Monday, December 31, 2012

Here Comes the New Year!

Here we are again - another New Year's Eve...

I have NO idea where 2012 went, but I am looking forward to 2013.  13 is a lucky number.

I have read some wonderful blogs this week with great inspiration  and great kick in the pants.

These to me are the yin and yang of balance.  The essence of higher spiritual elements and the grounding of being on the earth!

Nothing proves your worth to yourself more than work.  Life is work.  Building craft is work.  Developing a career is work.  As my Dad used to say "fair? who said it was fair?"

What can I possibly add?  Nothing really.  I can only add my thoughts.

Give yourself a moment to see how far you've come.  Do not value judge that.  Do not compare it to someone else.  It is YOUR journey.  As artists,  there is not one set way to achieve.  Do not look at that as a negative or a burden,  look at it as an opportunity!  It is a gift to create your own path!  No one has done it that way or will do it that way again.  You are unique.

Release the language that binds you,  that shows your fear.  No more "I can't",  "Yes, but..", "Maybe tomorrow...",  "I'm not...", "what if..."

Catch yourself and change it.  You have that power and that responsibility!

"I CAN..."

"Yes, AND..."


"I AM..."

"When I..."

Each day we have the responsibility to take it, and seize it and make it ours.  Some days the bear eats us, and some days, we eat the bear!!!  There is no value judgement.  All we need to do is not try, but simply DO.

Change your maybes into actions.

Quit comparing yourself to others.  It takes your eyes off your own path.  It slows you down.

Embrace your doubts and make it fuel to find the answers to move through the doubts.

What do you NEED?

What brings you JOY?

What gives you PURPOSE?

Pursue those things with all of your might!

Who needs YOU?  Who do you bring JOY and PURPOSE to?

This will feed you!

Do not excuse yourself,  if you wouldn't let others get away with it!

Trust your instincts.  If you don't know them, find them.

Be true to yourself.  If you don't know yourself,  find it.

Find your joy.  Every day.

Prioritize.  Daily.  It changes daily.  Allow for that pliability.

Embrace your light corners AND your dark corners.  They need to acknowledged so they can balance.

Do not beat yourself down.  Build yourself up.  Surround yourself with people who encourage, challenge and respect YOU.

Encourage, challenge and respect YOURSELF.

Encourage, challenge and respect those around you.

Create the YOU that makes you unique.  What is it about YOU that people want to be around?  that the business should want to hire?  It has NOTHING to do with who you are like or who you want to be like.  It has to do with YOU.

YOU are enough.

Enough is up to you to fulfill.

Release each day.  Stretch through into the new day.  Learn, discover,  meditate and be still.

Take a deep breath,  release it, and smile.

A new year,  a new day,  a more real YOU!

Determination,  acknowledgement,  discovery,  focus!  Creativity,  possibility,  LIFE!

Let each action lead you and FULFILL you!

Here's to the journey of YOU in 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Celebrate your Successes?

It's almost the New Year - a year of possibilities!

Are you celebrating your successes or obsessed with what you didn't do that you forget to acknowledge what you DID do?

Dream, and then REALIZE.  Do not use blanket statements.  They don't serve you in spirit or in craft.

"I can't",  "I didn't",  "I want",  "I wish",  do not serve actual development.

"I did",  "I will",  "I can",  "I accomplished"  DO serve your growth as an artist.

Perhaps you aren't where you want to be, where you think you should be,  where you believe you can be.  But you are where you are for a reason.  So celebrate THAT.

I talked about the excuses last week...the more we dwell on those, the more we sabotage our own development, craft, artistry and career.

What did you do?  There is no such thing as a "small" or "inconsequential" success.  A success is a success.  It means you have overcome something,  and are now on the other side of it.  Hurdling over means you have conquered,  and you are moving ahead even if you are standing still!

We are always so quick to make excuses, or dismiss, or expect success to be blaring trumpets and fireworks.

True success is often quiet,  small steps, and found in the shadowed corners of your peripheral vision.  Do not dismiss it.

Do not make a list of what you did NOT do this year.  Make a list of what you DID do.

Nothing is insignificant.

Perhaps you finally took that class that scared you.  Perhaps you made enough money to study your craft regularly.  Perhaps you auditioned more than you thought you would.  Perhaps you saw a production that was about something real that moved you and changed you!

Perhaps after all those years of study,  you had an "a-ha" moment and things began to gel.  Perhaps you got up in front of your peers and made mistakes and lived to tell about it!  Perhaps...

