Friday, May 28, 2010

Age Appropriate Material

Friday musings...

This is over 20 years of adjudicating and I believe I am coming from it from a seasoned perspective!

I adjudicate voice and theatre, and this week I have been in Edmonton Alberta Canada adjudicating their Provincial Final Music Theatre competitions.

Perhaps the most difficult thing for young singers is finding "age appropriate" material to perform and compete with.

There's an interesting triangle of personalities that comes into this: the teacher, the parent and the singer.

Ultimately, if the teacher calls themselves a teacher, they MUST be doing CONSTANT research and learning to find out what material is out there and who it is for!

I was told today that a teacher actually asked me to give them a website to find appropriate material.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!  DO YOUR WORK!!

If you expect to be spoon fed as a teacher, then no wonder your students expect it!

EVERYBODY needs to be educated - teacher, parent AND singer.  The first education is with the teacher, as they lead the triangle.  They must be willing to spend the time and money to find things out!

"Age appropriate" material in Music Theatre combines many things:

It begins with roles that can be played professionally/semi-professionally by the age of the singer wanting to sing it.  A teenager isn't going to play Mrs. Lovett.  Frankly a 20 year old shouldn't be either.
A Jean Valjean isn't going to be played by a 12 year old.

Look to Broadway productions or professional regional theatre to find out WHO is playing roles to give you a sense of things.  LOTS of archives out there and you have it ALL at your fingertips on the Internet.

Then, IF the role is age appropriate - can the singer actually sing it?  Not, does the singer or the parent WANT them to sing it? CAN THEY?  Teachers, you have to stand firm as YOU are the professional.  Just because Susie's mother wants her to be singing something doesn't make it a good idea.

Can the voice take on the stylistic and vocal demands of the song? Is it going to show what that singer can do NOW and do well, or show what they CANNOT DO?  A no-brainer.

If the voice CANNOT DO WHAT IS REQUIRED why would you put a singer in that position? If they don't KNOW they have to be told.  Discover what you do well and DO IT.

Then, do you have the dramatic intelligence to create the scene required?  Can you create a character? Do you know HOW to be onstage?  Do you realize LESS IS MORE?  Do you study movement, gesture, motivation, subtext, intention, etc etc etc?

Then and only then, will the song choice be truly appropriate and may have a chance to actually create something theatrical.

Style, technique, craft, discipline, KNOWLEDGE all play into discovering what is appropriate.

It starts with the teachers' knowledge first.  The teacher needs to find out what is out there, to be able to recommend ideas to any given singer.  If they do not know the repertoire and the demands of said repertoire, they will not be able to authentically prepare a singer for a competition.

A parent needs to back off.  If you don't want to listen to the teacher, then find another teacher. Or teach your kid yourself.

Singer - ask questions.  And if you ask questions, be ready for the REAL answers.  Know what your voice does NOW.  Know what you are capable of NOW.  Don't wish, don't want.  BE AND DO.

So where's that website for appropriate material?

Where do you think I learned it?  I'm not going to do your work for you!  Teachers, parents and singers need to take responsibility and do their OWN work.

The vocal demands, the emotional demands, the dramatic demands all play into the discovery of a song.

We must respect the composer's intent and honour it.  We must respect the genre and the stylistic intention and honour it.  We must respect the process and DO IT.

The pursuit of craft - from performance to teaching - takes TIME and COMMITMENT!

There is so quick fix,  all-inclusive website, spoon-fed answer.

The answers are in the discovery - from researching, to listening, to reading, to studying, to asking questions, to trying things.

We find out our answers through work, trial and error, and more work.

Discovery is a wonderful thing if we are willing to DO IT and commit to it.

Teachers - be the example your singers and your parents need to see:  DISCOVER! RESEARCH! Do not expect the answers to be handed to you - but rather, go after them.

That ethic will be shown through example.

Know what you are doing, and if you don't, ask for help.  Don't ask for the answers.  Know the questions to ask.  Or, simply do something else.

If we cannot respect our craft and discipline enough to do the work, why bother?

So "age appropriate" means many things - it is as complex as the singer who will perform the scene!  It needs careful exploration and decision-making.

