Monday, May 26, 2014

Sing with your WHOLE voice...

happy Memorial Day in the USA (and a regular Monday for the rest of you!)

What is the second half of that sentence?

Sing with your WHOLE voice, with your WHOLE body.

Voice is not just motor/resonance  - but it is the strength, pliability,  elasticity and ATHLETICISM of the body to support it.

If your body is not strong,  you simply cannot support and carry that instrument.  CAN NOT.

Each body - no matter the size,  can be strong.  Your voice resides there - you gotta look after it.  Do not let someone else tell you that you need to "lose weight",  "change your body" - for the sake of the business.  You need to be strong, first and foremost.  You need to be powerful physically in order for your voice to respond to you.

I often tell my singers that the voice itself is always fine.  Where she/he wants to RESIDE is not always ideal.  You know how you feel after a really busy week or 2 and you finally have a day off but your apartment looks like the Good Will has blown up in it,  and the LAST place you want to be is in it, so you leave?  That's sometimes how your voice feels.  It really really REALLY wants to be there,  but dammit if it's not aligned and strong enough,  she/he just refuses to move in.

You can work all you want on "vocal technique" but if your body isn't strong,  and integrated with your breath and your support,  then all the exercises in the world will not save you. 

Your body will save you.

The WHOLE voice, YOUR voice, wants YOUR body. All of it.  Not just a portion.  ALL.

Are you willing to get strong in order to do what you say you want to do?

Strength and integration are what singing are about on a physical level.  We are asking something rather inhuman of ourselves.  We have to train the body with the same focus as those who are the top athletes in their fields.

Forget fat,  forget critics,  focus on YOU.  If you sing,  you must be strong.  If you are not,  you will notice that when you are nervous your "technique" disappears;  your "breath" disappears.

Until you can summon your technique,  your strength,  at will,  you are hoping, wishing & praying.

When your body is strong,  you have a place to reside.  Your voice has a place to reside, to trust and to THRIVE and shape itself in the uniqueness that is YOU.

Sing EVERYTHING with your wholeness - voice, spirit AND BODY!

Your authenticity DEMANDS it.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What is a REAL voice?

Sunday musings...

Spent the morning listening to the soundtrack of Jason Robert Brown's "Bridges of Madison County" and continue to remain inspired.

Bridges closes on Broadway today.  Ridiculous.  One of the finest shows in live theatre, and some of the FINEST singing I have heard across the boards in a long time.

If you haven't listened, then you need to.  The greatness that is Kelli O'Hara and the riveting Steven Pasquale will reveal to you what REAL voice is.

Singers in theatre,  you really need to release "where to put the sound",  "do I sing it in a mix/belt-mix/chest mix?"  which I shall say it now - is BULL SHIT - and just SING. 

It takes a long time to discover who you are as a singer.  It not only takes time,  exploration,  honesty and work to discover what your voice IS,  but it also takes times to discover the conversation you are having with yourself,  and the questions you need to ask to find the RIGHT conversation to have.

You will only sound like...YOU.  Trying to "type" yourself is always comparing to others.  Recognizing who you ARE if the first step of discovery.  Challenging yourself to become better than your PREVIOUS self is the work.

If you hear "you NEED to sound like so-and-so"  or "you will only get hired if you sing it this way" - RUN! RUN FAR AND FAST!

You need to learn how to sound like YOU.  Then and only then will you be able to dress that sound in the fabric of the style and genre you want/can/will sing.  YOUR voice informs how that is worn.  The style informs YOU.  If you don't know who you are as a singer,  how can you possibly be authentic?

If you aren't being noticed,  called-back, booking,  there are many things out of your control.  HOWEVER,  what is in your control is defining the authenticity of YOU.  What is YOUR real voice.
Get to know it,  find its idiosycrasies, its deliciousness, its annoyances,  its quirks.  Discover and embrace its imperfections,  its complexities,  its nuances and uniqueness.

Kelli O'Hara isn't a type.  She IS Kelli O'Hara.

