Sunday, February 16, 2014

What is it about YOU?

Sunday musings...

Forget about trying to be all things, do all things,  what the business "wants" - for just a minute, k?

What is it about YOU that is memorable?

What do you DO?

What makes you UNIQUE?

How can you possibly find versatility if you don't know what you have first?

Tis the crazy-ness of music theatre audition season again.  The frantic nature of trying to get the book together,  deciding on what auditions to show up for and hope to get seen at,  the hundreds at calls,  the sitting all day and not getting seen...

It's exhausting.  You are exhausted.  With exhaustion comes panic,  and we try to do too much,  try to assume too much,  try to become too much.



Sit down.

Breathe again.

What is it about YOU that will make that other side of the table look up and take notice?

Don't give me an answer you think I want to hear - because you don't know what I am thinking.  Therefore, you don't know what THEY are thinking.  You don't know what they are looking for.  Guessing, second-guessing,  wondering,  worried,  does NOTHING for you.  In fact, if goes against you,  because now you aren't even thinking about what YOU do.

So,  I ask again,  what is it about you that is unique?  that is genuine?  that is real?

What can you show in that room that you CHOOSE to,  and want to reveal?

And,  then,  once you decide on that,  why do you choose to reveal that?

Time to get real.  Time to get personal with yourself.

You cannot reveal what you wish you had,  or wish you could do,  or want to be able to be.  You can only reveal what is there;  otherwise,  you stand there like the emperor with no clothes on.  We all see what you simply are not. 

"I really want them to see I want the job".  What does that reveal?   Isn't everybody that is auditioning there to try to get a job?  Revealing your desperation isn't a positive thing. 

"I really want them to see I want to be a belter."  Are you a belter?  If you aren't - then revealing you want to be,  shows them you aren't. 

This is deflection.  This is hiding.  This will not read as authentic,  and just won't make them look up,  get still,  stop typing or put their pen down,  let alone get you a callback.  Even if you aren't "right" for a show or a season or a project,   wouldn't it be better going in with that authenticity of what you choose to show about you so they remember you,  than going in trying to be something you are not?

Fake it til you make it?

I don't think so.

How about choose to reveal what it is about YOU that is real and intriguing and true?  Why fake it when you can actually DO something?

What is it about YOU that makes you memorable? 

Start making a list.  Start taking those thoughts in with you as you work on your craft,  discover new music,  new monologues,  new roles;  as you choose how to dress for an audition;  as you choose how to walk into that room,  head held high,  purpose of being first and foremost in your mind.

What is it about YOU?  There is a great deal.  We just want to see it because you have claimed it,  and have chosen to reveal it to us.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Who is teaching your children???

Friday musings...

Who is teaching your children?

In this "american idol"-ized culture,  with popular "talent" shows showcasing children "singing" things that simply are not appropriate,  as a parent,  are you truly aware of who is teaching your child?

The pre-puberty years are CRUCIAL years of development in physicality. 

The voice is a physical and athletic instrument.  It does not develop any faster than the body does.  There is no rushing it.  However, it can be damaged.

Unlike disciplines, such as dance, where the younger the body, the more pliable to achieve certain responses,  voice is completely opposite.  The vocal mechanism,  the breathing mechanism, and the physicality of support and resonance and tone is much much later. 

Does the person your 8 year old or 10 year old "studies" with know that?

Why do I ask this?

I see so many people "taking on voice students"  that are simply not VOICE teachers.  They are not trained to understand the voice,  especially the child's voice.   There is no training in pedagogy,  understanding of appropriate repertoire for children,  recognition of the physical maturation of the instrument and what is needed.

Young singers,  if they love to sing,  can benefit from choir,  group musicianship classes,  piano lessons or another instrument in order to learn musicianship skills. 

Trying to "train" a young voice - especially prior to puberty - simply doesn't happen.  The mechanism isn't developed yet.  Trying to then get a young voice to mimic (as that is all they can do) an operatic sound,  or anything that is beyond them physically,  is ridiculous,  and can be damaging physically and take much time and effort to UNDO later on.

Is a so-called voice teacher of young children aware of the physicality of said child?  Do they understand the physical maturation and development associated with children?  As it pertains to breathing?  to support?  to resonance?  to balance of resonance?  to registers?  and more and more???

Are they aware that simple lung development is not matured until the early 20s?

That hormonal balances are completely in flux until after puberty and therefore,  girls' voices change as well as boys'?  That there are numerous voice changes to consider throughout the teens?  That the physicality of support needs specific development and that it cannot happen until certain muscle fibers and development of ligaments and tendons are at a maturation point?  That certain intrinsic muscles simply do not develop in children?  That bone structure is still soft and pliable so that resonators are still developing? 

Have you asked???

I hold those who call themselves "voice teachers" of young children responsible too.  You have been given the PHYSICALITY of a young life and are responsible to keep that child safe.  Trying to make them sound older,  or giving them repertoire they have no business singing (an example is ANYTHING operatic) is simply WRONG.

Voices can and will reflect the body they inhabit.  They are unique and must be treated thus.  Children, as with mature adults,  should sound like them,  not be a mimic of someone else.

Some bodies develop faster,  reach puberty sooner,  are more athletic,  and so,  the voice will have a different quality.  Bodies that develop later,  have a different voice. 

Each child needs to be evaluated individually.

However,  the "training" of the child's voice is not about the training that will happen later - even late teens/early 20s.

The maturation of the physical instrument does not actually occur until the late 20s-30s - sometimes even later for heavier more dramatic voices.  If your child is 8 or 10 they aren't even close to being baked yet!

What should be happening with young voices?

Discovering purity and individuality.

Pitch centers.

Musicianship skills.

Learning their breathing parts.

Discovering how their sounds vibrate in their bodies.

Developing the physicality of language in repertoire that is AGE APPROPRIATE in their native tongue.

(If your child is still in school and singing Nessun Dorma you need to find another teacher NOW!)

Deportment skills.

Telling a story.

Learning to phrase.

Ear training.

THESE are the key elements to early childhood "singing" development.

It is crucial that a child is placed with someone who has the pedagogical knowledge so that the voice is treated with care and understanding and is allowed to grow and flourish RESPONSIBLY!

A child's voice needs careful consideration.  It needs someone who is trained to work with children's VOICES,  not a piano teacher who decides to teach singing,  or a singer who decides she/he is going to teach. 

Children are sponges.  They take everything in.  They need an environment that will allow them positive and healthy behaviors - not behaviors that will call damage and ultimately,  much time in repair later on.

As parents,  you must be aware of who is teaching your child, or who you are asking to do so,  and why.

As teachers,  you must take this responsibility seriously and know what you are teaching and WHO you are teaching. 

Any young voice standing in front of you is a very serious responsibility.  Take it that way. 

Parents,  please educate yourselves.  Do not listen to the latest fad from a talent show - which is there to make money, not to educate. 

Your statement should not be "I want my child to be able to sing like XYZ".  I should be "My child loves to sing.  Is it the right time to put her/him in lessons and what will you do with them?  I want her/him to sound healthy and like him/herself."

Children need to be children.

They need opportunity to explore,  to play,  to feel. 

They do not need to be exploited,  or pushed into things because of ignorance,  or on an adult's agenda.

Let the voice of a child remain pure and nurtured well.  Let their skills develop naturally under the supervision of someone who is truly trained to understand that voice so it can reach maturity without major issues along the way.

Find REAL teachers of voice.  Find REAL teachers of children.