But when it fits - it is worth all the work!  And EVERYBODY experiences the results!
Looking for something too hard, or trying to be impressive, instead of discovering the process and what a singer can do well RIGHT NOW can be a disaster.

Impressive happens when it is real.  Real happens when the work is discovered by EVERYBODY - teacher, parents  and singer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bring Your Best!

Tuesday musings...

I am about to adjudicate the Music Theatre Alberta Provincial Festival.

No - I will NOT be commenting on what I hear specifically on this blog, but it does bring up some important discussions of competition, and the weariness of it, and its place in the larger scheme of things.

What are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before embarking on that competition stream?

First and foremost, why are you doing it?  What does this competition serve?

If you are clear about the REASON you do it, then it shall serve you more authentically.

There really isn't a right or wrong answer;  everybody's reasons can be very different - from gaining more experience, to getting another professional's opinion, to wanting to win some money, to showing off, to - you name it!

What is important to realize is that whatever your reason - it usually comes across.

If you are trying to impress,  you can't try to 'fake' being anything but trying to impress.

If you are trying to win, you will come across like that.

If you are trying to do your best, that comes across.

If you are scared to death, that also comes across.

So be true to your motivation.  I don't have to agree with it, but I can respect it if you are honest about it!

Competition has guidelines - have you jumped those hoops?  Have you truly prepared what is the best possible program to prepare - for you within the boundaries of that competition?  Are you truly prepared or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

Pretending, phony and shallow never read very well.  Don't pretend to be after the "artistic integrity" if you are only there to get a scholarship.  What's wrong with admitting to the truth? "I want to win some money" is so much more refreshing if it's the truth!

And when you say it, you own it.

So if you are going to make the truth known, then be prepared to claim those words.  And you claim it by DOING IT.

If you want to win that scholarship, then you have to do what is required.

If you want to present a well-balanced, artistic and nuanced program, then you must do what is required.

If you don't care, then we see that.

If you fake it,  we notice that.

As an adjudicator, I often don't need to remind a participant she/he is faking/flying by the seat of their pants/don't care/are doing it cause they felt they had to;  They already know that.  I can see they know I know.  I might make a comment that will let them know subtly I know they know I know (!) but why dwell on that?

Don't want to look bad? Just do the work.  Very very simple.

Want to learn to sing?  Then sing. Practice.  Learn.  Devote time and energy to it.

Want to perform?  Then perform.  Practice. Learn. Devote. Work.

Want to compete?  Then DO.  Practice. Learn.  Devote.  Work.

Whatever you have, bring it.  Whatever you want to do with it, be honest.

If you want to impress me it won't matter if there is nothing there to express.

You don't TRY once your foot hits the boards;  You DO.  The trying and discovering and the WORK happens in the practice room.  The DOING happens on the stage.

The DOING allows for your best.  The preparation and honesty allows for your truth to be seen and heard.

Say it. Own it. DO IT.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Flexible Are You?

Saturday musings...

One of my students,  Barrie Kreinik and I had this interesting conversation last week...She is a bright light and an old soul, and it got me thinking...thus this blog entry!

Is there strength is flexibility? Or is there strength in rigidity?

As an actor/singer/performer/artist this is crucial in process.  Recognizing what true flexibility is, as it relates to process, is what is most important.

Flexibility doesn't mean you are a push-over.  It doesn't mean you are a pleaser.  It doesn't mean no backbone or conviction.

Flexibility allows for change and adjustment.  Flexibility allows for questions,  discussion and compromise.  Flexibility allows for possibility and inclusion.  Flexibility allows for discovery and creation.

Whether we are discovering process by ourselves, with a teacher, in a rehearsal with other artists/performers,  with a conductor or a coach or a direction - how flexible are we?

Rigidity often is borne out of fear.  Flexibility is developed from security in one's own ability to discover.

Knowing one's boundaries is not rigidity.  Boundaries are necessary to create the flexibility between.  Standing up for those boundaries allows the process to become flexible and possibilities to be discovered!  Imagine what happens when we embrace, question, and take risks in order to uncover and discover possibilities in process!!!