See where I'm going?

Sometimes,  the success begins with simply getting up in the morning,  stretching and saying out loud "I will sing today".  You say it, you own it.  If you DO it,  success!

Success then allows for a higher reach.  It will give you the desire and the motivation to pursue MORE, to raise the bar,  to release "it's good enough" for "I am MORE than that".

You cannot raise the bar, until you celebrate where it was and the fact that you have cleared it.

Don't poo-poo it;  give yourself the credit,  and then continue to find the next.

You are no one but you.  Your successes are not about anybody else but you.

I work to help my singers be the best they can be.  That doesn't mean they are all ready for professional careers.  They are ready to earn their own successes with their own talent and their own limitations if they are willing to acknowledge where they are, what they are doing and where they are going.

So do not answer the question "What did you do this year?" with "nothing" or with "well I didn't do..."

When you really answer the question,  you might be pleasantly surprised to see how far you've come!

Reflect,  acknowledge,  give yourself credit for where you were,  and how far you've come.  Smile,  take a breath and take on the new year!  Celebrate YOU!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fear of Failure or Fear of Success?

Happy Solstice!

A perfect day to reflect,  and turn inward, to meditate and to plan - the darkness before the dawn.

As often she does, my daughter Erin Elizabeth brings great light into my life and in our many discussions about life and path and artistry and career,  she again revealed truth this week.  She is an old soul and very attuned to the legacy of her grandfather and I see his wisdom in her young life.

The conversation we had this past week has given me pause, and reflection, and hope.  It has brought me to this blog entry in fact!

What is it that we fear?  Why do we procrastinate?  Why do we self-sabotage?  What draws us into the depths of melancholia?

Is it really failure?  Or fear of failure?  Or is it fear of truly discovering and living one's own power and success?  That would mean what you SAY you want, you actually LIVE.

 Perhaps on this day of reflection we need to resurface into a stronger and more enlightened discovery.

What brings you into great joy?  What allows you to feel "whole"?  to feel like you are fully "self"?  What truly makes you powerful?

If it is your artistry, your craft and being on stage,  being in the process,  committing to the process, then why are we excuse-ridden to not BE there????

Ask yourself a very simple (ha!) question:  where am I most content?  Where am I most ME?

Don't jump at the answer!  Let it move through you like a warmth.  Let it envelope you!

So now,  why wouldn't we want that all the time????  Why do we get scared or fearful???

I don't have the answers,  I just have lots of questions.

We are all guilty of this fear.  We put off our successes so often and time passes by.  I am just as guilty. None of us are exempt!

How many of you have used weight as an excuse to not claim your success?  "I need to lose more weight before I audition",  "I need to lose more weight before I get new head shots/create my website", "I need to lose weight to be seen as that type".

Really?  And do you lose the weight????  hmmmmm.....

"I need a bigger voice", "I need a smaller nose",  " I need more time",  "I will never be seen as ..", "I need to be older",  "I need to be younger",  and on and on...

And are you content?  I will answer that: no.  Why?  it isn't because you didn't lose the weight or any of the other excuses and fears!  It is because you are not in the warmth of what makes you content!!  What makes you YOU.  The weight is an fear that disables you from the truth of your success.

If you simply answer the question of what makes you content,  then you work to BE there.  The fears and excuses become obsolete!

What if you worked on your website?  you worked on your voice?  you committed to the classes that will give you more depth in your craft?  you invested in that warmth of self to claim success?

Imagine being content because you were DOING what it is that gives you most joy and completeness!  Imagine no excuses!  Imagine discovering the RIGHT questions to ask!

Failure isn't an option then.  There is no room for excuses.  There is no plan B, C or D.  All there is, is honesty, truth,  and NOW.  Discovering those things will allow for success, in whatever form it takes, and will allow you to claim more authentically what makes you, YOU.

Don't make the journey an excuse.  Don't let fear of success and claiming the authenticity of you blind you or paralyze you or stop you from discovery!

Ask the questions,  don't manipulate the questions:

What makes me happy?  Where do I feel most content?  What gives my soul joy?

How do I get there?  POSITIVE movement, NO ROAD BLOCKS!!!  Do not begin with "I would but..." or "I will, when...." or "I can't yet..."


Why wouldn't you want happiness, contentedness, fulfillment?

What will give that to you?  How do you get it?

If you truly claim THAT journey, there is no fear, but rather, great anticipation and creative thought and development to FIND IT!

