Sunday, August 21, 2011

What are you looking for and how do you find it?

Sunday musings...

It is that time of year when the fall season is gearing up and many performers, would bes and will bes are looking for classes, teachers, coaches and more.

After being solicited by an scammer yesterday myself I thought it was time to write a blog about this.

First, not everything is what it seems.

I can scream about red flags but if you haven't got the experience nor the red flag gene you may get sucked into something that will not serve you. We all have survived poor teaching, bad teaching, and good old snake oil salesmen/women.

The point is, once you realize the poor choice, you run. Fast. Far. And never go back. Intuition needs to be turned on high and paid close attention to!

I once went into a voice consultation with a "teacher" only to see if the rumors were true. They were. He was nuts. I sang two phrases of an aria, listened to him talk about his non-career for an hour and at the end of that session, he told me I was an "ina" fach because I was "petite and cute". Well, those who know me are laughing hysterically!!! Far from it! Without missing a beat, I paid his fee FOR HIS TIME and responded "if I am ever ready to sing in that fach you will be the first I call". Done and done.

Sometimes we don't know what we need and we wander in blind. Ultimately craft means technique first and if a teacher or class doesn't explore that or offer that, I would be suspect.

Know the difference between classes about craft versus classes shout business and industry. They are not the same and not meant to be. You may have a natural gift, but it doesn't mean you should be in an advanced monologue class if you have never studied acting!

Real teachers don't solicit or spam. In this age of social media, the scammers do this religiously. Real teachers have reputations through advertising and word of mouth.

Real teachers don't call you. Real teachers are too busy to be doing a used car salesman pitch to continue to hound you about why you aren't coming to his/her class or studio.

Real teachers make time to consult or speak with you to find out what you are looking for and what you need. Sometimes the student isn't aware of what they need, and only what they think they need. A real teacher is able to see through and past, in order to adjust the possibilities. Real teachers are not afraid to speak truth to a possible student, even if it means that student walks away.

Real teachers want what is best for the student.

Real teachers do not claim a students credits and accomplishments. They rejoice in them!

I have always said, when your foot hits the boards the success you have created is yours, and if you fall flat on your ass, that is yours too!

A real teacher does not promote hype. They do not promote with "so and so might be studying here" as a way to lure students to them. A real teacher knows his or her strengths about craft and business and promotes those strengths. Those strengths are re-iterated in a consultation or conversation, and then if the student CHOOSES to continue, those strengths are developed in a student's development in the studio.

You are not a singer til you learn to sing and all that entails. You are not an actor just because you recite a monologue, but when you can establish a technical behavior to allow you access to craft. You are not a dancer because you can move to a beat!

A real teacher will not blow sunshine up your nose and tell you that you are wonderful just to keep you paying a fee! A real teacher will risk losing you by speaking truth and then showing you how to find it for yourself.

A real teacher is about YOU. A real teacher doesn't pander for clientele. A real teacher will figure out a way to meet you where you are and guide you through.

A real teacher is honest. A real teacher will listen.

Real teachers wait to hear from you. They do not invade your space and follow you around.

Real teachers put the truth out there, let you know what you need and how you can develop the tools and then allow you to develop the vocabulary to use those tools.

Real teachers teach you how to teach yourself. Real teachers can say "I set you free!" when you are ready to fly to the next!

Real teachers want to be obsolete at some point.

Real teachers do not create drama in the studio. They are about the work and the individual. They do not throw you into the lion's den of the business of show unless they believe you are ready!

Real teachers do not promote themselves falsely. Trust your gut. As a performer you need to develop that intuition immediately.

If you've been scammed, don't beat yourself up! Learn from it and move on! Leave the baggage at the door of THAT studio and refuse to drag it with you to another.

If you aren't sure what you need, ask someone you trust. Do not commit to any class or studio until you have had time to explore several studios, teachers, classes. It is your time, your investment and your life. YOU deserve to have that choice, and you deserve to make mistakes, and learn from those and make better choices!

Real choices do not bully, do not pressure, do not harass.

The path to true technique, to craft and thus to embodied art lies within you. You simply have to trust it, walk it, open some doors and walk through or choose to close a door and walk away.

Real teachers are not desperate.

Real students of craft are not desperate either.

Real students and emerging artists find real teachers. The rest are just finger painting and pretending.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Study, move, sit down, reflect...

Saturday musings...

One of my singers Miss Geri Brown inspired this post as we were texting last night.

Google her. She is a brilliant young actor/singer/performer that is on her way to making a big splash!

The inspiration came from the simple fact that I have been out of the studio for 8 weeks now due to our accident. That may not be a long time over the course of a lifetime but it is a long time when you are relying on a teacher's expertise and guidance.

But Geri reminded me of more, thus this post.

Often we are taught in school that time is crucial. We have to get out there and hustle and learn and retain and do and and and...

We are like puppies trying to please a master. We rush, we work hard, we run to each audition, we try to cram more and more in and we are in motion to the point of a self-induced twister.

We are often in the "use it or lose it" phase beyond literal!

What an artist begins to realize is that the study, the teaching, the knowledge needs time to focus; needs time to reflect; need time to be still to acknowledge what the truth is; needs time to absorb. You simply can't absorb the full truth of study by never taking time to recognize what you are learning.

Developing true craft is learning how you are changed. It is about recognizing the choices you have, and the freedom you can claim because of it. This doesn't fully absorb on the run. These "aha" moments happen when you give yourself permission to reflect and allow yourself to see it.