Flexible artists are not pushovers.  They actually hold the most power in the room.  Why?  Because flexible equals strength.  The ability to be flexible requires overview and detail.  It allows for the ability to see beyond oneself.

Flexible artists are not pleasers.  Flexibility is about discovering the best in oneself and those around you to infuse the process with truth and reality.

Flexible artists take their craft seriously, but know how to laugh at themselves!

Flexible artists can make a mistake.

Flexible artists can make a compromise.

Flexible artists recognize when the process is being damaged.

Flexible artists are not about their own ego, but rather, about the process and the outcome of that process.

Flexible artists don't walk in with their coat on their shoulders and DEMAND.   Rather, flexible artists are all-inclusive, and CHALLENGE to DISCOVER.

Flexible artists are truly the POWER in a room.  They prove by their DOING that those who are too rigid, are too narcissistic, are too insecure, are too pleasing, are too overbearing, are too (fill in the blank) are faux-power and are actually not in control at all.

The flexibility of an artist allows for truth of process.

Learning this flexibility takes trust.  It takes inspiration.  It takes work. It takes discipline.  It takes guts.

Walking into the room and saying "I am not willing to do this..." creates a rigid and closed process that will lack possibility.

Walking into the room saying "I am willing..." creates room and space for possibility!

So how flexible are you?  What is holding you back?

Lack of craft, discipline, truth can often cause one to become inflexible.  We often hide behind the rigidity, ego, emotional outbursts, shyness, or even "look at me"-ness, to try to deflect a sense of inadequacy we feel in our process.

Our flexibility in the room allows for an exclusive  "inclusivity" for process, conversation, discussion, debate  and discovery.

Flexibility is power.

With flexibility,  there are no such things as mistakes -   Just choices.  No apologies.

Choice and decision and follow through.

The only way to truly discover you have choice, is to stay flexible enough to develop craft and discipline in order to know what those choices could be.

Embrace the room and the flexibility of YOU.  The power is there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Discipline of Voice

Wednesday musings...

Do you want to be a singer?  Do you know what that really means?

I am not talking about having a career,  but simply the discipline of DOING the singing!

Can anybody learn the process?  I believe the can.  That doesn't make them a singer, but it certainly means they can learn what has to be done.

Just like many of us can learn to dance, it doesn't make us dancers.

Developing the discipline of the craft is the first step.

You cannot develop craft or discipline in one dance class.  Guess what?  You can't learn to sing in one lesson!

And even if you study dance and create a discipline and a commitment - if you are not the right body type, have the wrong athleticism, and many other variables - you will LEARN TO DANCE but will not necessarily BE A DANCER.

Discovering the DISCIPLINE of voice does NOT make you a singer.  However, discovering the discipline of voice can allow for possibilities!

Singers, and those developing a discipline of singing need to recognize the commitment, the work ethic, the physicality and athleticism and the intelligence needed to discover and develop.

Singing is not a whim;  nor is it "something to do for fun" if you truly want to learn it!

A dancer wouldn't go to an occasional dance class and expect to be ready to DO their craft.

A singer cannot do that either.  There has to be a consistency of study and discipline of practice and discovery to secure a level of mastery.  Then and only then can the "tune ups" happen occasionally!

Wanting to 'sing' a 16 bar cut for an audition is not studying voice.  Nor is it BEING a singer!

If you want to BE you have to DO!

To discover whether you have the talent, athleticism, natural inclination to BE a singer takes discipline, patience (!),  dedication and consistency to study and discover and practice it!!

Development of skills does not make you a singer either.  Process is SO IMPORTANT to discover what you can learn and develop,  but your process does not mean the same arrival point as someone else.

I may have taken ballet classes.  I may have a great turn out.  I may do my barre everyday.  I may be musical.  I may be passionate about dancing.  But with my body type, I will NEVER BE a ballet dancer!  I can still LEARN HOW, but the reality is simple.

Singing is nothing less.  VOICE IS PHYSICAL.  We can develop the physicality of our voice and the discipline to uncover it - but we must recognize the uniqueness and the limitations of our physical instrument.

There are many types of intelligence - and certain intelligence can be more effective in certain disciplines.  Do you know where your strengths are intellectually?

