Thursday, December 31, 2015

It's New Year's Eve...

The book on 2015 is coming to an end...

Slam it shut,  close it carefully,  close it firmly,  close it gently...but CLOSE it.

Time to pull out the new book and begin to write,  to discover,  to get excited,  to remember in order to adjust;  to create,  to nurture,  to trust your curiosity and your excitement.

Today,  on the eve of the new book gives you opportunity too.  To reflect,  to rejoice,  to shake your head,  to let your breath out!

YOU DID IT!!!

You succeeded in another year.

Do you have an Eve Ritual?  Do you take time for YOU today to create a moment to reflect,  release, &  respond to your past year?

Whether you meditate,  or go to the gym and sweat it out,  go for a walk,  burn a candle or incense,  or write the year out and release it by burning the paper it's written on,  DO IT TODAY.

The year isn't all or nothing.  It is a part of you and will remain thus.  It is up to you to finish up, tidy up,  and release it today FOR YOU.

Tomorrow begins a clean slate.  How will you embrace it?

Are you excited?

Are you seeing possibilities?

Once you release whatever 2015 offered and whatever you worked with during this year,  then you can fully take a breath and release it behind you.


Tomorrow there is magic,  excitement,  possibilities and freshness.

Find time today to be still and write in the final page of 2015 "The End".   Turn the page and discover the Epilogue that is TODAY.

Acknowledge,  release and close that book.

Be still.

Reflect.

Breathe.

Wherever you are,  BE there.

Magic and excitement and possibilities all await you...TOMORROW.

Just finish the book.  Give yourself that moment to let it resonate and then put it on the shelf,  or burn it,  or release it fully.

Laugh, scream, sigh, roll your eyes,  cry,  swear!  Give yourself permission to release the book of 2015 however you choose to.


Commit to living in your NOW;  discovering your now;  embracing your now.

Now.

You.

Gift yourself with that.

Here's to YOU and the absolute uniqueness you are!





Saturday, November 28, 2015

Are you settling?

Do you "settle" for less?

for crappy?

for "not what I was expecting"?

I have been known to "make do" much longer than I should have - and therefore - "settling".

It actually pisses me off.

WHY DID I DO THAT?

You don't have to make excuses.

You don't have to create a litany of reasons why.

You just do not have to settle.  Period.

Your castle,  your rules.

So often, we feel as if we HAVE to take that job,  HAVE to audition for that show or project,  HAVE to, have to, have to.

What if I told you,  you don't have to?

What if I told you,  having to leads to settling?

What if I told you settling leads to mediocrity?

What if I told you mediocrity leads to your soul being sucked away?

What if I told you,  that if you were GIVING the advice,  you'd tell that person "settling" the exact same thing????

What are you settling for, anyway?

You haven't worked in a while so you SHOULD take that job?

why?

You need to get another credit on your resume,  so you SHOULD audition for something that really isn't your fach, your wheelhouse, your type?

why?

You should just take that job, even though the pay sucks, and the living conditions are like a 3rd world country...because...

why?

Why do we settle?????

We are,  you are, I am,  WORTH SO MUCH MORE!

I know a secret I want to share with you....

Theatre isn't going anywhere.  It has been here since ancient times, and will outlast all of us.  It is not going ANYWHERE.

So,  what's the rush?  What's the hurry?  Why the settling?

We so often get so panic-stricken about work,  about being seen,  about staying current.  Yet, by settling,  what does it really reveal about us?

Could it be anxiousness?

Could it be fear?

Could it be panic?

Could it be desperation????

I don't know about you,  but I don't particularly want anybody to see ANY of that.  EVER.

And frankly,  why should they even be part of my or your consciousness?

Who told us we had to be anxious or fearful or desperate?

Those stupid inside voices that need to be silenced quickly,  that's who!

Even the business doesn't say that.  They WANT to hire us if we are right.  However, if we bring in desperation or fear or anxiousness,  they cannot.  They need us to be grounded, and real, and clear, and focused & all those things we know we can be.

 While teaching, I often talk to the singer while they are singing - not because I don't think they are doing what I am asking of them,  but rather to remind the subconscious of what we are DOING.  And I often say,  I need to be the LOUDEST VOICE IN YOUR HEAD.

Who is the loudest voice in YOUR head?

The voice that settles,  or the voice that says "no shit today!"

Those voices need to push you when you don't FEEL like practicing, or preparing;  when you don't FEEL like getting to a dance class or a performance class.

Those voices need to push you when you hit your snooze button but you need to get to that audition.

Those voices need to push you when you need to self-submit online BEFORE you have an adult beverage,  or a date, or a snuggle on the couch with your pet.

Those voices need to push you when you'd rather eat pie than go to the gym.

THOSE voices.

Those voices don't settle.  They pester.  They challenge.  They know the truth.  They know YOU know the truth.  They are loud,  they are noisy, they have no sense of decorum and they will kick your butt if you don't start paying attention.

If you DO ignore them and settle - trust me - they will KICK YOUR ASS.  HARD.

It takes more effort and work and energy to try to shut them up than it is to actually DO what is right for you.

Why do we fight it?

Why do we settle?

I have two words for you:  STOP THAT.

Or three words:  STOP THAT STUFF.

QUIT settling.  Figure out where that self-sabotage is.  Figure out why.

And STOP IT.

STOP IT NOW.

I don't want "Yeah I know".

I don't want "Yeah but..."

I don't want "Yeah I probably do..."

JUST STOP.

Figure out if settling is serving you,  or if it is simply wasting time and energy keeping you from the power and possibility that is yours.

POWER & POSSIBILITY is stronger than "settling".

Settle because there's nothing better to do????  There is ALWAYS something better to do!  You just have to take a little more time and effort to discover it.

The focus is never ahead of you - but always in your peripheral vision.  Stay alert.  What lurks there is precisely what you need to see in order to never settle.

Not settling means saying "thanks, but no."

Not settling means saying "I am better than that."

Not settling means saying "I deserve better than that."

From yourself.

From your craft.

From your business.

From the people you surround yourself with.

From everything that you feel informs you,  involves you & infuses you.

NO.  MORE.  SETTLING.

Here's your line in the sand.

Watch what happens.  Listen to what happens.  Sing what happens.

Saying "no" doesn't mean a door closes or a bridge burns.  Saying "no, I am not settling" means possibilities begin to percolate and build;  You just have to have the courage to say it and walk away.

You don't walk away with your head down, in defeat.

