Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Does the Vocal Color of Your Voice Impact Being Cast in a Role? What Else?

Does the color of your voice impact being cast in a role?  A resounding yes!  Can the director hear your voice singing a particular part?  It not only comes down to what voice part you generally sing, but does your voice have the qualities or colors to sing a particular role.  There are many varieties of sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, and altos.  Can this mezzo alter her vocal color to do a British accent for Nancy in Oliver or become very nasal to sing Adelaide in Guys and Dolls?  Can this soprano sing a pure, clear tone as wanted for Sarah in Guys and Dolls or Maria in West Side Story?  The vocal color Mother Nature gave you can be played with a little bit within a box of coloration, but not taken totally out of the box.  To think about it visually, there are different shades of blue, none of which can become yellow.  A mezzo-soprano voice can do both Nancy and Adelaide with technique, training, and experimentation with a trained professional, but probably is not really capable of singing the role of Queen of the Night!

What else comes into play?  We must not only sound the part, but also sort of look the part.  Yes, stature and looks to take a role in casting. In Oliver, you cannot have a short Nancy and a tall Oliver. Some physical features can be changed and you may be asked to do so by wearing a wig or dying your hair color, but they cannot drastically change your vocal color.

Other factors come in as well of course- can you act the part?  How is your reading?  How is your monologue if required?  How do you interact with the other actors auditioning? If there is a dance audition, can you dance the part?  If it is a tap show, do you tap?

The best thing you can do is prepare yourself to be YOUR best!  Prepare your song vocally, delivery of the song, refresh your dance moves and your acting skills.  Take singing, acting, and dance lessons on an ongoing basis. If that is too tough to manage with your time, focus on your primary strength and then find a way to rotate the others in by doing a Musical Theater Audition Workshop or add lessons during the summer months.  Happy Auditioning!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Vocal Color- How it Makes YOU Unique

Each person has their own individual singing voice which is determined by many factors, most of which is the distinct composition of each person's body.  Vocal color is created in each individual.  One of the beauties of singing is the uniqueness of of each voice.  Since every person is built differently, resonators shaped individually, stature, background, ethnicity, native language, it makes your sound different from anyone else.  Sure commonalities exist- 2 sisters might sound similar just as they look similar, but you can still tell a slight difference in vocal color, a singer may be able to imitate another, but is that their true vocal color?

Vocal color is distinctive timbre of the voice, a voiceprint as unique as a fingerprint. 
-Charles Riley, Classical Singer Magazine

In most gifted singers, color is like a Hollywood star's face which, no matter what the role may be, has a signifying presence.  Brian Zeger of Julliard Opera and the Lincoln Center

The palette of color of one's voice comes from using the resonances in the mask and head to color the vowels.  This is where you find your true sound.  Of course we can imitate others, but our own sound still shines through.  A good voice teacher can see through the technical hurdles of a beginning singer to fine the vocal color that is hidden within and possesses the tools to unearth the true color by removing those obstacles.  Then they add the final step of maximizing resonance so the vocal color can be heard clearly and consistently.  In other words, a good teacher can help you find and maximize YOUR true vocal color.

We all have a starting palette and should explore with in Mother Nature's realm what singing voice was given to us!  Singers who have good technique find there is a range of shades within their natural vocal color to draw upon. They sing an art song with a slightly different color than an aria or a Broadway tune.

As every body is different, so is every voice, and the color is strongly affected by the shape of the resonators, the facial bones and hollows, and the body supporting the voice.  Technique and musical choices naturally affect it, but the initial color is always going to remain unique to the singer. Nicole Cabell, singer at the Metropolitan Opera

Every great artist has a rainbow of fundamental colors available to him or her, but must remain faithful to what Mother Nature gave him or her genetically.  Rutenberg

In this day and age of technical perfection and over correction in the recording studio, we must be aware that too much editing can take away the natural vocal color making a voice unique.  Uniqueness sets a voice apart from the rest and create a 'diamond in the ruff'.  Go find and develop YOUR vocal colors.  www.susanandersbrizick

Monday, November 10, 2014

2 Plank Challenge: The Results are In!

So, after a few weeks of adding 2 planks to your daily practice, what happened?

I noticed I started supporting my singing from my abdominal muscles immediately upon doing my warm-ups.  A plank activates the abdominal muscles to do exactly what we want them to do when singing:  contract lightly but firmly.  It also activates the quadriceps or front muscles of the legs. Engaging these muscles when standing helps us activate the internal abdominal muscles and provide adequate breath support to our sound.

My brain also was truly focused on singing from the start.  1 or 2 minutes of concentration on a muscular task also calms the brain.  Instead of trying to calm it down to focus all on your own, physical motion helps you.

It also calms and slows down your breath from our quick paced world.

Comments from my studio:

"The planks help me develop a stronger core which I can feel."

"A tighter belly creates more breath support which is therefore easier on my throat when singing.  I always want to start my sound in the throat without using my breath first.  This is helping me to break this habit."

"My core is getting stronger to use it and guide my air better."

"I am connecting with my breath more now when I sing."

Thank you to all of you who commented on my blog The 2 Plank Challenge-What-does-doing-2 planks before singing do for you?  Most singing teachers agree that adding planks and other physical activities help singers be more in tune with their bodies and improve singing. Here are a few comments which stood out to me:

"I've been advising my clients for years to do the Plank Challenge in order to build up their core strength - very effective :-) http://30dayfitnesschallenges.com/30-day-plank-challenge/" Kim Chandler

"After I took up triathlon, I noticed a huge difference in my singing. More power in the voice, better breath control. In my studio, through the years, I have often had my students to planks and other core building exercises. For inactive students I highly recommend they take up an activity the will build their aerobic capacity, as well. Our bodies are our instrument and we can shape them to be better for singing."  Elizabeth Rotoff

"I have been having my students planking for a year, I have been doing it for a long time. The results are immediate: even on days when they are a bit under the weather, after planking for 30-40 seconds, the breath connects with the body and the vocal results never cease to amaze! HIGHLY recommended..."  Angela Ahiskal 

Each individual is unique so various approaches work for different people.  Singers who are also athletes may need less direction on support and dancers often already have tight core muscles which may need to be relaxed when singing.  Those who are not as physically active outside of singing may need to take more time to get in tune with their bodies.  Physical fitness is an important part of being a singer today.  Find the activities that work for you to keep improving your singing and truly get your voice and body coordinated to make YOUR best sound.  Keep up the plank challenge and let me know other things which help you!