Friday, January 25, 2013

In The City of Angels end of March!

Just an FYI for those of you in LA and area!

I will be in the lovely City of Angels at the end of March and will be available for a limited time for private sessions, consultations and a perhaps a workshop or master class depending on demand.

Email me directly if you would like to be notified or would like to book something.  If you have a suggestion as to a master class focus - audition technique perhaps?  Let me know!

To Thine Own Self Be True...

Friday musings...

How can you be true to yourself in a business and world that needs to compare you,  label you,  and demand of you?

Exhausting, isn't it?

How do you know how to be true to yourself,  if you aren't sure what the truth is???

That's the million dollar question isn't it?

So many of us, me included,  are, were, or continue to be "pleasers".  We want to do the right thing, say the right thing, be the right thing, sing the right thing...

But, the "right thing" for whom?

Pleasers try to do everything for everybody else,  and forget what might be right for them.

It is UP TO YOU to find what is right for you!  Let me clarify that:  not what is comfortable,  not what enables you,  not what makes excuses,  but what is RIGHT and TRUE.

Truth is like growing pains.  It reveals and tests you,  and then suddenly you can breathe again.  It awakens your intuition and you gut,  even if it makes you question.  It challenges where you stand or if you stand at all.  It prompts you, prods you, and whispers in your ear,  even if you attempt to dismiss it.  It isn't going ANYWHERE, even if you ignore it.  It is stubborn and loyal and will quietly nudge as needed and knock you just a little off balance in order to confuse you.

Truth is illuminating,  but trying to pursue it can be annoying!  It reveals in ways that can be exhilarating and can be devastating.

The devastation however, comes from the self being delusional and refusing to seek out and/or recognize truth.

The illumination and exhilaration comes when the self recognizes  his//her need for itself.

At the end of the day,  it is YOU in that audition room.  It is YOU who chooses how to respond to the task at hand.  It is YOU on that stage.  It is YOU in that class or session.

We cannot expect all people to see us,  until we see ourselves.  Even then,  many will not.  However, the people that matter will see and embrace that.

At the end of the day it is YOU.  However, that you must take the risk and accept the mission to discover what is needed to find the self' truth. 

In practical terms,  you cannot be true to your self as a singer if you do not understand and claim your technical behavior.  You cannot challenge yourself,  until you know why and how to DO that.  You cannot call yourself by technical names until you know what it means, not just in words, but in actions! 

What is your voice able to do?  What is it capable of?   Where does that take you?  Just because you can does it make it a good idea?  Just because you can sing the notes,  does that mean you can sing the role in a physical, and artistic  way that illuminates the style and accesses what the composer demands?

Do you understand your athleticism?  Do you know what restricts you?  Do you know how to develop further?  Do you know what is simply not going to happen?  Do you know what you can choose and what you simply need to move away from?  Do you know what is your best self,  and what that best self is best suited for?

These are the truth questions.  These are the ongoing questions to discover one's own truth.

You have to be ready to hear the truth,  but not to be bullied or ridiculed or abused. 

You need to discover what is needed and required and then find out how YOU can meet those needs and requirements in a way that accesses your own talent, ability, and skill sets and does not put you at risk.

Being true to self does not mean ignorance,  delusion,  or bubble wrap!  Truth takes work.  Hard work.  It means getting your hands dirty and digging.  It means asking for help. 

What are you able to do?  What are you able to understand?  What are you able to put into practice?

Then, what is possible?  What potential have you left to discover and reveal?  How do you keep growing?

The answer to the questions "can you xyz?"  is not always "yes".  Sometimes it is "I don't know", or "not yet", or simply "no".  

Yes is not always the right answer.  It is not always the safe answer.  It is not always the clear answer.

Are you able to answer without a "yes"?  And then, can you say why?

Finding your truth takes time.  It takes study.  It takes recognizing what you have, what you need, and how to get that and where to get it.

Are you prepared to walk into a room and offer what you do un-apologetically?  Can you actually deliver what you say you do?  Does the "language" of your craft confuse you? Are you full of excuses?  Are you unable to take in a suggestion?  Are you sure you are exactly where you are, or are you trying to please in order to be there?

