Everything You Need to Know About World Voice Weekend

It’s a little less than one week till Early Bird pricing expires for World Voice Weekend, and if you haven’t signed up yet, maybe it’s because you’re wondering just what you’ll get for your tuition. Last Thursday’s post covered most of clinicians and their background, but here’s a little more information for you about just what the weekend will include.

Each day will begin at 10:30am with a 25 minute set of warm-ups led by me, Christine Thomas-O’Meally. On Saturday, the theme will be The Three Rs of Respiration: Receive, Release, Resist. In this session, I will take attendees through a fun and informative series of exercises on how to use the breath in the most efficient and organic way possible (while having a really good time). On Sunday, my theme is Where DO Those Sounds Live in my Mouth?, in which we’ll focus on articulation – where vowels and consonants are produced, how to get them moving and use them in the most effective way possible to sound good and be understood, no matter where you are in your range. (For information on me, see my About page.)

At 11am on Saturday, actor and vocal coach Izzie Baumann will join us from Germany to present a workshop on The Voice in Storytelling. This workshop will set out to connect vocal technique to storytelling and find the magic where the two interact. Izzie’s mission is to bring acting chops to performers worldwide so they can slay their audition pieces and book professional gigs! Izzie has an educational background as both a linguist, with a BA from TU Dortmund (Germany) and the University of Groningen (Netherlands), as well as training from the Musical Arts Academy in Mainz (Germany) as a musical theatre performer. Her professional experience includes acting, singing, dancing, choreography, voice acting, assistant directing, coaching voice, acting and dance and being a writer, lyricist and translator.

At 12:15 on both days, grab yourself a bite to eat and a beverage and enjoy World Voice Brunch, featuring internationally acclaimed artists in concerts. On Saturday, jazz singer/pianist/educator Brenda Earle Stokes will present The World of Jazz Singing, in which she will share a wide variety of vocal jazz styles from Swing to Bossa and Blues to Modern, filmed live from her studio in the heart of Jazz Mecca: NYC. Brenda has garnered international acclaim for her work as a performer, composer and educator and has fused a passion for the piano and a love of singing into a vibrant career that taken her across the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, playing at venues like the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Toronto Jazz Festival. In addition to teaching at Fordham University and running a busy private studio teaching voice, piano and songwriting, Brenda owns Piano and Voice with Brenda – a
suite of online courses on piano, jazz, improvisation and musicianship and she has a bustling YouTube channel.

On Sunday, Irish nu-folk performer Emma Langford will sing Her Voice was Broken, So I Sing Aloud. The genre of “nu” folk describes contemporary fusion of facets of the folk idiom with undeniable traces of jazz and pop. In 2018 Emma was named Best Emerging Folk Artist by Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTÉ Radio 1, and in 2020 was shortlisted for the Best Folk Singer award in the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards. In the past 4 years, she independently released two highly acclaimed full-band records, Quiet Giant (2017) and Sowing Acorns (2020). A singer with a profound respect for her instrument, Emma risked losing her voice to vocal nodules at a young age and only in her early twenties, after rigorous vocal therapy and training was she in a position to begin honing her abilities. The artist completed both her BA specialising in voice and her MA in community music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance on the banks of the River Shannon in her hometown of Limerick, for which she will be joining us.

A Q&A will follow both sessions.

At 1:30pm on Saturday, Amy Mushall of Fort Collins, CO, will present Balancing and Re-Aligning for Singing with Alexander Technique. In this session, she will explain how Alexander Technique started and how it relates to singers, discuss and demonstrate the difference between posture and balance, and the roles of skeleton and muscles in providing structure and movement,. This will involve exploration of the head/spine relationship, body alignment from head to foot and balance awareness. Amy’s unique style of functional vocal training using Body Mapping and the principles of Alexander Technique make her in-demand as a private teacher, choral clinician and vocal coach.  In addition to her busy teaching schedule, Amy also performs professionally in opera, jazz and musical theater.  In addition to a BM in Vocal Performance from Western Michigan University, Amy is currently completing her Alexander Technique Certification. A Q&A will follow the session.

Masterclasses will be held at 3pm each day and will feature Broadway actors working with 6 singers for a 90 minute period.

