a recording studio to put together a demo disc (back in the day, it was all on reel-to-reel or cassette).


    • I recall reading that you were in radio. I bet there is a venue for non-studio type work, I just haven’t found it, or rather, who accepts “home made” recordings.

      There is an international school for deaf-blind students not far from my town. I’ve been meaning to check them out. It’s hard to imagine that all of the literature that must transcribed to audio is created in studios.

      The appeal for me is that I can read and learn at the same time as I’m recording for someone else.


      • Wow! You just jogged a memory for me! When I was going to college, I took some part time work with the university taping audio of textbooks for a blind student. The class was on Eastern religions and the reading was fascinating. However, I was fired after about three weeks – apparently I just talked WAY to fast and the student had trouble following me. I’ve been told that before 🙂


  16. What a great post and you got your moment in the end…



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