Sunday, May 31, 2009

YOU are responsible! Go FACH yourself!

Part 2 of today's blog dealing with operatic fach...

Whether you are still dealing with an academic situation, or have moved away from one, here is my question to you: Were you encouraged to develop your OWN critical and independent thought in regard to your vocal development?

Why am I asking this?  You need to be literally and figuratively part of the program. YOU are responsible for YOUR voice.  You MUST develop vocabulary, have imagination and GUTS to truly discover who you are as an artist and as a human being.

Vocabulary comes in many forms and on many streams of consciousness. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE to discover these.  There will always be people who want to "help" you  but it is ultimately YOU and ONLY you who can develop the vocabulary to decide what is truly help and in the best interest of your voice and being, and what is total and utter bullshit.

Just as you would find a way to deal with and find information regarding vocal health, allergies, illness, so do you need a way to develop vocabulary to determine fach and how you fit into that system effectively.

You have to have a capacity for honesty WITH YOURSELF or develop that capacity.  You have to have the guts to act on what you see.  Recognition is one thing, but DOING is another.  
"Doing" is never convenient or easy.  But it is truth and it finds truth.

Remember, opera is BUSINESS.  If you want to make a living as a singer, you are in business. It's not fair - who said it was fair? And it's work, far beyond developing that voice.  So, if you are not true to your voice, and discovering it fully, you cannot truly represent yourself in an honest way vocally and artistically. Business is not honest, business is business.  Develop the VOICE honestly, because at the end of the day, that's what you have to negotiate with.  If you are willing to sell it out for a job, that is your choice, and ultimately YOUR responsibility.

It is not up to a teacher, a coach, an artistic director, etc  to be responsible to find your fach. IT IS YOURS.  When your foot hits the boards, IT IS YOURS. You bring your talent, your desire, your passion along with your vocabulary, your imagination, your work and your GUTS NOT ANYBODY ELSE'S!!! No one can take that from you, nor can you pass it off on somebody else.  

Being an artist in these moments is being very much alone.  It is real.  It is a time of reckoning. Have you claimed who you are and discovered that fully, or have you allowed somebody else to tell you who you are? They will always try. Will you have the force of will and determination to recognize the difference?

Your personal and professional vocabulary is an ongoing development in establishing fach. This addresses study - vocal, dramatic, musical - as well as systematic on a world stage (just because you have the most dramatic voice in your vocal department, doesn't make you a dramatic fach, necessarily!)  

What determines fach or vocal type, in a larger arena? How do you fit in? Just because you want it, or are encouraged to,  does it mean you have it? The challenge and NECESSITY of self-awareness and self-truth is of the highest importance here.  YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.  No one else has the authority for your self-truth.  And in holding your authority, you and only you are the one who deals with the consequences of the realization of that truth.  You pay the cost. Nobody else does.  

The more we, as singers, are aware of what the vocal responsibilities are for any certain fach, the dramatic dimension and development of any certain character, the understanding of the house we perform in, the characterization of the conductor and orchestra we will perform with, the more vocabulary and AUTHORITY we bring to an opera company/symphony orchestra about HOW we sing and WHAT we sing and WHY.

If fach remains theatrical device - it is simply that - a device.  We claim it as that, and find a way to develop it for our purposes, or we don't.  We play the game, or we don't.  We rise above it, or we don't.  We survive, or we don't.  IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY.  Make that fach system work FOR YOU.  Don't wish; don't make excuses! Find that voice, CLAIM it, find out where it is best served - in fach, in house, in artistic development.

The more vocabulary we build, the more we infuse into our singing, into our presentation, into our authenticity as artists.  Ours isn't about a style of  singing, or a style of acting, but about SUBSTANCE.  It is substance that stands after the other trappings disappear.  

Don't stomp your feet and say it isn't fair! DO SOMETHING!!!! Your responsibility is to YOU - developing your skill, your craft, your voice, your acting intelligence, your musical intelligence and your ability to develop trust and notice and act on any red flags that begin to wave.  

We MUST take responsibility to develop the knowledge to explore what we SHOULD sing, where and when.  Not what we would LIKE to sing, nor what somebody else would like to hear us sing, if it is not in our best interest.  

There is only ONE YOU.  You are unique.  And YOU are responsible to preserve that uniqueness and develop it FULLY and COMPLETELY.  Why would you hand that over completely to someone else? It would make no sense!!! 

Sing what you sing well. Know WHAT you sing well.  Dare to be honest, dare to truthful, dare to ask questions of yourself, dare to be uncomfortable.  Dare to sing because you CAN, not because somebody says you should.  Dare to OWN that vocabulary, and OWN that imagination. Dare to stand up and back it up and have the guts to say it.  And have the voice to PROVE it.  

Let your voice lead you - don't let wishful thinking from you or somebody else lead you.  Use the device of fach as a guideline to develop as a theatrical device in your journey - but a guideline only.  It is not black and white, nor was it ever meant to be.  It was developed to ignite a sense of critical and independent thought within the walls of an opera house, and if used within the walls of your imagination, it can serve you - or completely deceive you. It is your responsibility to find YOU inbetween those walls.

How Much is TOO MUCH Fach-ing????

Sunday morning...

With a blog title like that, I feel a little like the operatic version of a Carrie Bradshaw!!! However, wanted to give you a little giggle if I could!

This has come up time and time again - and I've been thinking about it a great deal.  

First of all - what is fach in opera?  It is a theatrical system developed in Germany for determining what roles a certain voice type would sing.  It can be a bewildering thing at times!!
It is not a system of absolutes - thank god.  Some singers just do not "fit" comfortably into one fach.  Some roles have been traditionally looked at as a certain fach, and now are morphing into others...

So, as singers - how do we find some answers and figure some things out for ourselves?  Of course, having that team of teacher/coaches around you will also help!

As with type in Music Theatre, your fach is gonna change!!! As your voice continues to find its depth and strength and development, this often indicates you may move from a certain set of roles to another.  Not always, but often.  If you stay within a fach, you will just inform it more thoroughly as the voice settles.

And here is what drives me nuts...personal pet peeve: WE ARE NOT ALL DRAMATIC VOICES!!!!! and guess what?! IT IS OKAY!!!!!!!!

Bigger is NOT better if you aren't physically or vocally built to be a dramatic voice.  What happened to being in love with being a soubrette??? I would like that to be okay again...

So - perhaps the first and foremost thing is this :  STUDY.  Develop that voice, see where it is and see where it MIGHT be.  I often see singers who try to jump into repertoire that is beyond them right away, and end up crashing and burning because they tried to walk before they crawled.  Often, what has to happen then, is going back and learning to crawl.  Learning those roles that lead into the next, in order to develop the necessary vocabulary and language - vocally, stylistically etc - to bring authenticity.