Are you aware of the athleticism of singing?  Are you aware and ready to discover the physicality YOU have and how your athleticism can inform your singing?  Are you willing to recognize the truth of that?

Are you willing to discover the discipline of studying voice?  Are you willing to discover whether you are a singer or not?  Are you willing to explore that discipline in your unique process and recognize and accept your strengths and your realities?

I will NEVER say to someone coming to me that "You will never..."  Why?  Because 1. I've experienced being told that  (and they were wrong!)  and 2.  That's not my job!

My job, as a teacher and a coach, is to help you in your process!!  It is not to give you an absolute, a destination nor a job!

HOWEVER - I will challenge anyone if asked to see themselves realistically!  I will challenge a singer/a disciple of singing to see what they are asking and recognize the challenges they are setting up for themselves, if I see them setting up unnecessary roadblocks.  I will offer other possibilities and ideas.

So, I ask the questions:  Can you call yourself a singer if you never sing?  Can you call yourself a singer if you don't study?  Can you expect results in one hour when you only study occasionally?

Just like ANY physical and athletic discipline, changes are gradual and discipline needs to be consistent. Whether you are playing a sport, working out at the gym, in dance class - singing is a physical athleticism that needs CONSTANT attention until the discovery is attained - and then maintenance and fine-tuning is needed.

Just like every BODY being different, so every VOICE requires its specific and unique and individualized attention and discipline.

And just as you can build muscles, or learn the aspects of a sport, or learn HOW to dance - singing as an athletic physical achievement, does not make you a singer.  It will allow you to sing.

Some things to think about...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Follow-Up

Sunday musings...

As one builds the "Business of Self",  what I find with many singer/actors is the nervousness of following up!

I say nervousness, because I see and hear an uncomfortable-ness in many of you when you are asked about HOW you follow up, or when you are asked certain questions about follow-up and you answer "I couldn't do that - that is pushy!"

Follow-up doesn't need to be pushy.  They are not the same.

In our business,  it is absolutely NECESSARY to network and follow-up.  "Out of sight, out of mind" is absolutely the name of the game!

If you've auditioned for someone,  done a class with someone,  met someone after a performance who speaks with you/gives you their card - YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW UP!!!!!

This is not being aggressive or pushy!  A simple email to thank the person for the time/conversation et al keeps your name and your work in their mind.

HOW you follow up is the important thing.

Let me give you an example:  A singer/dancer had an appointment for an audition and made it through the final cut.  The director/choreographer teaches a class she/he takes - and the same D/CH was holding  EPAs for the same show the following week.  The singer/dancer doesn't know whether to wait for a callback through the dance cut, or attend the EPA.

My suggestion?  You are in the director's class?  Why not just approach him after class and simply say - "I would like your professional advice:  I made it through the final cut for such-and-such;  would I be wasting  your time to attend the EPA as well, or would you like to see me there?"

The singer/dancer was APPALLED that I would suggest this.  She/he thought it was rude and telling the director what to do!!!

I disagree.  There is a professional way to approach someone.  You don't ask if you are getting a callback!  You are asking a professional opinion.  He has an opportunity to say "Sure come in for the EPA or don't worry about it."  He has an opportunity to speak with you about your audition if he chooses, or give you a general answer.  You are not asking for a private critique;  you are not asking if you are getting a callback;  You are asking if this is worth YOUR time and HIS time.  This keeps your name and your face and your approachability in his mind.

By not approaching him, you have gained NOTHING.  His response to HOW you approach him will give you a sense of what would be the best way to continue in your audition process.

We don't often get an opportunity like this - and I think understanding the opportunity and treating it with respect is important in the follow-up of your audition!!

What the follow-up is NOT is obnoxious,  over-bearing or stalking!!!

Keeping in touch to keep your name/your activities in the mind of someone is one thing!  Constant demand of time,  outrageous expectation - is not follow-up and not healthy!

If you have studied one-on-one with someone, taken a class of any kind, had any kind of interaction, or even having a referral - you should feel comfortable that you have an invitation to engage the follow-up.

If you do not hear back - don't take it as a snub!  People are busy!

