Monday, March 30, 2015

Benefits to Preparing For Competitions, NATS Auditions, Masterclasses

 There are so many things that you can do with your singing to help you develop into the most confident and best singer that you can be.  Competitions, NATS Auditions, auditions for solos, auditions for shows, Studio Masterclasses, Studio Voice Recitals.  Summer Programs.  The list is long. Why should you do these and what should you do?  Your singing teacher can best guide you as to which opportunities you should participate in.

If you are a beginner, maybe stick with performing in your studio's recital. Or audition for a solo in your school's choral concert or talent show. Sing for your family and friends.  Maybe you aspire to be in the school musical theater productions.  Practice auditioning by singing for fellow students.

If you have been taking lessons for a while, maybe you should consider auditioning for a competition or participate in a Masterclass with another singing teacher or professional singer.  Take part in the local NATS auditions. If you are preparing college auditions or to attend a summer program, perform in many places.

Preparation for singing in front of others has many benefits. You can learn so much from performing for others. Yes, PERFORM.  Make that audition a performance and it may take you far.  You learn about yourself and how you react to real performance pressures.  Do you crumple under the pressure of nerves?  You learn from other master teachers and singing teachers when you participate in Maser Teacher Audition Workshops such as Master Teacher Workshop for NATS.

Make sure you are well prepared and go the next step.  Most areas have a local NATS or AMTA conference or audition workshop annually which you can compete or participate in and get adjudicated by other singing teachers and professionals.  Sing for your local Classical Singer Magazine auditions.  Like NATS, it has both a classical singing and musical theater competition. At the higher levels, you are competing to win both in name and monetary compensation.

Your teacher can help you prepare and decide if you are ready to do these competitions or advise on local scholarship competitions.  The idea is to get out there and sing.

What better way to get feedback about your singing and performance?  In your voice studio you get the input from your teacher which is so valuable, but doesn't add the performance dimension.  You get adjudication notes from others and it is another way to get comfortable singing in front of others. It prepares you better for that next step.

Master Teacher classes are also often offered at these events. These give you another performance experience and a chance to put feedback into action with another teacher or coach.  It is with an audience, but another chance to improve your next audition!  Do you research to see what is out there and your teacher can guide you as to which opportunities are best for you!

More Reasons Why?

Discipline and focused study.
Perfecting a piece, attention to detail.
Stage Presence.
Practice performing.
Learn how you react to performance pressure.
Accept constructive criticism.
Use it to improve your singing and stage presence.
The more you do something, the better you become.

Keep on singing!  Next up, why do that Summer Program?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Master Teacher Class for Musical Theater and Classical Singing

I recently attended the Greater Philadelphia NATS Chapter’s first event, Spring Audition Workshop with Master Teachers Robert Edwin and Valery Ryvkin.  I was very inspired both as a teacher and a singer.  Every time I attend a workshop or masterclass, I look forward to gleaning new insights and motivation.  This inspiration comes from what the clinicians have to say and from the singers and music itself. 

When listening to the singers for the first time, I first enjoy the performance itself.  Listening to the work, the artistry, and the passion of singing is always fun.  It is wonderful to hear new music and/or be reminded of a good song for one’s current students.  As a singer, it is a great experience to perform songs many times.  This enables one to continue to make each song in your repertoire as good as it possibly can be for your next audition or performance!  I am then excited to hear how each master teacher will work with the singer and how the singing may change in that next 20 minutes. 
The new or slightly rephrased information we hear from the master teacher helps us to continue to educate both our students and ourselves as teachers.  When technique is addressed using slightly different terminology by another teacher, it brings a new twist that can be applied in the studio or practice room.  There may be many similar concepts that I have addressed in lessons or new and different ones.  By using different terminology or imagery, it may help a student truly grasp the concept that I have already addressed or a new twist to really drive it home.   

For example, Valery Ryvkin talked about  ‘savoring the words by bringing out the beginning of the words’ in a German piece.  When the student then applied the technique, we could truly hear the difference.  The singer really understood the meaning of the words and therefore delivered the phrase with much more passion.  I continually address understanding the meaning of the text (especially in a foreign language) and knowing what each word means to use word emphasis in the phrasing.  Saying the word emphasizing the initial consonants and then singing it had the desired effect when singing.
Robert Edwin addressed musical theater belt by thinking wider or east-west in feel in essence taking out the weight of the belt to make your belt get higher.  I use different terminology to achieve the same goal, but this made sense to me and something I will apply.  When the singer for the master class used the technique, wow you could see the difference. 

When attending educational workshops, it is wonderful to learn new things or new ways to apply things you know as a teacher or singer.  Think outside of your box.  Use it in practice, not just inside your own head.  Robert Edwin addressed the musical theater singer and how truly versatile a singer must be in order to sing musical theater.  They must be able to sing legit, belt, pop, a myriad of styles all within the style.  While we all know the variety exists, do we know that all are able to be achieved with continual work on different parts of the voice?   Do we say that all out loud?  As a teacher, yes.  But do my students know that?  I must remind them and continually work on widening their horizons and my own education and skills to be the best teacher I can be. 

Teachers, get involved in your local NATS chapter or continual education by attending workshops or participating in online discussions.  If you live in the Greater Philadelphia area, join us!  We can always improve our own teaching skills and thus our singers accomplishments.  Singers, do as your teachers say and ‘practice, practice, practice’ and be in touch with what your body is doing each day and how it responds to that practice. 

Stay tuned next week for why YOU as a singer should do the next Audition Competition, Masterclass, Voice Recital, Workshop or Summer Program!