College audition time: musical theater 

This week while preparing for a lesson with a particular student who loves her musical theater, I found myself exploring beyond the many beautiful songs in a style which of course, like in most other styles, ranges from the old to the contemporary. I started to think of what the audition process would look like for such a student. I love the music, and it was a requirement to perform some of it while I was in college, but it wasn't my emphasis, so I dug around.

I found some similarities, come audition time, with what most musicians must prepare with. The most important, your repertoire list: a menu if you will, that an auditor can select to hear you sing from. Include songs that fit your type but make sure these cover a variety of musical styles and time periods. This list might be one they ask for in the application itself. If not, I would recommend you contact your admissions coordinator and ask. It is better to come prepared than be surprised. If it's not a requirement, you may still choose to bring it with you. Here is how you should format it, unless otherwise requested:

  • Keep the list simple and in a format similar to a resume
  • Alphabetical in order by composer: Composer Last, First [tab] Song Title
  • Make a special notation for songs that you've performed. And asterisk or a [P] will work with an explanation at the bottom
  • Make sure you bring your music or accompaniment tracks

What should be on the list? Everything in your book. Even ensemble numbers that you've had a prominent solo in would be good to include.  If you have a huge rep list, however, you might consider taking out songs that are extremely outside your type. Other than that, any song you're still comfortable with should be fair game. Just remember, if you list it, be prepared to sing it just in case they ask.

Another question that might pop in your head is, what to wear?! In this I found a variety of answers from different professors, directors. Mainly, they want to see an honest representation of your own personal style. Dresses, skirts, jumpsuits, dress pants, button-down shirts, even nice jeans and sneakers are all acceptable. The consensus is that a suit jacket is probably too formal and a tie is not mandatory but, you can wear a tie or bow tie if, again, it suits your style. 

Note: remember this is all in relation to college program auditions. Different rules will apply when auditioning for a specific show, which brings me to my LIKE for the week:

Here's a fun YouTube video on "Beginner Musical Theater Audition Tips" by Katherine Steele. I like the way she summed it all up: be polite, be positive, be prepared. All of the above won't matter if you aren't also polite and positive. Enjoy! 

Practice Logs or Journals 

I love the idea of a journal dedicated solely to our musical studies. It can be something fun and not as intimidating as the idea of a more formal sounding Practice Log.

Journal

  • Have a dedicated section in which you write what you go over in your lesson with your voice coach. What scales did you cover? What songs are you tackling? What is the goal for the week? For the month? Pay close attention to how it feels when your coach is making corrections along the way. Since most classes happen on a weekly basis, you'll begin to see a pattern emerge. Listen to your coach and your journal will give you answers to a lot of questions right away...and it may also give you questions for you bring to your lessons as well!
  • Another section to have in your journal can be for inspiration. A quote from your favorite book, artist. A song you heard for the first time and don't want to forget. Maybe a friend just made you feel really good when you were doubting yourself. Write it down! Us creative people tend to be very much in tune with our emotions, regardless of whether we are introverts or extroverts.  We can get down when people don't get us. It is important that you give yourself the space to remind yourself that being unique is more than okay! Might seem like a funny thing to put in a (practice log) journal, but trust me, it's important.
  • Keep track of the songs you've learned and don't shelve them. A lot of my students just want to bounce from song to song not really understanding that we are never really done learning. I love pulling out "old material" (songs we haven't done in a while) to see how much a student has progressed and retained. It is always neat to see their eyes light up when suddenly they can hit a note that wasn't quite there before. Go back and revisit songs you've tried in the past. Especially those that might've left you with a feeling of dissatisfaction. 
  • Along the same lines, write down a list of songs you'd like to sing but haven't yet. We all have playlists of music we put on shuffle and round and round we go, but as a singer, when I ask "what kind of music do you listen to?" I don't want "a little bit of everything" as the response. I'm asking what about the artists you like makes you gravitate towards their music? Have you heard all their albums? Who are they influenced by? Dig deeper. We live in a world of singles, I get it, but as a singer yourself, you need to be looking for everything and anything that can possibly propel you into your own style. So let me say it again, create a list of songs you'd like to tackle. Include ones you love but think might not be for you. Part of my job as a coach is to navigate those waters with you, but I won't know if you don't know. 'ya know? ;)

Mark all the different sections on your journal but within each section you can totally write freeform. Don't worry about proper punctuation, etc. I have a few kids who are dyslexic and they get a little worried when I talk to them about  doing this. Don't worry! Just write in a way that makes sense to you. Besides, I'm not asking for an essay. You can write as much or as little as long as you write something everyday - hopefully because you are practicing everyday but, if you didn't practice, tell yourself why. Write it down!