Let me give you a personal example:  my students and I discuss their careers and I often make suggestions for repertoire, people they can work with et al.  Due to the nature of my schedule, I often will not get to some of the information.  I EXPECT my students to email me or text me to remind me "Susan, can you send me that file?  Can you send me the contact info for so-and-so that we discussed in our lesson today? Can you remember to bring XYZ today to my lesson as we discussed."

This is EXPECTED.  Frankly, I can't remember everything!!!!  Having my students send me a quick reminder of what I am supposed to do for them is WELCOME!   It keeps the task in my mind and on my desktop!

If I forget - it's that simple.  I forgot.  I haven't snubbed you;  I haven't backed out of my responsibility to our conversation!  I simply forgot or I simply got busy with the many other things and it has slipped my mind.

It is the same for other teachers, casting directors, directors, choreographers, agents, producers etc etc etc!

Our plates are FULL and we need YOU to remind us to keep YOU in our minds!

If you are in the mind of the people you are wanting to work with,  there is  much better chance to be the person that is called upon if your talent is needed!

The follow-up takes work, but it's worth it!

A simple "thank you" email after an interview or an audition, shows your commitment and your focus.

I am "old school" when it comes to this - the smallest thank you can make all the difference in the world!  Making sure you answer queries,  making your needs and desires known,  making sure you CANCEL appointments if you have to, instead of just not showing up...ALL so important to show what kind of conscientious human being and artist you are!

Whether it's a phone call,  a note, a postcard, an email - a simple "great to meet you last night, and hope to sing for you again"  can keep your name and your professionalism in the mind of someone who could help your career.

Walking up to a director after a Master Class and saying "I auditioned for your production last week - when will I get a callback?"  is NOT a follow-up.  The is obnoxious and unprofessional.

A simple rule of thumb:  if YOU were to be approached, how you would want to be treated?  Treat others in the same way YOU would want to be treated:  with respect, with professionalism,  and with a sense of decorum.  Hounded,  questioned,  "attacked",  cornered - doesn't fly - in person, by email, by regular mail, by voice mail.

BE approachable,  recognize the importance of the follow-up to keep your name/your face/you talent in the front of the minds who see SO MANY faces each week.

If you want to work, you need to stand apart.  Be remembered for something positive and something professional.

Don't be afraid to follow-up.  IT IS EXPECTED. It's part of our business.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What Defines Success?

Wednesday evening musings...

Have  you thought about what "success" means for you?

Have you watched those people around you who have achieved that same "success" definition?

If you have, what have you learned?  What conclusions have you drawn from those observations?

If they are doing something that you are not doing, why aren't you doing it?

Observing is one of the finest teachers and I have observed many people who have taught me MUCH.

This is what I have observed:

1. Successful people are people who are not afraid of work.  They don't whine and cry - they WORK.

2.  Successful people do not let fear of ANY kind inhibit their efforts or their desires.

3.  Successful people have the capacity to see themselves and their abilities HONESTLY and ACCURATELY.  If you don't recognize that you have a shortcoming, how can you improve it?!  How can you solve the problem if you don't know you have one?!  Even if someone else sees it - that is not enough.  YOU must and DO something about it.

4.  Successful people do not let anything or anybody turn them around.  There is no plan B - even though there CAN be (life happens when you make other plans!)

5.  Successful people BELIEVE and HAVE TO BELIEVE because we are in an unreasonable and unbelievable business.

6.  Successful people can WORK with people.  Can you?  Can you meet people where they are?

7.  Successful people are PLIABLE.  You need more than the capacity to examine yourself - you need to learn to re-examine in order to make the adjustments needed to find what you need and what others need OF you.

8.  Successful people are NOT NEGATIVE.

9.  Successful people are WILLING to take WHATEVER job in NECESSARY to further their craft, their reputation and their artistic development.  Being an "opera singer" and working at Macy's and never singing, isn't being an opera singer.  It's working at Macy's.  Sometimes you have to sing in the chorus for awhile, or something else that may seem "unworthy" of you in order to development relationships in the business, and the like.  Does the job degrade you, or do YOU degrade the job????

10.  Successful people  stay thirsty and stay hungry no matter how full they are in the moment.

and to finish...

