After this week's insanity and necessary "outing" in the casting industry, let's get back to YOU the artist...YOU the actor...YOU the singer...and your craft!!
I have heard from many of you - and thank you for taking the time to write me! The confusion for what to sing continues to be a major issue. I am thinking primarily of music theatre.
We often 'invest' in classes and get lots of information. And often that information is conflicting and contradicts the class you took last week!
How do we sift through it all?
Often, we are given statements, as the title of this blog entry suggests, but the statement gives no further indication. Why? Well, in my opinion, it is often because the person giving the "advice" doesn't have enough knowledge to fill it out. These are sound bites that have no depth. If they did, they will not cause confusion or not fall flat. Ultimately these statements mean NOTHING if they cannot be specific as it relates to you.
We as actors/performers/artists need to have presence of mind and spirit to recognize that no one has a monopoly on truth. NO ONE. These sound bites are simply that - and unless someone is willing to follow it up with specific information that relates to you individually, please take it with a grain of salt. Also, recognize WHO is saying this to you. Is it a teacher, a coach, a director, a conductor? Or is it a casting director or an agent? What is their background? What do they KNOW really? And what do they know specific to YOU?
Know who you are speaking with. Know their position in the business. Know their motivation in the business. This can dispel all myths and confusions rather quickly!
Learning roles and songs that you will be considered for is of course great advice - sort of. But what are those roles? What are those songs? And do you learn that for an audition or could you find another song for an audition that shows what is needed for that audition? Does it matter?
Again I say - what do you want to SHOW about you in that audition? What needs to be seen and heard in 60 seconds or 90 seconds? Don't assume ANYTHING. Assume no one in that room knows and you are the only one who has the truth today. You will present the truth of what you can do to be what they need.
Learning roles and songs that create an arc of journey is also another thing to consider - your voice, your "type", your temperament might be ahead of itself - you may not come into your own artistically for awhile. How do you arc that? Who do you seek out for help and advice and guidance?
Recognizing what each segment of our business does and not confusing it will make a big difference. If you want to find the reality of what your voice does - you find a teacher; if you want to further explore the musical and dramatic possibilities within the music and roles you are pursuing with that teacher, you find coaches and often more than one! If you need a makeover to match your look to your sound, you work with an image consultant. If you want to try it all out - you take an audition class and get some feedback of how it is projecting.
It can be confusing, but it doesn't need to be. Trust the people that give you the DEPTH of information that is YOU specific. General information is simply that - general. It works, or doesn't work for EVERYBODY. If an agent or casting agent tells you to sing roles you will be cast in, you go to your teacher and your coaches and say "what does that mean to ME?" and begin to work on that arc.
I often recommend to my singers to offer 2 cuts in an audition - let the table decide what they want to hear. It allows them in a split second to see a contrast in you - and a possibility. It also shows you are prepared. Depending on your type and where your voice is, one of those cuts could be something you can sing NOW (role-wise) and something you will sing LATER or in a stock or smaller regional theatre...showing you are preparing for ALL possibilities in the building of your career.
Sing what you sing well. Sing what moves you. Sing what speaks to you. This creates energy and motivation and allows the artistic spirit to speak fully. Sing with conviction and sing with purpose. Do not sacrifice YOUR ideals and your knowledge for what you THINK they want to hear. Show them what they will want to hear. If you are committed, they will listen. If you are unsure, they will notice.
What roles will you be cast in? Well, what roles are suitable - here and now? in a small house? in a regional house? on tour? later on? It's a rather large and grey area don't you think? You will not know unless you take the time to EXPLORE - vocally, stylistically, musically, dramatically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. It is a JOURNEY and it is a lifelong COMMITMENT.
So if you prepare for what you are auditioning for and show what you DO, you will not have to second guess your decision. TRUST YOUR JOURNEY. Know who is in your corner and what their expertise is. If their expertise leads and acknowledges YOUR talent and your journey, you can rely on that.
Sing what you LOVE. Sing what you CAN. Sing what you WILL. Recognize blanket generalities are different from YOU SPECIFIC conversations and work sessions. INVEST IN YOU not the general. GO GET IT!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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