Release fear and anxiety - and claim the possibility!  If there is possibility,  there is hope.  If there is hope there is desire.  If there is desire,  there is an opportunity to claim TRUTH!

We all need to find our power and release our false sense of control - and our false fears.

If you build it, they will come!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Just a simple and heart felt THANK YOU for reading the blog, for emailing me with ideas and suggestions,  and for all your support!

I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season filled with laughter, rest, love, great music and renewed energy for your artistic life!

More blogs coming soon!

I will be back in the NYC STUDIO January 2, 2013!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Singer, The Teacher, The Coach oh my!

Sunday musings...

I have written about this before, but it seems to come up again and again...

What is the ethical protocol in this group relationship?  Where are the boundaries? Who determines them?  How fluid is it?

Big questions,  big answers, and even bigger questions.

Sadly, with all relationships, the personalities, egos and professional and personal ethics of each human being play a huge part in determining these boundaries.

I will try to address it from a neutral position.

Each entity in this "family" needs to know their raison d'etre.  They need to know what they bring to the table,  where their skills are,  and simply why they are doing it.

The balance and boundaries for a singer,  depends on that singer and their experience and development.  Often young inexperienced  singers will have a much more difficult time staying firm with boundaries as they seek out expertise to guide them.

On the other hand,  some so-called singers have more ego than experience or talent, and in combination with a forceful personality will try to tell a teacher how to teach, or a coach how to coach.

Boundaries and balance of teaching and coaching are the same.  Big personalities that need ego-stroking, that do not want to be held to the standard of their position will often cross the boundaries intentionally.

How is this controlled?

Singers need to get wise.  Fast.  They cannot be railroaded or moved if it is against their best interest.  Singers need to know the differences between a teacher and a coach.  If that is clear in their minds,  then they determine the boundaries, should they be crossed.

What are those boundaries?

Professionally speaking, the teacher's expertise lies in the development of the instrument.  This means technique and all things voice.  This is the primary responsibility of the teacher:  to work with the singers to develop the technical aspects of the voice.

The coach's expertise lies in the musical, stylistic and language aspects of the music, as sung by the singer.  It is not the coach's responsibility nor his/her place to try to teach technically.

A singer must, and I do mean MUST take charge in those boundaries.

If a coach knows your teacher's language, and/or has played for you in a lesson they can often remind you of a teacher's information while coaching.  Example "that interval is flat.  Remember what your teacher said about xyz? Keep that in mind when we do it again".

If a coach doesn't know your teacher's language,  and he/she knows it's a technical issue, often a simple "there's a technical thing you need to deal with here, ask your teacher about this line".

If a coach begins to teach you technically,  the boundary has been crossed.  Both of you are responsible.

How do you handle it?  You can simply ignore it and concentrate on the coaching aspects, or simply say you will take those technical issues to your teacher.

Ignorance is not bliss in learning how to determine relationships and boundaries in this dance!

Coaches often can ask for a different kind of sound, a different kind of vowel,  suggest more breath,  more legato, more of something!  They can point out mistakes, misreads.  They can work on the stylistic choices and how that style needs to sound.  These are the coaching elements.  But technique?  That is the teacher's domain.

Ultimately, singers, it is YOUR voice.  If you don't stand up for it,  nobody can.

Knowledge is power.  You gain knowledge by studying AND coaching.  There is also great power is knowing the difference and who does what and why.  Great power lies in establishing the boundaries so what you learn can be genuine and flourish.

If the boundaries are not respected,  then find another teacher or find another coach.

Do not "put up with" anything that doesn't feel right, or that doesn't serve you positively.

Know why you stand in front of the people you do - what are you there for?  Your reasons cannot be blurred.  This allows you knowledge to hold everybody in your vocal family responsible for their raison d'etre and to keep the boundaries firm.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yes Virginia, there IS audition etiquette!

a Thursday musing as we enter December audition season...

Yes my dearest snow flakes,  there IS an etiquette of behavior AND attire that can make or break your audition.

Whether it is an opera audition, a YAP audition, a grad school or even undergraduate school audition, a music theatre audition - and more - there IS a protocol that you really should consider.

Many of you do pay attention on this, but sadly so many of you do not.

How do I know?  I see it!  Just in NYC alone, I have walked into audition waiting rooms over the last few weeks, and at least half of you are making wrong choices.  SIMPLY WRONG.

Music Theatre auditions, same average.

