A week ago, my intention for today had been to write that the studio was open every day but Thursday because of the opera. Then the opera was cancelled.
Three days ago, my intention for today had been to write that the studio would be open for in-person lessons for anyone who wanted to come and I’d offer online lessons for anyone who wanted to stay home. Then the national emergency was declared. Schools were closed. My church gig has been cancelled for the foreseeable future.
Today, it is my intention to write that the studio is closed this week. But I’m not taking a break – I am going to prepare for a hopefully short-term transition to online lessons. As I’ve mentioned, we will be using Zoom as the platform. I am going to spend this week doing the following:
- Preparing my equipment so that I can give you the best possible experience with online lessons.
- Watching a veritable cr*p-ton of videos on giving you the best possible experience with online lessons.
- Creating support materials to help you practice on your own more efficiently. These will include videos of vocalises to be put on the studio YouTube channel and in the portal on the website. These will be for studio members only.
- Delving into all the features that Appcompanist has to offer. There’s so much more I can do with it. As I mentioned, Appcompanist is now offering a 30-day free trial for IOS users (they’ll be rolling out a more limited Android version very shortly, with the full one coming out later).
- Making a list for Appcompanist of things that I want them to add and mistakes I’ve found (I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile).
- Looking at other accompaniment options that you can use, including ones mentioned by colleagues, including Pocket Pianist and PianoTrax.
- Creating some scripts for Zoom classes on various elements, including diction/International Phonetic Alphabet.
- Jumping on Zoom and inviting people to join me to check out how this thing is going to work (later in the week). Stay tuned for an invite.
People who teach online almost exclusively tell me that there are so many advantages to the online lesson format. We’ll have to be creative and open-minded about it.
I will leave your existing lesson times up on Acuity for 3/23-4/10. I’ll let you know later this week what kind of schedule I will have for online lessons. I may start earlier in the day M-Th.
I anticipate having to do this through April 10. It is highly unlikely that I will be going to England from April 12-26, as planned. I might take a week of that as vacation, since it was already planned. The studio cabaret is being postponed and an official announcement of that will come as soon as Cyd from Germano’s confirms that the date we’ve picked is on.
I will miss you all terribly BUT please stay home as much as you can. Even if you are not ill, and even if the symptoms are mild, it can be spread so easily.
There was a great article in WaPo this morning showing how social distancing can curb the spread of this illness. IT WORKS.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.
TL:DR No lessons this week 😀
From last night’s Curiously Stronger Performing workshop (in case you weren’t there):
- “What is a cabaret? How is it different than a recital? Or a musical?”
“Cabaret is personal musical theater” (Amanda McBroom).
||Place where people are seated at tables, eating or drinking (or both)
||Performance hall or church; audience is seated in rows or pews.
||Theater; audience seated in rows.
||A specific script
||Often scripted, but shouldn’t seem like it.
||None, unless it’s a lecture/recital
||Classical, usually in specific sets; other styles occasionally thrown in to make you seem edgy 🙂
||One composer (unless it’s a jukebox musical)
- “Isn’t cabaret singing just singing in a nightclub for a bunch of drunk people who aren’t paying attention?”
Generally not. People who come to a cabaret know that they are coming to hear artists, not just background music while they talk.
- “How do I pick music for a cabaret?”
What do you want to sing? Do you want to have a specific theme? Do you just want to sing some songs and find a theme from what you’ve chosen?
- “How many songs should I sing?” [not addressed last night]
Generally, a minimum of 16. Maximum 24. Don’t make people feel like they got shorted but also don’t make them feel like “Is this over yet?”
- “What is patter? Do I have to do it?”
Patter can be introducing a song. It can be talking about what the song means to you, or why you picked it, or the history of the composer. It could be funny. It could be serious. It’s expected. It makes the experience more intimate and personal.
- “Should I use a microphone? How do I use a microphone?”
Short answer: YES
Depends on what kind of a microphone you have. Omnidirectional? Unidirectional? Corded? Cordless? Body mic?
Do you want to hold the mic? Do you want to sing into a standing mic? Do you want to sit on a stool and sing?
- “Who needs to be on my team? Do I need to have someone write a script for me? Do I need to hire a director?”
You need to have a pianist or a guitarist (unless you play piano or guitar yourself). If you want to put together a small ensemble, you or your pianist can serve as music director. As far as hiring someone write a script or direct, well, I never have, but there are a lot of people who do. It depends on what your specific skills are.
There was a lot more discussed, but you would’ve had to be there! Come to the next one on April 29 (rescheduled from February) on Singing Expressively in “Foreign” languages.
In the meantime, you can see us implement these elements in our upcoming cabaret show at Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy, “Dames in C – and D – and Other Keys,” which will feature music by female composers. We have a great program put together, and the cost is only $5!
The other day I wrote a blog called A Year In Review about all the things that happened that were studio-related since about this time a year ago. Today I’m going to write about the things that I see on the horizon. This is what I’ve got planned for 2019-2020:
- Write articles for the Roland Park News about music/arts related activities in the North Baltimore area (first one due August 1)
- Start taking credit cards both online (Acuity) and in the studio (Square)
- Organize a December holiday recital (date/place TBD) and a June studio showcase (6/7 at Springwell)
- Start using Mailchimp to coordinate studio communications
- Offer an online lesson option for people who live further away or for days when you just can’t get here and you want a lesson
- Monthly (or more) Facebook Lives on various areas of technique
- Offering master classes/workshops outside the studio
- Hoping to get one of my former students now working in the professional MT world to come in and do a master class (if I can get them between gigs)
- Going to the NATS National Conference in Knoxville, TN next June, possibly as a presenter (fingers crossed)
- Continue working on using Appcompanist to its full potential for myself and in the studio
- Work on increasing my knowledge of more recent musicals (I was up on them all when I was in Milwaukee because I had so many students that I couldn’t help but be up on them – less so now)
- Coordinate a studio cabaret show at Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy (3/30)
- Create a video library of vocalises based on BRAAP (breath/resonance/articulation/alignment/phonation) that will be included in studio membership and available for an extra fee to non-studio members
- Switch to a tuition-based system and have studio packages for students based on their needs and availability and my own performing (and life) schedule
This last one is a big one. Rather than paying per lesson or for four at a time, as I have been doing, I am going to go toward a full-year (September-June) program and offer packages that allow for flexibility while still allowing continuity. There will be payment options offered that will allow you to choose what works for your circumstances. This will go into effect on September 3, when the fall semester starts.
I will be sending out specifics to my current students by July 3 at the latest, and the package options will be shown on the website.