Blog

Welcome to my blog where I rant about singing, acting and otherwise, and give updates from the Studio and Salon!

May 19, 2016

We are so busy with SO many things we’d like to give you a quick update. First of all, Singer’s Salon is back, at a new venue, so check out that page on this site. (It’s also in the sidebar). We are hard at work on Callie’s Solo web series: https://www.facebook.com/calliessolowebseries/ and we are deeply indebted to those who helped us raise money for our exploration of the life of a fictional voice teacher (ahem) somewhat based on someone we both know.  We are almosted finished filming and we are starting post production. WOW! It’s exciting! Stay tuned for information on our debut in the fall of 2016.
October 16, 2015
OUR INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN IS LIVE!!!
The past year has been a big one with lots of new projects and performances, and it’s all culminating with the creation of my web series! It’s an episodic series, loosely and humorously based on my life as a singer and voice teacher. It is also about the emotional roller-coaster of being a middle-aged woman, with the empty nest looming.
We have a talented cast and crew, already shooting the crucial outdoor scenes before winter ensues (back vile winter!!!) but we need financial support to continue work, and ultimately go into post-production. We think you’re going to love it!!! If we can get people interested in this series, there could be more fun with more episodes, featuring more singers! Check it out here!
Callie’s Solo Campaign

August 24, 2015
What a super busy Spring and Summer it’s been! Our first show at Davenport’s in June was really a blast. It’s a lovely room to sing in, and the crowd was overwhelmingly gratifying in every way. Alot of new things are in the offing, but in the meantime, I hope people will come out to see the encore performance of “This Is New” at Davenport’s, coming up soon, September 6, at 7:00 pm. More info and reservations here: Davenport’s reservations
Davenport's poster 2

Jan 28, 2015
Enchanting April
What a great deal of pleasure I have derived from being a cast member of “Enchanted April” at Big Noise Theater! Directed by Peter Rasey, with a delightful cast, this charming and whimsical play, set in the early twenties, tells a story of four women who take a long needed vacation in Italy and rediscover themselves, and love. My personal challenge has been doing a role in a completely different language-Italian-which has been an eye opener in so many ways. It’s funny and poignant. Come see for yourself. The show runs through Feb 1st. Here’s a link:
Dec 8, 2014

Treading the Boards Again…

This year in the early days of summer, I took what felt like a crazy leap into doing theater again. I whipped a few monologues into shape, a few theater songs, and started going to auditions. I just literally jumped back into something I had not done for a long time. I stopped doing theater shortly after giving birth to my son, and then life took its meandering path, as it does, leading me through many personal transformations. Although I performed a great deal, singing in a band for ten years, creating and performing at the Singer’s Salon, etc., I had no idea how I would fare at auditions. I was pleasantly surprised at how natural it felt to act again, and how quickly I started getting callbacks, and getting cast. I did a short film, and got cast in an original musical theater piece, and am now rehearsing for another play.

The musical was a great deal of fun, but fraught with a certain amount of difficulty for a variety of reasons. Throughout the rehearsal process I was constantly debating whether or not I had made the “right” decision. But once the show closed, I realized I had learned so much from the process, partly perhaps due to being at a very different stage of life. Here it is in a nutshell:

• I learned that no matter the circumstances, no matter how good or bad the show is, no matter the experience or lack thereof, of the rest of the cast, crew, directors, writers, etc., you and only you are responsible to yourself to do your own best work. Even if things are not ideal (are they ever?) you can still and always do the best you can do, then and there. And that is awesome. No one can take that away from you. Your work can and will work if you work it. Of course it’s wonderful when everyone is devoted and talented and doing amazing work. That is an absolute blessing!
• I learned or rather, was reminded, that having fun while you are working is great, but that the most fun while working is being highly focused and doing great work.
• I learned that your actor/singer preparation , while still being highly important, is also helped a great deal by being comfortable in your own skin.
• Life experience translates directly into Art. Your life experiences feed your Soul; your Soul feeds your Art.
• I realized that the reason I am not the most sociable actor in the room is because I am still and, doubtless, always will be largely introverted. I need time to myself to concentrate before and to unwind after. I am wayyyy over-stimulated by everyone else’s conversations, warm ups, hair spray and loudness. I have to create a bubble around myself in order to feel ready to go on, and it’s NOTHING PERSONAL! Just the way I’m wired.
• Being the “lead” or the one everybody is expecting to carry the load can be intimidating and a lot of pressure, but it’s always a group effort. ALWAYS!
• And FINALLY (well probably not finally but for now) I learned that being appreciated is indeed WONDERFUL and you simply must be willing to let yourself receive it! Deflecting recognition and appreciation with self depreciating criticism may be not only counter – productive, but just annoying and even rude. LET IT IN!
time_of_your_life_players_buds_cafe_redux_2 (2)

SongDate:11/28/14
So much has been going on! First of all, check out my fabulous first ever Black Friday deal! Get it while it’s hot. You can purchase via Paypal on this site’s Home page and Classes page both.
Bud’s Cafe is over but the renewed acting career continues with Enchanted April, coming up in January at Big Noise Theater in Winnetka. In the meantime, check out Merry Measures at Davenport’s; I’ll be performing on the second evening, which is Dec 2, along with many other talented singers, some of whom we’ve seen at the Singer’s Spotlight. It will be a great evening of music to benefit a great cause. See the flyer below. Hope to see you there! Stay posted for more about ongoing struggles and delights in the world of the performing arts, and don’t forget to check out the Salon page. Holiday Salon is coming up!

holiday cabaret2014

…shedding light on vocal mysteries everywhere….