 Successful people find a way to do something for their CRAFT and for their CAREER EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Where are you?  Where do you need to be?



Thomas Young  - and Susan Eichhorn-Young  will be offering a SINGERS’ INTENSIVE WEEKEND IN TORONTO July 16 - 18, 2010 We offer a combined 60 years of experience on stage and in the studio!
For singers, teachers, pianists, instrumentalists - auditors welcome!!! The weekend will offer Master Classes, a Business Class and private sessions! You can take any one or combinations of more than one ALL CLASSES AND PRIVATE SESSIONS WILL BE HELD AT BRAVO ACADEMY


Available with Susan Eichhorn-Young and/or Thomas Young. 1 hour in length and can cover YOUR needs - technique, repertoire et al. This is to enhance your studies. These will be scheduled with the individual singer with Susan on Friday and Saturday and with Thomas on Sunday.


Jazz Voice
Length of class: 2 - 3 hours (depending on enrollment) Friday, July 16, 2010 starting at 6 p.m.
Open to ANY singer who is interested in learning more about the singer’s process in jazz repertoire. Each singer will prepare ONE jazz standard to perform. The class will address: time/subdivision/ swing/bebop; language; tonal choices and colours; vocal onsets specific to the style; vowels and vowel groups specific to the style. 
Auditors welcome.

Opera/Oratorio/Art Song Performance and Presentation
Length of class: 2 - 3 hours Saturday, July 17, 2010 starting at 5 p.m.
Each singer will prepare ONE aria/art song to perform - from the standard opera/oratorio repertoire or the standard art song literature in any language. The class will address access to character in performance; access to process and how you prepare; stylistic choices and decisions; musical choices and decisions.
Auditors welcome.


Music Theatre Audition Techniques Class
Length of class: 2 - 3 hours (depending on enrollment) Sunday, July 18, 2010, starting at 12 noon
Each singer will prepare TWO contrasting MT song cuts - 16/32 bars. The class will cover HOW you audition - from repertoire to taking the room to what to wear to what to expect. Discovering your type and expanding on it. How you claim your professionalism in the audition and make yourself memorable in a positive way! Auditors welcome.

Music Theatre Presentation and Performance
Length of class: 2 -3 hours (depending on enrollment) Sunday, July 18, 2010. starting at 4 p.m.
Each singer will prepare ONE FULL song from the music theatre repertoire. The class will cover character through voice and physicality; types of song; technical and stylistic attitudes - from legit to mix to belt; How to make the song your OWN!!
Auditors welcome.


The Business of Singing
Length of class: 2 hours Saturday, July 17, 2010, 12 noon - 2 p.m.
This class will address how to become the CEO of YOU! The class will cover audition expectations and fundamentals and the differences between opera and music theatre; what needs to be seen in headshots and resumes (bring yours!); introducing YOU - cover letters, emails, follow-ups and how to DO it! find out what you are selling what they are buying and how you make it WORK! No auditors. Everyone is a participant!!

DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE IF REGISTERED BY JULY 1ST, 2010!!!!! A $50 NON-REFUNDABLE bank email transfer will be required to complete your registration and will be applied to your total fee. The balance of the fee will be expected at the first class you are registered in and can be paid by cash or cheque. Receipts for the ENTIRE fee will be given. Cheques are payable to “Susan Eichhorn-Young”. NO GST.

TO REGISTER: email SUBJECT LINE: JULY INTENSIVE Please indicate in the email what you want to register for! If you want a private session, indicate WHO you would like to study with (Susan or Thomas) and if you have a preference of day/time.

Fee Schedule:
If you choose to take in ONE session - private or class: Private session $120.00 Business class $60.00 Master Class: $80.00

Auditors: $50.00 per class (all inclusive fee - includes the pianist)

If you choose to combine any of the above: TWO private sessions: $220.00 total ONE private session and ONE Master Class: $150.00 total

Any additional Master Class/Class: $10 off each additional class

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me directly!

a little advertising...

A blog is coming...promise!!!

In the meantime,  I wanted to advertise a little...

