Counting down the days

Last day for auditor registration! Sign up HERE

 

 

 

 

 

Not QUITE more day till the One Voice Project video is premiered – tomorrow, April 16 (World Voice Day) at 11:30am (can’t watch it till tomorrow, but if you click on it, you can get a reminder to watch it):

Two days till World Voice Weekend launches (registration is closed but if you really want to get in, let me know and I’ll see what I can do):

AND four days till we refinance our house in the morning

And then head off to vacation some time after noon for two weeks.

 

This voice teacher needs a trip to Sedona!
Vacation awaits in Sedona, Arizona

 

 

Yes, we’re driving to Arizona. And bringing the dog.

Seamus gets to go on vacation too!
Celebrating his first birthday at puppy camp (2019)

See you on May 4 – or at World Voice Weekend, if you’re registered.

More projects are in the works for summer – stay tuned!

 

Changing my Vision

I have been very good at writing regularly for the past year. I did decide to go from thrice weekly to twice weekly in 2021, and I’ve kept to that. Till this week. I missed Tuesday. And I forgot to write out a schedule for my April blogposts, which I usually do on the first of the month (but it was Holy Thursday, and I had a lot going on that day).

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.

After an initial burst of enthusiasm at the launch of World Voice Weekend on March 1, sales dropped off shortly afterwards, and despite some pretty intensive social media and email marketing (I really hate email marketing), and a few incentives, they never picked up to where I hoped they’d be at this point, with only 4 days left for registration.

It’s not that no one is coming, it’s just not as many as I’d hoped.

My vision was that I was providing an event to unite the community of voice users. That we’d all join together for two days of incredible content, going from one fantastic workshop/concert/masterclass to the next.  And people told me that what I’ve planned was amazing, valuable, and important. And I believe that too.

I wanted to do more than just offer masterclasses and charge per session. Anyone can do that. And they do. I wanted to offer an experience.

And I’m still going to do so. And the price for the whole thing only went up to $250 from my early bird pricing. You can still get that through Monday.

But I’m also recognizing that either my marketing was not enough or on target (did I mention that I hate email marketing?),  or that the timing was off, or that I haven’t developed the KLT (know/like/trust) in order to get enough people to sign up for this. The last part feeds into that little voice in my head that whispers, “people don’t like you.” (Why that voice has an Estonian accent, I don’t know…) I really hope that part isn’t why.  (Not fishing.)

I also didn’t get a Creativity Grant from the state which would have paid for all my clinicians and made me less anxious. I missed it by one point.

Also I had skin cancer surgery. I’m fine, but it was just one more thing that I didn’t really want to have to deal with.  And it probably impacted my marketing progress.

So I’m changing my vision a little bit to offer some audit spots for the Christian Borle and Adrianna Hicks masterclasses. Since these are being offered in separate Zoom rooms anyway, I can do that, and still keep the rest of the weekend events for those people who paid for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Borle’s masterclass will be at 3pm on Saturday, April 17. I will offer up to 25 auditor seats at $35.00 each. Six singers are scheduled to sing. You may register for Mr. Borle’s masterclass here.

Adrianna Hicks’ masterclass will be at 3pm on Sunday, April 18. I will offer up to 25 auditor seats at $25.00 each. Six singers are scheduled to sing, four of whom are scholarship recipients from Morgan State University and Baltimore School of the Arts. I was able provide these scholarships due to a generous donation from MDDC NATS and an anonymous benefactor. You may register for Ms. Hicks’ masterclass here.

I know that there were people who only wanted to audit these in the first place, and I didn’t want to go these, but the market has told me otherwise. For now. But only for now.

Purchase of either of these appointments only gives you to access to the masterclass itself
and to no other session in World Voice Weekend. 

Contact MVS if you have any questions.

World Voice Weekend Will Transform You (yep, I said that)

I have decided to extend Early Bird Registration for World Voice Weekend through April 5 (Easter Monday).