STUDY TRADITION.  This is important for several reasons: know where these roles originated and who was singing them and why.  Recognize that the singing athlete today is NOT what went on 50-60 years ago, so begin to develop a compare and contrast of what was considered the norm then and why and how it differs today.  

STUDY CHARACTERIZATION.  Fach is THEATRICAL device.  Recognize HOW it has been used, how it continues to be used, and how it is often used differently from country to country. And in North America, how it can be different house to house!

DISCOVER HONESTY.  This is the hardest one.  KNOW YOUR VOICE.  Be honest with yourself. Be TRUE with yourself.  

Another pet peeve - young singers who think they NEED to fach themselves too early in their development.  DO NOT PUT YOURSELF IN A BOX!!!!  There always seems to be a need to say "Hi I'm so-and-so and I'm a such-and-such soprano".  I am amazed as I consult with younger singers how micro-fach they become  "Hi, I'm so-and-so and I'm a full lyric moving into spinto with a dash of dramatic and on good days slight coloratura soprano".

I feel like I am at Starbucks ordering a voiced-latte!!!

I would like to suggest to you, that ALL voices if developed well, need to find lyricism, fioritura, dramatic depth, and physicality and commitment.

What if you don't NEED to be ANYTHING as a young singer?  What is you JUST SING and find that voice first and learn to sing?

As you develop the voice and find its true balance, and discover the character in the voice and its relationship to your physicality, perhaps the roles and fach you can explore will become apparent from the inside out.  

If we begin with arias being simply notes on a page, anybody can sing the notes.  But that is just the beginning.  Then, can you sustain the athleticism physically and vocally, not to mention, artistically for that role? And can you be heard through an orchestra the size that the composer wrote for, in a house that you need to sing in today?

If there is ANY hesitation, perhaps it's time to take a step back and re-evaluate.

As I had eluded to in an earlier blog, opera is theatre, and we are seeing more and more that the physical type is becoming more prominent in casting, not just the "park and honk" mentality. HOWEVER, every fach demands a certain physicality - not just in character but in vocal strength and endurance.  Does your voice match your body type?  Another consideration as you develop your understanding of voice and fach and characterization.

There are reasons the Wagner girls are usually bigger than the soubrettes!!! THEY HAVE TO BE to make and sustain that much SOUND PRESSURE!

So, to you young singers, please DO NOT fach too soon, let along micro-fach yourself!  You will often notice that singers who have been around a minute or two longer tend to just give their general category: "I'm a soprano, I'm a baritone" etc.  They do not specify.  They don't need to. Opening up their mouths and singing will give enough information if they have done the work.

Perhaps aiming for THAT truth will make that fach more apparent to all concerned.

Friday, May 29, 2009

HOW we learn

One of the fascinating things I find about teaching is discovering HOW people learn and developing specific ways of teaching in order to meet that learning development as comfortably as I can make it!

It is so important for us, as artists, to develop an understanding of HOW we learn in order to be able to translate information fully into our craft.  It is a fascinating process, certainly as a teacher, to explore these possibilities.  Obviously each student is unique and often, most artists are a combination of learning abilities, but we all tend to gravitate toward a quadrant, when best served, can really help us find our craft more fully!

Cognitive science divides our learning strengths into 4 quadrants.  I want to present them to you in ways that make sense to us as artists.

The first is the SF learner - Sensor-Feeler.  This person is a talker - and when given direction of technical behavior, or blocking, or direction of character, needs to re-present it to be able to digest it fully.  They are not great with taking direction and "doing" without speaking through the process themselves and THEN doing.  Often, once they are asked to describe a sensation or re-articulate a direction, they are able to take that into their bodies more fully almost immediately, and then never forget it! They build concepts into their bodies and into their craft by finding the verbal language to describe what will happen - and then are able to make it happen.  They use the teacher as the rebound - to restructure the language from the teacher or the director, and then engage it within themselves. They build in sequence - known to unknown - and must have a careful plan of attack so their progress and development shows clear structure and a path.

The 2nd is the ST learner - Sensor-Thinker.  This is a student who LOVES details. You cannot tell them "just do it" cause they want to know WHY!!!!  They often work better with the details and then gradually pull into the larger picture of the concept.  They work with explicit instruction and are often "hands on" learners. They need to physically feel something in order to replicate the sensation. They are tactile.  These learners tend to be a bit black and white about their development - and get frustrated easily when it doesn't "work" right away.

The 3rd is the NF learner - Intuitive-Feeler.  This is a truly organic learner - creative and abstract.  This in some ways in the most tricky student and the ones that are highly dominant in our business!  Metaphor is huge for these students.  Finding and creating metaphors for them will bring a strong and visceral reaction to their development and finding connections between things of different origins will allow them to make the connections more personal as they translate fully. These learners march to their own drummer - and if their way of learning is not recognized and fully developed, they often quit easily and get bored. It is a challenging student but also, if you reach them, a very rewarding one!

The 4rd is the NT learner - Intuitive-Thinker.  This is a student who thinks - looks at concepts first and deals with details later. These are the "overview" students - they want to see the whole picture first and then and only then, will they delve into the details! Giving them abstract concepts allows them an opportunity to inhabit a balance in their learning!

Now, obviously we are seldom only ONE of these corners, but more often, a combination of two or sometimes 3.  We generally have a dominant quadrant and a submissive one.  I really believe that singer AND teacher must find how that singer learns primarily and that the teaching is geared toward meeting that student where they are in order to find the BEST of that student and also how to approach the material - be it technical behavior or musical behavior or theatrical behavior - with ease and authenticity.

So, now it's your turn - can you see yourself more definitely in one of these 4? or are you a combination of 2? Can you see then how you have worked with some teachers better than others and the possibilities of why you function more comfortably in certain environments, from a learning behavior perspective?

I must say, I am always disappointed when I hear a teacher say "my way or the highway" in describing HOW they teach.  I believe it is part of being a teacher to be RESPONSIBLE not just for the material being taught, but for HOW IT IS TRANSLATED for each singer walking into the studio.  If we call ourselves teachers we must find ways of meeting that student precisely where they are.  And in doing so, we must be able to translate not just the material, but also challenge the student to discover HOW they learn in order to develop those naturally dominant tendencies more fully and more consciously as well as develop those parts of us that do not feel as natural, in order to function more fully in our craft.

The Drama in Theatre...

Friday morning musing...

Theatre - be in straight theatre, music theatre, opera - the arts in general really, tend to draw strong personalities to its bosom!  Okay laugh! To some of you that's going to sound so tame!!!