May I suggest to you that sometimes "school" doesn't always speak truth. That LIFE needs time to take you on! True artists live. They ponder. They can have a lot on their plates but they are not rushed. They make time to study. They know when to move. They aren't afraid to sit down and work a problem, or trust their gut, or trust their gut. They do not follow blindly. They are not afraid to take time to absorb, to rediscover, to reflect...

As I continue to heal and get stronger each day, I know that this summer has been all about stopping and reflecting for me. The truths that have revealed themselves to me have been stunning. As an artist, I shall take that sight into my next when I can move and study and create further.

Your path is that, yours. It belongs to no one else but you. You decide when you need to sit down. You decide when you need time to absorb and reflect. You decide when study is crucial, when study is ongoing, when study is necessary. You only can truly know and decide when you truly know yourself and the honesty of your instrument and your ability and your strengths and your weaknesses. That requires thought and reflection. The path, you see, is not necessarily linear, but perhaps infinite spirals of coming back to the truth of self, moving out to expand it and coming back to absorb it.

When you need time to sit and BE there, you need no one's permission. Just your own. Sometimes that is hardest of all. But the results can be endless and ongoing as you get up and move through your 'next'!

Happy discovery!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Imagination of Fall

I love this time of year! The air is starting to just hint at crispness and the "season" is beginning!

Around midAugust I begin to slow down in order to re-assess. September brings on the season of the year and the fears shift.

Granted, my life is forever changed by this car accident, and I haven't been in the studio since late June. I will consider it a summer off!

What about you?

Is it time to re-assess, revamp, rediscover what you want, where you are, what the next steps look like?

Do NOT look back. Where you are and where you are going is key. If you took the summer off, so what? We need those too. Time off is as necessary as time put in. (quit laughing at me those of you who know me too well)!!!

Seriously though, looking back is only necessary to see how far you have come. The tiniest steps or changes or movements are as crucial to an artist's craft and development as the big jumps.

Ironically, I have seen young artists burn out, get so discouraged, and even leave the business because they tried to do too much too quickly. They never stop taking classes of all kinds, are running to every audition, hold down a survival job, and never have time to let it truly ooze in and become real. The steps are frantic and end up running them into a void rather than giving them freedom and assurance.

So as I am asking myself these questions I pose them to you:

Who do you want to be this fall as you enter the season?

What is necessary? What is crucial? What is important?

Where is your heart pulling you?

Where is your head pulling you?

Can you listen to both and negotiate?

Are you trying to wear too many hats? Why?

Can you find and will you find time and energy in your schedule to be with YOU?

How many classes can you afford to do? How many classes can you afford not to do? What are they? Who are they with? Why?

Do not take the attitude of all or nothing. Let the true priorities lead you. We cannot afford to everything at once. Sometimes we have to wait. Sometimes we have to negotiate the amount of time we can devote. Sometimes when we find a teacher we KNOW is right for us at the time but the fee is more expensive we just don't study as often. Do not say all or nothing and settle for something cheaper on all accounts!

As an artist, are you making time for those things that bring you joy? Do you even know what those are outside your discipline?

What do you want to focus on? Why? Are you ready? Do you have that small unique team around

you that speaks truth to you even when you don't want to hear it?

This time of year can be both a chance to slow down and take stock and then gear up and move into the next of fall.

I have already started. Truths, desires, needs, wants, necessities, clarifiers. All are crucial in discovering where you are, why you are, and what that next step will be: as an artist first, and then as an artist pursuing a career.

Enjoy the possibilities! If sandwiched between two semi trucks hasn't stopped me, nothing can stop you, but your lack of imagination!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

All those steps!

A few musings today...

Recovering as I am from this accident is teaching me much and sending me many amazing souls who remind me what I need to hear when I need to hear it!

The life of the singer needs to hear those voices too.

Often as singers we get impatient. We want to be somewhere we are not. We get frustrated at whatever place we happen to be and lose sight of the process.

Each step is crucial to our development. We cannot skip one or we have a hole. Sometimes we have to stand still for awhile and learn how important that is, and, heaven forbid, sometimes we need to take a step back and retrace to see where we got off the path.

These steps we learn how to take happen in our technical development, in our artistic sight, in our career aspirations, and in our ability to see ourselves honestly.

I know very few, if any artist who hasn't had to atep and restep, back up, stand there and re-assess in all these areas at some point!

As a teacher, I often have to encourage a singer to slow down! You get a taste for what might be and instead of really solidifying the NOW you want to jump ahead. I know you because I have been there too. We want to keep moving!

However, movement and development happens between the steps, just as singing happens between the notes! Learning to trust where you are is such an important and integral part of being an artist.

"I should be able to sing this by now"
"I should be having this kind of career by now"
"my voice should be doing this by now"

I would be a rich woman if I was paid every time I heard those and many like them!

You SHOULD be exactly where you are, simply because you are.

Learning to be where you are and breathe there is about living in the moment of YOU and discovering what you are discovering. You should simply be wherever you are. You will discover your technique, your repertoire, your career path when you commit to the steps YOU need to find it!

This is not a race or a contest or a reality show! There are no winners or losers. There are singers who choose the path and dare to discover and take the steps and those who simply don't.

It isn't easy. I know that. The steps of honesty and self analysis are tough. The steps of working and reworking technical issues can be tedious. The frustration of having to stand still when you really want to run can be trying and annoying. However, they are YOUR steps. You take them, you retake them, you stand still and breathe. Nobody gets to do it for you.

And so, the steps can become exhilarating and non-judgmental. They do not need to be explained nor excused.

Take each step. Retrace and redo if you aren't satisfied. Sit down and rest when you are tired. Just do NOT miss a single one! They are all important and a part of what makes you the singer you were, the singer you are, and the singer you will become!