My business coach, Michelle Markwart Deveaux, asked me if I’ve made it clear in my marketing how I believe people will be changed by World Voice Weekend. I think I have, in my blogposts, in my social media posts, in my emailing marketing. But maybe I need to break this down further.

World Voice Weekend will transform you.

Yes, I said transform. In one way or another. Like these.

  • Mind/Body: If you haven’t done work with Alexander Technique or vocal explorations while doing yoga poses, you will come away with a new appreciation of the relationship of your body to your voice. And if you have, you’ll come away with some new approaches to the topic.
  • Acting: If you haven’t explored acting from the inside out (Saturday’s “The Voice in Storytelling”) or from the outside-in (Sunday’s “Putting in the Effort the Laban Way”), or even if you have, these are young and vibrant artists with very different perspectives.  Many people are particularly curious about the application of the Laban Way to acting/singing, since it was developed by a choreographer.
  • Vocal Health & Function: I’m very excited about Dr. Heather Nelson‘s session, “Be a Vocal Health Star!” I had a sneak peek at her outline and handout, and there are some terrific points about how overall wellness impacts your singing. I’m also thrilled about the work Jennifer Cooper is going to be doing about cooling down the voice, which is something many people don’t do (include myself). I’ve worked with Coop myself and she is dynamo. (As far as my own morning vocalise sessions, I think they’re pretty good , if I do say so myself. And I do.)
  • World Voice Brunch: Brenda Earle Stokes is an incredible artist and a consummate musician. Her interpretations are delightful and insightful. Emma Langford is a revelation and an important new voice on the horizon. Meeting her two years ago changed me as an audience member and a music listener. It will change you too.
  • Master Classes with Christian Borle and Adrianna Hicks. I don’t bring in famous people for the sake of having famous people. I’ve seen Christian Borle in a master class and he’s terrific and will give you new ways to look at things, in your own performances and for your students, present and future (in case you’re not a teacher now). Adrianna Hicks is pretty new to the scene, but her career trajectory has been impressive, and from the testimonials I have seen about her work with other singers and with her colleagues, she will have something fantastic to offer. Especially if pop style (musical theater and otherwise) is not your strongest suit. The Baltimore Sun described her singing as possessing “an enveloping radiance, whether going full-throttle in the most gospel-infused music or filing her voice down to a slender, intimate thread.” There are still two performing spots in her masterclass on Sunday.

In addition to all these takeaways, you have the opportunity to be in the presence of these fantastic artists/clinicians at a fraction of what it would cost to bring them here in person or for you to travel to where they are. And you don’t even have to put on pants. (I hope that you do, but if you don’t, please don’t stand up.) And remember, if you can’t be there for all the sessions, you can watch them at home (with or without pants) for one week afterwards. Or even if you caught them all, but you just want to watch something again to make sure you caught that one gem, that one particular bit of wisdom or insight that you’d never heard before. Because I assure you, there will many of those.

Early Bird Registration here.

 

WVW Early Bird Registration Ends March 31!

World Voice Weekend Early Bird registration ends March 31!

I’ll admit it, after an initial flurry of signups, registration is going more slowly than I hoped. Which is baffling to me, because people have responded to this program as follows:

WOW, WHAT A LINEUP!!
THIS IS AMAZING!

 

THIS IS SO VALUABLE!!

Unfortunately, I’m not hearing, “Take my money!” I have enough people to fill the masterclasses, but I know that there are more people that this program can serve.

I know that I have a great lineup and the offerings I have are both amazing and valuable. This is something I believe in and am passionate about offering. And I will continue to promote this. I may have to take a slightly different direction on a few things (still ruminating on those possibilities) but I believe in what World Voice Weekend has to offer its audience. An audience of voice  users from pre-professional to professional, from student to teacher, from vocational to avocational.

If your concern is that you can’t make the whole weekend,  you can watch the sessions you can’t make (except the masterclasses) for one week after the workshop. Even if you are registered for another workshop the same weekend, you can flip back and forth between both of them, and still watch them both on the replay.

