Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How to Have a Successful Audition!

This isn’t all there is to auditioning; it is only a primer.
PREPARING for an audition is probably 80% of the game. The other 20% will be what happens at the audition. These percentages do not equate to percentages of time. The percentage could easily change to 99.9% to 0.1% or even more. As a personal note, I spent around three hours a day practicing and recording my singing, for an entire year before auditioning for a production show in Las Vegas. I did not have to work that hard but I had my standards, and I was not about to compromise with them.

HOMEWORK is the first step to a successful audition. You first need to discover as precisely as possible what exactly is needed for the part for which you are auditioning. You may not be able to discover this, but try to find others who have worked for the same organization. If it is a play, find out all you can about the play, the director, the producer, the musical director and so on.

Once you have completed all you can with your research and discovery, you will then know what you should wear or what your image should be for the part you are pursuing. Take a realistic look at yourself and perhaps seek advice from others whom you trust as to your attire and your image.

You need to select your music and practice it well in advance of your audition. Six to eight weeks of practice is by no means too much. You want to feel in control of yourself and your voice as much as possible.

Read my next blog, to find out what steps to take to prepare your auditioning song, and how to conduct yourself while auditioning!

Monday, May 07, 2007

What is YOUR level of commitment?

“Commitment” is not a popular word these days. Perhaps the word is okay, but the concept is unacceptable to many. Commitment is the key to staying on track to success though. There are certainly other factors, but it is the commitment from which an operating policy can be formulated. Your policy as a singer is the thing that keeps you moving toward your goal instead of straying or otherwise being distracted. Positive thinking is a good thing, but it is having an operating policy to help turn thoughts into action.

An amateur singer might have the policy to practice an hour a day. If that singer is practicing a half hour a day, the policy might be made to increase that time, by 5 or 10 minutes more per day until the practice time would be an hour. Policy might include what time of day to practice and even having a schedule.

Professional singers might have policy covering practice, rehearsals, recording sessions, health issues, business issues and issues of their own integrity as artists as to what and what is not acceptable.

If you think of your singing goal as a destination, yourself as the train, then policy would be the track.

Commitment is the fuel that keeps you going, keeps you working toward your goals and not giving up or taking too much time to smell way too many roses along the way. Smell a few, though.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Learn to Use Your OWN Voice, Rather Than Someone Else’s

Whenever a teacher talks in terms of “placing” the tone, that teacher is talking about a result that is sought. The result the teacher is seeking may be what that teacher perceives to be the sound you should make. It may be based on another singer (whom the teacher has heard) who has an entirely different voice from yours. Your natural singing voice is closely related to your speaking voice. When you stray very far from that, you risk strain or even injury to your voice.

If you want a different sound, that sound should be your own best sound, not the sound of someone else. This will be achieved by conscientiously doing exercises to help with the coordination and strength of your voice and with getting vowel sounds to work for you instead of against you.

You cannot “open your throat,” by the way. You can open your mouth, you can open your vocal cords, you can raise your soft palate, and you can move your tongue. Too much of any of these manipulations will result in some sounds that you may not want to share with others. Take a look at an anatomy drawing of the pharynx and larynx and you will see what moves and what does not.

The phrase “everybody knows that” can be a dangerous one because it implies an absolute and universal “truth”. It is advisable to discover the source of our information.

This brings me to the next point, which is, how committed are you, to the improvement of your voice?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Placement of One’s Voice is a Misnomer!

So, how do you place the tone? You get a spoon, and pick up some tone, and move it to where you want it to be. Does this sound ridiculous? If you take the time to look at an anatomy chart or drawing of the larynx and pharynx, you will see that there are things that move and things that do not move.
You can manipulate your lips, tongue, jaw and soft palate. When you do this incorrectly, you are not “placing” your tone; you are only distorting your sound. An inconsistent sound from the bottom of your range to the top is not pleasing. It is irritating. It is annoying. It is an aberration of tone, not an improvement. Many, many mis-trained and ill-informed singers who are the product of our degraded education system robotically sing, with distorted looking faces and mouths and sound very distorted. It is difficult at times to even understand the words being sung even though they are in “English”.

I have seen a tenth grade music appreciation textbook from Italy which had more music theory, music literature, and music history than what is being taught in this country as a college freshman music major in the same specific courses. This is, I repeat, a textbook for music appreciation. I took that course in high school, and it was mainly listening to music from all eras. It was fun, but it was an easy A. I also took it in college, attended 3 or 4 classes, skipped the rest, aced the final and got an A for the course. The point is, in the U.S., we are way behind by comparison.

In my next blog, you will find out how to achieve your OWN sound, and why “placement” is inaccurate depiction of voice theory.