You walk away with your head held high,  paying attention to each moment with your focus in the periphery!!!

Are you ready?

Me too.




Friday, November 27, 2015

a FREE WEBINAR from ANYWHERE!!!!


I'm a big fan of Tony Howell and Get Creative Social Media.

Tony & his team help artists with the business and technical side of things - designing an online presence that "sells" you (but in a way that's equally authentic and effective).


If you've ever been confused about how to market yourself online - controlling and shaping how people perceive you in the industry - I HAVE AN AWESOME RECOMMENDATION!

Here it is!!!!!

Tony is hosting a FREE WEBINAR called "BOOST YOUR BRAND"

Sunday, December 6th at 9 p.m. EST.

I strongly recommend you register - it is FREE!  Click on the link below and be a part of your NOW!

http://getcreativesocialmedia.com/2015


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ignorance is not Bliss

It really isn't. 

Many of us, when we look back at things we did in our studies, in the business,  when we didn't know what we do now, CRINGE at how we handled things.

It happens to ALL of us.

However, it doesn't mean you cannot be as prepared as possible and when you know better, you do better.

Let's talk auditions, shall we?

In music theatre,  things are a little slower now for holiday season and will ramp up again soon enough.

In opera, deadlines are coming for summer program applications,  many YAPs and general auditions are happening now.

What are YOU doing?

Here's just a quick check list to see if you are ready to truly be taken seriously for whatever you are focusing on.

1.  Are you studying?

This doesn't mean once in a while,  or calling a teacher or a coach for a "quick fix" the day before or the week prior to an audition.  This means, are you studying regularly?  Figuring out what that means for you is CRUCIAL for you!

2.  Are you ready to audition for what you are want to be seen for?

Do you know the business landscape you are entering?  Do you know what is required?  Are you accessing that fully enough in your current development to be seen as a viable candidate?

3.  Are you taking workshops about the business of show?  Do you take advantage of blogs, webinars, online skype sessions, and in person workshops to get to know what the business of show is really about?

4.  Do you have a team around you that can give you TRUTH about where you are in your current development to help you with recognizing the mine fields, what to avoid,  where to be seen?

5.  Are you doing regular research about casting directors, opera companies,  conductors,  directors, agents, regional theatre companies,  summer stock and the like, in order to recognize the people who are in the position to hear you and hire you?

6.  Are you working on the "other" aspects of your craft - not just singing - like acting,  audition protocol,  dancing and/or moving well?

7.  How is your online presence?  Are you up-to-date with your website?  Are you visible professionally on social media?  Are you on audition sites for submissions?

8.  Do you know how to prepare for the actual AUDITION with repertoire,  presentation,  what you wear,  how you approach things?

9.  Are you overwhelmed yet?????

That last one was supposed to make you laugh.

It CAN be overwhelming.  It doesn't have to be.  Breaking things down for yourself will help you figure out where you are,  show you were you might need a little more time,  a little more attention,  and help you organize what can be an overwhelming process.

There is no reason to feign ignorance anymore.  It often is used as a stress management tactic,  but it never really fools anybody.  The only person it might fool,  is you.

If you commit to your process,  you will find what you need in order to access what you are ready for NOW.

NOW is all we have.  Use it wisely.  Don't wish,  just get it done.  One step at a time.

Theatre isn't going anywhere.  When YOU are ready to be seen and heard,  it will be there.

Don't panic,  don't whine.  Don't claim ignorance in this day & age.  Find what you need;  if you don't know what you need, ask for some guidance!  Many of us are here to help you get on the right path for YOU.

During this upcoming holiday season,  take stock,  be real with yourself,  begin to discover more about yourself and prepare to step securely into your NEW YEAR as you pursue this crazy, wild and wonderful business, called show!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Professional IS as Professional DOES

happy Sunday!

My blogging life has dropped off considerably so apologies to those of you who have been waiting for a post!

Much has been happening and often, the same issues recur over and over again.

One of the recurring issues I have seen as ongoing,  is the lack of professionalism when it comes to social media.

But Susan,  someone is going to say,  social media isn't meant to be professional!

Ah, but APPROACH means everything!

Approaching a professional in the business is requesting a moment of their TIME.  And in that moment, you might be requesting their time to enquire about their services, or a question that will take their time.  Just because they are on Facebook or Twitter or any platform that gives you access to their profile,  does not mean you should  approach with a casual flair.

Social media is a double-edged sword.  It makes us accessible,  but it also seems to eliminate personal boundary. 

HOW you approach someone in the business reveals more about YOU than it does about them.

Before you just start messaging someone,  stop for a second and figure out exactly what you want to say and why you want to say it.

Be respectful.  If your time is valuable, so is theirs!

If you are asking a professional question,  don't assume a freebie.  Any professional's time is worth something.  They determine that worth,  not you.

Figure out how that professional wants to be contacted.  Social media?  Via their website?  Via phone?  If you aren't sure,  ask.  When in doubt,  an email is often the most respectful,  as it allows the person you are contacting to get back to you in their own time;  it also shows you have taken the time to find their website,  discover their contact information and made an initial enquiry, instead of just pm-ing them via their Facebook page.

I often get inquiries via FB and simply send the link to my website and request they email me once they have read through.   Most inquiries then come through the channels I prefer and can deal with effectively.  If they don't,  then the inquiry was not that serious.

If you are asking for a professional's time and expertise,  don't assume they are going to be your "friend" or "peer" in the asking.  Every professional I know has worked hard to develop their expertise, and that isn't for free.  They are not simply going to meet you for coffee to talk about your career when you are someone unknown to them.  You are saying "but Susan, nobody does THAT!" Oh yes, they do my sweet snowflakes,  yes they do.

A professional's time is worth whatever they decide it is worth.  If you are seeking out their TIME in relation to their expertise,  then you are approaching said professional,  with professionalism.

Many of us are more than willing to go the extra mile to help you,  if we see what you are willing to do,  how professional you are behaving,  if your talk matches your walk,  if you truly are looking to develop your knowledge, your craft,  your career.

Most of us have a fairly strong bullshit detector.  This allows us to see and discern quickly.  We have to.  This is something YOU must develop too. 

So, how do you develop this professionalism and etiquette even if you are green in your craft and/or in the business?

A few things to consider:

1.  Approach with respect,  and ask for clarification if you are unsure.
2.  Do NOT assume.  Ask.  Request. 
3.  Know who you are approaching.  Do your research. 
4.  Know what you are requesting.
5.  Follow up, follow up, follow up!