As artists and emerging artists, we tend to have larger than life personalities, we tend to be passionate creatures, we tend to be driven, or focused, or a little Type A! And, we tend to respond HARD and react vehemently - positively OR negatively to life and situations, and our emotions are strong and can be triggered often, very easily.  Where do you suppose the title "Drama Queen" came from!?!?!

This is another development when  you are creating the "team" around you and finding people to work with that you can trust and recognizing that full disclosure is not necessary, but communication skills are VERY necessary to create the ground rules and the boundaries to these unique relationships.

Artists study for many different reasons; not every opera singer wants to be at The Met! Not every Music Theatre singer wants to be on Broadway.  Everybody studies and develops for different reasons - and performing is only one of those reasons.  Not every voice or every talent has the potential to be a professional!  The reasons and the directions are just as complex as the individual that holds them.

You might have a world-class instrument and not have the desire to pursue it and sacrifice for it, in a world-class market.  Is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely NOT! It's your talent and you develop it on your terms!!  Just remember, your teacher is an artist too - and the temperament will respond and want to challenge you to see where it takes you, unless you COMMUNICATE what is important to you!

Finding a teacher and coaches you can trust is often a painstaking experience and you may have several or many throughout your years of study.  However, COMMUNICATION IS KEY to discover fully what you can find with that teacher/coach and how you can grow. Emotional reaction is not reliable enough in situations like this!  

Sometimes, through communication, you might come to a place where you have to agree to disagree, or even part ways, because you are just not on the same wave length and it gets in the way of development.  That is okay - you earned your way through it and away.  Sometimes, it's a miscommunication and once your state your concerns, it was a misunderstanding, or a discovery you can work through with a teacher or a coach, and you can find an answer and move ahead!

Just don't go into passionate disbelief and stew and brood and allow the moment to fester and gain a pulse and a name and take over your life!!! DEAL with issues in the studio - straight on, no fuss, no mess, no emotional investment!  

Great teachers and coaches want to know what they can do FOR you and WITH you.  They are the professionals and will give you the reasons why. They will suggest, coax, foresee, and help you build and create a stronger foundation in which your craft is mounted.  But, even though some of us are sensitive, we can't read minds!!!  YOU must tell us what we need to know in order for that space between to be active and healthy and secure!

And if it isn't respected - you can move on.  And not be tied in knots because of it!

COMMUNICATION eliminates the need to angst over situations.  We as artists have enough to angst over, and feel over...

So leave the drama on the stage....and develop those communication skills for those relationships that will help prepare you and keep you focused FOR the stage!

p.s. teachers and coaches - we need to develop these skills too...!!! If we don't, we can't meet a singer where they are. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Upcoming Blogs!!!

Greetings on a Thursday evening!

Thank you for reading and your responses! I am musing always from my experience and observations, but I would love your suggestions of subjects I can blog about that you might want to read so feel free to leave me a message here or email me directly.  I will try to address as many as I can! More this weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Voice Teacher/Voice Coach

BOTH please!

There have been many articles published so I encourage you to google and search and find more details as these distinctions need to be clear in a singer's head so you know what you are looking for and use the terminology correctly.

[I am perhaps in a rather unique position as I work and have worked as both teacher AND coach, sometimes with the same singers and sometimes one or the other.  I work very hard to keep the distinction clear and make it clear to the singer so the boundaries are not blurred.  I would like to add that I primarily work as voice teacher and do dramatic coaching - and encourage my singers to find voice coaches who will work specific details and have specialities in certain repertoire/languages - to give a more thorough and rounded balance to their studies.]

These are my definitions - and cover ALL genres!!

How I would define voice TEACHER: this is someone who understands and works with the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual nature of the voice and how to build it.  The primary focus is the VOICE. Working on creating and building an instrument and a technique that will serve the singer, generally and specifically.  I believe teachers need to sing/or have sung  - and need to be able to demonstrate thoroughly in order to fully access a singer's ability to learn and absorb information.  

Voice teachers and voice lessons are really primarily about the VOICE - developing it, building it, maintaining it, and working on the technical and physical behaviors to find the best possible instrument a singer has!  Many voice teachers do not play piano, and so singers often work with a pianist in studio on the technical adjustments in repertoire as well.  Some of us DO play and pianists aren't always necessary during a lesson.  Voice teachers can work on interpretive/musical  ideas as well, but their PRIMARY concern is about the development of the VOICE and work often on the technical aspects of getting a piece of music into the voice.

Voice COACHES work with "all the other stuff" in more focus!!! They coach the MATERIAL from the piano, musically, stylistically, languages and challenge you, the singer, to find your authenticity through the musicality and style and character of a piece. They do NOT coach technique.  (Unless you have a voice teacher/coach in ONE person).  They are well-versed in the repertoire, can suggest repertoire, and can make OBSERVATIONS about technique that are perhaps not being accessed fully in regard to certain stylistic things.  Great coaches will say, for example, "You aren't accessing that vowel in a way that allows you the legato you need in that phrase - talk to your teacher about that".  They will not tell you what you are doing wrong technically, nor what to do to fix it.  If they do - as many pedagogues will say - please run.  This is a voice coach who has stepped over the line of demarcation!  Even if the coach is a singer him/herself, if they are not hired to TEACH you, they have no business talking to you about the technical behavior of your instrument. They are their to coach the material.

Great coaches know this distinction and thus, can work from THEIR expertise - which is so necessary for singers.

Simply put - teachers work on the voice as instrument; coaches work on the repertoire; and all that entails!

Opera culture recognizes this "team" vehemently and opera singers have their teacher and coaches in place - working with several coaches who specialize in different languages, repertoires, styles and the list goes on.

Music Theatre singers don't always create this team as clearly, and I really need to encourage you to!!! Sadly, MT singers tend to see coaches more and teachers less - and often do their instrument a huge disservice by working backward: they work with coaches on the music and not on the building of their instrument.  They see a teacher when they run into vocal problems (often at the recommendation of a voice coach who knows something is wrong!) and often do not realize that the voice building and instrument need knowledge FIRST!

Guess what? wrong order.  Get thee a VOICE TEACHER and have your coach for your musical development, repertoire searches, and your dramatic coach for your presentational development.  Your coaches can often recommend teachers they work with or know of, through the singers they coach.

Your team is very important in your development, AND in your maintenance as a singer and performer and as an artist.

Just recognize the distinction and hold fast to that.  

You may have a teacher who does work with your music too - especially if they play piano.  You may have a teacher or coach who plays as well as gives you dramatic work and language work.

