Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year message - claiming or dabbling?

It's almost another new year...I honestly don't know where the time has gone!! Is this a sign I'm getting old?!?

My almost new year question is: are you dabbling with your craft, or are you claiming it?

Isn't it time to make a decision and DO it?

With true craft, comes real responsibility.  Responsibility to work at it daily and develop it ferociously!!

Within craft, you can mold technique,  artistry and knowledge.   The talent is but a small portion of the overall equation.  It certainly helps, but if it is not harnessed, developed, acknowledged and driven by a passion,  it really means nothing.

None of these things exist in a vacuum.  They need each other to define a claim:  talent,  technique, knowledge,  artistry,  passion,  curiosity and honesty.

Dabbling never truly finds a habitation of any of these things fully.

"I sing well enough..."
"I should be able to do this after this much time..."
"I don't really care..."
"Can I learn it quickly?"

Wanting something and not being honest enough to commit to it fully enough to realize it is simply dabbling.

Dabbling can also mean a delusion - that SOMEDAY you'll find it, but you never commit enough to find it, or find out it's simply not what you do well.

So if you say "I want to learn to sing well;  I need to learn to sing well;  I must find my voice" - THEN DO IT!!!!!

If you are new to this,  reviewing it,  rehashing it - then dive in and explore!

If it's time for a change - make one!  If it's time for a risk - take one!

Whatever area of craft you want and need to explore - quit talking about it and COMMIT to its development.

ONE LESSON will not help you.  Years and years of study and no development will not help you.  What are you studying?  Sounds like dabbling to me.

Commitment to a goal and an honesty of that goal and a clear focus for that goal will allow for the possibility of claiming your craft,  or making another realization of where that craft should manifest itself.

You are not a singer if you have never studied voice;
You are not an actor if you have never studied acting;
You are not a dancer if you have never studied dancing;

You may have an affinity toward a craft - but until you claim the physical manifestation,  the artistic directive and the ability to summon the talent in its totality at will - you are still in process,  or perhaps dabbling.

Loving to sing, or "act" or dance is great - but do not confuse the doing with the loving!

We can learn to do and be and still love it too!  In fact, the love of craft and journey gets deeper as we gain knowledge and develop responsibility to what we are doing.

So,  if you catch yourself saying "I should really take a voice lesson...."  perhaps change that process and decide to say "I should really commit to developing my voice regularly".

The tune ups/occasional lessons/check-ins etc happen AFTER the claiming has occurred.

So,  perhaps it is a new year for claiming, re-claiming,  re-committing,  and re-alizing what you are about.  It will be for me too!

Monday, December 27, 2010

a Jazz Voice and Cabaret Master Class

January 29th  Thomas Young is offering a Jazz Voice and Cabaret Master Class in NYC!

There is limited enrollment for singers AND auditors!

TRUE VOICE NYC is hosting this event and all the registration and important info in available on their website.

Mr. Young brings 40 years experience in jazz idioms in 30 countries of performance!  He has worked with many of the great jazz musicians of the 20th and 21st century!

Whether you are a beginner in jazz idioms, curious to explore more or a seasoned professional who just wants a tune up - this is YOUR class!

You will also be able to purchase an edited recording of your work from True Voice to use as a teaching tool,  a possible clip for your website or whatever you wish!

Here is Mr. Young's Twisted on youtube.

A special registration rate til January 1st available.  Registration available til the class fills.
REGISTER NOW!!!  Singers and Auditors!

Friday, December 24, 2010


Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season!!!

Blogging will resume I promise!

From my family to yours -  peace, laughter and love!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Is it too late?

Friday evening musings...

Often, singers ask me that it too late?

My answer begins with "too late for what?"

Often, singers who say they want a career, really don't know what that means and what it entails.

Often, singers who say they want a career, don't realize how many "careers" could be had under that umbrella!

It is never too late to do SOMETHING.  What that something is has many many factors.

Is it too late to pursue an international career as an opera singer?

That depends on your training, your talent, your temperament, your fach, your resume, your age, the universe, the business and the combination of all of it!!

 Is it too late to learn how to sing well?

To sing as well as YOU can, at any given age?  never too late.

 Is it too late to have a regional career as a singer?

Is it too late to be in music theatre?

Is it too late...

The question tires me and makes me tense.

The question has a panic about it and sense of desperation.  Panic and desperation do not bode well for success at anything, for anything.

Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves - what do I want and why?  And is it feasible to pursue it? And if it doesn't work out, am I comfortable to look at other possibilities?

I believe, if there are possibilities,  there is forward motion.

I would like to hear a singer ask me "what do you think my possibilities are?"

Now THAT is a question!!!! That has breath, and space and a forward looking optimism that will allow for a realistic view!

Are you, the singer, willing to consider the possibilities within the boundaries of YOU?  Are you willing to consider the possibilities of you within the boundaries of the business?  Are you willing to consider the possibilities of what "career" actually means?