It's not rocket science,  and should be common sense,  but even that is lacking these days.

A professional in ANY business will respond more favorably to someone who approaches them WITH professionalism. 

Your behavior toward someone reveals more than you know.  That you have complete control over.  Don't feign "but I didn't know".   Find out. 

Simply treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Behavior is as behavior does.

Your professionalism is revealed through your BEHAVIOR not your resume.








Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Business of Singing Coffee Clatch Workshop in NYC

If you are a classical/opera singer you need to know Cindy Sadler!  Her Coffee Clatch Workshop hits New York City on NOVEMBER 8th!  

 Cindy is known throughout the opera world for her savvy and tell-it-like-it-is

There's still space available for our Coffee Clatch Workshop on November 8! Here's your chance to "caffeinate your career" by addressing specific issues in an informal, fun setting. Tickets here:

https://www.universe.com/events/the-business-of-singing-coffee-clatch-workshop-tickets-new-york-SHQF4N


Follow and read Cindy's Blog http://100lbs.typepad.com/mezzo_with_character/

Her website: http://www.cindysadler.com/

And The Business of Singing:  http://www.thebusinessofsinging.com/




Singers in Atlanta - or willing to get to Atlanta: check this out!

If you or any classical/opera singers you know are interested in going to Atlanta or live in the area,  I cannot recommend Maestro Leonardo Vordoni enough!

He is back in Atlanta for the duration of 2015 and starts private coachings TOMORROW NOVEMBER 2!!!!

Please pass on the info to any singers or teachers that might benefit!

Coachings can be booked online here:

http://atlantavocalcoaching.setmore.com

and follow the prompts. 

For fee details you can just contact him directly clicking on SEND EMAIL in the STAFF MEMBERS  page.

Mo. Vordoni's website is here:

www.leonardovordoni.com



Friday, October 16, 2015

The Great Elizabeth Gilbert & Criticism

Elizabeth Gilbert's Facebook page had this fabulous post on it today.

Thank you Thia Stephan for sending it to me!

I wanted to post it here - and I couldn't say it better!

*****



Question of the Day: HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH CRITICISM?

Dear Ones -

The other night at a book event in Kansas, a woman asked me how I deal with criticism about my work and about myself — particularly online criticism. It's a question that comes up a lot, so I thought I would take on the subject today, with the hopes that my words might help some of you — no matter who you are, or what you are doing with your life.

The simplest answer for me, when people ask me how i deal with criticism is to say, "I don't."

I don't look at it, and I don't look for it.

I avoid criticism about myself not because I DON'T care what people say about me, but because I DO care. I am sensitive and easily bruised. I know that critical words can hurt me, and I am not in the business of hurting myself on purpose.

There are major reviews that have been written about my work in serious, important newspapers that I have never even read. For instance: I know that I got a really bad review of COMMITTED in the New York Times several years ago by the legendary critic Janet Maslin, but I have absolutely no idea what she said about me, and I have no intention of ever finding out. (If you want to Google the review, go right ahead — but I sure won't!) People told me that the review was bad (some of my kind friends warned me, and some of my not-so-kind friends just sent me the link — thanks, pals!) In all cases, I said, "Thanks for the info — see ya later!" and I turned my head the other way, the same way I turn my head when I pass a car accident on the road, or when the TV news is showing footage of a grisly murder.

I will not put those words in my head. I will not put those images in my head. To do so is an act of violence against myself, and I do not commit acts of violence against myself anymore.

I think it was the novelist John Updike who said that reading your own reviews is like eating a sandwich that might have some broken glass in it. I have nothing to gain by eating shards of broken glass. It doesn't benefit me or anyone else to digest something that will cause internal bleeding.

If the review is nice and kind, on the other hand (and pre-screened by a loving family member) then I will read it. Because guess what? It's really nice to hear people say nice things about your work! And it's rare! So when it happens: Treat yourself! Enjoy the nice review! Which is to say: when that same Janet Maslin revewied THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS in the New York Times and loved it, I treated myself to her review, because there's nothing wrong with treating yourself to a nice sandwich with no broken glass in it. Because we all need to eat sometimes.

There are people who might say, "But how can you keep yourself honest as an artist, if you only listen to the good stuff, and don't pay attention to your negative critics?"

I say in return: "It is MY own job to stay honest as an artist; it is not the job of the critic to keep me honest."

The critic doesn't work for me; the critic works for the newspaper. The critic has her own responsibility to keep herself honest, but she is not required to help me out, or to be a midwife to my career, or to have my best interests at heart. That is not the nature of our relationship. I do not resent that critics exist; this is a natural part of the creative landscape. But I do not listen to criticism from people who do not have my best interests at heart, because it does not serve me or make me a better person.

I DO listen to negative criticism about my work, however — but only from certain people, and only at a certain time.

The people who I listen to about my work are people who have earned the right to offer me criticism. There aren't many of them, but they are precious. They are a few of my closest and most trusted friends, family members, and colleagues. Here is the test, to see if people are allowed to criticize me:

1) Do I trust your opinion and your taste?

2) Do I trust that you will understand what I am trying to create, and therefore can help me to improve it?

3) Do I trust that you have my best interests at heart — that there is no dark ulterior motive, and no hidden agenda in your criticism?

4) Do I trust that you can offer your criticism with a fundamental spirit of gentleness, so that I can actually hear it without being mortally wounded?

Gentleness is very important.

Because let's talk about "brutally honest". You know that friend of yours who proudly advertises herself as "brutally honest"? Yeah, well I know her, too. We all have a friend like that in our lives. Listen to me, dear ones: NEVER let her see your work; never ask her opinion; never show her your vulnerability. When somebody tells you that she is brutally honest, what she is actually telling you is ,"I am brutal." What she is communicating to you is this: "You can trust that I am waiting for a chance to brutalize you. Now please give me an opportunity to hurt you."

I don't volunteer to be brutalized. Again, I don't hate myself that much. Brutal honesty is no virtue. Honesty without kindness is not worth the price you pay for it. I can listen to honesty, but only when it comes from a whole-hearted person, who is not trying to draw blood.

As for WHEN I listen to criticism? I only listen when there is still a chance to fix or change the work. After the book is published, THERE IS NOTHING MORE I CAN DO ABOUT IT — so why would I go digging for criticism after the book is already printed, and it's too late?