The opportunity to see artists/clinicians of this level is unparalleled, especially for this price point. They’re worth every penny I’m paying them and every penny that you’ll pay me to pay them.

Final registration will close on April 12.

Don’t miss it.

Early Bird Registration through March 31: $225 with code EARLYBIRDWVW.
More info and registration links here.

 

 

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.

Yay! I get to PRACTICE

How often do you say that?

If you’re me, hardly ever. It’s usually, “Ugh, I have to practice.” Unless I have a gig lined up, in which case, the “ugh” is missing because I am looking forward to the gig. Or an audition, which I endure because it might get me the gig.

But practicing for practicing’s sake? I haven’t done that for years.

I just completed Peter Jacobson’s Total Vocal Freedom practice class series just a few moments before starting to write this. We tied up the 8 classes with a final theme of “Celebration” and literally had a dance party at the beginning of class. (Guess which song we danced to?)

We got into music because it was joyful. And somewhere along the way it became something we had to conquer and wrest control from because we didn’t have control over what we were trying to do.

What if we celebrated the moments along the way that worked, and focused on refining them and repeating them? What if we sang something we loved because we loved it, and celebrated that? What if we have one phrase that we know we sing really well, and we sing that phrase over and over, and celebrate how well that went?

And then move on and work on the skills we need to establish, by chunking up the piece into sections, slowing it down and repeating it with intention, and learning to feel it. These were three elements of deep practice that Peter outlined in class, but I’ve experienced them listening to my husband practice piano, and he was trained by Reynaldo Reyes at Towson University back in the 1980s. From what I recall at Reyes’ retirement event, it sounded like that was the way he trained all his pianists to practice.

During practice class today, we took ten minutes to practice anything on our own (on mute). I pulled out a Rossini book that I had on my piano and sang “Beltà crudele,” which I haven’t sung for nearly 10 years (the last time being on the recital that I wrote about here). Even though that recital didn’t go as well as I wanted it to (probably because I didn’t chunk, slow down, and feel it), I still love the piece, and celebrated that there were parts of it I sang pretty well, even after all this time, and they really felt good. I did sing through the whole thing to find where that moment was, the “Stay for you are beautiful” moment, that I needed to repeat, refine, and feel (although, unlike Faust, not die once I find it). And then I played around there for awhile, till class resumed.

Something I want to do in the fall is set up both Pop-Up and Regular Practice Times, where we get together, set an intention, put ourselves on mute, and practice for about 20 minutes. And then come back and share what we experienced. It’s a sort of co-working thing, which is very trendy right now and keeps people accountable. Being accountable is hard when you can’t or don’t have to go anywhere. I’m hoping it will keep me accountable as well.

Find the joy in your practicing, the joy which brought you to singing, to voice lessons, to music in the first place. And if you’ll excuse me, I need to go practice some Rossini.

*********************

If you’re looking for ways to connect with the celebration of the human voice, registration is open for World Voice Weekend through April 12. Explore mind/body, storytelling, vocal health & function, acting technique, masterclasses and concerts with nationally and internationally acclaimed artists/clinicians. (Early Bird registration closes March 31.)

World Voice Weekend – One Month to Go!

(Well, actually, it’s one month till the second day of it, but you know what I mean.)

Last week, I wrote about our acting sessions with Izzie Baumann and Matt Bender. Today I want to talk about the rest of my clinicians and the variety of things we’ll be offering.

Singing is a whole-body experience, not just something you do from the diaphragm up. Both our mind/body presenters approach singing that way, using different mind/body modalities to reach the same goal of involving all of the singer.

On Saturday, April 17, at 1:30pm, Amy Mushall of Mushall Music Studio will present a session on the Alexander Technique: Balance and Alignment to talk about how our relationship of head to spine can inform our singing in the best and most efficient way. Amy Mushall has devoted her career to nurturing and empowering singers.  Her 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.  Amy holds BM in Vocal Performance from Western Michigan University, is a member of NATS, and is currently completing her Alexander Technique Certification.  She lives in Colorado Springs, CO with her husband and two wonderful kiddos. You can find out more about Amy’s services at http://mushallmusic.com/.