Talent, ability, or not - some personalities are not best suited for a career as a professional singer on the international or national scene.  Some are better suited at the regional level, or even at the local and community level.  Professional comes from attitude and ethic no matter what level you are on!  Perhaps learning to sing well does not necessarily take you down the singer career-path.  Perhaps you find a place for yourself in other aspects of theatre.  Perhaps you are a teacher who sings!

Maybe you find a place in the classroom, or in a choir, or conducting a choir.

Perhaps you have a world class instrument, but you choose to have a family and build a business as a manager, or create an opera company or a theatre company and inspire and lead others into performance.

If there is a possibility, it is never too late.

Often, there are simply those who choose to create unrealistic goals for themselves.  It is almost as if they create and stage a self-sabotaged drama around themselves.

And then there are the oblivious who believe they are somewhere they are not.  They ask questions, but they don't really want to the answers, nor hear or listen to them.

So, before you go directly to "is it too late" - ask yourself what you want and what the possibilities are?  Then are you simply prepared to do what it takes to seize that possibility - and is it a REAL possibility?

It is NEVER too late to claim the truth of YOU - and then, and only then, are the possibilities real and true.

We all need that reminder from time to time in order to keep the path clear and uncluttered, to reclaim a path, or simply walk a new one.

Wherever you are, BE there.  Consider the possibilities and the realistic view and then, claim the possibility by doing whatever it takes to make it REAL.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Custom Costuming in Cabaret

Saturday musings...

Costuming for the singer really needs to be all-encompassing!

After attending a NYC cabaret showcase this week,  it bares repeating!

You don't need to think about your wardrobe as costume ONLY when you are in a production playing a character!

Costuming is what you wear when you are on stage - PERIOD.  If you doing a symphony concert, a recital, a cabaret,  WHATEVER - the clothing choices you make are costuming.

In a cabaret setting - which is much more intimate in EVERY way - it is even more crucial.  Your audience is up close and personal,  and often the stage height puts the audience's eyes at thigh level.

GREAT.  JUST the spot we want to be analyzed at!!!

As cabaret spaces are more intimate,  so the decision of what to costume in becomes more important.

Costume is NOT street clothes.  EVER.

Ultimately,  anything you use on stage should be something you simply do not wear in your day to day life.  Invest in the costume.  This is crucial to how your work is seen.

Make mistakes!  We all have!!  Ask questions!  Find out what is expected.  Be open and willing to take a risk or two in finding what works for you.

Using the cabaret stage as an example - the intimacy of the space needs to work FOR you not against you.  We need to work for more height and larger than life while still maintaining an intimacy.  This is craft yes, but part of craft is learning how to costume your SELF.   The costume should enhance, not detract from the craft and journey you are willing and able to take us on.

Ladies, we simply have more work to do.  Guys,  for good or evil, you simply don't have as many choices.

UNDERGARMENTS.  I don't care who you are.  UNDERGARMENTS.

The intimacy of the cabaret stage is...intimate.  We see EVERYTHING.  Panty-line,  rolls, bulges - you got it - we see it.  Find the undergarments that create a seamless silhouette - EVERYWHERE.

This is what I often get when I am working with singers on costuming:

"But I wouldn't wear this to the club or in my every day - this isn't me"


This is the point.  I don't WANT you in your regular clothes, in your club clothes nor in your date clothes.  I want you in a COSTUME.

If we begin thinking this way, we will be more successful in making correct and exciting choices in costuming!

YOU are the performer.  YOU need to be larger than life when you hit that stage - even in the intimacy of the cabaret house.  Larger than life doesn't mean bulges and muffin top or a push up and over bra!!! It means presence and length.

The first rule of stage visual is UP.  The audience's eye needs to be led UP your body TO YOUR FACE.  The intimacy of your performance will happen in your eyes, and if we are sitting at your thigh level and looking at bumps and a short skirt that cuts you in half, or legs that go up under and through, or a skirt that is so short that we are concerned it might reveal more than the cabaret intimacy is really needed (!)  we are not with you artistically anymore.

The malfunction of costuming has taken over the performance and your work is lost.



Work with your body type not against it.  If you are wearing boots and a short skirt, make sure the color is the same so there's no cut off from your toes to your hose to your skirt!

Daytime heel is not stage heel.

Open the upper body and bring us to your FACE.  Know that under cabaret lights you will wash out too - so figure out how to do the makeup to bring out eyes and lips and angles!!

Fabrics should never make more noise than you do!!  They should not make you look bigger.  They should flow,  they should drape,  they should balance.  Textures can be exciting in a cabaret setting too as is the use of color and hue and shade.  Cabaret lends itself to more subtlety that still stands out.

Create a FULL silhouette based on your body type.  THEN accessorize with shoes/boots,  color,  bling...and please - GET YOUR HAIR OFF YOUR FACE!  (and run a brush through it too if it's not too much trouble!)