The age of the Internet has made it easier than ever for us to find out horrible things about ourselves. Anything we put online or into the world is subject to attack, derision, insult. But this doesn't make the Internet an evil place. (Look how kind we are to each other on this Facebook page, for instance!) The Internet is also a glorious playground, where you can put yourself out there in ways humans have never been able to enjoy before. So enjoy that playground, and put your work forward. But don't read the COMMENTS, you guys. Just don't.

And don't Google your name, unless you are looking for further self-injury.

(While we're on the subject of avoiding self-injury, let me just throw this out there: Don't Google your ex's name, either. STEP AWAY FROM THE BURNING VEHICLE.)

Sometimes, of course, you can't avoid seeing nasty things. Stuff pops up on Twitter and Facebook that is mean and harsh. Block it, mute it, move on. Don't feed the trolls. Don't engage. And never let the trolls stop you from using the miracle that is Internet. You have a right to speak, and a right to put your work forward, and a right to find your audience. Just keep putting yourself out there, and then — whenever possible — turn your head away from the reaction that may result.

Most of all, I beg you not to do this:

DO NOT put something out there into the world, and then go searching for an evil reaction to yourself or to your work.

DO NOT sit wide awake at 1am (usually with a pint of ice cream in your hand) and start digging until you find a horrible response.

DO NOT sit there all alone in a darkened room with the blue light of the computer shining on your face, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling through all the nice things people have to say about you (and ignoring every single kind and generous and supportive comment) until — VOILA! — you finally find what you were looking for. Don't go excavating until you finally find that one wickedly cruel comment that proves what you have always suspected in the darkest nightmare corner of your mind — that yes, you are a fraud, you have no talent, you are fat and ugly and worthless and pathetic.

DO NOT go digging, as I have seen my friends do so many times. Because if you dig long enough, you will find it. You will find the pain you were looking for.

Scrolling through the COMMENTS about yourself is like reading your roommate's diary: It's so tempting, because it's sitting right there! But if you read long enough, eventually you will find something about yourself that will break your heart. Don't do it. Put it down. Resist the temptation. Show the self-discipline that is necessary for self-care. Walk away.

I've watched creative friends of mine do such harm to themselves and their work, by digging through all the nutritional output about themselves until they finally find the one shard of glass in the sandwich, and then they take that shard of glass and cut themselves deeply with it. Sometimes those wounds last forever. And then they wonder why it's so hard to be creative again.

Meanwhile, the asshole who wrote that nasty comment about you hit "send" on his evil message, then turned his attention back to watching porn and drinking beer and scratching his butt, and he never thought of you again...but you have put his words into your mind forever. And when you sit down to create the NEXT time, those words will still be echoing in your skull. ("You are talentless, you are worthless, you are garbage.")

I refuse to do it. I refuse to hate myself that much. It's hard enough to be creative, but I refuse to fill my creative space (my skull) with cruel and taunting words that will just make it all the worse.

Refusing to read nasty things about myself is not denial; it is AFFIRMATION. This is how I affirm my own life and my own creativity. This is how I protect myself, because I am the only one who can protect myself. This is how I keep the inside of my mind clean and fresh and ready to play again.

I said it the other day, and I will say it again: God gave me a soul to take care of, that soul is my own. I am the only one who can keep that soul safe. I am the only one who can protect my creativity so that my imagination can run and play freely in the world.

I want you all to put yourselves out there in the world — especially all you women! We need your voices, we need your creativity, we need your courage, we need your output. But do understand this: If you put yourself out there in the world, everyone has a right to respond to you however they want to — that's the contract. They can attack you, they can insult you, they can undermine you.

BUT YOU ARE NOT OBLIGED TO LISTEN TO THEM.

Turn your head from the violence. Find people to trust, and listen ONLY to them. Once you put your work out there, your work is finished. Let it go and walk away. Keep doing your work, keep putting yourself forward, and then turn your head from the darkness.

Take care of yourself. Create freely. Share bravely. But never go digging for broken glass.

ONWARD,
LG
 
**posted in its entirety


 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Upcoming WEBINAR with Backstage University!

Want to join us?

I will be giving a WEBINAR through Backstage University:

TUESDAY OCTOBER 20th at 4 p.m. EST

You can sign up to join us online LIVE or sign up to get a recorded copy of it, if you aren't available to join us live.

We will be discussing "Finding Your Authentic Voice" - and all that might mean as you discover YOU in the audition room!

Check out the link and details HERE!

Hope to see you SOON!


Best,
Susan







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?

Why?

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.

However...

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?

Why.

Always,  why.

Why am I doing this?

Why am I here?

Why is that my answer?

Why?

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

ASK QUESTIONS!  LOTS OF THEM!!!!!

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

HAPPY DISCOVERY!!!




Sunday, August 16, 2015

A New VLOG!

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!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymFfJ0heXiQ


ENJOY and keep watching for more content!



 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dear Singer...What is it about the Business?

Dear Singer,

First,  you have to identify the difference between making music and being an artist AND making a living making music.   You have to know how to separate those two.  They are not,  nor have they ever been the same.

There are rules that apply to each of those facts,  and you have to find them and acknowledge them and follow them.  You haven't done that yet or you wouldn't be feeling they way you are feeling.  Acknowledgement of rules,  prevents you from taking it personally.

Even if you were Equity,  the stats are 95%  unemployed at any given time.  This is BUSINESS of show.

You have chosen a profession that has a ridiculous unemployment rate.  You have to want it badly enough to stick to it.

Knowing how your voice works, or  how to be an actress and all the craft associated,  is NOT how the business works.  The two are not the same, nor do they necessarily go hand in hand.

You have to learn how the business works and the time it takes to figure out the game and how to play it.   You have to be prepared to be in this game long enough (sorry sweetie - 2 years is no time - or 6 months or even 5 years...)  to find out whether it's what you want to be bothered with long term,  or simply walk away and find another way to keep making music for your well being.

Just wanting something doesn't make it so.

We work not because we are good enough,  but because somebody thinks we are,  and sees us playing the game to their reasoning.

The game is often bullshit and it has NOTHING to do with craft or artistic integrity - but it is what has to happen in order to work.

So - prepare to learn the game.  That takes time. A lifetime really.  There are no assurances in this business.  None.

There are no answers but the ones you discover for yourself,  about yourself and about how you function or not, in the business.

The level of the business doesn't matter:  same game, just another day and another process.   Community theatre, regional professional theatre, Broadway - ARE ALL THE SAME.  The players and venue change.  The stakes may change.  Learning to play the game in the venue you are in is what the business is about.  Discover your game.  Play it.  Get good at it,  or walk away.

