Sunday, September 13, 2015

Needs & Wants

happy September!

We are into the middle of the month already,  and I am not sure how that happened, but ONWARD!

As the academic year as begun, and audition season starts in full force,  here come those questions again:

What do I want?

What do I need in order to do what I want?

Will my wants change if I really focus on my needs?

Am I willing to be honest enough to truly figure out what my needs are first in order to discover if my wants are actually viable?

It's time to take stock and question in order to find the answers and then put those answers into action!

Do you make lists?

Do you create a vision board?

Do you write in a journal?

What gives you a more focused and somewhat tangible accountability outside your own thoughts?

Whatever works for you,  do it.  This helps to keep things clear as you can stand with some distance and objectivity in order to create some order of the chaos!

There is no direct path - however, needs & wants when it comes to a balance of craft and business of show,  should be there to bring each other into higher relief.

The clearer you are the more concise you can be to discover what you have to do to focus on those wants and needs and how they feed each other in a positive way.

Wanting to be a working actor or working singer,  and being told you aren't ready because you refuse to acknowledge what you NEED to get there,  isn't serving you.  You are spinning your wheels,  wasting time and probably money,  and getting little of what you need and ultimately nothing that you feel you want.

 I see too much "cart before horse" activity. As an example:  if you are a dancer and your singing is holding you back,  then do your research,  find out who is teaching voice and will give you the tools (not the tricks) to SING WELL and find your voice and build the craft of voice to access what you NEED to be able to feel confident and strong walking into that callback or audition.

 If part of what you NEED isn't developed enough,  you've got to address it in order to access your craft more fully.

Don't use the crutches - throw them away and get to work!

If I tell you that I want to wear this gown,  and can't because I am 20 pound heavier than I want to be and do nothing to get off my ass to lose those 20 pounds and just complain that I can't wear that gown - the responsibility is not on the business, or the gown, or the 20 pounds! 

The responsibility is on ME!!!
 How badly do I want to wear that gown?  What do I need to do in order to do that?
Do I have what it takes to DO what I need to do in order to reach that goal and wear that gown?  What is actually important to me?  Wearing the gown?  Taking off the weight? Feeling good and healthy?  Just talking about it?

See where I am going?

Often we get cluttered in our wants/needs,  and end up feeling overwhelmed,  and then, do nothing, or give up.

Fall season is a chance to slow things down,  go inward and start to get real with ourselves.

What are we doing?

What are we doing too much of?  Why?

What are we wanting but not achieving?

What are we being told we need to do?

Are we looking into that?

Are we ignoring that?

Are we dismissing that?


Yes, sometimes it's bullshit.  Sometimes it's not.  Sometimes it will reveal what we really need to see.  Always remember the source.

What are we afraid of?

What are we ready to claim?

 And guess what,  it's okay to say "I'm not ready to do that yet."

We have to be ready.

We have to be ready to identify the differences between needs and wants.

We have to be ready to dream.

We have to be ready to put action into acquiring those dreams.

We have to be ready to realize what those wants REQUIRE OF US.

We have to be ready to have an honest conversation with self,  and seek out those who will be straight with us and help build us up - not tell us what we would like to hear in order to stay comfortable and complacent.

Write out what you want.  Create a vision board.  Work one want at a time.  Don't overwhelm yourself.

Then start researching and discovering what you need in order to move you closer.

DESIRE your NEED,  not just your want.

The journey and the work doesn't have to be overwhelming.  In fact,  committing to the realization of the NEED can be more fulfilling than you ever imagined. 

The work can then illuminate the deeper truth of the want.

Dream, aspire,  create the big picture.

Then desire and focus on the steps to create a journey that is uniquely yours and yours alone.

Desire the need.

Plant the seeds to fulfill your needs.

Watch what happens!


Saturday, September 5, 2015

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing...

happy Labor/Labour Day weekend and the gateway to the fall season!

As we embark into a new semester,  a new audition season,  a new performance season,  there are always things to consider,  re-visit,  tweak,  and discover!

Fall is my favorite time of year.  This is really the "new" year for me,  and so I hope re-visiting old topics in new ways will be a way of ushering in that new year!

We've all heard that saying "a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing".

Last week,  I came across a social media post that was a singer's list of "audition to-dos" she has gathered from a masterclass with a director.  She was excited about what she learned,  and you cannot fault her for that.  She wanted to share her knowledge,  which was very generous.


Much of what she wrote down was not accurate:  maybe accurate in certain circumstances,  maybe accurate pertaining to that particular director, or maybe not accurate at all.

Her instinct to share her new-found knowledge was lovely,  however,  that knowledge did not have a context,  and if someone were to take that "advice" literally,  it might have been a horrible mistake.

In this "instant" society we live in,  we literally have everything at our fingertips.  It doesn't make it correct;  just cause it's on the Internet doesn't make it true!

The same can be said for those we "meet" on Facebook or discuss things with on other forms of social media.   It doesn't mean a person is deliberately trying to be deceptive or give your wrong information!  In fact,  often that person is trying to be helpful. 

We must recognize the source:  who is offering this knowledge?  What authority do they have?  Is it first hand knowledge, or 2nd hand,  or a friend of a friend or interpreted from someone's account of something?

I challenged this young and enthusiastic singer to clarify her points and put them in context.  She began to see what I meant:  some of her points were specific to the master class she was involved in and wouldn't have a more universal "truth" the way she accounted it.

