Inhabiting Your Craft

Happy Sunday!  Happy April!

I was tagged in a post on Facebook this morning...which got me to thinking...

The post was very complimentary: “…XYZ is a wonderful actress…BUT, her voice needs the tender and intelligent ministrations of SEY.  Her voice is in pieces - you could hear her move from one register to the next, and the “high” notes would crack in between.  It was painful to hear.”

I thank the person who wrote this - I am honored.  And it broke my heart. 

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we neglect or reject a portion of our craft, thinking or hoping or praying, that another aspect will make up for it?

It breaks my heart for many reasons.  One is personal.  I have done this.  I have relied on my acting intelligence when my voice was a mess.  I knew it was a mess.  I knew WHY it was a mess.  I was stubborn (my best and worst trait!) and made myself get through.  Did it work dramatically?  Yes.  Did it work vocally?  Oh hell no.  Was it reliable?  absolutely not.  Was I in survival mode only?  Pretty much.

So, I get it.  I get it more than you will ever know.

This is why I am vehement as a teacher to try to instill the absolute NECESSITY of CRAFT.How does one inhabit one's own craft?What does it demand of you?What does it reveal about you?These are the big questions we have to be strong enough,  stubborn enough,  willful enough,  to ask - and then to ANSWER.

It directs us from opposites.  The "actor" feels the story telling is enough to mask the lack of vocal development.  The "singer" feels the voce will supersede any flaws that the lack of acting intelligence may have.

WRONG.Both, and I do mean, BOTH are crucial to truly inhabiting your craft.

It doesn't matter what genre you are in - music theatre, opera and all its manifestations - CRAFT is CRUCIAL in order to fully inhabit what you say you do and who you say you are.

FEAR is a big obstacle.  I get that.  The "but what if..."  can often be truly in the way.  But what if I can't?  Hey,  but what if you CAN?What scares you?  failing?  or succeeding?

So what are you doing to inhabit your craft?  Where are the weak spots?  Are you just doing a patch job, or are you truly looking at it objectively and seeing it fully - big picture - and are you ready to work on the overhaul?

Craft as a singing actor is CONSTANT.  We work,  we discover, we hone, we physicalize,  we gestate,  we incubate,  we "ah-ha!",  we create behavior,  we create consciousness,  we observe,  we step away,  we internalize,  we materialize...

It's a lot.  It is.  I know that.  But we MUST.  We must honor the craft we say we do.  

I see great actors simply not discovering what they can do for a HEALTHY singing voice.  That's a choice.  A choice NOT to.   We see all their commitment into their acting craft,  and even their SPEAKING voices - but then not what is needed to sing with the same level of authenticity.  The study and discovery has to happen in order to create a fully realized characterization.  The voice doesn't have to be amazing.  An actor who sings may not have a beautiful voice,  but they can create beautiful technical behavior to access what they DO have,  and access their talent at will.

Study doesn't just happen when you book a show.  Study happens in the in-between.  However, when you BOOK,  you better be studying in order to have that 2nd set of ears and eyes keeping you healthy in order to do your work!  The maintenance is KEY.  Maintenance cannot happen if the behavior has not been achieved.

The same goes for singers who act.  I have heard incredible voices and as soon as I see them on stage - I can't watch.  They are awkward.  They have no idea what to do with their bodies,  how to move,  how to physicalize their voices with any dramatic choice.  We lose how magnificent the voice is,  because we SEE the awkwardness or the self-involvement with the SOUND and the craft of acting doesn't exist.  A character is not realized.  This isn't inhabiting the fullness of craft either.

With both singing and acting -  you must look at each specifically before you can integrate fully.  You need to discover the physical behavior of EACH in order to embody BOTH.

"It's good enough" my darlings, is bullshit.  It's your stress management talking.  Trust me, been there, done that, have the tattoo.

Inhabiting your craft takes time,  perseverance,  tenacity,  stubbornness,  willingness,  desire,  passion and drive.  

It's not over till it's over.  It will be enough when you aren't over thinking and overcompensating and aren't making excuses for something.  And then,  the muses will reveal what more you can do!Inhabit because you MUST.  

Your craft demands all of you.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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