Friday, June 16, 2006

Sunday, May 21, 2006

NEWSLETTER MAY 2006

SINGING PROFESSIONALLY

Is your goal in life to land a recording contract? Is your goal to sing on Broadway? Is your goal to sing locally and be paid for your performances? Is your goal to sing in Carnegie Hall?

There is an old joke that goes something like this:
"How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"
The answer: "Practice!"

Being a joke, it still has some truth in it. A great teacher of brass instruments, Dr. Donald S. Reinhardt of Philadelphia, PA, told me that 20% of my improvement was based on what he taught me but the other 80% was my using it. "Using it" means diligent disciplined practice with a great positive attitude AND also understanding it very well and doing EXACTLY and PRECISELY as I was taught.

The lips and the mouthpiece of a brass player are in many ways analagous to the vocal apparatus of a singer, even though there are very distinct anatomical differences. Practicing regularly, consistently, diligently, and correctly can all help prepare a person for success.

Practicing the wrong thing, the ineffective thing, or even the right thing done the wrong way (or in the wrong sequence) can all help contribute to failure or at best, a mediocre result that is simply not good enough to be considered at a professional level. This might sound harsh but it is a harsh reality and there is no replacing knowledge or competency. The instant perfect singer is only a fantasy.

The more a singer knows about the voice and music and the accuracy and legitimacy of that information, the more there will be strong contributing factors to a singer's success and longevity. The world is full of people who haven't taken the time to study music, vocal technique, anatomy, acoustics and other subjects germane to singing. The phrases they use expose their ignorance: "sing from your diaphragm", "place your tone", and a myriad of other fallacious silly insanities which are nothing more than a waste of time, money and attention. It's not just WHO you know. It's also WHAT you know and what you can DO!

Music is a vital part of singing and musicianship is one of the "yardsticks". You can measure a singer's current level of professionalism, or the lack thereof, by their depth and breadth of knowledge and skill of music. Additionally, technique which allows the singer to artistically execute stylistically correct singing is a make-break factor in a singer's career, both short term and long term.

"If you're not growing, you are dying", when it comes to the arts.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Headshot




Yes, I wear glasses sometimes...sometimes contacts.
The tux has been the standard attire for me
since the Las Vegas showroom days.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

NEWSLETTER APRIL 2006 - Musicianship And Singing

What does musicianship have to do with singing? Everything. Almost. There is, of course, the category of technique, both musical and vocal. There are several other factors which will be addressed in upcoming posts but musicianship itself can be either the killer or the savior of a singer (not in a religious sense). Most often watching American Idol, the single biggest thing separating the great ones from the others is the level of musicianship. It's one thing to be "musically literate" but it is another to have a profound working knowledge of music, whether you know the correct terms or not. The great singers have a solid sense of tonality. They know how to carry a tune, with or without accompaniment. They understand and can execute any and all intervals. They hear things and can identify things that the lesser singers miss. They can innately know without having to analyze whether their melody is being sung against a major, minor, diminished or augmented chord and whether it has an altered 5th, a 7th or minor 7th or even 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths. A singer who doesn't hear these things will not be able to go as far as one who does. they WILL hit a wall at some point in time. The worst thing is not knowing 1)WHAT is wrong or 2) HOW to remedy it. The greatest of the greats have superior levels of musicianship but without having to think or analyze and yet they do even more. They do it with ease, with style, with flare. They transcend technique and even style because they do it artistically. It has been said that music is a painting done on a canvass of silence, which is a good way of illustrating where it all starts. We break a plane of silence and emerge either creating art or creating something less than art. If we take the time to get to know profoundly the inner workings of music itself, then we have a much better chance of synergistically blending and melding with the accompaniment to become a whole greater than its parts. WAIT A MINUTE! How do we know this...any of this, is valid? Well, have you heard of a pentatonic scale? What is a pentatonic scale? It has five notes just like a pentagon has five sides. But what is it? Most rock guitar players know it or "know of it". But I don't play rock guitar. So? So, do you sing R&B, pop, country, even some Broadway music? Singing embellishments, which some call "runs" and others call "riffs", require some control, flexibility and some melodic ear acumen just to copy what you hear a favorite singer do. To create these, however, takes knowing them(pentatonic) to where you don't suffer the "paralysis of analysis" resulting in moving like molasses in Maine in the dead of winter. So, if you're not at that level of facility, learning the building blocks of music will greatly accelerate your momentum in being a professional level singer. There's more to follow and more to learn.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Video Email And Instant Messaging