I cannot answer those questions for you.

The more you keep asking,  the more there is to know.  The more there is to know,  the more there is learn.  The more there is to learn, the more there is to claim.

The claiming reveals the truth.  The truth reveals the SELF.

To Thine Own Self Be True.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The New Year in the Studio!

What are your goals?   Your strengths?  Your discoveries?

Welcome to my studio - here's the latest newsletter!  Feel free to subscribe via the link at the bottom - I send out updates every 4 - 6 weeks!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Audition Buddies/Audition Vampires

Well, the Music Theatre Audition Season has kicked into full gear in NYC!

Do you have an audition buddy or are you overwhelmed by the vampires?

They are both out there.  Do you know the difference and how to handle it?

Audition buddies can be a fabulous thing:  someone that you work with to sign each other in,  wait with,  go for coffee with,  plot and scheme with!  Audition buddies respect each other's time,  each other's process,  each other's needs,  each other's schedule.

Having an audition buddy can make you accountable for that early morning sign up!  It can be a great strategy if there is more than one audition in different locations on the same day.

When you find a buddy,  it came make the process so much easier and so much more enjoyable!  If nothing else, at an open call it gives you someone you can roll your eyes at while listening to the "me me me" in the waiting room!!!

What about the audition vampire?

These are the people that expect from you.  They want everything done FOR them.  They offer to do nothing for you.  They expect that you will check the calls, you will give them all the information,  tell them what to prepare,  sign them up and give them a wake up call.  They will turn on you in a SECOND if you do not follow their rules.  They want, they take,  and they pretend to be your "friend" to get what they want.  When they find someone else who is perceived to give them more than you can, they will leave you bleeding on the floor.

Do you owe someone as an audition buddy?  Whatever you mutually decide upon.  The key word is MUTUAL.  EACH of you has to take the early shift, as it were!

Vampires never take the early shift.  They spend a lot of time expecting others to sign them in,  give them updates, etc etc - and if you DO NOT do what they expect, you will hear about it!  Your raison d'etre is about them.  Sick?  who cares?  What kind of friend are you that you are staying home and not signing them up????

The theatre vampires are everywhere:  in the audition line,  in the dance class,  in the studio...

They want want want.  They are willing to do NOTHING and then look at you with a disbelief because you didn't do what they wanted.

Buddies are going to make your audition experience and the business of juggling auditions, so much easier!  Vampires will inflict blame,  insinuate guilt,  and generally make you feel responsible for everything BUT you.

How do you rid yourself of said vampire?  No need for garlic, wooden stakes, or holy water!  Simply IGNORE.

You do not have to answer that email.

You do not have to respond to that text.

You do not have to pick up that phone call.


The greatest response to vampires is not anger, not tears, or holier than thou attitudes,  or trying to reason with them.  You cannot reason with vampires.  They want your blood.

Your INDIFFERENCE is the only way to make them turn to ash.

Ignore, and do not react.  They are not your friends,  or your colleagues or certainly not your peers.  They will find a way to feed on anybody who looks vulnerable.


Find a buddy that supports you as much as you can support them.

Real audition buddies can be a great idea.  Be a great audition buddy - with someone that gives you energy and support - not someone who sucks you dry!

I love vampires as much as the next person (look at the many meanings of this blog!!!) but I would rather not be dealing with them in the studio or in the audition process, and keep in the pages of great books, and on the screen!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Exploration in the studio

Sunday musings...

Today we have surpassed 150,000 readers of the blog!  Thank you for taking the time to come and visit!

I really TRULY am compiling a book based on this blog - I just need some open-ended time to get it DONE!  Too many projects, not enough time,  until I just simply say ENOUGH! I AM DOING IT NOW!

Taking that thought....

What kind of exploration do you do in the studio?

Is it all career-oriented?  Is it craft-oriented? Is it YOU-oriented?  Is it a combination of all three?  or something else?

As the new year has started with a bang,  singers are back in the studio with renewed energy,  commitment,  focus and goals.  And I,  said teacher,  am also back with a renewed sense of purpose, focus and commitment to said singers and their journeys.