On Saturday, our master clinician will be actor Christian Borle, who won Tony Awards for Something Rotten! and Peter and the Starcatcher. He also received Tony nominations for Falsettos and Legally Blonde. His additional Broadway credits include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Spamalot and Footloose. He has appeared on screen in NBC’s Smash, Peter Pan Live! and The Sound of Music Live!, as well as numerous TV appearances, including The Good Wife, Masters of Sex, and Younger. In his masterclass, each singer will offer Mr. Borle two audition cuts from the musical theater repertoire. He will then offer the singer feedback on their acting and interpretation and their audition selection. All performance slots for Mr. Borle have been filled.

On Sunday, Adrianna Hicks is a rising star on Broadway. Her credits include The Color Purple revival, both on Broadway and in the national tour, Aladdin, and SIX. Her regional performances include The Wiz, SIX, Ragtime, and Buddy Holly. She has performed on international stages in productions of Sister Act (Germany), Legally Blonde (Austria), and Dirty Dancing (Germany). She has also appeared in concert with Michael Bublé on the Call Me Irresistible tour. Singers will offer Ms. Hicks two audition cuts, one from a post-2000 Broadway musical and the other from the pop repertoire. Ms. Hicks’ focus will be on style and interpretation. There are still four spots left for performers interested in singing for Ms. Hicks.

Our final Saturday session will be led vocologist Dr. Heather Nelson, who is completely enamored with singing and singers. She loves all the things about vocal science and pedagogy, and her favorite thing is taking all that nerdy goodness and breaking into digestible chunks that are not only fun and fascinating but actually make a difference in how voice teachers teach. Be a Star in Vocal Health will cover a 5-point framework for vocal health, since vocal health is whole body health. This holistic look at the topic provides more than a list of dos and don’ts and quick fixes. It’s a lifestyle, and one that is dynamic, and subject to change and adaptation as needed.

After Sunday morning’s articulation warmup (see above), get your yoga mat ready to work with voice teacher and yogi Kassy Coleman of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. Kassy’s session on Yoga and Vocal Exploration: The Elevated Voice Method will help you connect to your voice through your whole being (not just your larynx), using simple and approachable breath, body and mind practices. Wear clothes that are comfortable to move in [my note: this is pretty much how you should dress for this entire workshop – black tie optional/pants required]. More about Kassy can be found here.

After Emma Langford’s World Voice Brunch performance on Sunday, stick around for Matt Bender’s Putting in the Effort the Laban Way. The Laban Way is an outside-in method in which human movement is broken down into four components, with each component having two elements. These eight parts are referred to as “efforts.” Matt will be demonstrating how this technique can be used to dd more grounded, dynamic movement to their performance. Matt Bender is a Midwest-based actor, director, fight director, and instructor with 11 years of experience producing professional and academic theatre. He graduated with MFA in acting at Western Illinois University, where he taught acting for students of all levels as part of his graduate assistantship.Matt has worked for storefront and regional theatres throughout the country, including Saltbox Theatre Collective, Okoboji Summer Theatre, and Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Following Adrianna Hicks’ masterclass, Jennifer Cooper will close out World Voice Weekend with Release, Repose, Restore:  Cooling Down the Voice with Breath & Kinetic Release, leading participants through discussion and application of various simple, gentle, grounding, movement and sound, assessing and addressing both kinetic and vocal status, experience, and release.  Participants will be guided through various breathing and vocal exercises, bringing awareness of resonation and vibration through the body as it aids in releasing potential residual tension from a preceding strenuous or lengthy performance/rehearsal.  Jennifer has created, produced and starred in several original music productions, including her one-woman, auto-biographical musical cabaret, “Go-DIVA! ~ of Song, Silence & the Abuse of Chocolate.” Jennifer has taught private voice lessons and led master classes and workshops amid her career since 1997, owns and operates the Cooper Voice Studio (est. 2011), and serves on the voice faculty at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she and her students thrive on the intricate amalgamation of voice science/pedagogy and authentic artistry and storytelling.  Her passion to communicate through story and song – in opera, musical theater, and pop – infuses every aspect of her performance and teaching career.

A lot of this has been said in other posts over the past few weeks, but here it is all in one place. Much like World Voice Weekend will be – acting, mind/body, masterclasses, concerts, vocal health and vocal function – all this incredible information in one place, accessible without having to leave your house.

Early Bird pricing goes through March 31 and registration will close on April 12 or when 50 people have signed up. Register HERE.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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