School auditions, sometimes MORE than half.

Why is this so important?

I say it again:  we SEE you first.  This is your packaging.  This shows us before you open your mouth if you are considering where you are and respecting it fully.  This is before you SAY anything, let alone SING anything!

The packaging enhances your performance, your energy, your persona - or it can deeply deter from it.

First: it is an AUDITION.  Think of it as a job interview.  This is not a performance - no costumes!  This is not a gala - no formal wear during the day nor in the evening for an audition!

You are trying to get the job.  You are trying to get a spot in a school or program.

You are wanting to be taken seriously.  You are wanting to be remembered for POSITIVE reasons, not be talked about as the singer who didn't have a clue.

I have written blogs about this in the past, but I think it still needs to be said and reinforced.  Obviously from what I have seen lately, and what I have been told by other professionals, time to say it again!

Here are some dos and don'ts for both men and women based on what I have seen lately.

1.  if the material of your outfit and/or your jewelry makes more noise than you do when you move - do NOT wear it!
3.  If you wear it to the club, do NOT wear it to an audition.  Cheap looking clinging material, too short skirts, clear
4.  Think business dress to begin to get a sense of expectation
5.  Figure out what your body type is, and find the cuts and shapes that flatter it
6.  Not only do you need to WEAR undergarments, you need to wear the RIGHT ones.  There are great websites that have fabulous spanx-like products.  Find out what you need!  When you wear the right undergarments, the outfit looks more streamlined!  A great bra and other undergarments is a necessary investment.
7.  Figure out what colors look great on you!  Wear them!
8.  WEAR MAKEUP. PLEASE!!!  If you aren't used to wearing makeup, get thee to a makeup counter ASAP and LEARN.  Eyes and lips are crucial.  This does NOT mean drag queen central!  This means a balanced day look with a slight intensity to "pop" the eyes and enhance the lips.  You are trying to communicate aren't you?  Draw us to you!
9. Get your hair off your face.
10.  Wear a heel.  Yes I said it.  Wear a heel you can WALK in.  Kitten heels or 3 inch heels. Make sure you can WALK!
11.  If you are wearing a skirt or dress,  stockings or not?  Who cares as long as your legs look good? If you are bare, moisturize and cover up any bruises or nicks.
12.  Draw the eye UP to yours!  You want to create line and shape, and HEIGHT so we pay attention to what you are singing and not looking at the bruise of your left shin or how short your skirt is, or how dowdy your blouse tucked into your choral skirt looks.
13.  PRACTICE in your outfit, in your shoes, with your lipstick on.

1.  Grooming - whether you have facial hair or not - make sure everything is trimmed and allows us to see YOU, not what's sticking out!
2.  No tuxes please.
3.  Polish your shoes.  And don't wear sportswear shoes. Dress shoes, loafers, whatever works with the rest of your outfit!
4.  No sports socks.  Dress socks please.
5.  Make sure you check the fit of your pants/jacket (should you option to wear a jacket).  Long enough inseam, long enough arm.  Not too long, not too short, just right...
6.  PRESS/STEAM THOSE CLOTHES.  Nothing looks less professional than a rumpled suit hanging on a man.
7.  Find the colors that look great on you - and WEAR them.
8.  Don't be afraid of texture in clothing
9.  Stay away from over sized patterns or too many patterns.  Nobody needs to get dizzy.
10. Break in your shoes.  Nothing is more awkward than seeing you walk in and try to get comfortable in a pair of shoes that are too new and squeak and pinch!
11.  Moisturize!  Look after your skin AND your lips!
12.  Practice in your outfit and your shoes.
13.  Again, long lines.  Draw the eye UP - to YOU.
14.  Leave the khakis and blue button down at home.  You can do better than that.

How do you behave?  Are you even aware of how you come across?

Stay open, aware, polite.  Often when nerves get to us, we can appear apologetic, bitchy, aloof, or even rude.
Start to truly observe yourself physically when you are nervous and when you practice auditioning.  How are you physically reacting?  How are you responding to the audition panel?  What are you saying?  The audition is not the place to create more angst!!  Do not challenge, do not provoke. (yes I have seen both, and hope it was simply nerves!)  Stay present.  Listen.  Breathe.  If you do not understand, as politely for clarification.

Please and thank you, and a smile and a true glimpse of your personality goes a long way.  Give yourself permission to be PREPARED not just in your repertoire, but in your packaging and behavior.  That panel remembers...and talks.