Kassy Coleman, of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, will be presenting a session on Yoga and Vocal Exploration: The Elevated Voice Method on Sunday, April 18, at 11:00am. Kassy is a graduate of UW LaCrosse with a bachelor’s degree and UW Madison with a master’s degree, both in vocal performance. Kassy is also a 500-hour E-RYT (experienced registered yoga teacher) with over 2500 hours of teaching under her belt. Kassy is co-owner of JK Creative Practices, where she teaches singers, yogis and voice-users of all ages. In her session, get ready to connect to your voice through your whole being, not just your larynx. We will explore simple and approachable breath, body and mind practices that can be very useful tools as a singer and performer. Wear clothes that are comfortable to move in (don’t worry – we won’t attempt any yoga poses that are too crazy). If you have a yoga mat that’s great but you are fine without one. https://www.jkcreativepractices.com/elevated-voice-method.html

The other component of World Voice Weekend will be Vocal Health and Function. (Or as I like to put it, putting the FUN in vocal function.)

Both days will begin at 10:30am with a 25 minute warm-up session led by Mezzoid Voice Studio owner and teacher Christine Thomas-O’Meally (why, that’s ME). Saturday’s session will focus on breath, with a session entitled “The Three Rs of Respiration: Release, Receive, and Resist” (and Rinse and Repeat). We’ll be exploring the intake of breath in life and for singing and the controlled exhalation involved when you sing. On Sunday, I’m planning a session called “Where DO those sounds live in my mouth?” which will identify where vowels and consonants are produced by the articulators, and exercises to awaken the articulators and create the most efficient and effective way of producing sound, being understood, and sounding good while doing it. [If you want to see pictures of me, there are a bunch on this website.]

At 4:45 pm on Saturday, April 17, Dr. Heather Nelson, Vocologist, presents a session called Be A Star in Vocal Health, in which she will present a 5-point framework on the components of vocal health, since vocal health is whole body health. “Everything that happens to your body happens to your voice, so we must look at vocal health holistically. It’s more than a list of dos and don’ts.” Dr. Nelson 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. She lives in Springfield MO with her favorite dynamic duo, Dooey the dog and Sis the cat. She loves cooking (and eating) good food, British TV and Marvel movies, and puns are her love language. Follow along on her website drheathernelson.com, and on Facebook and Instagram @drheathernelson.

And our final session, on Sunday, April 18, at 4:45 pm, will be led by Maryland teacher and performer, Jennifer Cooper. In keeping with the Three Rs theme that I set up for the first session, Jennifer’s workshop will be called  Release, Repose, Restore: Cooling Down the Voice with Breath & Kinetic Release. (This was not planned – which is so cool and so weird.)  Jennifer will lead 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 is the Creator/Owner of Go-DIVA! Productions, Inc. and a professional vocalist, performing in jazz, blues and rock with her current band GrooveSpan. Before that, she lit up the musical theater stage and sustained a successful, professional opera career and concert career with appearances throughout Europe, Canada and the U.S.  Jennifer has a BA in Music at University of Maryland and MM in Vocal Performance at Arizona State University School of Music. More information can be found about Jennifer at her performing artist, voice studio and band websites: www.jennifercoopervoice.com, www.coopervoicestudio.mymusicstaff.com and www.groovespan.com

So that’s what you have to look forward to! And you have two more weeks (almost) to take advantage of the Early Bird registration price of $225 (less if you’re a NATS, Speakeasy, or Somatic Voicework™ teacher or the student of one) – contact me for the discount code. Plus you get to enjoy concerts by internationally known artists Brenda Earle Stokes and Emma Langford as part of World Voice Brunch and audit masterclasses with Broadway stars Christian Borle and Adrianna Hicks.

Register now at the Acuity booking page for World Voice Weekend.
Several performer slots still available for Adrianna Hicks.