Some of her points might have relevance with the director who was offering the master class.

Some had no relevance at all.

And,  all points were HER interpretation,  not a prepared sheet of information from the director. She was making notes based on what said director was saying/or what she THOUGHT he was saying.

Context means EVERYTHING.

By all means, explore!  Ask questions,  read,  share your findings!  However,  when you DO share make it clear to your readers or the people you discuss things with that this is just YOUR interpretation of the events,  not a syllabus created for you by the person offering the information in the first place.

When you read - (including this blog!!!) - know who is offering you the information and what the purpose is.  Does this person have experience and information in which to partake?  Does it make sense to you to listen?  Does it make sense for you to simply observe and take it with a grain of salt, or does it hit you on a gut level and maybe you need to pay closer attention?  And if so,  why pay closer attention?

There is no black & white entirely in the business of show or in the pursuit of craft and artistic development.  Guidelines, perhaps;  a basis of structure,  perhaps;  motivation,  perhaps;  But not "always do this",  "never do this".  As soon as you see that,  there will be someone who says "I like just the opposite".

Perhaps this reveals the answers then.  To every "do this"  there is a "do that".

It is up to YOU the emerging and developing performer to discover and create what works for YOU within the parameters of the business you are pursuing a a career in.

You need to know what you bring into the room.

You need to know how to find your authenticity in voice, and presentation.

You need to know who you are in that moment.

You need to know how to be comfortable in your own skin.

You need to know how own your audition,  your rehearsal process,  being a colleague,  your callback,  your conversations with others in the business,  and more.

YOU need to figure that out.

Nobody can tell you that so-and-so said it so it must be true. 

Any of the knowledge we have is a dangerous thing if we don't open up the context and discover how we inhabit it.  How do we figure that out?  We learn to live it,  and live WITH it.

Knowledge,  gravitas,  presence,  true understanding,  all come from time,  experience and paying attention to small grains of information and discovering where it leads.

There are no tricks;

There are no lists;

There are no magic formulas;

There is work.  There is commitment.  There is time.  There is perseverance.  There is determination.  There is eagerness.  There is questioning.  There is seeking.

Then,  the knowledge deepens and you are able to begin to claim what you do not yet own.

Happy "NEW" year.  Relish the journey.  It is yours and yours alone to enjoy and discover!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I wanna be on Broadway! I wanna sing at the Met!

Sunday musings...

When asking singers new to me what their goals are,  inevitably I get one of these two answers from time to time:

I wanna be on Broadway.

I wanna sing at the Met.

As we enter another audition season,  another performance season,  another academic year,  we shall hear these two lines, and many others similar,  in many places:  the voice studio,  the audition hallway, the student lounge...

And as a music theatre veteran gypsy said to me last week while rolling her eyes: "So do a lot of people honey,  get in line!"

I shall go one further.

What does that MEAN to you?  Being on Broadway?  Singing at the Met?

Since you haven't done it,  you don't know what the reality of that is.

So what does it represent to you?

Often when inexperienced, or naive,  or something else that is vague,  we come up with pat answers like this.  It reveals MUCH as to where you are in the bigger picture of the journey.  Don't worry, we've all been there.

I just want to challenge your language in order to help you find out what you REALLY want.

If you don't know you can't figure out how to do it, or how to get there.

What is it about "Broadway" that appeals?  Why?  Is it the actual location?  Is it the prestige it evokes? What do you need to do to "be there?"   Do you even know?

What about The Met?  What does that represent?  What makes you qualified?  Why?  What would it give you?  What can you give it?  What do you need to achieve and develop to allow you an opportunity to be there?  And if that opportunity comes,  what does it mean?

The more "pat" your answers are,  the more questions I will have!

What do you KNOW about the location you want so badly?

Is it the place or what it represents?  What does it represent to you?  Why is that the goal?

How do you do that?

How do you develop knowledge,  craft & tenacity to achieve it?

Is wanting it enough?  What do you actually have to DO????

Start with your answer,  or your supposed answer.  Allow yourself permission to change it,  once you have started to structure what is needed to get there.

If destination is important, then how you get there has to be precise.  Do you know what it takes to find that precision?  Are you prepared?

Do you even know the questions to ask?

Or,  are you beginning to wonder if that "pat answer" has more flexibility?  Maybe the journey,  maybe the discovery,  maybe the work and the self-awareness will actually reveal less rigidness and more fluidity to take paths of possibilities you won't see right away.

The more we learn,  the more questions we have,  and the more we seek,  and the more we learn, and the more we discover,   the deeper we become and the clearer we become and the more questions we ask and....

If your goal is a destination only,  perhaps it's time to start asking questions.

What's the first question?


Always,  why.

Why am I doing this?

Why am I here?

Why is that my answer?


Happy questions!   There should always be more of those than answers anyway!  Otherwise,  why bother seeking the answer if the question isn't asked?


They will lead you to more questions,  to possibilities, and answers that morph and flex with the growth of YOU!


Sunday, August 16, 2015


happy Sunday evening all!

I want to recommend to you a new vlog series called "Notes from the Bench"  produced by Mikhail Hallak & Studio 113 Productions in New York City.

Here is the first episode in case you haven't seen it - it's going to be a great series!

ENJOY and keep watching for more content!