Even though some of us can do more than one discipline,   I certainly recommend you still have a pianist/coach you work with if nothing else than another set of ears for musical things, new repertoire ideas and the like.

For opera and MT alike - get involved in workshops and masterclasses that challenge you and motivate you further in your development.

Ask questions; explore! seek!!!

Know what you are looking for and know the differences as you explore teachers and coaches.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Type vs Fach

A suggestion from Rachel on Facebook for discussion, and a good one!

Fach is a word used in opera to determine vocal type - and in determining vocal type, determining operatic roles sung by that type or fach.

Type in theatre is very similar but is has a double edge in that it is not just voice type (music theatre) but also physical type.

Ironically, the physical type is becoming more and more prominent in opera too...ANOTHER blog!

Theatre/Music Theatre types can be some of the following: (the ideas are endless really)

Ingenue type
girl next door type
leading lady/man type
femme fatale type
quirky type
geeky type
young mother type
shy plain jane type
player type
villain type

and on and on - it is endless, and obviously has more variety and change than opera.
Some casting people will also associate your "type" with a performer that has defined themselves often with a specific role - "Kristin Chenoweth type" or "Bernadette Peters type" 

Obviously these terms work for straight theatre as well as music theatre, thus the physical types and vocal types grouped together.

Ultimately, as a singer, it would be nice to be able to match your physical type with your voice type, (ingenue/soubrette voice) but it doesn't always work out that way.  So, sometimes, we as performers have to create that type that best reflects us so casting people don't have to get creative.  There is no time in the audition process to get creative anyway.  

YOU must decide HOW you want to be seen, and how your voice reflects what is seen.  We see you first - therefore whatever "type" you exude must be in that presentation. When you open your mouth sing, it needs to further convince them of that.

Types basically come from the mythical sense of archetype.  Research that.  You will find all theatrical types clearly develop from that.  Voices are associated with archetypes, and thus the distinction.  Don't dream of what you would like to be, but rather, BE what you ARE.  Find an honesty in discovering your type and develop it.  As I have said in an earlier missive, we need ALL KINDS of characters. Embrace yours! If you aren't sure, work with voice and acting teachers to discover fully what you have to offer.

Types in theatre have many variances and shades.  Discover a primary one and create the shades and hues around that type.  This will keep you from putting yourself in a box.  Rather, when you walk into that audition room, you can present the type they need to see and hear in order to be hired for the job, or at least, given a second glance - and maybe a callback!

Differences between Warming Up the voice and BUILDING the voice

Many thoughts today and conversations...I am blessed with the dialogue and debate I have with students, colleagues, peers, and my husband, who is a brilliant tenor!  

These thoughts are more musing about technique becoming behavior.  I am always amazed at how many singers - music theatre and opera - really don't know the difference between warming up the voice, and building the voice.  

I always use going to the gym as a point of reference.  Singing is athletic, therefore many of the athletic activities we do can relate.

When going to the gym, we SHOULD (and how often haven't we?!) warm the body up first before doing anything too strenuous - ease into the cardio and certainly stretch the muscles before building and breaking down and building with weights.  Why would it be any different with the voice? The voice is about muscle development and balance and coordination.  It is about stamina and breath and about vibration.

So - warming up in order to SING something is not building the instrument. Warming up the body and the voice should happen regardless of whether you are going to sing through a song or aria or work on technical balance or building balance.  Warming up vocally should begin with the entire body's permission - engaging the full support and elasticity and stretch so the breath becomes tangible the vibration of one's sound is moving and flexible.  This is NOT technique. Breathing and supporting as a singer is unlike anything else we do in our day to day. We must discover that athleticism in how we warm up both body and sound and breath.

If we choose to build the voice - again this is NOT singing.  Building exercises to develop the vocal muscles and therefore the full capacity of the voice as behavior take time, focus and an understanding of WHY you are doing what you are doing and for what reason.  The voice needs to discover itself in order to function fully and healthily.  

Vocal building, I believe, happens in three main stages - the discovery of the entire instrument in its neutral position (not influenced by style); The development of articulation power - eg. legato, staccato, fioritura, messa di voce etc; The development of stylistic technical prowess - eg. operatic voices need certain physicality, music theatre singers need other physicality.  Opera singers are not going to sing Mozart like they sing Puccini; Music Theatre singers are not going to use "belt" in the same way as they would a more "legit" sound.

These are 3 HUGE stages and can be worked on and discovered and maintained and worked on again to find further levels of development within each stage.

Ultimately, I believe, the neutral position of the voice - finding the core of the sound and balance within the body - is primary to EVERYTHING a singer does.  The vocal building exercises and vocal maintenance exercising are about FUNCTION of the instrument.  This behavior does not need to take on hours and hours of one's time - but rather focused, committed grounding to HOW and WHY to allow that instrument to develop fully.  

The voice cannot truly learn to SING until these balances are discovered consciously.  We need to know WHY we do what we do, and HOW to do them within the balances of our physicality.

Keep exploring HOW your body and breath and vibration need to warm up.  Keep exploring HOW your voice functions and HOW to develop it to its fullest potential.  Find your best self through your voice.

It is only the beginning.  Find out how your voice behaves - and then ingrain a behavior that allows it function at optimum.

We can't do this ourselves! We ALL need a second set of ears, no matter what stage we are at in our development.  Find a teacher you can trust, that will guide you allow this part of the journey.  

Remember, warming up is NOT vocal building; it is NOT technique.  You cannot "practice" in the car!  Here is a perfect example of no multi-tasking!!!! FOCUS ON YOUR VOICE!!!! Don't think you can truly do it justice while you try to do anything else.  Give that unique instrument the attention it deserves and the time it requires.  

Your voice deserves it. YOU deserve it.

Being a Professional - just one side of many!

This musing comes from several conversations in the theatre world AND the opera world over a period of time, but even more recently as this weekend.

How is one perceived as "professional"?

Ultimately it has to do with several factors: How you are viewed and how you conduct your business.  Notice, I have said nothing about talent, aptitude, or any of the artistic values.  That is another side of it.  

If we associate - for the purposes of this blog - professional with business, we eliminate the emotional from the equation.  This is important.  Business cannot be emotional.  This is difficult for artists as we tend to be complex and complicated.  We take things personally.  I get that - I've been down that road.  HOWEVER, if we are going to learn to recognize "what being professional is" within the boundaries of our business, whether actor, dancer, singer, it is crucial to our sanity to figure this out individually.