You are creating a character - and therefore, that character needs a costume.

Short skirt,  long skirt,  wide-legged pants,  cigarette pants,  jackets, tunics,  sequins,  buttons,  satin,  silk,  wool,  boots, stilettos,  pumps,  whatever your choice - make it a COSTUME choice.

You have created this cabaret - be it a full evening or a set - and we SEE you.  Create the line,  the energy, the focus to be on YOU!!!  The largesse of you is about drawing your audience TO you, to see past you and into your eyes and into your journey and you take us with you,  not to be concerned that a seam may break, or when you sit on that stool that your belly is pouring forth, or that girls may spill with one more breath!

COSTUME YOURSELF.  YOU are the character.  Respect her enough to create the outer package as well.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Collaboration in the Studio

Sunday musings...

What does this mean to singer and teacher???  This "collaboration"?

This does not mean you are peers (otherwise, why would the singer be in a teacher's studio at the moment?)

It does not mean that because the singer is paying for the teacher's time, that the singer dictates the terms of that lesson time and tells the teacher how that lesson will go! If the singer thinks she/he can dictate, then why bother going to a teacher?  Sounds like you should be teaching, knock yourself out!

This does not mean the teacher "takes over" and makes the hour about her/him with no regard to the singer's needs or queries either.  All singers are not the same, therefore, the approach MUST be individual. When the teacher teaches the material and not the individual, or simply DICTATES this is not teaching.

Collaboration comes from mutual respect,  mutual recognition,  mutual said and unsaid response of what is needed NOW.

Collaboration in the studio should result in a POSITIVE end.  That end should be reflected IN THE SINGER.

When collaborating with new singers,  I always ask "why are you here?"  Sometimes the answer is silence;  sometimes the answer is general;  sometimes the answer is specific.  It gives me a great deal of information about the sensibility of the singer in front of me.

Often singers have very specific reasons for being in the studio;  sometimes those reasons and goals are very aware of the singer's potential, of the singer's current state of technical prowess - and other times - they simply show the singer's unawareness of where they are in their development.

The collaboration comes in the teacher's recognition of what they are asking the singer and how to interpret the answers they get!

When I ask and get an answer, then we work, in order to find out what is going on.  Do I address the answer?  Of course!!! However, of the answer to my question has no relevance YET to the singer, then I can say, "this is something we can look at, however, I see/hear/observe these things we need to address FIRST in order for what you are wanting to achieve to be possible."

Collaboration leaves no room for nasty-ness, or rudeness from teacher OR singer.  Collaboration is about openness, thoughtfulness and possibilities.  If the singer believes the teacher is not addressing his or her needs,  then they are free to leave and never return and find someone that will be better suited.  The teacher also has this prerogative:  if a singer chooses to be disrespectful or rude,  or simply not a singer that the teacher wants to invest time in for ANY reason,  that teacher can simply make a decision not to teach said singer.

Collaboration needs communication.  Communication must be open and real and honest in the studio.  Sometimes it needs to be brutal if a singer isn't listening.  Sometimes it needs to be coaxed gently if the singer cannot hear.  And if the communication cannot be established - from either direction - then collaboration simply cannot be.  The system just does not work for these two individuals and another choice must be made.

True singer/teacher collaboration, in my experience, happens when both individuals are willing and open to explore.  A singer works with a teacher to learn to teach him/herself.  A teacher works with a singer to learn to find the truth for that singer to embody and finally become obsolete.  A teacher teaches to become a better teacher.

Dictatorships from EITHER direction do not work:  "My way or the highway" from a teacher leaves no room for growth, for observation or for a possible change.  "We are working on THIS today" from a singer leaves no possibility to allow for true learning.

I will ask a singer "What have you brought today?"  because I believe in that respect.  If a singer has a specific aria/song/goal that week, I want to know about it.  I want to know what you've worked on,  what you are discovering,  what you are concerned about!  YOUR journey is crucial to how the hour in the studio is patterned.

However,  the whole point of seeing a teacher is to access those ears, eyes, experience, expertise so if the hour begins to shape itself to what is necessary for the SINGER because of what that singer begins to do in the studio,  then both singer and teacher must be pliable enough to allow it to morph and shape to the Singer's NEEDS not necessarily either person's WANTS or DESIRES.

Collaboration in the studio then takes on a life of its own - and extends to the respect of the space between and how it is shaped organically and created by the energies that inhabit it.

What we want, isn't always what we need.  What we need to collaborate on in the possibility that this is fluid and are we willing and able to follow it?

Can we "get off the script" and allow for a change if a change is necessary?

True collaboration allows for this.  A true learning and teaching balance MUST allow for this for truth to be achieved.

Respect for the possibility of collaboration allows MORE possibilities!  Disrespect shuts the process down before it begins.