 

 

One year of being online

A year ago today, I shut the studio down for a week to prepare for the transition to online lessons, which I thought would be for only a couple of months. I reopened online a week later and it was weird. The first lesson I gave was just terrible and I felt like it was all my fault. Of course it wasn’t, but well, that’s the way I can be. The end of the day, every day, found me in tears. My poor husband already was dealing with being a frontline worker in a pandemic and then had to deal with me having breakdowns on a daily/weekly basis, over not only the change to my business model, but also the loss of all my performing – at the worst possible time, during Lent.

As a church musician, Lent/Easter and Christmas are my two biggest money-making seasons (plus the High Holidays, for those of us who sing at synagogues as well). Suddenly I did not have Holy Week as the big moneymaker. My favorite performing venues, the Kennedy Center and Germano’s, were closed. The upscale retirement communities, to whom I was going to market cabaret shows, were on lockdown. I have always allotted specific sources of income to specific financial needs:

  • teaching income went into savings and I would draw from it as needed for quarterly taxes, studio expenses, and a personal salary
  • opera income went toward paying down the principal on the new car I bought in 2019
  • church income was what I lived on each month – car payment, personal care, clothes

I deliberately kept my studio on the smaller side because I wanted balance between performing and teaching. Not only was the performing gone, but I lost a few students because of various reasons:

  1. They weren’t motivated to take lessons because they had no performing to do
  2. They didn’t like the online format and would come back when I went back online
  3. They were overwhelmed by everything and Zoomed out to boot
  4. They very well might have left anyway at the end of the school year, but this gave them a good reason to because of numbers 1-3

And by the same token, new people weren’t coming because of reasons #1-3.

I know I’m lucky. My husband is a physician. I didn’t have to worry about a roof over my head. If I wasn’t able to make a car payment (and I have been, so far), he would’ve helped me.  But the lack of  the stimulus of performing and of seeing people perform in person, both in my house and onstage, was really getting to me. Zach Finkelstein,  a West Coast tenor and creator of the blog The Middleclass Artist, describes his feelings this way in the blogpost We Are Not Okay:

It feels like I’m swimming in the same direction, always, forward, head down, head up, breathe, head down, head up, breathe, forward, always forward, and there’s land somewhere, I know it’s there, but all I see is the endless blue horizon and the unfathomable depths below.

I’ve just gotten the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine – I qualified because I am still on the payroll at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, so I checked off the box marked “Clergy & support” because that’s what I do. And I am singing at CMOQ much more this year – last weekend I did a funeral and two Masses (all masked), and this coming weekend I will be singing Stations of the Cross on Friday and Saturday night Mass, so yes, it’s picking up. I have my second shot scheduled for the Monday after Easter. It was supposed to be scheduled for Holy Thursday, but I rescheduled it because I am going to be singing Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday and I am not going to be taken down by side effects. COVID may have cost me 77% of my performing income last year (!!) but it will not this year.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with the opera (I don’t know if I even want to be in opera chorus this year.) I hope Germano’s reopens and I can write some cabaret shows for myself and for my students to perform there and at the upscale retirement communities.

I’m actually enjoying teaching online now and it is offering my students the ability to keep their lessons even if they can’t get here, even if they live in another state, or even if one of us feels less than 100% and doesn’t want to put on pants (note: I am always wearing pants of some kind and I hope my students are as well). Doing things online has allowed me to bring in artists from around the world and across the sea in masterclasses and in the upcoming World Voice Weekend event.

But I am looking forward to in-person lessons and I intend to introduce them on a limited basis beginning May 3. They may be in the garage or on the patio, depending on weather, or in the studio, depending on whether or not the student has been vaccinated. No two students will be taught back to back until at least fall.  More information will be forthcoming as I review how things are going.

While Zach Finkelstein is right that “We are not okay,”  or at least that we have not been okay.  Not only haven’t we been able to perform, we haven’t been able to go on vacation, we haven’t been able to see or hug or friends and families, we haven’t been able to live our lives. But with the roll out of the vaccines, especially over the last few weeks and the executive order by the President that all adults will be eligible by May 1, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Or, as Francesca Carpanini calls it in her article “We are all theatre ghosts now but poised to return,” the ghost light.

