Singing, acting and dancing are all very important in musical theater. We all have one area in which we excel, one or two that are decent or needs a little more work at varying times in our lives. Some things are genetic, we have a natural affinity to them. Some we were exposed to early on in our lives through dance class or being taken to see plays at a early age. And some are just skills that we haven't had the time to work on improving OR just need additional time to work on!
What can you do to get there? Take a moment and think about your skill set. What comes easily to you? What challenges you in rehearsals the most? What did the director say would be beneficial for you to work on for future auditions? (That's a tough question to ask, but always a good one to know what skills others think you can improve upon!)
Let's look at the scenario of a person or two:
Madison is a great dancer. She has been taking dance lessons since she was 5. She takes ballet, hip-hop, modern. She dances up a storm. Acting comes naturally to her. She is always pretending to be in a play with her friends and is really good at imitating accents or repeating lines from movies or shows in perfect character. It comes naturally. She tries to sing in choir because she knows she should. It will help her in that next audition for the school musical. She struggles though. She lacks confidence and it's hard for her to hear herself in choir because she sings softly so she doesn't embarrass herself by singing a wrong note.
What should Madison do to be a better Triple Threat? You guessed it, take VOICE LESSONS! Here she can work on her skill set and her confidence. In a one on one situation she and her teacher can really figure out what she is already capable of doing vocally in a comfortable environment. They can work on good singing technique to advance her skill set even more. They can explore different categories of musical theater singing to see where she is most comfortable and begin work on more challenging songs together. They build her confidence and skill set. She also can add acting lessons OR find a summer singing program that also works with Acting a Song (My Summer Musical Theater Series would be an example)
WHEN can she do this? Always a hard thing to make the time, but summer is often an excellent time to begin working on that added skill. Since so many schools do a spring musical, late spring, summer or fall are wonderful times to begin voice lessons! ANY time of the year when she may have one less activity in her schedule OR a number of months before an audition.
Paula loves to sing. She has been singing ever since she can remember. She sings in choir at school, the audition only Chamber Choir, at church, in musicals, has had solos in all, she sings whenever she can! Paula also loves to dance and has taken dance classes off and on for years. She dances with her friends and it comes pretty naturally to her. Paula really struggles with her acting. She find it hard to fall into being a character outside of her self. She is an open book with her emotions in her regular life so it is hard to pretend to be someone else by acting.
What should Paula do to be a better Triple Threat? Take ACTING LESSONS or get involved with a theater program. By working with an acting coach in either an individual lesson or acting class, she can work on techniques to help her build her acting skills. Alter her identity of always wearing her heart on her sleeve and learn how to act the part of a different human for a small period of time. She can learn its fun to do that and have a good time with others in a group setting OR work on monologues and channel her inner actor. There are many individual acting coaches and local theater programs which have small group acting class.
WHEN?? Summer is always a good time, but so is ANY time of the year where maybe there is one less activity on the regular plan. And similar to Madison, a number of months before and audition. There are summer programs which help a singer learn to ACT a song or have acting games and segments interspersed with working on a show or scene.
Allison loves to act. She has been involved in straight theater since she was little as her parents always called her the little actress. She is a natural at impersonations. She also comes from a musical family and sings all the time. She does notice however that her voice is not as strong as she would like it to be to try out for the musical. She doesn't sing in choir because of her class schedule. Her other reason to pause- her 2 left feet. She struggles with dancing and doesn't really like to dance along with friends at a party or dance. She feels awkward.
What should Allison do to be a better Triple Threat? DANCE CLASSES first and VOICE LESSONS or SMALL GROUP VOICE CLASS/join CHOIR. Taking dance classes will help Allison get more comfortable with moving her body and familiar with basic dance steps. There are many Musical Theater Dance classes offered through all times of the year. If after a class or two, there is not time for both dance class and voice lessons, she can find programs that work on both skill sets. I offer both a Dance workshop in which we work on basic dance steps and sequences commonly used in Musical theater productions and a masterclass that helps with acting a song.
WHEN? Same answer- when you can carve out the time.
WHY and WHATS IMPORTANT? Working on your skill sets in the areas which you are strong is just as important as the skill sets in which you need a little help. Becoming more comfortable and gaining knowledge in your #2 and #3 skills is just as important as fine tuning the one you excel in!
Do you fit the description of any of these people? A combination of them? Do you want to land that lead or larger role in the next musical production at your school or community theater? Take some time and figure out which skill set YOU EXCEL at and which maybe you can IMPROVE. Do you have plans for the summer yet? MAKE some by enrolling in Voice Lessons, Dance Class, Acting Lessons OR a summer program or show to work on your Singing, Dancing, and Acting. If summer isn't the time for you, analyze when you have a slightly lighter schedule and make it (YOU as a Triple Threat) a priority.
For more information about voice lessons and programming in my studio or the local area, comment on this article!
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