I am just trying to be honest with you.  The work you do on your artistic self will always be there;  don't misunderstand that.  Artistic self has NOTHING at all to do with BUSINESS self.

Learning the business,  learning the game,  and how you navigate those land mines - is up to you, and takes more time than you realize.  If our artistic selves continue to evolve and develop over a lifetime, then so,  do does knowledge of the business and the business self within the business of show.

Chin up!!! Your path is your path.


Accept it,  experience it,  walk it - or choose to walk elsewhere.  Wherever you,  BE THERE.  Fully, honestly, and completely.




Sending you good wishes,
Susan







Tuesday, August 4, 2015

SOME NEWS!

I am thrilled to announce that I have accepted a position at Moravian College in Bethelehem, PA!

I will be teaching voice,  and will develop a course called "Song & Stagecraft" as well as direct Opera Workshop.

This will allow us,  as a faculty and college, to build a vibrant and innovative theatre program that will include both Opera AND Music Theatre.

I am very excited to be part of this college's growth,  and bring my skills to help create something uniquely special in the music department.

And of course, I cannot thank Sean O'Boyle and Suzanne Kompass enough for believing in me, and feeling I could be a good fit!  I cannot wait to work side by side with Suzanne in the voice faculty as she brings passion and humor, commitment and great knowledge and ethic to her work!!!!

I shall be continuing to work with my amazing singers in NYC of course - and travel to offer master classes and workshops - and get my feet on the boards once again this fall and start performing again!

And,  of course,  keep this blog full of musings that I hope are relevant and effective for YOU!

Happy August!









Sunday, July 12, 2015

Whatever happened to CLASS?

By now,  you've probably read something about Patti LuPone and the cell phone incident.

If you haven't,  just Google it and read many accounts.  One of my favorites is from the Huffington Post.


Now, anybody who knows me, knows I love my iPhone.   I use it regularly for business,  and personal use.  It is rarely not close by.  My electronic devices are crucial to how I run my business.

However....

When I am in a waiting room,  or in the theatre, or in other places of public space,  I TURN IT OFF.  

What has happened to our theatre goers and why is Patti LuPone getting the blame, or at least the headline?

Frankly,  I salute her for making the statements she has made.  It's about time.  But she shouldn't have to.

What's wrong with people?

What happened to knowing how to behave in different social situations?

Going to the theatre,  has become an extension of someone's personal living room.  The respect, the sanctity,  and the accessibility seem so lost on society.  And the willingness of the theatre staff from the top to deal with this lack of respect,  seems non-existent.

WHY?!

It is so easy to then make this issue about Patti LuPone.  It is not.  It is about YOU - the person who talks through a movie when you aren't the only one in the theatre;  it is about YOU - the person who sits in live theatre and texts or checks Facebook during the show;  it is about YOU - the person who talks at a table or the bar loudly enough while someone is singing on stage.

It's also about YOU - the person who came to the theatre with said talker/texter - who doesn't tell your companion to shut up or turn it off;  It's also about YOU - the usher, the theatre manager, the security - who doesn't simply take the device and escort said offender out the door.

Let's not confuse this shall we?

If people start being held accountable for their actions perhaps this has a chance.  Why do the performers have to be the ones who end up saying something?

Why is it so hard to learn to behave appropriately depending on the venue?

If you are at the theatre,  why aren't you paying attention to what's going on, on stage?  If you are bored, leave.  Some of us pay a lot of money on tickets and we didn't do that to hear you chat, sing along, or see your screen light up every 3 seconds beside us.

What I am always amazed by,  is the indignation by the offending party when you say something!  (And trust me, I SAY something!) That stunned disbelief that someone would actually tell them to stop in public space from doing something that is offensive.

Whether it's Madonna texting during Hamilton at the Public,  or the twit teenager who tried to plug his phone in to charge it on the set of Hand of God,  it is behavior that needs to stop.

So,  we know Patti LuPone said something,  stopped the show and read the riot act.  Now, who was the woman who was using her phone?  We need to know the names of these people.  They can't stay anonymous.  Playbill tracked down the idiot at Hand of God and we know who he is.  We know who Madonna is.   These people need to be exposed.  Why?  Because when your name is suddenly revealed, if you really REALLY believe you weren't doing anything wrong,  it won't bother you will it?

The theatre is a place where we go to be entertained, to be challenged,  to be changed;  The beauty and mystery of theatre is that we can be in the same place with many others - all strangers - and still experience something magical and unique.

That possibility of magic,  that promise of awareness,  that incredible mystery of the human experience needs to be honored.  It needs to be given the respect it rightfully deserves.  It deserves your undivided attention,  your willingness to invest,  and your respect.

Your living room,  your ordinary,  your shopping bags,  your conversations,  your cell phone - have NO place in the theatre.

YOU are welcome:  your curiosity,  your eagerness,  your attention,  your spirit,  your laughter, your tears,  your energy!

Leave the rest of it on the street or at coat check. 

The theatre is sanctuary for many;  it is a place of hushed expectation;  it is a place that comes alive with language and song and creates magic in the places in between. 

Even if you have no idea what that means,  but still want to go to be entertained,  you can still learn to respect the space you have entered. 

So, start paying attention to where you are.  Speak up if someone beside isn't.  Don't let an actor who has work to do have to break 4th wall in order to make a larger point.

If you are at the theatre,  BE THERE.  Trust me,  when you power your cell phone back on,  it'll still be there!  And then you can actually discuss the EXPERIENCE of the theatre for real via social media and text on your phone,  after you have actually had the experience!



Saturday, July 4, 2015

What a photo can reveal without your consent!

happy 4th of July to all American readers!

As I continue to work on physical therapy I am always amazed at breath and alignment.

Each must be so tangible and available to us just to move through our lives,  but even more so as singers and actors.

This has been an insistent and visceral theme in my world and of late,  even more so.

As singers,  we have to constantly stay in the NOW to discover how that breath and alignment is working with us,  not against us. 

One of those discoveries can be through a photograph.

Many singers and actors use photos to promote themselves - through websites, submissions, on social media and the like.   Head shots are one thing,  and "performance" shots are quite another.

These performance shots can be very revealing.  I am talking more about you in concert,  you walking onto stage,  you taking a bow,  you being YOU,  not playing a character in a production.

The importance of physical behavior is captured in that instant for all to see. 