My studio in NYC is located within another business - TRUE VOICE NYC

I have been able to get to know Tiffany, Claudia and Michael who jointly own and run this voice studio/recording studio and I cannot recommend them enough!

They offer private voice and group classes from songwriting to sight singing for singers to summer camps for teens and tweens!

If you are looking for more commercial singing for all ages and theatre singing for tweens/teens - you may want to check this out!!!

They work with seasoned professionals,  aspiring professionals, emerging professionals and semi-professionals and amateur singers, as well as children and teenagers!

This isn't JUST (!) a voice studio - but also a recording studio!!!

Have you considered a demo?  From theatre to pop to another genres?  TRUE VOICE NYC can hook you up - all in house!!!  The recording, the mixing, the editing - all done on site!!

Their fees are beyond reasonable and the service you get is peerless!!!!

Contact Tiffany at True Voice to get more information!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Stupid Questions

Monday musings...

I tell all singers who walk into my studio,  there are no stupid questions.  I want them to feel comfortable to ask and not edit.  Often, when we "assume" something is when we miss an important piece of the puzzle!

That is in the studio...and I adhere to stupid questions...I truly believe that.


Out in the world,  one needs to readjust!!!

As an adjudicator,  as a music consultant, I have been sent/seen/asked some, ehem, interesting questions.  Questions, that just don't seem to be thoughtful.

When you are applying for a competition,  making an appointment for an audition,  filling in an application for a position or school...what has happened to READING AND DOING WHAT IT ASKS?

This, sadly, speaks more volumes that your voice ever will.

If the "rules" say,  "do not exceed the time limit of 20 minutes" - do not email and ask for clarification!

Rules/regulations,  guidelines, et al should be adhered to and if you DO have questions, discuss it with your teacher, your pianist, other singers who have done that competition/festival etc.  Do not send the question initially to the consultant, adjudicator,  organization!

READ carefully.  ACKNOWLEDGE carefully.  Do not get "creative" with guidelines.  Do not "assume".  If it's not clear, go through the rank and file!  Most times, things are pretty straight forward, and if you are confused, having a teacher or pianist read it and give their input is the first step!  If they are confused, perhaps, then you can ask for clarification.

Sadly, if your question is answered by your question  "I am wondering what 'do not exceed the time limit of 20 minutes' means exactly 20 minutes or if I can be under 20 minutes?"  then PLEASE do not enquire to the organization!!!

Why?  You look like an idiot.  Seriously!!!  You have already "marked" yourself.  Sad but true.

If the competition says "art song", sing an art song.  If you don't know what an art song is, talk with your teacher, do not email the competition!!!!  (If you don't know what an art song is, perhaps you shouldn't be entering the competition...but I digress...)

I have seen queries as to whether one can sing a duet as a solo for the "opera aria" category.

I have seen queries as to whether all the music should be memorized, when it clearly states: "the program shall not be changed and must be sung by memory".

I have been asked if the singer can sing their aria in English even though they have picked Mozart and the rule clearly states: "ORIGINAL language is required for each song/aria."





MAKE NOTES.  WRITE DOWN IDEAS.  DOUBLE CHECK.  TRIPLE CHECK.  Get someone ELSE to check again for you to make sure you haven't missed something.

Why is this happening?

Have we become so spoon fed that we cannot comprehend some basic guidelines?

Follow the bouncing is NOT rocket science.  If you say you can sing well enough to sing in a foreign language,  you certainly must have the intelligence to follow 1, 2, 3.!!!

YOU are responsible for following the guidelines.  Someone else on the receiving end of your application is not responsible for "cleaning it up".  If it is incorrect, wrong or not what is asked for, or incomplete, you should be penalized for that.  Simply that.

You miss a deadline - you miss a deadline.  Why should you be granted extra time because you forgot? You didn't see a deadline?  You weren't 'sure' about the deadline? (even though it was stated at the bottom of each page in BOLD)

You don't have the required repertoire?  You simply don't apply.  You don't ask the rules to be changed for you!

You are offering up your reputation! Your reputation truly proceeds you!  It reveals much more about you than you might realize, and sadly,  can be lurking for a VERY VERY long time.




CHECK and DOUBLE CHECK before submitting.