So the first thing is this: how are you viewed? I mean, physically?  No matter what we say, we are visual beings and what we SEE does make an impact on us.  So, when you walk into an audition room, how are you seen? How are presenting yourself physically? Is it how you want to be seen? You are in control of that! When I say PHYSICAL, I am referring to presentation - how are you dressing? how do you pull yourself together? do you look like you are trying to get a job or do you look like you've spent the afternoon in Central Park? Which one has more of a chance to be viewed as professional???

Do you have a team around you that you trust?  We all need that small handful of people - who are professionals themselves - that we trust to help us find our best business/professional selves.  These are NOT friends, or people you audition with.  These are teachers, coaches,mentors, etc etc who will not tell you what you want to hear, but what is necessary to make your professionalism true and sound.  FIND THESE PEOPLE!  LISTEN to them. Recognize that what they say will make a difference in how you are seen and how you develop as a professional in your "shade" of the business.

Do you have your materials together in a way that is acceptable? What is the industry standard? If you don't know, find out! Lots of resources out there to draw on - again, that team of professionals who believe in you and want to see you find your place can help point you in the right direction!

Learn the etiquette of your "shade of the business" - what is expected of you? FIND OUT don't guess!!! Business is not about guess work!  Learn how to write a cover letter, send a professional email, make a professional phone call.  We don't come out of the womb knowing these things, and we have all had to learn - so welcome to the learning club!!! ASK QUESTIONS to get REAL answers from the professionals you trust to give you the truth.

Do not take it personally.  Ah, the crux.  This is the hardest one of all.  Being professional and being in business as many of us are as we become CEO of "ME, Inc" is also about learning the difference of personal and business.  I once heard that a singer I was adjudicating at a music festival who wasn't winning had said "I can't do anything right, she hates me!"

The irony is, when you make it personal, it somehow deflects the RESPONSIBILITY away from the person making the statement.  If I hated that singer, then the fault she wasn't winning would have been mine.

However, that is not the case.  My simple response was "I don't know you well enough to hate you." She wasn't winning because she wasn't, in my professional opinion, meeting the standard as well as somebody else in her category.  She didn't want to hear that. She wanted to win. Easier to blame the person in charge than take responsibility that she was fine, just not where should could have been.

People do not have to like us.  They need to respect our professionalism and our work.  We EARN that respect.  As we continue to find ways of being less emotional and take things less personally, we begin to realize we have control over many things, and some things are beyond our control and there is NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT.  We must learn to let those things go otherwise we are consumed by them.  

Finding the balance is the key - and a life-long commitment to it is necessary.  

As you discover that business is business and art is art you will begin to realize that it truly is your professionalism that is the bridge between them - that will unify them under the umbrella of "Me, Inc" and allow you access to both sides without compromising either one.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Audition Etiquette

A Sunday morning musing...

after discussions of the audition process from both sides of the table!

 Those of us who have been on both sides of the table realize the craft that must be there - on BOTH sides of the table - to make auditioning and  casting a success, however, there are a few things that come up time and time again about the etiquette of auditioning that I wanted to share today.

One's place in the business is EARNED, it is not assumed nor entitled.  No one is going to give you a chance just because.  Earning your place means recognizing where you are and beginning there and doing whatever it takes to build craft and experience.  

Building your resume does not mean big roles and credits! It means finding projects to participate in that are meaningful to develop your place.  It means taking classes and working on repertoire so you have a sense of yourself and those teachers have a sense of you too and can recommend you unhesitatingly. Sometimes an actor has very little on his/her resume but studies with a reputable teacher and that teacher's name can mean something positive to a casting director!

Remember, the audition begins BEFORE you get into the audition room!  As soon as you walk into the building people are watching you carefully.  The spies are everywhere and will report back to the people who are in charge. Sometimes the most important part of your audition happens while you are waiting your turn.  Decide how you want to be seen - and recognize you are "on" more often than you realize.  Your behavior and attitude OUTSIDE the audition space is being watched just as carefully as it is INSIDE the room.  In fact, by the time you get into the room, you may have been dismissed.  EARN that time, don't throw it away!

If you are emailing for information about an audition - once is plenty.  Unless you don't get the information and you simply follow-up.  Don't try to change the policy of the audition.  The company sets the policy, you do not.  Don't challenge it - you haven't earned that either.  When you are on the other side of the table, you call the shots. When you don't - you follow the company line.  Send your note of request with grace and respect - you are not emailing a friend, you are trying to get a job - make it simple and respectful.  If you expected an appointment and find out it's an open call, don't whine or ask why, suck it up and go to the call!  If you can't make a call or an appointed time, do not expect someone is going to change their audition schedule for you! You are not entitled that - you have not earned that. Business is business. 

A simple thank you follow-up email/note/card is all that is required after an audition.  It keeps your name alive in the minds of the audition panel.  Again, it is not up to you, nor have you earned the right to begin to tell the casting people what didn't go well, what they could do better etc etc.  Yes, I've seen it - too many times!

Leave the attitude at home. Or at least outside the building.  If you call yourself an actor - BE one!!! ACT the part if you have to - but nobody wants attitude at an audition. We want to see a sense of willingness to try, a sense of self, a sense of realization in the process.  We don't want to see or get 'tude.  That shuts the process down faster than anything!  Be prepared to walk in and work to  get that job!!!  You haven't EARNED that job yet - go get it!! If you don't think you need to earn your place, you are most definitely in the wrong business.

KNOW YOUR TYPE.  Or at least the types you TRULY can play.  Sometimes this is the most difficult of all.  We cannot all be the leading man/leading lady or the femme fatale or the villain.  Plays and shows aren't  written like that.  As in the life, there are MANY characters that create a story and we NEED THEM ALL.  It's okay to be the quirky fat girl type, or the geeky computer guy type, or the plain jane type.  Why? Because they are REAL CHARACTERS!!!!!! Get real, be real - as hard as it is sometimes.  You have to find the REALITY of what you can play and then claim it fully.  

Ultimately, know you are being watched very carefully - even though it may seem you are not. How do you want to be seen? In and out of the audition room? via email? by phone? How do you want people to perceive you? MAKE THAT DECISION and WORK FOR IT - EARN IT! And then your audition will become more positive - and even if you don't book that job, you are letting casting people get to know what you are about.  Make them WANT to hire you for something, if not now, SOON.  

None of us are entitled to anything - we must EARN our place.  It's work - it's not handed to us. So, go out and GET IT! 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

are you really READY to audition for Music Theatre?

Good's quiet and a little dull and not so warm today...I kind of like this weather...

So I muse with coffee beside me (!) about this "audition thing" a little further...

This is not a question I would address in the opera world, because the culture wouldn't allow for you NOT to be ready on some level.

But I really must address it in the music theatre culture because I see it from so many sides of the table...