Are you aware of what it reveals?  Are you willing to see it as it is,  and then make the adjustments necessary to improve upon it?

Many singers and actors are unaware of how they come across in a room or in a photo.  They simply put the photo up, not realizing that the subliminal response can be just as important as their head shot.

This doesn't mean you can't use the shot:  it means that you need to examine WHY and if necessary, crop the photo to exude only what you wish to be shown.

This demands a great deal of objectivity and not wishful thinking.  This requires you to ask bigger questions of yourself and the professionals you trust to give you the truth and what you need to hear,  not what you want to hear.

A photograph can reveal a professionalism that you embody - or it can reveal an amateurism that prevents you from being heard.  Wouldn't you want someone looking at a performance photo to say "I'm intrigued,  call her/him in!" 

Lately,  I have been seeing too many "amateur" looking performance photos.  You can do better than that;  you ARE better than that!

Use the photos that POP professionally and aren't just "good enough".  If you feel like they are "meh",  trust me, the business isn't going to give them more than a glance.

Energy READS.

If it's a full length photo - are your knees locked?  Is your stance too wide? Is your stance too closed in?  All these reek amateur.

What about your torso? 

Is your chest sucken?  Are you sitting on your solar plexus?  This is an apologetic stance.

Is your chest too high? Is your sternum and ribcage locked?  This often reads as bitchy and defensive.  (P.S.  This was MY M.O btw...I am not immune to these issues either!)

Are you leading with your stomach?  Completely unengaged?  This reads as you don't care. 

If you don't care,  why should they?

What are your arms doing?  What about those pesky hands?

Are you using a mic or mic-less?  If holding a mic,  are you comfortable with it? 

There is a reason to practice with your hair brush in front of you mirror you know...!!!!

Are your eyes open?  Is there something being said there?  Is there passion or fire or engagement?

The photos that encourage someone to enter are the ones that engage fully,  and create an EASE with the body, not a rigidity.

Some of you may ask for examples.  I can't use photos of people and embarrass them so if you want some feedback on yours,  ask me!  Or ask someone you trust who works with you regularly.

Don't forget,  in this day of photo shop you can crop crop crop!  Maybe your face is engaged and your hands are engaged, but your lower body is locked.  Crop it out.  Doesn't mean you can use it!  Just know HOW to use effectively!

In the meantime,  keep exploring and staying present in your body and your breath as you move through your day.  Keep integrating the two;  Sometimes practice without singing - just using the body through a song or aria.  Guide your intentions with your breath.  Make them authentic by making them conscious so they have an opportunity to find an honest spontaneity!

Let your photos reveal something about you that is more than professional or amateur.  Let it give the viewer pause;  and want to know more and HEAR more!








Sunday, June 21, 2015

What is Vocal Technique Anyway?

happy Fathers Day!

First and foremost,  you aren't going to learn to sing from this blog post.  You aren't going to get any 'vocal tricks'  (because they don't exist!) but I hope I can give you some solid information and clear some things up.

Lately there has been so much misinformation,   pseudo-information,  kinda true kinda not information,  being thrown around via blogs, or websites, or YouTube videos.  The age of immediate information via the Internet is always a double-edged sword as you still have to wade through it to find what is real,  who is offered the knowledge and does it make sense.

There was a blog post that was being talked about that dismissed "classical style".  Two words that have no meaning unless they are connected to something.  The young man making these statements has since made his blog "private" which is probably a very good thing,  and sadly doesn't realize what he doesn't know.  I am not linking anything of it here. 

Many singers and teachers are not clear enough about what technique is and how it layers fully.

To dismiss a style or genre just because you don't do it, or understand it,  has no validity. 

When asked if I "teach opera"  or "teach music theatre"  or "teach pop or jazz",  I respond with:
"I teach the singers who sing in these genres."

There IS a distinction.  To teach or sing a certain style or genre ASSUMES you already have access to your instrument fully enough to wear that style.

THIS is technique.

Technique is the true access to the behavior of the instrument in order to work with it fully with ease and clarity in order to move into the genre you say you do.

Great technique develops as behavior.  Physical behavior that is developed over time,  and honed and crafted in subtle ways as one grows and develops in one's craft.

Great technique is not a quick fix.

Great technique is not SEEN - but allows a style,  a genre,  a character to have a place to revealed fully.

Great technique is going to allow you access more of your physicality in order to do what you say you do or what you say you want to do.  It should lengthen your singing life,  not exhaust it.

We often call great technique,  be it voice, acting or dance,  "classical".   Why?  Simply because we are working for a balanced neutral to fully access the FORM of what we do.

The form of what we do always begins and ends with the athleticism of the body,  the breath and the alignment.  Its function is to find a balance of resonance in the vibration of the tone we produce.  Its function is to find a full elasticity of register,  of range, of dynamic;  to develop a physical and buoyant legato as well as an ease and finesse of movement.

Notice, NONE of these things have ANYTHING to do with style.  Style then informs that form.

Vocal behavior must come first.  It must be what we go back to in order to discover without value judgement, what our instrument does and what it needs.

What do great dancers do no matter the style they are dancing?  They go back to the barre.  Back to neutral.  Back to the basics.

If you are an opera singer then you can develop further operatic technique,  and stylistic technique depending on the genre and the composer.

If you are a theatre singer,  then you can further develop specificity to traditional legit technique, or contemporary legit technique,  or belt technique.

If you are a jazz singer,  then you can further develop specificity to register technique, mic technique, use of language technique.

And on it goes...

So often we put the cart before the horse.  We try to develop stylistic technique into the physicality before that physicality has had time to develop,  to understand and to create a place to reside.

This is when we often have to "redo" our technique.  Discovering physical behavior is a constant in our lives as singers.

Asking WHY we work the voice the way we do is crucial in developing the physical knowledge of what it allows for.  If we don't know WHY we cannot make it behavior.

A teacher's job is to find the singer where they are - physically, emotionally, intellectually - and where they are in their physical behavior technically and how they process.  It's work!

As  a teacher,  I am going to demand as much from myself to find you as I do from you to ask the questions to find you too!

So let's consider calling vocal technique what it really is:  an athletic physical behavior that develops the body and the vocal mechanism to allow full access to the instrument in order to begin to develop authenticity in the styles and genres we want to sing in.

Let us not confuse the term "classical" with anything but developing FORM.

Is your voice building or isn't it?

Can you access what you say you do?

