Thursday, September 27, 2012

Is there an App for that?

Thursday night musings...

In our instant, techno society (and I do like my iPad and apps etc - and if **I** can figure it out, anybody can!),  we often expect instant gratification with everything.

Guess what?  Not happening with craft.

There is NO APP for craft.

If you want to dance, you have to STUDY.

If you want to act, you have to STUDY.

If you want to sing, you have to STUDY.

Study takes time.  It takes focus.   It takes dedication.  It takes work.  It takes your sweat equity,  your time, your pursuit.

Use your apps for your music,  your voice recorder,  and more.  There is a place for an app.

The craft of your artistry is NOT an app.  It is not a cookie cutter replica.  It is not a one-size-fits-all.

It is unique.  It is authentic.  It is YOU.  It CAN be you if you choose to embrace it.

Study, craft, artistry needs to be done the old-fashioned way.  It needs to be embraced the REAL way:





Wishing is not enough.  Real craft takes practice and pursuit.  It takes practice.  It takes pursuit and dedication.  It takes a reality check.  It does not tolerate delusion.

If you want an App for your craft,  you better go into something else.  If you want to dedicate your life and energy to exploration and development of technical behavior, to artistic truth,  to where your talent takes you,  then forget about the app.  Embrace the truth of the work!

Behavior takes times to develop.  It isn't downloaded.  It is absorbed over time and thought and perseverance.

Be tenacious enough to pursue what you say you DO; who you say you ARE;  what you say you PURSUE.

Discover what you can do,  what you will do, what you desire to do;  Find the people who can help you and lead you to the places to find your truths.

Pursue truth.  Don't just find the answers that make you comfortable.  Growth isn't always comfortable. Growth challenges.  Growth stretches the boundaries of possibility.

Craft isn't about comfortable.  It is about stretching further than you think you can go and finding if you can,  or if you have to simply remain for awhile.

There is no App for that.  There isn't even a well-weathered path.  It's yours.  Completely.  DO IT!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Hello Fall!

My favorite time of year!

Guess what?  You have CHOICES.  Yes, yes you do!

Quit whining or making excuses (also choices) and DECIDE TO DO SOMETHING!

What are you committed to?  An idea?  A possibility? Great - then DO SOMETHING!  The only way that idea or possibility happens into a tangible reality is if YOU do something to pursue it.

Are you simply dreaming?

Simply delusional?

Simply blaming others or the business?

Simply making excuses?

Simply obsessing or fixating?

Simply making yourself a victim?

You have a choice.  Simple. Make it.

You can choose to stay in bed, or get up and get to that audition call.

You can choose to stay with a teacher or coach that is not offering you what you need, or you can start finding people who can inspire you and lead you more fully.

You can be told you need more training in a certain area - and CHOOSE to ignore it, make excuses for it, or CHOOSE TO GO AFTER IT!

Stubborn is one thing;  resistant is another.

Often the reason is fear.  Fear of failure,  fear of the unknown,  plain old fear.  You can choose that too. You can choose to stay crippled and excuse-ridden by fear,  or choose to say "I am scared out of my mind and jumping in anyway!"

Create a blueprint.  Know it can be altered as needed.  That's the beauty of choice:  if one direction isn't working,  you can make another choice!

Know what you NEED to serve that blueprint.  Get the information to begin exploring the possibility of those choices.

Recognize the work and commitment needed for those choices.

Dare to remove the obstacles:  like the words "but" or "can't" or whatever else is your fallback excuse.

Don't try to do everything at once!  Take your time!!! (yes you have that - no matter what anybody says!)

Choose to focus.

Choose to discover what you have.

Choose to be real with what you need.

Choose to create a plan to allow you space to develop what you need.

Choose to release the people in life that do not respect your choices.

Choose to find the people who can respect your focus.

Choose to find the people who can be honest and real with you to achieve the goals that are realistic for you NOW.

Everything you do is a choice - and indeed, a consequence of that choice.  You are responsible for both.  If a choice doesn't give you a desired consequence,  learn why and make another choice!

Don't wait for someone else to make the choice for you - take the reins and GO!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Opinions, Criticisms and Trust

Sunday musings...

We've talk about the "team".  This includes your teacher, your coaches, your pianist et al.

The team of craft is crucial.  Sometimes that team overlaps into the team of business.  Sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes we forget that part of the equation and we leave ourselves open and vulnerable to everybody's opinion.

You know the saying...opinions are like assholes - everybody's got them!

Too many voices, too many opinions, too many criticisms on what you are doing, or fail to do, with your career and your business can completely distort your truth and cause self-doubt, confusion and stress.

So who do you trust?  Who do you listen to?

Perhaps it is even more simple.  I think every performer has to learn the art of discernment.  This is crucial as you wade through opinion, criticism, and make decisions.

However, discernment has to come into other aspects as well.  In our age of social media,  it is too easy to "share" openly about auditions, booking a show, being on hold for a role, being accepted into a program.  In and of itself,  the sharing isn't the issue:  it's the responses that can be.

Everybody has an opinion.  Your peers may throw a negative angle at you and make you second guess your decision.  This can come from their own experience,  their perspective, or their bias, or a simple jealousy or attitude that is conscious or unconscious.

Your "career/business" team is a crucial part of your journey.  Just as your truest and closest friends are a handful,  so must your team be. 

Friends may mean well,  but if they are in the business,  they bring their own bias, jadedness, concerns to the equation.   Having a "friend" or "peer" tell you NOT to do a project because the director is a jerk, or the music director hates so-and-so, or the stage manager has a drug problem isn't necessarily helpful.  Maybe this is true, or WAS true, or maybe that person's experience with said director/MD/SM/company is in some way skewed.