Are you clear about all rules and guidelines and deadlines and expectations?


As a singer, you represent yourself.  How you ask, what you ask, what you seem to know, what you seem to NOT know, within a business arena, is how your reputation is built - positive AND negative.

If your questions are obvious,  people wonder.  If your questions are ridiculous, or plain stupid vis a vis, as it pertains to VOCAL REPERTOIRE,  people talk.

KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ASKING.  If it is clear in statement, don't ask for clarification!


This is part of being your "business" as a singer.

If I am on a panel, am an adjudicator, etc - I cannot take your "art" seriously, if you don't seem to have a clue about following directions.


There are no reasons for stupid questions.  None. Not when it comes to this.

If you call yourself a singer,  BE ONE in ALL aspects of your business.

REAL SINGERS ARE NOT DUMB!!  We are bright, authentic, and comprehend well.  We can read and follow instructions.  We do not have to behave badly to get attention.  We can be generous and forthcoming,  we can understand and do the work.  We do not need special attention.

We are not stupid. So don't be.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Don't Get Confused!

Sunday evening musings...

After many consultations over the last few weeks, with Music Theatre Singers and their audition books, there is a great deal of confusion out there...

I wanted to address some of the issues that seem to be quite common, and that can perhaps make a difference in a positive way in your audition process!

Let's assume you can actually sing (!), that you actually have craft and technique and are using your voice well...(a large assumption at times in MT sadly, but for the purposes of the blog...)

Why are you confusing your audition?

Too many of you are deciding on your repertoire as you WALK IN THE ROOM!!!!

PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT!!!  Why?  You bring that confusion into the room.

The panel is too busy to riddle out confusion.  Even if they are creative or imaginative, (!),  they do not have TIME to do it.  If you are are not SECURE, they will not be.  You will be dismissed. End of discussion.

YOU ARE IN CONTROL and you MUST make a clear decision about what goes into that room with you!!

What type are you evoking?  You MUST make that decision before you leave your apartment!!!  Why? BECAUSE WE SEE YOU FIRST!!!  Your type must be OBVIOUS not subtle.  If you can't answer that question, if asked, or you hesitate, then you aren't secure in it, and that confusion is being projected.

PROJECT YOUR TYPE.  CLAIM IT.  It can change!!!!  Just know WHAT YOU ARE LEADING WITH so your energy and your look evokes it.  Choose your repertoire to take that projection further so there is NO DOUBT in the panel's mind why you are there!!

Look and presentation of material has to match.  If it doesn't, it causes confusion.  Confusion is not clear and therefore you will be dismissed.   You will be in "that" pile of resumes/head shots!  The "not ready"/"no callback" pile.

You do NOT need to be EXACTLY like your head shot - and in fact, a little diversity to show your range from head shot to actual person can be great if you have that diversity.  Make sure that head shot shows your true type so what you present is truly representative of YOU!

If you have range, you do not need to exude the same type at each audition - but you need to know WHAT to exude and HOW to do it!!  If you don't know, neither will they - NEXT!!!!

DECIDE, COMMAND, DO IT!  Get creative with it - if you are an artist, you should be able to do that right?!  Create the type as specifically as you can with each audition.  MAKE A DECISION.

"Ingenue" or "Leading Lady" is only the beginning...based on the audition, get specific!  If you are an "ingenue" are you projecting a "young Drew Barrymore type meets Kristin Chenoweth type"?  or are you projecting something else?

EVERY audition needs specificity!!!!

ONLY YOU can create that specificity!

The more specific you become with what YOU can create, the more successful that audition will become!  If you aren't confused, you will not project confusion.  YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF THIS! You can't control what the panel is looking for or why, but you DO have control to make your reason for being there VERY CLEAR.

If YOU know what you are projecting, you will bring more confidence and clarity into that audition space.

THIS is up to you.  If you aren't confused, you are in control.

(Oh, and leave the flip flops in your bag - I wanna see REAL SHOES in that audition too!!! girls AND guys!)

If you are confused, you are confusing others.  Clear up the confusion with yourself and others will begin to LISTEN!

A callback perhaps?  Maybe a job?!?!?