Do you have the physicality to access the stylistic techniques in order to be authentic in that style?

Find your instrument first.  THAT is alpha and omega of vocal technique.  It doesn't have a value judgement.  It doesn't have a style or genre.  It's just about you.  What YOUR instrument does when it finds its truest form and can access itself fully there.

You aren't going to know what your voice can do until you actually create a place for it to reside!

So,  drop the wrapping of the style for a moment,  as scary as that may be,  and dare to find what what is REALLY underneath....


https://soundcloud.com/susan-eichhorn-young/10-ah-but-underneath






Sunday, June 14, 2015

What is Authentically YOU?

Sunday musings...

and if you think by clicking on this post, that question is going to be specifically answered for you by me,  you have more work to do and need to give your head a shake!

This week,  a fascinating thread on a forum page was discussing what was required in the audition room - more about how to dress etc.  Of course,  those that have little experience have the most to say,  and frankly,  are generally more than green, but simply incorrect in their reasoning.

If you think you know what an audition panel wants,  you need to go and sit down.

However, as someone who has been on these panels,  has adjudicated competitions for over a quarter of a century, and knows many a conductor,  artistic director, director, casting director, general director and those others who may sit at the table,  I feel I can offer some advice. 

I am amazed at the absolute false information that is either being 'taught' or being misunderstood by young singers.  It saddens me. 

What is told to me over and over again,  is that the panel at the table is really wanting to meet YOU.

They don't want a character.

They don't want pretend.

They don't want phony.

They don't want desperate.

They don't want annoying.

They don't want know-it-alls.

They want YOU.  (If you are any of the above - knock it off!)

So,  how do you find that?

In an audition,  you have a short period of time in which to make an impression.  Preferably, it's a memorable one, and a positive one.

The authenticity of you is crucial.  Some people find that early in their lives and let it evolve;  some people don't;  some people don't even know they aren't reading "authentic" because they are too caught up in what they think they "should" be doing.

Two things need to go hand in hand:  honoring the OCCASION,  and honoring YOUR AUTHENTICITY.

These are not opposites. 

Figuring out your "style" - how you dress, how you behave, how you enter a room - is an extension of who you are, who you are becoming, and how comfortable you are with that.

Some people need to stand close to the wall.  Some people have no walls.  Embrace who you are!  Figure out who that is,  and how you can infuse that self into how you present yourself and how you embody what you sing when you are in that room.

Of course, the 'schooled'  ones believe everything is ultra-conservative,  and must be "by the book".  If that makes you comfortable,  use it.  We always know when you are green in the audition room by how uncomfortable and stiff the entire energy you bring with you, is.

Just because you were taught a certain way,  doesn't make it so.  Did you every ask why?  If you don't have an answer it's not behavior.  If it's not behavior, it's put on.  If it's put on, it's not real.  If it's not real,  it's schmacting.  If it's schmacting,  nobody is going to pay attention.

Honoring the occasion of an audition doesn't mean you have to be rigid, in a 3 piece suit, or a tux or a ball gown.  In fact, please don't.  That's not the place to be ridiculously formal.

It is also not the place to be looking like you should be on the beach at a BBQ either.

Is it really rocket science?  Yeah, sometimes it is.  Why?  Because fear cripples us.  We begin waxing unpoetical in black and whites when we are just scared.  Sadly it comes across as arrogance and puts us in a further bad light.


It takes a long time to learn how to play like yourself.  Paraphrase of Miles Davis.

It takes a lifetime to learn what notes NOT to play.  Paraphrase of Dizzy Gillespie.

So yes,  you might look very "clinical",  and behave very "grad school",  or "conservatory" when you first leave because you haven't figured it out yet. 

What you have permission to do is to step away from the wall and actually claim something more: YOU.

What aspect of you shines?  How do you discover your own personal style, or flair, or personality that will find its way into every audition and every situation of your world?

Auditions,  if you are a performer and want to perform,  are a necessary evil that you need to embrace.  Why shouldn't YOU come into that room?

How does the personality, the voice, the talent,  the spirit of YOU show itself, not just in how you present the music,  but how you present the full package?

If you are comfortable in your own skin,  that is the first step.

Someone could be doing all the "right" things and still be uncomfortable,  because it just isn't them.  Discovering, and experimenting with your own style,  your own touch,  is worth investigating.  It matters. 

Some guys wear a 3 piece suit with ease and some do not.  Some guys can put a suit together with boots and it works;  some cannot.  Some guys can actually make jeans look great in the audition room.  Some cannot. 

Some women can wear open toed shoes and some cannot.  Some can wear pants and it works;  some cannot.  Some can wear an amazingly bright lipstick while others cannot. 

Celebrate the occasion by knowing who you are and what puts you at ease to present yourself. 

Experiment a little. 

Just like taking the time to find the right repertoire to sing,  discover your personality through your physical style by getting creative there too.

There are no absolutes here.  Just remember the occasion and know you have a great deal of space to claim depending on who you are if you remain authentic.  Remember that style should morph and evolve with you as an artist, as a performer and as a human being.

Take the information you are taught,  and as my father told me,  decide what works for you and then go out and claim more to fill it out!

Nobody wants to see you awkward, stiff or constrained.  Nobody wants a paper cutout of the person who was just in the room.  Nobody wants exact replicas.

They want to meet and SEE,  YOU.

So find out who that is.  Dare to make a "mistake" in the practicing of it all in order to find a better way, and a better you.

Wear what makes you feel like you;  not what someone told you that you MUST wear.

Wear a color/colors that make you feel REAL.

Wear fabrics that give you pleasure and let you breathe.

Style can liberate you,  and further enhance the YOU you wish to be and the you you wish them to see.

What do they want?

They want to see and hear, YOU.

Now that is completely up to you.  Take your time.  Discover it,  uncover it,  rejoice in the uniqueness you bring to it!



Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Intensive Study

Sunday musings...

I am recovering from a birthday weekend as I enter a new decade and thought I wouldn't be offering a blog post today, but sometimes things come up and I want to share with you!

What of the Intensive Study?

What does that mean to you?  Have you done it?  Do you understand what it means?

As a young singer,  I would make several treks a year to New York City to work with my teacher and my coaches and create my own intensive.  I would be in town for several days, or a couple of weeks or longer if I could do it,  and create a course of study that allowed me to work with professionals I needed almost every day,  or several times a week.  This allowed me to immerse myself in the study of my voice, my music, my craft, language, acting, movement, and more depending on how long I could be in town,  and who was available.