My singers in my studio inspire me daily.  Our exploration together - it IS and has to be collaborative - inspires me to find them fully and give them opportunities to see for themselves.

My colleagues, my peers, the other artists in my world,  inspire me and give me food for thought even in a short conversation during a busy week!

Are we aware enough of those moments in our week to allow them to help to inspire us?  Motivate us? Or are we overly-focused on a goal that we forget how important the exploration is?

One of the first things I ask a singer when they walk into the studio for a session is:  "Is there anything specifically you want to address today?"  This leads the exploration!  This allows for a singer to claim the responsibility of being there.  This gives me direction!

Sometimes it's a technical thing;  sometimes it's a career-oriented or audition thing;  sometimes it's a physical thing;  sometimes it's an artistic thing;  sometimes it's a personal thing;

Sometimes it's a frustration;  Sometimes an "a-ha" moment;  Sometimes it is a fear, a confusion;  Sometimes it is a simple "am I okay" moment.

Whatever "it" is - it cannot be stagnant.  It cannot be dismissed or ignored.

Whatever exploration YOU choose to explore, it must be YOURS and it must be CLAIMED FULLY.

Do we explore the LOVE of the craft?  Do we fall in love with our artistry over and over,  or are we overly-focused on working that we forget what motivated us in the first place?

Are we so focused on building our technique,  that we have forgotten what it FEELS like to just make noise without value judgement?

Are we so obsessed with type/fach/where I want to sing,  that we simply forget to learn HOW to sing???

The studio is the place to come home to.  It has to have truth, understanding and an opportunity to look into the mirror and see what needs to be seen.

The moments of truth can be found there and then taken into life if we are strong enough and assured enough to do it!

A working artist or a working performer still needs to explore the craft and artistry of practice and exploration!

A frustrated artist needs to give themselves permission to slow down and re-explore and re-discover a path and a freedom to express again.

An emerging artist needs to claim behavior,  and risk,  and find the safety in vulnerability!

We are not working in a factory on an assembly line,  no matter if the business makes us feel like part of the equipment sometimes!

We are complex, we are ever-changing, and ever-evolving.

Dare yourself to RESPOND to your exploration.  Dare yourself to FEEL your exploration.  Dare yourself to simply EXPLORE from time to time as you manoeuvre the mine field of career or pursuit of career!  Take risks!  Ask questions!  Seek answers!  Dare to say "I don't know".  Dare to ask "why". Dare to allow for change.  Dare to breathe.  Dare to make an "ugly" sound.  Dare to discover and rejoice in the moments of "a-ha"!!!!  Dare to do this whether someone else is listening or not!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

MT type/vocal classification and physicality

Thursday musings...

The week often reveals a topic or a theme in teaching and conversation.

The idea of voice classification, type, range and more came up on Facebook this week.  The my good friend and colleague, and brother in music,  the illustrious Jean-Ronald Lafond wrote a wonderful blog about  fach/vocal classification and opera which you must read here!

I thought I would add my 2 cents about vocal classification, and the business according to music theatre.

Often, the requirements, and the parameters are different in general.  Roles in theatre are broke up into genre of theatre (traditional vs pop/rock vs Sondheim vs contemporary etc etc);  then legit voice vs belt voice vs mix belt vs pop belt  vs rock belt and on and on...and then the roles that are both sing/dance and more!

Instead of trying to fit in the box or slot yourself into the "type",  I say, figure out what you DO WELL.  Then develop that.  Know what you are, what you do and lead with it.

Type in theatre is not just vocal, but physical as well.  However, just as Jean-Ronald speaks about opera, so it is in music theatre.

Our bodies are our instruments.

The physicality of our instruments informs the voice.  Even though often in MT we are mic'd,  we still must prepare and develop an instrument that can be balanced in resonance and physicality without added amplification.  We then use that amplification as a tool, not as a crutch.

We need to understand, as singers in the business, what the business must know about us, and not follow blindly into the path of "stupid singer".

What do I mean?

Range does not determine vocal type.  Just because you have a high C doesn't mean you can sing up there all the time.

If you are auditioning for a show,  or a role,  it is up to YOU to make sure you do the research to know what that role requires: vocally, dramatically and physically.  Do you meet that criterion or don't you?