In the meantime, however, there is one light that has survived our now 11-month blackout…: the ghost light. For those unaware of the tradition, this is a floor lamp that remains burning onstage whenever a theatre is not in immediate use. Superstition says it protects the theatre from the many ghosts that haunt its chambers. These days, I like to think of it as doing the opposite. I sit on my couch and perform my middle school ritual from far away, picturing each theatre with its single bulbed lantern centerstage and all of our ghosts dancing around it—no longer past performers but instead the spirit of every artist and audience member currently kept apart, their union protected by its small but constant glow.

I’ve kept the ghost light on in my heart for the performances yet to come. Keep yours on and keep “poised to return” as well.

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Early bird registration for World Voice Weekend continues through March 31. If you are a NATS, Speakeasy, or Somatic Voicework™ teacher, you and your students may receive a discount code for an additional $30 off.
Contact MVS if you don’t have the code and I’ll be happy to give it to you.

World Voice Weekend: Exploring the Voice in Acting & Movement

There’s nothing quite as awful as listening to someone present information in a monotone (Anyone? Anyone?) or seeing someone performing a scene where their affect doesn’t quite match what they’re doing.

World Voice Weekend isn’t just about singing and listening to singing, but all kinds of voice use. How do you use your voice when you’re telling a story? How does your voice reflect your physical actions? How do they work together? During World Voice Weekend, two acting coaches will present exciting and creative sessions on becoming a more engaging actor – in two very different ways.

At 11am (ET) on Saturday, April 17, acting coach Izzie Baumann will be coming to us from Germany to present a workshop on Using the Voice in Storytelling. Izzie’s goal for the workshop is to “have every student leave with a smile on their face.” Izzie’s session will focus on the magic that happens when story analysis and vocal technique come together. Active participation is encouraged, and a handout will be sent to all participants after the weekend concludes.

At 1:30pm (ET) on Sunday, April 18, St. Louis-based actor Matt Bender will present a session on Putting in The Effort the Laban Way. The Laban method, created by choreographer and movement researcher Rudolf Laban, offers an efficient and effective system for performers to analyze and create characters from the outside in. It’s perfect for any performer who wants to add more grounded, dynamic movement to their performance. Matt will also be providing an overview of the workshop, which will be sent to all participants after the weekend concludes.

These are just two of the terrific sessions that Mezzoid Voice Studio has planned for World Voice Weekend. In addition to acting, join us for vocal explorations doing mind/body activities (Yoga and the Alexander Technique), warmups and cooldowns, masterclasses with Broadway actors Christian Borle and Adrianna Hicks, concerts with internationally known performers, and tips on vocal health for the performer.

For more information or to register, check out World Voice Weekend or contact Mezzoid Voice Studio (especially if you are a student, or a member of NATS or SECO or Somatic Voicework™or if Christine just likes you)
to see if you qualify for a discount code. 

 

Curiously Strong Performing: Vocal Coach Vs. Voice Teacher?

When you are at the professional level, or even a student in a prestigious conservatory, a voice teacher and a vocal coach are two separate entities.
Strictly speaking, the voice teacher teaches you vocal technique – breath management, resonance, proper alignment, articulation, phonation, and helps you with extending your range and navigating vocal registers.

The vocal coach might focus on specific elements of your performance:

  • Diction
  • Musicianship
  • Interpretation
  • Performance Practice/Style
  • Or a combination of all these elements

With Mezzoid Voice Studio, you’ll develop your vocal technique in one-on-one lessons (Curiously Strong Singing). But you’ll become a performer in recitals and showcases, studio classes, workshops, mini-courses, and masterclasses with internationally known clinicians with whom Christine has worked in both her performing and teaching careers (Curiously Strong Performing).

[BONUS POST – this was content on the Curiously Strong Performing webpage but I’m trying to streamline my content and redirect things.]

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To find out more about joining Mezzoid Voice Studio, contact MVS.