Think about promoting yourself with a video of your performing that you can email to agents, venues, and others. Click on the link to the right and check it out. If you like sharing such things with others such as friends, family, or business associates, you can earn residual income but check out the details by clicking on the link to the right or below here: www.vmdirect.com/videovideo

Monday, March 06, 2006

Myths About Singing

Here comes the hard truth. This is reality backed up by hard science, both by physics and the field of modern medicine. We could think lots of silly things and feel like we have the secret solution to singers' problems like a certain singing teacher did in the mid 1800s but that resulted in the myths that persist to this day. Are you sitting down?

You do not sing from your diaphragm. You cannot place your tone. Breathing has very little to do with solving your singing problems (unless you are asthmatic or otherwise challenged in a pulmonary kind of way). Want the evidence? Where have all of our singing teachers been getting their answers to our problems and why do they remain ignorant of simple provable science? We'll explore these in depth. Hang on to your hats and wake up to a spheroidally-shaped planet. Yep. Nearby NASA has pictures to prove that theory, too.

Your diaphragm contracts down and causes you to inhale. Ask a doctor. Read Gray's Anatomy. The truth is all around you. If your voice teacher says "sing from your diaphragm", run (don't walk) away. You are wasting your time and money. Period.

The same goes for "placing your tone". It is a myth. It is a lie. You can believe it with all your might but the sound is still going to come flying out at 750 miles per hour and you do not have magical valves in your head or even the time to manipulate these invisible imaginary valves. It is a bald-faced lie.

Still sitting? Good. People say to not sing from your throat. Sorry. Your vocal folds (formerly called vocal cords) are in your throat and they vibrate when you sing and they vibrate in your throat. Air molecules set them vibrating as they brush across them. Ever take science in school? Maybe the voice teachers skipped school that day. Crack open a physics book and a book on acoustics. Heard of those? This is the so-called "information age". If you want to waste your time and money and guarantee that you have a limit to how well you can sing, believe the "old stuff". It is not simply "a different technique". It is totally fabricated and will waste your time and money. Wake up! It is 2006!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

NEWSLETTER - MARCH 2006

WHY A NEWSLETTER?
I have had so many requests to write a newsletter again that I've broken down and started. Well, maybe it's not a breakdown. Maybe it's more like a break through. We, who are in the arts, are a peculiar people. We see things differently than those who are not artists. We may see things in more depth and breadth than those who take things for granted, mostly ignoring certain things around themselves. Let's put that to a test. Print out this page. Look around the room and notice everything that is brown. (You can't cheat on this one or it won't work) Put this page in front of your eyes and then close your eyes for a second and then open them with this sheet in front of your face. DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT YET! If you didn't cheat, you are now staring at this paper in front of your face and you have made a mental note of the things that are brown in the room. Without moving this sheet...What did you see that was blue? DON'T LOOK. JUST USE YOUR MEMORY. What can we learn from this? People tend to ignore a lot of what is around themselves but we, as artists, as singers, cannot do that if we expect to be excellent at what we do. Did you remember anything that is blue where you are without peeking? Does it make sense that since singing usually happens with music and since singing IS music that we should try to learn more about music so that we can be better singers? Most professions have to keep up with new things and they call it "continuing education". Can you know too much about a subject? No, not if you are wanting to the best that you can be. What do you know about rhythm, pitch, tone, scales,chords, dynamics, voicings, accompaniment patterns, styles, forms,improvising, writing music, writing or doing vocal harmony? Is there still more to learn?

Saturday, February 11, 2006



Sheree and Chuck Stewart

We are in color in real life and we both sing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

ONLINE VOICE LESSONS

I am now set up to do vocal instruction via the internet and... it will be a private lesson and we would both see and hear each other in streaming video and audio and in real time. It isn't just copies of exercises for your voice; this is a real live lesson!

Check With Chuck

Watch for newsletters and links having to do with singing and also what I do as a vocal coach.