If you want to be seen as a soprano for ensemble,  then with your audition material,  SHOW the business that you have the notes, the tessitura and the weight in the voice to be that soprano!  (same for any other voice type!).

The idea of just giving your "range" doesn't tell us anything.  It could be the distance between a grunt and a squeak!  If you must give your range,  you better understand how to write it down and not lie!  I love getting and seeing resumes with a range on it that makes NO physical sense.  Bigger is not necessarily better.  If you put it down, we assume you can sing, sustain, and resonate evenly through that range.

Where is your voice most comfortable?  Do you understand vocal classification?  This is where your teacher and you need to speak frankly.  Can you sing both legit and belt?  Or legit and mix?  Do you recognize the difference in yourself?  Do you recognize the difference in roles? Do you recognize the requirements in the music presented?

This is crucial in theatre.  This is crucial in your study.

The beauty of the computer era is that you can really focus your resume when giving your '"voice/theatre type" for each and every audition you go in for.

The voice type you suggest on paper should make sense with the roles you have done or are preparing and should then be clarified by the audition material you present in the room.

Singing is not one-size-fits-all.

Work for the knowledge you need to discover your strengths and what you stay clear of.

If you do not understand what tessitura is - as it pertains to your voice, and the repertoire you are singing - then find out.  If you do not understand how you talk about range,  then learn.

If you do not have the proper language in order to describe belt, mix, legit in order to describe yourself honestly and clearly,  then learn and ask and figure it out!  Within all these "types" of voice, there is soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone and bass!

Some singers are very much defined as a type/voice type.  Some are not.  Some have more versatility in type.  Find out what you can do and what you can do WELL.  Find out what you can develop to do exceptionally!

As Jean-Ronald speaks about in his blog about opera,  the physicality of the voice lies in the physique of the singer.  As MT singers,  this is also true and it requires ongoing recognition as we tend to do 8 shows a week!!!

You need to discover YOUR voice;  its resonance, its balance, its power, its timbre, its physicality, its weight, its range, its comfort - and how that informs a character, a type and a production.

Trying to "be" a type or "like" someone else makes me sad.  It completely alienates what YOU bring to the music.

Pretending, wanting,  wishing do not a MT singer make!

I want to see singers find their voices;  claim the balance of resonance and freedom;  discover their comfort tessitura in order to live with vocal vibrancy and allow the dramatic intention to reside in the voice, in the breath and the body.

Do you sing the song or the does the song sing you?

Do you have the physicality to embody the role night after night or will you be on vocal rest in 2 weeks?

Do you have the range of that role comfortably or are you faking it?

 The viability of that range and tessitura of role, and that physicality of role means, to me,  every note you sing is healthy, balanced, free, vibrant and has the ability to be heard withOUT amplification,  and to be sung 8 shows a week.  Whether it is a legit role, a mix role, a belt role, or a combination of several  vocal styles,  can you actually PRODUCE, SUSTAIN, and REPEAT?

The body, the voice,  the psychology,  the knowledge,  the intellect.  All have to be developed, embraced and understood as you take on the MT repertoire.  All need consistent and constant reflection and practice and study.

What can you sing/nurture/project/and embody with authority?

THIS is your type.  THIS is your vocal classification.  THIS is your mission!

 When you inform the role with the craft of YOUR vocal ability and development, then and only then can you claim it.  You do not try to be another artist. You work to reveal YOU the artist.

Demand from yourself to reveal and discover and build what you have and what you need.  Find the vocabulary.  Know what you do.  Know what you mean.  Mean what you know.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 - accountability and focus!

This is the first blog of 2013!

The new year always gives us an opportunity to start fresh.  I have learned to release the idea of resolutions,  and create actual actions,  that give me purpose and accountability.

I am a big believer in writing things down!  Not just in "to-do" form, but more in re-affirmation form.  If you believe it,  you say it out loud and write it out.  It helps with clarity.

So what are some things you can do to make yourself more accountable,  more focused on your craft and on your career and your artistry as you start fresh this 2013?

As corny as it sounds,  buying a new day book/calendar, AND a journal can be a great start.

