Friday, February 3, 2012

Thoughts from Green Bay

I did a Masterclass this week at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, and had a great time talking to the students, and hearing a couple of them sing. I appreciate Sarah Meredith Livingston setting it up, and giving undergraduate students the opportunity to hear more about the business. I thought that I would copy the handout here that I used this week.

“Setting up” the Audition –William Florescu

I. Preparation – Nothing that is mentioned past this point means anything if this is not taken care of – the main areas of preparation are:

a. vocal – your lessons, technical work, etc.

b. musical – coaching, musical accuracy, style, etc.

c. lingual – also coaching – diction, articulation, pronunciation, etc.

d. cosmetic – your resume, head shot, clothes, hair, make up, etc. – this is one that is generally treated as either too important, or not important enough

e. physical – the dramatic delivery of your piece, your entrance into the room, what you do with your hands, what you do between arias, how you address the audience (whether that be a paying audience, adjudicators, vocal jury, etc) – letter e is the category that is most often left to fate or inspiration, and therefore, the area that is most often badly handled in an audition

II. Why is letter e so important?

a. The externals of your auditions either invite the “audience” into the inner kernel of what you have to offer or it keeps them out.

b. Being in control of the externals overcomes a number of the internals:

1. nerves

2. breath control

3. memory

4. confidence

5. there are numerous ones you can add to this list!!

c. As much as most of us want to believe that it is our voice that will linger in the memory of those who hear us, the truth is, that in many cases, it is how we carry ourselves from the moment we come on to the stage to the moment that we leave, that makes the most lasting impression (assuming that you are not the next Pavarotti, Streisand, or Fleming – in that case, all bets are off! – but remember these are the exceptions, and most of us have to plan our lives around NOT being the exception.)

d. We will experience your externals long before we get to your internals, and as they, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

III. What do I do about it? – Most of us know that we need to take voice lessons, need to work with a coach, need to get time on stage, etc. Most of us (and I include myself in this category) do not know how to improve the externals of our auditions, but there are ways!

a. teachers and coaches – this seems redundant since they were mentioned as a separate category, but teachers and coaches have been in your shoes, and a great resource for what to do in your audition when it comes to the externals.

b. Colleagues – your fellow singers, assuming there is an honest bond of trust and support, can give you feedback on how you “come off”. Sing for each other, critique, etc. – it’s amazing how well YOU will improve yourself, when you have to articulate what you think about what a fellow artist is doing.

c. YOU – there are so many ways to self diagnose these days with video, digital recorders, and then, of course, that most advanced instrument of all – the mirror!! Don’t be afraid to analyze the externals of what you do (even to the extent of analyzing how you walk in the room!!

IV. Other resources – As opposed to even twenty years ago, there are a number of resources out there for singers to help find out what you need to do! Some of them are:

a. Classical Singer Magazine, and website

b. Opera America -

c. The New Forum for Classical Singers -

d. The Opera Audition (this is my audition blog) -

These just scratch the surface – remember, it is a very competitive field, and you need to put every advantage into your column that you can. And remember the advice of Oscar Wilde – be yourself, everyone else is taken!!

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