Posts made in May, 2012

She’s called little Buttercup

Posted by on May 24, 2012 | 0 comments

She’s called little Buttercup
I am moved to brag about one of my students again, this time a brand new one: Christie Jungling just got the role of Buttercup in Pentacle Theatre’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore. I am so thrilled for her! We’ve been working together for five or six weeks and I couldn’t be happier with what we have accomplished in such a short time. However, I’m not really surprised because I knew before we ever had a lesson that she was smart, motivated, and extremely hard working, three important ingredients to successful teaching and learning. And as predicted, she is a fantastic student (as well as one of the loveliest, most supportive humans on the planet)! (As I joked with her, she does what I tell her to do! What a concept!) But seriously, Christie came to lessons with no agenda other than to improve and develop her voice, to finally find out her full potential as a singer. And she is well on her way. From the moment we started working together, she was completely open to trying all the new sounds and approaches to her voice and immediately her voice evolved and developed into a full, beautiful and expressive instrument. And then when we worked on the song she was preparing for the audition, she went all in, immediately applying everything we had worked on in the purely technical part of the lesson. She (seemingly effortlessly) combined all the new vocal stuff with the new musical stuff with the new acting stuff, all at the same time. See, it can be done! Her audition piece had all the essential elements: excellent singing, good diction, musicality, theatricality and clear, audibly interesting interpretation. I love working with talented, motivated people who not only participate in the process of developing their voice but enjoy that process as much as the results. It is so rewarding. I am so proud of her and have opening night tickets to see the show!
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How do we know it’s you?

Posted by on May 22, 2012 | 1 comment

How do we know it’s you?

I am all fired up! Today I had my first online branding webinar taught by Greg Sandow and my mind is reeling with ideas and possibilities. Today we talked about branding in general, how it works, examples of what works and what doesn’t in both the retail world as well as the Classical music world. The big question Greg wants us to ask ourselves is, How do we know it’s YOU?!

Who are you? What do you do? How does the person(a) and the work interact, intersect and intermingle? How do you articulate your message and present your “public face,” as one of the participants put so well, so that it is clear, organized, interesting?

So, a start on who am I? and what do I do?

I sing AND teach singing.

I am musical AND theatrical.

I love to sing AND teach equally. Furthermore, I sing as I teach and I teach how and what I sing.

I love to work in the genres of both Classical AND Musical Theatre.

I am silly AND passionate. (I first wrote “funny and serious” and while also true, I think the first two adjectives speak louder.)

It suddenly seems obvious to write the above sentences and yet I’ve never actually spoken of myself in such a forthright manner before.

I like it! “And that’s my new philosophy…”


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To thine own self be true

Posted by on May 3, 2012 | 1 comment

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about who Iam as an artist/singer/teacher and how to clearly and succinctly convey that to the world via my personal “brand.” This train of thought is all thanks to Greg Sandow and his terrific blog on the future of classical music; what does the future hold for this sadly fading art form and how to save it. As part of how to rescue classical music from the brink of extinction, he talks about how to brand oneself as an artist/performer! Whoa! WOW! His writing on this subject knocks my socks off! What a fantastic concept. He is teaching a whole class on it at Julliard! Is that not marvelous? Where was this stuff when I was in school? Not once in all of my eight years of higher education was this even mentioned, let alone did I have a class about it. Nothing remotely connected to the realities of pursuing a career in the performing arts was a part of the curriculum. (I understand this is finally changing, thank goodness!) Identifying what makes you special and therefore hireable as a performer was never discussed. It was assumed that singing well was all you really needed to be able to do and that somehow the other stuff would just fall into place. (It doesn’t.) When I was a student, you spent every waking moment studying the music and the composers and practicing said composers’ great music with your instrument of choice but never what to do with all that knowledge and skill once you left the hallowed halls of the school. So when you graduated, you knew how to sing Mozart and who he was and when he wrote and how he wrote and why this chord was in this measure in that aria … but not how any of it will translate into the real world of you developing into an artist who is lucky enough to sing his glorious music on a stage for money!

And for me it only got worse when I was out of school. Cornelius was (and therefore so was I) myopically focused on striving for vocal perfection, a noble pursuit certainly, but unfortunately to the exclusion of what was just as important and what I now consider just as essential: developing the whole package of me as a unique artist with a unique talent and a unique persona to offer to the profession.

So, who am I? What exactly is my unique performing and teaching persona? I’ve been continually asking and partially answering that question for decades now and this blog is helping me articulate it for the first time ever. I am also very excited that in a few weeks I am going to take Mr. Sandow’s online branding seminar to further the discovery process. I have always had an idea of who and what I am (and wanted to be) as a performer (and lately as a teacher) and what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it but never could fully express it clearly to myself or others. I tried for too long to be everything and anything as a performer just to get the job or please the teacher, too often ignoring my instincts and true desires. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that the singing and teaching projects I’ve been most successful at and that filled me with the most joy and satisfaction have always aligned with those inner cravings: to be creative, accessible, entertaining, theatrical, and working in both the classical and Musical Theatre repertoire.

So why is all this important?

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

-Polonius, Hamlet, Act I, scene 3

I found this explanation of the above quote which I quite like: “By ‘false’ Polonius seems to mean ‘disadvantageous’ or ‘detrimental to your image’; by ‘true’ he means ‘loyal to your own best interests.’ Take care of yourself first, he counsels, and that way you’ll be in a position to take care of others.”

By discovering and embracing my true, honest and most creative artistic/musical self, I am able to offer my audiences an authentic musical and theatrical experience that will hopefully inspire them as much as the material I perform inspires me. And for my students, I will be able to help them develop their unique performing, musical and vocal persona even better than I do now.  Sounds like a win-win! On to the discovery process…updates as events warrant!

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