Are you really ready to audition for music theatre? and what does that mean? seriously?

I am not going to give you the answers - I am not giving THAT away! I give workshops for that! However, I want to ask the questions, which I believe are real. Some of you will laugh as you read, but believe me, I am asking the questions because I have SEEN THE REALITY of the answers, as many of you have. 

First and foremost, music theatre is not easy. It is a discipline that requires a level of perseverance, physical and emotional aptitude, athleticism, dedication and some talent would be lovely.  Some developed talent would also be lovely.

So my first question is this: do you study? voice? acting? dancing? movement?  And I mean, CURRENTLY!!! Not back in summer camp, or gym class, or music class...who are you working with NOW? Who are the people around you that help you build your craft and keep you fresh and focused in the athleticism of your instrument? And my answer to THIS one is: YOU BETTER!!!! If I don't see you continuing your studies in some form, then in all honesty, I cannot take you seriously as a performer.  

2nd question is: Do you have a resume and a headshot? yes, I asked it. I asked it, because I have to.  I don't care if you are auditioning for community theatre, off-off-off Broadway to Broadway to regional theatre YOU NEED A RESUME AND A HEADSHOT.

3rd question is: What's in your book? and if you have to ask what a book is...

4th question is: Do you know your type? And how you project that?

5th - Do you know how to take a room during an audition process?

6th - Do you know the difference between assertive and aggressive in an audition situation?

7th  - if you book this job, can you fulfill it? Do you have the craft to build a character? Do you have the athleticism vocally and physically to comfortably do 8 shows a week? 

If you aren't sure...perhaps best to step out of the line and find those classes that will give you the answers and allow you time to practice them.  Find the teachers and coaches who will invest in you with the same amount of conviction as you are willing to invest in yourself.

Ironically, many of you reading who know the answers - and at least have a sense of the answers will say to yourselves it's time to brush up and go do another class or workshop or take a voice lesson more regularly again and another dance class...which makes you the people we WANT to see at that audition. 

So find ways to be truly ready to audition.  This is just the beginning in this process called auditioning, but the beginning is based on foundation and development, not just on a desire to be on stage.

Even though during these economic times, things are tough for theatre - things are ALWAYS tough for theatre and yet, theatre survives.  If you aren't ready yet, trust me, when you are ready there will be something to audition for.  You aren't running out of time to audition - you just might be wasting time now if you aren't building some craft. Quit wasting time and know then, you will HAVE the time to do those auditions! WHEN you are ready!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's "Luck" Got to Do with It?

Pardon the play on your song La Diva Tina Turner...

but really?!?!?

After a most recent conversation with a fine singer/actor from Toronto - Ms. Marnie Kersten (yes I have her permission to use her name!) I write this blog entry...

What does luck have to do with anything?!  

Many of us who work in this business in some form or other has been told how "lucky" we are. What does that mean? Who says it? Why?

Perhaps luck is a small component - being in the right place at the right time to get an opportunity to seize on an opportunity...but...luck?! really?!

I believe we create our own luck.  And how do we do that? We do it through HARD WORK, perseverance, focus, building craft, sacrifice, alot of tears, alot of soul searching, alot of questioning, having more questions than answers, desire, passion and sometimes just pure stubbornness!  

This is not being lucky - this is about creating an atmosphere in which to create the luck we claim.  Sometimes we have to take work we'd rather not, just to be working in our business. Again, from the earlier blog today "what kind of ho am I willing to be" or as a student, Barbi McCulloch more eloquently told me today, and I quote her and will it use it often :
"every musical work day for me is a different window with a different shade of red light"

Success is about hard work, and maybe a little luck that we WORK to create.  We might be in the right place at the right time, but that means then we still must DO THE WORK.  If we don't, we will be dismissed and moved past.  Luck only works if we have something to offer.  If you are standing in line for an audition and get the job and have never built your craft, have nothing more than natural talent and don't know how you will sustain 8 shows a week, how lucky are you really if you crash and burn? Watch that luck kick you in the butt and leave you standing all alone!

Often we get this statement "you are so lucky" from colleagues who are not finding their path for whatever reason.  Remember the source. It is a way, in my opinion, to project onto the person who is finding success, and take the pressure off the person making the comment.Another way to make an excuse or go into denial about their process.  Perhaps the comment has to become a question - "why are you so lucky" so that you can tell them simply that luck is created only when you are willing to work for it.  Maybe you won't get a break, but you don't have to make excuses either. Hard work is REAL.  Commitment is REAL. Willing to sacrifice is REAL.  

Perhaps the "answer" to "you are so lucky" is simply saying: "Am I? No, I am real.  What about you?"

Just a thought...

Building Craft/Building Business

Several conversations with students brought this to further light...

Even though craft and business are very different animals, perhaps it's time to see "the other side" more fully! Or at least recognize certain aspects of them.

As an emerging and developing artist, if we want to work in this business (I am thinking primarily music theatre right now) we must continue to hone our craft - build our instruments, develop our knowledge, give ourselves every opportunity to find those teachers and those classes that can challenge and evoke in us what is our best! HOWEVER - there is the other side as well...the side we dislike, namely auditioning, being seen, trying to be seen etc etc.

Let's face it - we have chosen a business where 95% of us are unemployed at any given time. Even in great economic times!  So we will be out of work in this field a great deal over the course of our lifetimes.  How do we "armour up" for that business side as artists?  

I think, as hard as it is, we have to look at ourselves as product. We are selling something - so as the saying goes "what kind of ho will be you be today"? Sometimes it feels like that. However...

Business is NOT personal. Business is NOT emotional. Business is business. Find that side of you. GRAB IT! USE IT!

What are you selling? How do you want to be seen? SIMPLIFY if you can.  Obviously many of us are rather complex creatures and therefore our talent is complex and can't always be put in a box - thank god - but that's what makes the business happy - soooooooooooooo....

Figure out HOW you present yourself to allow them to see you as you want to be seen.  You can't control many things in this business, infact, most things are out of your control, but finding this can truly make the path a little clearer! And do not be afraid to state how you see yourself, what you see yourself best for - don't allow the business to guess - JUST TELL THEM! Be assertive - it takes the guess work out!

Learn to network - especially in this digital age, it makes it easy! Get your name out there! Don't be afraid to just ASK QUESTIONS of people that may be in a position to hire you! Come on now - you are an actor - so if it makes you nervous to do it, then ACT! Create the persona in order to get in the door!