Write down what would benefit your CRAFT,  ARTISTRY, CAREER.  Some will intersect, some will not.

What gives you great joy?  Where are you happy?  Write it down!

What would be your DREAM of 2013 in craft, artistry and career?  Dream BIG.  If you do not dream you stifle your imagination.  If there is no imagination, there is no possibility.

No dream is too big or too small.  No dream has a value judgement.

Dream.  Write it down.  Say it out loud.  It's scary, but it's NECESSARY!

It holds you accountable to yourself and your focus.  There are no excuses.

Once you are aware of your big dreams,  how do you make them happen?  What will get you there?

More study?

Discovery of craft that frightens you?

Auditioning more?

DO NOT MAKE EXCUSES!!!!!  Not before you even get started!

Do not make weight your excuse;  do not make money your excuse;  do not make having to work 3 jobs an excuse;  do not make your location,  that cupcake you ate last night, that zit on your chin this morning, an excuse.


THIS is what you need to pursue.  Not should, not could, not might.  NEED.  The pursuit of YOU isn't like breathing, it IS breathing.

More study?  figure out what, where, with whom.  How do you realize it?  Write it down!!!!  CLAIM IT!  Then get busy to figure out the details of making it a reality.

What holds you back?  FACE IT!!!!  You are bigger than ANY fear,  and you can release it at ANY time.  First step is seeing it,  and giving it a name.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, or using other actor/singers as your "type-a-like" - why not compare yourself to YOU.  The true and real you that you know is always there but sometimes hides.

Who is she/he?  What does she/he want to DO?

Often we are asked to create a list of what we want to do in 5 years, 10 years etc and that's all well and good, but it gives us an excuse to keep waiting.  What can you do NOW?!

Business plans,  artistic plans,  craft plans are very important to create the unique and untraveled path that is yours!

Nobody gets to do it, but you!

Why say "I need to lose weight before I start auditioning"?  Who are you fooling?

"I WANT to lose weight so I have energy and health and look great and feel good.  AND I want to be auditioning."

It's amazing how powerful language is.

What are you able to do with your craft NOW?

What roles, what shows are you ready to do NOW?

Make a list of 5.  Leads, secondary leads, chorus,  whatever.  

What do you want to be able to do with your craft by the end of 2013?  Where would you like to be vocally?  dramatically?

If you are getting ready for audition season, are you in a slump with your material?  Do you need more appropriate material that shows YOU more effectively?

Make a plan.  Find the professionals you need to help you do that!

Do you have an "audition buddy"?  Someone who holds you accountable, and you hold accountable just to get out of bed and get down to the call????  Someone you can touch base with weekly to review upcoming auditions and see what is right and what is a waste of your time and theirs?  Someone you can be in the holding room with,  or meet for coffee AFTER you both audition?

The idea of audition buddies really appeals to me.  It gives you momentum and accountability and responsibility,  and frankly it's just not as lonely.

Are you too careful?  Do you need an improv class?  Does that scare the crap out of you?  Maybe it's time to DO IT!   Are you an actor or a dancer who needs to learn to sing and you just haven't committed?  Quit the excuses and DO IT!

Are you too scattered?  Is your talent real and your craft non-existent?  Isn't it time to figure out the how and why to turn that potential into reality?

Having accountability does not mean beating yourself up.  It means that you are making a clear and focused effort to make something happen by writing it down, planning it out,  telling someone else about it.

Something as simple as making a date with yourself one day a week to sit with your day book and the trades and write down every possible audition that week that you would be right for,  can begin to show you where you need to be, and how you need to be there.

What begins to emerge?  What are you learning about yourself?  What are you wanting to change?  What are you wanting to develop?

You do not have to wait before you DO!  You can study and still audition.  You can be losing weight and book a show.  You can grow your hair out,  take a class,  revamp your book,  and still pursue that dream.

Honestly focus.  Find the intangibles.  Take a breath.  Then discover how to make them tangibles. No excuses.  No fear.  Just take a breath,  and one step.  Breathe out.  Sit down.  Take another breath, and one more step.  Breathe out.  Look up!  Look out!  It's there.  You simply have to go get it.