If a Log is more your thing, I also get it. I like my To-Do lists and outlines. Here's a simple and pretty universal way to keep track of what your practice time should look like:

DATE:

Lower Register

  • Scales
  • Vowels
  • Length of time

Upper Register

  • Scales
  • Vowels
  • Length of time

Middle Register

  • Scales
  • Vowels
  • Length of time

Additional exercises/songs

And that's it! Allow me to encourage you to incorporate the log into a journal.

I will close by addressing the most commonly asked question: "How long should I practice?" There is no standard answer. Time of length will vary from student to student depending on their level. Always, however, practice within the areas you can successfully complete. Don't go lower or higher than what you can comfortably accomplish. Practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent. We must be careful with the habits we are forming.

Hope this is helpful. Until next time! -Eloisa :)

Connecting How It Feels To How It Sounds (and vice versa) 

Hi! Eloisa here! Hope you are all staying sane, safe and healthy. I sure miss having my students around. A lot of our families are being affected financially and the effect keeps trickling down. We hope everyone hangs on tight and together we can come out of this stronger than before. For now, while stuck at home, I thought I would share some of my LIKES: favorite videos, exercises, etc. I have come across in my years of teaching. From my own voice lessons with the lovely Ms Vaccariello at the University of Redlands, to all the great information you can now find all over the internet! Boy do I sound old! But yeah, the internet was a very new thing when I was in college. I'll start out by sharing a bit about what I do and end with a video by an incredible singer, performer, vocalist, and voice coach, Tyley Ross, which I think you will find fascinating. I've shared this with my students many times.

One of the most difficult things about our instrument as singers, is the fact that we cannot see what's happening within it - we can only feel and listen to whatever that feeling is producing. This is a tricky thing for a voice coach like myself, who mostly spends time with young musicians (in years of  learning their voice), because part of my job is to help my students understand that proper technique does not always "feel" right at first...and perhaps for a while. The first thing we tackle then, is the difference between what we physically feel, and those things we "feel" that are actually emotional reactions to a sound that may not be meeting their expectations. At the core, I consider my job as a coach as someone who encourages, and keeps the singer on track in their quest to find their best voice by helping him/her get rid of some bad habits and find new, better ones to take root. It's definitely a process but it doesn't have to be a tedious one. Always find the balance between the working out or studying and the singing your heart out for the sake of singing your heart out. If I'm doing my job right, my singers will discover the new habits showing up unexpectedly - when they are singing riding around in their car with friends, while dancing or the classic, the shower! Although I'll reiterate what I always tell them: the car is NOT the place to practice. You can definitely have fun singing while you drive though. :)

Anyway, here's my first LIKE on this blog: Singing in the MRI with Tyley Ross - Making the Voice Visible. Enjoy!

Getting Creative in an Upside Down World 

Hello to all our students! We sure miss having you all around but hope you are all staying safe and healthy. We want you to know we appreciate how hard you are all working to stick with us in this difficult situation we are all in. We have been sending out videos or meeting via FaceTime/Skype. Making adjustments in such short notices are hard and we know that just like us, you are also feeling the pressure from all directions.

All that said, we thought we would create a space in which you are able to watch/listen/download many of our lesson materials online, at your convenience. Not every exercise will be suitable for every student and so we will try our best to offer proper descriptions so you don't find yourself down a musical rabbit hole. And of course, we will text specific links to you when appropriate.

On this page we will post links to live streams/events from some of our favorite past Guest Artists and more.  If you have some cool music stuff to share...please do! Give us a link and we'll be happy to pass it along.

Underneath "Online Lesson Material" you will see a dropdown menu to Jason's page or Eloisa's. You should have received a password to access either or both of those pages, depending on what classes you are taking. Please send us a message ASAP if you have not yet received yours.

We will be adding new material as we go along. Please bear with us as we get situated.

REMEMBER, we are now going completely remotely (don't show up at our door) for our lessons until further notice. Please feel free to reach out to us via email/text if you have any questions and we look forward to seeing you, even if it's through a computer/phone screen!

Jason & Eloisa