And to those of you who get in that audition line with NO craft - it's time to find some! Wanting to be in a show with no training, development or knowledge is not going to get you far.  Dare to have to pride and some commitment to the theatrical process and get into voice lessons, find a great acting teacher and a class, take some dance lessons! Don't assume that because you went to drama camp in junior high that you will be given a gold star for that now.  If you don't think you need any further training, then maybe you need to be famous somewhere else and allow the people who have true respect for the art of theatre a chance to get a job so they can create something.  

Just some thoughts for a Friday back to my coffee!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Should it hurt when I belt?

in one word - NO!

Perhaps it's best to break down what belt actually is for the purpose of this blog...
Physically, "belt" is glorified chest voice. The term is primarily used in music theatre, but we see it in folk music of many lands (think spanish folk music and Teresa Berganza!), as well as certain pop/rock genres...and certainly in the African-American gospel church!

Belt is NOT yelling!!! Louder is not better.  Belt appears louder only because of how the resonance balances with vowel choice.  

Again, simplifying, belt uses wider resonance and wider, flatter vowel choices. In doing so, there is more elastic pull in the larynx and therefore, you need MORE air, not less, MORE support, not less, MORE suspension - and the body needs to truly be actively available or the voice will push - and it won't be belt anymore, but rather, yelling!

In making these flatter/wider vowel choices, the space of resonance and the laryngeal space needs to remain open - thus the muscles must MUST be built carefully and consistently so nothing collapses.  This is careful work and behavioral work so these muscles respond to the choices we as singers are making.  It is not a fluke. It is a careful rebalancing of muscles, breath and resonance.  Therefore, the irony, belt is actually LEGIT!!!! It is not what untrained singers do. TRAINED and studied singers can learn the physicality of belt. Not all have the physicality to SUSTAIN belt technique consistently, but like any physical activity, anybody can learn the FORM.

Does it hurt when you belt? well, then you aren't belting...

People in the business throw out these vocal terms - belt, legit, mix, belt-mix - but do they really KNOW what they are talking about???? Could they explain it, let alone demonstrate it???  I leave that to you, the jury, to decide...I guess, rhetorically, does it matter? 
It is YOUR responsibility, my dear singer/reader, to be a SMART singer - work with a teacher who can give you the WHY and HOW, and you do the work to create the behavior.  Then you will never "give them what they want" but rather, "give them what you HAVE and CONVINCE them it's what they want!"

A short blog entry tonight...sweet dreams.

Students and Responsibility to Self

As a continuation of the blog about surviving bad teaching...

What is the student's responsibility? Whether you are just beginning your voice studies or are a seasoned professional, what do you bring into that space between to access all you can for your craft and your development as an artist?

First, an honesty with yourself.  Why are you there? The answer may change, and it should, but you need to have a sense of self.  I am amazed that often when consulting with a prospective student when I ask "what can I do for you? how can I help you?" there is a stunned silence. 

Again, the relationship between teacher and student lies BETWEEN. Each entity feeds into that space and the student draws from it.  It is not all one-sided, from either direction.

Find out who you are studying with!  Do some research!  Get a sense of who this person is before you walk into that studio!  Ignorance is not bliss.

Come prepared with questions, with willingness to try, desire to learn and to be challenged.  Explore possibilities and bring your 110%!  Don't hand it over, just BRING IT!  USE IT!

You are a vibrant human being and developing artist who is obviously in the studio space for a reason. Find out WHY.  Create the space with the teacher, so you can learn and you can grow.  This is the unique nature of what private lessons are about.

Your success, whatever that means to you, relies on YOU to seek in that space.

Just the beginning...more to come!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Musings on this life-long struggle in this business after a short intense conversation with a young singer...

I have had some WONDERFUL teachers and mentors throughout my life - beginning with the man I am so proud to have called DAD.

However, I have survived bad teaching too.  This is part of the growth, as difficult as it is.
We have ALL survived bad teaching, or we didn't survive and went another way.

I believe, as artists, if we are true to the path of craft and finding a better self than our previous self, we must be able to acknowledge those red flags and move through/on without drama and emotional upheaval.

Easier said than done, I realize that.  The angst that we encounter in ourselves to do "the right thing", to replay/repeat/dissect, to give things another try, etc etc is EXHAUSTING, and ultimately does nothing more than tire us out and make us second-guess ourselves.  

Teaching is an art and a calling; not everybody does it well; not everybody does it for the same reasons or even for the  "right" ones. It is not a "lesser" calling; it is not an either/or decision.

Teaching challenges us to find truth in our field and learn how to translate and retranslate that truth for each and every student that walks into the safety of the space we call a studio.

Teaching means we are life-long seekers of truth and knowledge about life, spirit and our craft. We are NEVER done learning.

When teaching turns into drama, head games, "I am the only one with the answer - I am the way the truth and the life to this craft" - my response is RUN!!! Run as fast as you can, do not apologize for running, run run run!!!

Teaching is NOT about the teacher. Teaching is about the space between the teacher and the student.  How do I as the teacher, reach you, the student, where you are?

How do I, the teacher, help create a space for you the student, to claim what you do not yet own? (paraphrased from a quote of tenor Thomas Young "you are here to claim what you do not own")

Is the student passive? of course not! that's another blog!!!!

And this is just the beginning...

Teaching is art; teaching is a calling; teaching is craft; teaching is constantly seeking and discovering on ALL levels of consciousness; 

Teaching is NOT head games; teaching is NOT drama; teaching is NOT abuse on ANY level; teaching is NOT about the teacher!!! 

And teaching is about eventually becoming obsolete - to facilitate a space - physical/psychological/emotional/spiritual/behavioral - for a student to FIND THEIR CRAFT and learn how to teach THEMSELVES.  Then they might check in once in awhile but they can discover and move through!

Survive the bad teaching - acknowledge it but do NOT invest in it.  There is knowledge in that too.  But find what you NEED!! Do not waste time/energy on anything but the BEST you can offer and the BEST a teacher can offer you. 

More to come...

faux journalism

As I was pouring coffee this morning, I had CNN on (or Headline News) - and the so-called faux journalist who reads the news actually said "pre-justiced" instead of prejudiced

It made me wonder again, why we must be overwhelmed with sorority cosmetic from a so-called news source.  Or if news has just become another form of entertainment, then why bother calling these "readers" journalists?   It has become such a white-washed conformity.

If we aren't using journalists to read the copy - and the corporations like CNN are NOT - then why not hire  actors who have some craft in language and delivery? How much more entertaining would it be????

I would be compelled to watch and listen just because there would be personality and gravitas in the delivery and voice! 

As it stands now, it is all the same - mundane, average, mediocre and frankly, purely beige.

Just a thought.  Imagine giving some actors with craft some work!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What we could learn from Anna Wintour

Just watched the interview with VOGUE editor, Anna Wintour (think The Devil Wears Prada ie: Meryl Streep) on 60 minutes.  

