I created this blog to provide singers with support and resources for vocal technique, artistry and career development. Over the past several months I’ve been enjoying some wonderful opportunities to carry out this mission in the broader vocal community – online, in print, and in person. It’s consumed a great deal of my time, so now that I am ready to resume blogging I thought I’d start by catching you up on what I have been doing lately.
Carnegie Hall Musical Exchange: The Singer’s Audition Handbook
I lead the Voice Studio Group on Carnegie Hall’s interactive educational web site, Musical Exchange, and we recently launched an extended online audition preparation workshop that should prove valuable to all voice students and aspiring professionals. This workshop has been many months in the planning, and if you’ll have a look at the project home page you’ll understand why I’ve been busy lately!
The Singer’s Audition Handbook is a sequence of discussions and interactive projects that will unfold in connection with the series of master classes that Joyce DiDonato will present during her Carnegie Hall Perspectives residency in the 2014 – 2015 season, with a view to improving the application experience. The workshop will give potential applicants the opportunity to work through all the steps of the audition process with professional guidance, ask questions, and receive feedback on their materials before they are even submitted into consideration. The aim is to turn the audition process into a learning opportunity by providing resources to support singers as they evaluate and apply for educational and performance opportunities.
Topics will include choosing appropriate opportunities, creating a timeline for the application process, selecting audition repertoire, and preparing head shots, demos, bios and other materials. Singers will be encouraged to participate in discussions and share the audition materials they’re developing in order to receive feedback and advice.
The discussion I posted on Master Classes last week exemplifies the kind of robust information I would like to see made available on all educational and performance programs. It highlights The Song Continues, Marilyn Horne’s annual festival of art song recitals and master classes. Five singers who participated in the festival last January spoke with me about their experiences and shared excerpts from the demos they submitted with their applications; you can also view their sessions in the master classes. The more information you have about a program like this, the easier it is to decide whether it’s right for you and to put together a strong application.
I invite you all to register for a free Musical Exchange membership and take part in the project. The more singers who are willing to share their experiences with one another, the more everyone benefits.
Be a Better Instrument: A Singer’s Fitness Regimen
Sports science offers outstanding tools to improve alignment, breathing, stamina and kinesthetic awareness, all which are crucial for singers and impossible to develop effectively in the voice studio. Last summer I re-certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and I now offer fitness workshops as well as one-on-one fitness assessments and program design. I have always been passionate about what fitness can do for singers, and it is exciting to be sharing these techniques with a community that stands to benefit so greatly from them.
I presented my workshop at the Voice Foundation Symposium in Philadelphia last month for an audience of voice teachers, singers, and speech language pathologists; later this month I will also present the workshop at the Performing Arts Medical Association Symposium in Snowmass, Colorado. I’m eager to share this material with voice departments at colleges, conservatories and young artist programs, so please be in touch if you’re affiliated with a program that is ready to integrate fitness into the curriculum and I’ll provide further details.
The one-on-one training I offer comprises four sessions: one session to perform a robust assessment and create a customized program design, and three to teach you how to do the program with excellent form so that you can continue to perform it on your own. If after our last session you decide you’d prefer to continue working with a trainer, I’ll refer you to a highly qualified colleague who understands the specific needs of singers.
Often a singer with sensational talent, musicianship and passion finds their technique unnecessarily limited by less-than-optimal alignment, oxygen consumption, or other issues that are easily addressed with a targeted fitness regimen. Everything feels more effortless when you’re in great shape, so come see me for an assessment and find out how a customized exercise program can optimize your instrument.
Classical Singer Magazine: Musings on Mechanics
My new monthly column for Classical Singer magazine, Musings on Mechanics, launched in December 2013. The column addresses topics in vocal anatomy and technique in practical, accessible terms and offers fitness strategies to get your body into optimal shape for singing. Classical Singer content is available only by subscription, so follow this link to take advantage of the discounts they are extending to my readers - good deals on annual print and web subscriptions, and $1.99 gives you access to the current web issue and archives for a month.
Here’s an index of my columns to date:
- Musings on Mechanics launched with Are You Ready for Your Close-Up? A custom fitness routine can do extraordinary things for your body and your voice – just make sure to always prioritize your instrument’s needs over aesthetic concerns.
- Don’t Let Your Backbone Hold You Back discusses the role that alignment plays in vocal technique, common postural distortions, and strategies for getting your spine into optimal shape.
- In Let Your Breathing Be an Inspiration! I cover the ways your breathing apparatus supports your singing, help you take inventory of physical habits and other conditions that impact your breathing, and offer resources to bring your breathing habits into closer alignment with the demands of your vocal technique.
- Make Your Unstable Life Work for You shows how a fitness regimen emphasizing balance and stabilization training can improve not only your movement skills but also your vocal technique.
- How to Shred Your Pecs without Shredding Your Voice addresses a young reader’s concerns about the impact that developing a muscular build can have on the voice.
- In The Skinny on Weight Loss & Breath Management, I explain the relationship of body weight to vocal technique and recommend ways to augment your technique to compensate for a significant reduction in your weight.
- More Bone in Your Tone: The Consequences of Laryngeal Ossification describes the vocal changes that take place when your laryngeal cartilages mature and the implications this development has for your technique.
I’m very proud of the content I have published with Classical Singer. Check in each month to keep current with Musings on Mechanics.
All three of these projects are ongoing, but I've built enough momentum with each of them now that I can look forward to resuming regular posts on this site as well.
Thanks for stopping by - I hope you'll give some serious thought to joining Musical Exchange, picking up a Classical Singer subscription, joining me at the gym, and, especially, coming to see me for a voice lesson!