Obtain information in order to create an informed decision, but make it that: informed.  What works for some, doesn't work for others.  How one feels about a person or situation isn't necessarily another's view. 

Collect your data - discreetly and without emotion. 

Discuss it with the people in the business you have learned to TRUST!  Who do you call mentor?  Who do you value in the business to bounce this data and your sense of your career off of that will give you a healthy reflection and still allow you space to make your own decisions?

These are the people, or is the person, in whom you can trust to get an unbiased response.  If they are unbiased they will be able to give you pros and cons based on where you are and what you need to explore. 

Ultimately,  the questions are: does this enhance my career in some way or not?  If yes, how?  Does this enhance my reputation as a performer or not?  Why or why not?  Does it offer me a forward progression in my career?  How or how not?

Who offers you that in your world?  Who has the knowledge and looks out for the best for YOU intentionally? Who sees you clearly?  Who responds to you with the purest of intentions?  These are the few people you can begin to trust to give you feedback that is real and instead of giving you answers,  will ask you more questions to allow YOU to come to your conclusions.

Do not be so willing to accept everything everybody wants to tell you.  It's okay to keep the truth to yourself for a little while until you make a decision that you can be respected for!

Listen, discern, question, weigh possibilities, discuss with those you learn to trust. 

Then, guess what? It is YOUR career.  YOUR life.  YOUR decision.  If someone doesn't like it, tough.  I can disagree with your choice, but respect that you MADE ONE.  If you come to the conclusion that something works for you, or doesn't - make that conclusion YOURSELF.

Go get it!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Classical Vocal Reprints

Where do you buy your music?

I would like to let you know (if you don't already) about Classical Vocal Reprints, owned and operated by Glendower Jones.

Glendower has built this company and offers personal service and incredible knowledge!  He is celebrating his 25th anniversary and I congratulate him!

I have ordered music from him over the years that no one else has.

He now carries the COMPLETE CATALOGS of Hal Leonard, Schott, Schirmer, Ricordi, Boosey & Hawkes and more.

This means, he carries opera scores, art song, music theatre anthologies, and MORE!

If you love personal service,  excellent customer service and want to support a business that still has knowledge, understanding and purpose in the business of voice then Glendower is your man!

Tell him I sent you and watch him find exactly what you need for a great price and in a timely manner.


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Last Day of Summer...

Labor/Labour Day musings...

This day represents the end of summer and the beginning of the fall season.

For those of us in the business of show - we begin the season!

Summer schedules turn to fall,  we begin to gear up again!

Someone asked me the other day what my advice would be to singers entering fall season.

I share with you my OWN advice and what I am continuing to discover.  This year, 2012, my family and I had a summer.  We continue to heal physically and emotionally and psychically from our car accident, but we are MOBILE!  We could enjoy the long days,  laugh,  not have more surgeries and ongoing doctors' and surgeons' appointments to schedule. I am not singing yet...YET.  It will come soon - but I am still dealing with physical issues that make it tough to support for any length of time. I have about 65% of my right hand - no Chopin YET - but I can fake it well enough to teach. (Have you noticed singers?!) I still have soft tissue swelling and spasms and PTSD that I am working on.  But I am alive!!!  I get great energy from my family, from the friends I love and from my students who give me HOPE and POSSIBILITY!  We were able to spend time with Erin (our daughter) and her boyfriend outside a trauma unit,  with my best friend Irena and her husband Ted - who have been mentors and friends and teachers always;  with students in Toronto in August for the first time since before the accident;  with my family out west in Canada - mom and siblings and nieces and nephews.

So, what can I look forward to this fall season and pass on to you?

My biggest teach-able learning is this:  How to be PRESENT in my life.

As working artists we are constantly chasing the next job.  Once we have a job,  we know it isn't going to be there forever, so we are constantly looking forward.  That is something we have to do for survival.

May I suggest to you that even though survival is CRUCIAL,  learning how to be PRESENT in our NOW is just as crucial.  Yes, but...

Yes, but...nothing.

Trust me on this.  PRESENT in the MOMENT is key to discovering your next.  If we are chasing our next so much we cannot BE where we are,  we cannot afford to express what we need to, as artists, as human beings, as performers.

I have learned that the PRESENT is all we have.  We can plan,we can stew, we can worry - and it doesn't change anything about NOW.  So what if we simply embrace NOW and do what we can NOW and live NOW in order to achieve our potential?

When I was in the trauma unit and then in the rehab hospital,  I had to release what I could not do.  It didn't help me to actually re-learn how to do anything.  I had to relinquish "I used to be able" and "I want to be able",  and say what do I DO NOW?

Once I was able to give myself permission to be where I was,  I began to learn again.  I learned how to walk differently,  how to bend my leg eventually. I learned how to hold a fork, how to write with my left hand, how to rejoice in the smallest things that gave me more ability!

"I want to be on Broadway".  "I want to sing at La Scala".  These are not PRESENT.  These create stress.  These create obstacles.

Where are you NOW? What can you do NOW?  What takes you from present to present?

Each step is so important.  EACH step.  No matter how big or how small, no matter how significant to the outside world,  if it is significant to YOU it allows you to rejoice in your present.

It might be worthwhile to explore what "being on Broadway" or "La Scala" or "the Met" means to you really.  Is it the actual PLACE or is a state of BEING?

Being is NOW.  Being is progression.  Being is success with each awareness and discovery.

I think I want to change to those places to this:

I want to be ME - in its fullest and most magnificent form.  Where I am ME is UP TO ME at each step of the journey.  My choice, my work, my journey.

Happy Fall!