Steven Pasquale isn't a type.  Steven IS Steven.

Let them inspire you - not to become LIKE them,  but to become YOU.

The authenticity of YOU is discovered in your work, your journey, your conversation.  Do not deflect or hide beneath a type.  Create YOU,  reveal YOU,  and walk in that room with all the foibles and fabulousness that IS you.

You will only create authenticity when you truly claim it as your own.

So what is REAL voice?   Revealing the truth.  Daunting perhaps.  Liberating and real?  you bet it is!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Every Day Opera

Did you know about this fabulous site?

The marvelous Lori Lewis is the behind this great site,  and invited me to guest blog!

Here it is!

Enjoy - and explore the site- some wonderful things there!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Burning Bridges & CHOICE

Sunday musings...

What is burning a bridge really???

I hear that a great deal  "well I have to say yes,  because if I don't,  I might burn that bridge."

That bridge to where???

Are you even planning on taking that bridge anywhere?  Does it lead to anything stronger, more helpful,  more positive than the side you are on right now?

You have the right to say "no" to a project, for the right reasons.

Simplify WHY you say YES to  a project:  1.  The role/show is something you truly want to do  2.  The company/director/tour is something you really want to work with  3.  The money is just too good to say "NO" to   4.  The project intrigues you and you simply have to be involved

The "YES" can be any of the above, or combination of the above.

But when do you say "no"?

You don't have to say "yes" to everything that comes down the road!!  You don't want to become known as the entitled brat who turns everything down because she/he is waiting on that Broadway contract, or that chance to sing at the Met.  Guess what?  You gotta build that resume FIRST,  AND your reputation.

Saying "no" doesn't, in itself,  give you a bad reputation.  Your attitude, your work ethic, your preparedness, your interaction with others - these things count.

Sometimes,  knowing a situation is simply not a healthy one is a reason for "no".  Sometimes,  you have worked with/done that,  and really need to move on.  You don't need to give a REASON to say no,  but you can simply be cordial,  thankful for the opportunity,  but due to other commitments, you are unavailable.

Trust your gut.  If it doesn't feel right,  chances are something isn't right.  Now, granted,  it takes time to truly develop the finesse of the gut in the business of show - but even as a young performer,  you can trust your instincts.

Know your worth.  Even if a project isn't paying, or isn't paying much,  if a company still treats you with respect,  and recognizes the contribution you are making,  doesn't mean you have to say "no".

You, and only you,  can decide how to establish your business ethic,  and your boundaries.

If you are concerned about burning a bridge,  start by defining that bridge.  Does it lead anywhere other than what you may turn down?  If so,  what?  If so, where?   What is your reason for turning down the gig?

Saying "no" doesn't have to be a public performance.  In fact,  it shouldn't be.  It should be discreet, filled with discernment and measure,  with respect to all parties involved.

From a personal perspective,  "no" can be because of health,  energy,  conflicts,  life...Sometimes things are just too difficult to manage.  If your gut hesitates,  figure out why and then make a decision.  The choice is ALWAYS yours.  How you act on the choice is what has consequences - good or bad.

Ultimately,  the "burning of a bridge"  isn't about saying "no".  It is about HOW you say "no".

Graciousness and diplomacy in your business is so very important.  If you treat others with the respect you would want to be treated with,  you simply cannot burn a bridge.

If your attitude is entitled,  then you are not thinking of anything else but you,  and not in a positive light!

Make your decisions based on YOUR career.  YOUR direction.  Make your choices based on the bridges you want to take, and cross,  not on the possibility of burning one.  That will always make you look over your shoulder.  You aren't going there.

Move forward.  Be true to your commitments.  Say "no" when it is necessary.  Say "yes" when it makes sense.

Make the decision,  and begin the next step.  Rehashing choices makes us chase our tails,  and our path gets tied up,  and we may miss the next bridge.

Claim your possibility.  Claim your reason.  Claim your choice.

Leave those bridges alone,  until they are directly in front of you - and again,  CHOOSE to cross, or not.