Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Almost September!

And you know what that means.....
Performances to sing
Performances to attend
lessons back on a regular schedule
coachings back on a regular schedule

A lot to talk about.....and looking forward to it!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Bookshelf

I have only occasionally talked about books on singing, etc. on this blog, but I am starting to reread one that is excellent, and is particularly germane to the purpose of this blog.
A soprano on her head by Eloise Ristad is really good. Unfortunately, I believe the author passed away some years ago, and I frankly don't know if its still in print, but if you can find a copy, snatch it.
It is all about throwing out the box you might find yourself in to find a new way to approach performing - of course, this is doubly appropriate for auditioning, where the nervousness can be kicked up a notch from a public performance. The title of the book refers to a soprano who was having a mental block on a Mozart aria, and the author's way of opening things up, was to have her sing it while standing on her head. The very bizarre nature of that act caused her to look at the aria in a completely different way - literally and figuratively!
I hope you can find this little book, but even if you can't, try breaking the mold you may find yourself in on any given aria.
For instance -
Sing a slow aria quickly
Sing loud passages quietly
sing a static piece walking backward
sing a passage where you have a mental block on text with the stereo blaring to focus your concentration in a different way

You see my point...none of the above deals with technique or diction, or staging, but it does have to do with shaking up your viewpoint, which can aid mightily with technique, etc....

Try it....and look for that book!

Friday, August 26, 2011

the eyes have it.......

There are various viewpoints on this, but especially for an audition, be very clear what you want to do with your eyes......
many singers do a lot of eye closing for dramatic effect, and there is no doubt that this can be a very effective tool, but......
at the same time, in an audition, you want to make sure that you have the maximum amount of time to connect with the people hearing your audition - too much eye closing can cut you off from the people you want to have hire you.
As your preparing your audition arias, make sure that you have a clear idea of what you're doing in this area.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Plans are in the works......

for some audition workshop(s) here in Milwaukee at our Opera Center - I will keep you apprised of developments!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Checklist time

So, summer is coming to an end, and the audition season is going to unfold......grad school, main stage, young artist, Met auditions, various competitions, artist manager auditions....etc. etc.

So, are you taking an inventory of where you are at this point?

a. Is your rep list updated, refreshed and ready to go (vocally, musically, languages, physical presentation)?
b. Do you have contacts, or the means to make those contacts lined up?
c. Wardrobe??
d. Resume?
e. Headshot{s)?

That's a good starting list....I'm sure there is a bit more to make it truly comprehensive....if you have additions that you think make this even more solid.....please write!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Watch this!!

OK, be honest in answering this question.....Do you know how you look when you audition??
I know, by this time many of you have had to make an audition dvd, which you probably stole a glance at, winced, and sent out. Or, you've seen video of a live recital or operatic performance. But...have you used these clips as tools to improve??
Recording one's voice for study purposes is common, and I daresay most of use that resource on a regular basis (though, back in the good old days of cassette recorders, it may have been a little more common than with the digital recorders of today). Nevertheless, critiquing one's sound is fairly standard practice.
But, how often do you use a mirror to see if you are really selling your pieces (there's a lot to be learned on the technical end of things with a mirror as well). Also, with flip video and all manner of digital video recording devices, video recording yourself as part of your audition preparation is something that you should consider doing.
I think we all have experienced that moment watching ourselves when we say "I do that when I sing that aria??"
As I have mentioned many times, the one thing that seems to be left to chance or inspiration in auditions, is the physicality, the staging, etc........
In a world where there can be a paper thin margin between voices being considered, you owe it to yourself to use every tool in your toolbox to make your sure you have the very best shot at that job.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Your audition arias have to inhabit a "world"

I have been getting back to my audition coaching lately, and speaking with singers, I am reminded again that one of the important things you have to do is actively "create" the world in which each of your arias resides.
This of course is easier if it is a role you have done, but even if you haven't done that, work on mentally creating the context for the aria, and then staging it as part of your preparation - this can prove to be as important as diction, pronunciation, technique, etc. As a matter of fact by having your physical presence in your audition take center stage (sorry for the pun!), you won't be thinking of your voice all of the time, which, at least for me, was one of the pitfalls of most of my auditions.
As I have said before, even though you will stage the aria, that doesn't mean you have to use all of that staging in the audition - but the "residue" from that staging work is going to make you more physically aware and comfortable in the audition itself.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back from Santa Fe

Hello again!
Just getting caught back up after some time at Santa Fe Opera, where I heard some really nice singing from their Apprentice Artists over two days of auditions.
I will have some late summer thoughts to share as I get back into the swing of things!