Here is a strong woman who holds her industry to a standard, who learned about the business from her father and instead of being called a monumental business woman, is referred to as a "bitch."  (another blog!)

But here was the quote I wanted to focus on: "Mediocrity bores me. Actually it angers me."

Our businesses - be it music theatre or opera - could learn something from the fashion industry and the formidable Ms. Wintour.

What if we allowed mediocrity to bore us? And thus, DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT?!  Why must we be satisfied with the lowest common denominator? Why can't we strive for something larger than ourselves, and present artists and productions that dare to elevate the art, instead of just make people comfortable?

Why in this economic time is the fashion industry still thriving - and we are not?
We do not have to believe in the aesthetic in what the fashion industry represents, but we could learn from the the stubbornness of STANDARD there.

When opera or music theatre talks about standards, I see alot of fabulous artists not working and alot of mediocre players up on the boards. Not all, but definitely enough to speak of.

Why must we play "safe" so much of the time? Why can we not DARE to be inspired? take risks? think outside the box?!??!?! Isn't that what theatre and art is for godssake?!?!?!

So I agree completely with Ms. Wintour, woman of standards who apologizes for NOTHING.  I am bored and angered and saddened by mediocrity.  And frankly, disgusted by it.

Vocal Technique as BEHAVIOR!

See? told you I would go nuts on the first day!!!

One of my primary philosophies about the vocal instrument, is that technique is built as behavior, from the inside out, not something you put on as a prop.

Behavior has its beginning in the mind: the understanding of the physical, and then, behavior begins to find its way into the physicality of the instrument.

EVERY genre needs this, because no matter what you are singing, you need your voice, and therefore your BODY.

No matter how badly I want Michelle Obama arms, I will not get that from wishing. I will only find MY arms by working those muscles into behavior to find the best form I can find.

So it is with vocal behavior.  We are dealing with muscles FIRST! Again, why am I blogging about this? In the operatic world, this issue doesn't seem to be so much a concern, as we are fully aware of how much time it takes to build the voice (the opera world has its other issues to be sure...ANOTHER blog! lol)

I am concerned with the theatre/music theatre world, due to the nature of the 16 bar audition. I cannot, in good conscience, take you as a student when you call and say "I have never taken voice lessons, but I have an audition and I need you to teach me my 16 bar cut".

Although I do coach material, I am primarily a voice teacher - I work with the VOCE - building, developing technical behavior.  

My response is thus: if you have never taken voice lessons you have NO BUSINESS auditioning with your voice!"  

It would be the same idea if I went to one of my wonderful dancers who teaches dance and said "I have never danced but need to have a ballet routine ready for Tuesday".

And YES it IS the same.  Disciplines take time - they take focus - they take development and nurturing and YES, this is building craft!!!!  Do not assume that because your voice lives with you, that you have ANY idea how it works until you truly take the time to discover it.

Muscular behavior takes time to develop - and often we see that development, sans pathology, begin to physicalize and respond in 3 week/6 week umbrellas.

So - those of you in music theatre - PLEASE find a teacher for that voice!!! BUILD it! This is just the beginning, but do not think that 16 bars and a cloud of dust will keep you going.  The truth will come out when/if you book that show and suddenly have to deliver 8 shows (or more) a week and have NO physical craft.  

What you might be able to fake in 16 bars is not a voice. FIND YOUR VOICE! CLAIM IT! DEVELOP IT!  Have pride and commitment to what you claim to follow - a path to further artistic development - and make this earth a better place because you were here!

Purging thus...non-equity auditions!

okay - so I might blog more often right now, since SO MUCH IS ON MY MIND!!!! Then when my blogging has caught up with my mind, it'll slow down! lol

The question is thus - and not rhetorical: what the HELL has happened to the non-equity audition??????

Let me elaborate: I am speaking of the long lines, and ridiculous times of day (or night) that one must be standing on the street/signing up etc etc.  

What happened to a PROCESS that makes some sense?!

Since these so-called "sign up lists" are not put up by the casting directors/companies, why are they followed? 

If we are in a digital age why are the calls so ass-backwards?  Why is there a piece of paper duct-taped to a door?!??!?!

Why can't there be an electronic sign up 48 hours before an audition is to begin? Wouldn't that eliminate the riff-raff (and we all know there is PLENTY of that - see my other musing earlier today) and allow for a smoother process?  You sign up and are given the next available appointment (appointments can be 5 minutes apart) You show up 30 minutes prior incase everybody got typed out (!) - and voila - you are in and out. 

No lineups; no 5 a.m. bullshit; no waiting; 
and casting directors - LESS STRESS!!!!

Then if you missed the 48 hour sign-up you can show up in case there's a no-show/space etc and they can fit you in.

Why would this not work?!?!?!?! 
Everybody would be on their toes - and prepared and ready.  And hopefully, if not typed out, could sing their 16 bars to an attentive panel who wasn't on the phone or online. 

Could this work? OF COURSE it could!  
Please, take the idea - make it work - and don't acknowledge me, I am FINE with that! I just want to see a process work for a change and the people who need to be heard - HEARD.

An email received...

I received an email from a young woman this week who was looking for voice lessons.  She will obviously remain anonymous, however, her email summed up the state of our business (I say that loosely because the "business" has so many subdivisions).

Her email said she couldn't sing, but she needed to learn to sing to get that record deal that would make her famous.  And that she was broke and did I offer scholarships for singing lessons?

To me - that summed up so much of the American Idol-ism of what our business is becoming. Famous is not craft.  Famous is an empty non-knowing. Those that are not famous and have no vocabulary in our business have no idea what "famous" means or what it truly represents. This makes me sad actually.  

What happened to building craft? Taking time to seek? Discover? Observe? Develop a life that is filled with artistic pursuit in how one lives one's life????

"Famous" means nothing. It is not a pursuit; it is a vocation; it is not a calling; it is empty and meaningless and if you speak to real artists who have had to deal with it, as a bi-product of their work, they would rather have their craft than their famous-ness and be left alone.

Pursuit of SELF is BEYOND famous.  Self, no matter what the directive - be it in the arts or not.  This is TRUTH to me.  The other is a brass ring that is only an illusion.  Sad so many people believe it's real.

The Musings begin...

One more blog online! Why? I spend alot of time online...and often I have wished I could purge more thoroughly and share WHY from my perspective. Thus the blog. My daughter Erin came up with the title - so thank you my girl!!!

I hope I will have something worthy of your time to read and will be free-form as life occurs to me based on thoughts, events, conversations.  Thanks for reading!