I work with singers in this way regularly throughout the year. Whether it is 3 days or 3 weeks,  singers who are committed to their development commit to their study.  If they are in town for a few days, I see them EVERY day and know they are working with coaches and in an acting class or probably a movement class or at an Alexander Technique session.  I am always impressed by a singer's commitment to their studies and their success by how they study.  HOW you study reveals much about you.  How you DO NOT study, also reveals much. 

Obviously we can talk about it, we can "like" statuses, we can "share',  we can "favorite", we can "retweet" but until we DO IT,  it hasn't truly been realized.

Whether you are in the throws of your degree,  or an emerging professional or a developing professional,  your ongoing study, honing of craft and development is so crucial.  Even as a teacher, I have to keep my skills relevant and clear.

If you don't live in an area where you have access to a regular teacher,  coaches for music, acting and movement, etc - what do you do?    Where do you go?

If you are serious about your voice and pursuing it fully,  the intensive study immersion is CRUCIAL.   We all learn differently,  but often going in and being immersed and then going home to allow all that information to sift through and begin to take shape can be exhilarating and life changing. 

These trips can be exhausting and at the same time,  energizing.  You can be exposed to much information,  challenged by new ideas,  not just in the studios of teachers and coaches but also by seeing live theatre,  going to great art galleries and museums and being in an environment of STUDY that is all about you.

Often, if you create your own program of study, you can take in MONTHS of study in half the time and then take as long as you need to sift through, absorb,  adjust, discover and create more behavior when you get home.

The intensive allows it to be all about YOU.  You don't have to wait til next week,  you get more tomorrow or later in the afternoon.  You don't need to juggle study with laundry with family with chores - the intensive is giving you a focus of study that is about you, FOR you.

If you haven't done it - why not?   Don't pick up the excuses.  The excuse is creating another reason why NOT. 

So WHY do it?

If you say you are a singer, then BE one.

If you say you want to learn, then learn.

If you say you want to have a career,  then pursue what you need.

If you say you want to know,  then SEEK the knowledge.

Sometimes we don't know what we want.  Sometimes we don't know what we have.  Sometimes we need to have a consultation and an intensive to find out where we actually are,  what we actually want,  and how we need to get to the next.

There is no excuse for NOT doing an intensive.  Why?  Because it's about you and can be working into your life, your finances and your needs.  You can plan for it.  You can adjust it.  You can explore it.  You can create what you need and find the professionals that can help you discover YOU.


Read, listen, discover.  Prepare.  Don't just regurgitate - but know what you are taking in, and absorb it!

If you want it,  skimming by isn't going to get you there.

If you want it,  the demand is on you, and only you,  to find out what you need and commit to it!

Here's to you finding what you need,  instead of becoming complacent with what you have.

If you want to be taken seriously,  if you want to keep growing as an artist and performer,  you must keep on the quest of discovery!   I raise my glass to you discovering YOU,  or at least finding professionals you can stand in front of who will introduce you to what you can become should you take on that quest!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Terminology and Responsibility!

Sunday musings...

I have seen much discussion this week about terminology in singing.

We, as a community of singers and teachers and coaches,  use vocal terminology often without thinking about it.

So why blog about it?

Because there is a responsibility we must take more seriously about our teaching and coaching when using terminology;  and there is a responsibility we must take as singers more seriously to understand and translate!

First and foremost,  are we, as teachers,  aware of the vocal terminology we use?  Are we prepared to address it,  define it,  and re-define it fully for a singer to translate it into their consciousness and their physical instrument?   This is crucial.

I believe,  my philosophy of course,  so if it's not yours no worries, I'll sleep well:  I teach the SINGER,  then the material.  I do NOT work out of a "manual".  My job is to find the singer where they are,  not for them to walk into the studio and try to figure out what I want.  To me, that's ass-backwards!

So,  I must be very present in order to access what the needs of the singer are at each session;  what we are working on in an overall arc;  where they are in that process;  where they are with ME in that process (trust takes time!);  and what reveals itself in a moment to change the direction suddenly if needed.

If I, the teacher, am not present,  I am not serving the SINGER.  Nor am I serving the profession of singing. 

But, that's just me.

I do not believe one size fits all. 

As a young singer,  when given terminology,  I took it literally.  And when I asked why, often I was met with resistance.  Sadly, I still see that today.  Many use terminology that they simply cannot explain.  They cannot describe what it means as it pertains to the task at hand, or the singer at hand.  And sadly,  much of our current terminology is just incorrect.  Yes I said it.

I really encourage teachers and coaches to keep asking questions.  Find answers.  Discover new ways of describing technical behaviors,  physicality,  acoustics,  resonance,  vibration. Or simply, learn what it is first before you start using over-used words that mean nothing and can put singers at risk.

Singers, it is your responsibility, because it is YOUR voice, to ask questions until you get an answer that is real, and one you can work with;  to keep exploring your knowledge outside the studio about voice, the study of voice and YOUR voice.

Real teachers aren't afraid to say "I don't know but I will find out for you!".  Real teachers are never lax about their teaching and often have a voracious appetite to learn more too.  Find one like that.

Question your knowledge of general words in the lexicon of vocal-speak.  I am not even going to call it pedagogy as many are incorrect.  Figure out why it could have been talked about that way, and find out what the true physicality is behind it in order to give a more accurate and more obtainable result with a singer.  The more ways we, as teachers, as able to bring some of the pedagogical principles to light,  the more possibilities a singer has to access it fully!

If teachers do not understand WHAT they teach, then a singer has a hit or miss chance.  If a singer doesn't understand what he/she is DOING, then when they enter the business of show and translate literally what someone outside the studio is saying literally,  someone who knows even LESS about the voice in most cases,  they are screwed.

Think about it:  all theatre terminology is in opposition:  stage left, stage right, downstage, upstage, etc etc.  We learn it, we get it into our bodies and we don't think about it - we just do it.

Perhaps we must discover what the terminology of voice actually means, and get rid of the words and phrases that make no sense - literally or physically! - to what we are doing. 

To take that responsibility means focus, time, and attention.  It means being present every step of the way. 

Ask why.  Find out why.  Find out why not.  Don't just use the words if you don't really know what they mean.  If you cannot define it fully, then it's not realized. 

Take full responsibility of your terminology and how you use it.  Challenge its use in yourself. 

It will make you a better teacher, a better coach AND a better singer.


Language has agency.  Therefore, it is crucial we use it well.