Welcome to my new series highlighting real situations with real people and their singing mysteries. Identities have been disguised to protect the innocent.

WINTER AND THE PHENOMENON OF RESISTANCE or
The case of the missing student

Salon feb 14

L. was scheduled for her second lesson that afternoon. As I finished my 5th cup of coffee, the phone rang. It was L. “I really want to come to my lesson,” she stated plaintively, “but I just don’t want to get wet.” I contemplated her reasoning. It was in fact snowing, quite alot. But this was one of the worst winters in Chicago that anyone could remember for a long time. Surely this was not what she meant. On further questioning it became apparent that the cold was what was truly bothering her (or so she said) and the “wet” part was getting in the shower. “Ah.” The light dawned. Yes. It was cold. Showering-unpleasant. Traversing out into the ill winds of winter-most troubling. However, this is life, in “one of the worst ever Chicago winters”.

She had in fact already cancelled once due to a forecast of snow, therefore the precedent was set, that weather was an issue for this retired schoolteacher who had decided to pursue vocal matters. Well, very well, I being the compassionate sort, offered to reschedule later in the week. More plaintive whining on the other end of the line ensued. Alrighty then. What about a lesson via the telephone? Aha! That one hit the target.
While it was surely true that the weather had been to put it in the vernacular “a bitch,” I realized on further examination, that this was a classic case of second lesson resistance. After her first session, she had received a well thought out email from me pinpointing various issues and outlining a course of action to move ahead in her self-assigned project. We left it at that. She contacted me weeks later with an “ok” to move forward with lessons.
And now, this day of her second lesson, the phone call. Vive la resistance. It tells us we are alive as artists. Her excuse that it was cold and she couldn’t bring herself to get into the shower and come to my studio was, in point of fact, a lot of hooey, further evidenced by her unwillingness to reschedule for later in the week. Her resistance broke down at the point of impact, making her excuse no longer a valid one. I was willing to work with her in her own apartment via telephone, an unorthodox, albeit not extraordinary suggestion on my part. The lesson happened, and as it turned out, L. wanted to talk more then she wanted to work, which happens and is not extraordinary at all.
The question remains, what else might have happened had she gotten in the shower? Gotten in the car? Gotten herself to her lesson in person? Perhaps it would’ve been transcendent! Of course we will never know, but I do know this. Once the resistance wins, the artist gets beaten down, too tired, discouraged, or distracted to go on.
Artistic resistance is a kind of smokescreen that the artist must learn to recognize. Do not be fooled. It will take you away, if you let it, from your true purpose, rather like your college friends who want you to go out drinking when you need to study for that exam, or your boy/girl friend who wants to “hang out” when your big audition is the next day and you need to work on your monologue. You may at times give in to it, but if it takes over, it’s over.
I did not see L. after that. Even though she got quite a bit of encouragement from me to keep going, including various links via email and suggestions to further her interests in her artistic pursuit. My fear is that she is awash in resistance. Let us hope that is not the case.
At any rate my advice to you is this: give your resistance a wink and a nod, and then, do your work.

 

PROMO GIRL, OR THE CASE OF PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE
I was contacted via email by a young lady who needed my assistance on her vocals. The need was immediate, perhaps even urgent. She had created recordings of her songs, and was now submitting them to various producers and recording companies, who were giving her mostly negative feedback. We made an appointment as soon as our schedules allowed, and she sent me a few of her tracks. There were indeed problems.
When I met V. for our first session in my studio, she was clearly exhausted, and had in fact, been up all night, shooting video for one of her songs. She could barely keep her eyes open and was physically depleted of energy. She seemed to belong to that certain sort of young person (one that I am all too familiar with) who believe they are in possession of an endless supply of vibrancy and “oomph,” yet this clearly was not the case. Her voice was equally listless and lacking buoyancy, and her intonation was faulty. The problem was the same as what I had heard on her recordings. After some discussion about her life, her schedule and routine, and her singing regime (she had none!) it became clear that she was driving herself, working, promoting and creating material to promote, to the point of utter exhaustion. She did not identify that this was a large part, if not the only source of the trouble. Compounding this was the fact that she habitually overused her heavy mechanism or chest voice, resulting in a lack of balance to her tone, and possibly causing real problems in the area of phonation. There were a variety of technical issues to work on surely, and I was happy to help address those issues.
However the problem remained that L. had already spent a near fortune on recording studios, engineers, producers, etc. to help her create the demo of her dreams, which was intrinsically flawed, because she had not gotten vocal help or even feedback until after the fact.
V. was convinced that having the materials ready to go, and heavily promoting them was the key to success. She was in fact a very hard worker and very astute at promotions and publicity. However, as I told her, her product was seriously defective, and therefore she was promoting in vain. She was hoping I could fix her up very quickly and we did make good progress. But in the long term, she needed to understand that the voice is housed in the body and one must first and foremost take care of it, in order to sing well, and consistently. She needed to learn that consistent practice and study is key to maintaining a strong and reliable technique. And she needed to create a product that was worth promoting, not promote a product despite its deficits in the hopes that it would become successful anyway, if she just wished it and pushed for it hard enough.
V. had fire and drive, and she was not without talent, but she lacked the ability to assess her own state of readiness for a professional career in music. She was unwilling or unable to be discerning about the sounds she was creating even on recordings. She was not interested in redirecting her energy until she had reached a better place as a singer, but insisted that promoting her demo was her only option.
Personally, I don’t think it’s possible or even desirable to become a professional singer or performer of any kind, if one does not have some solid technique on which to rely. As a professional one may be required to perform, at times, under less then optimal circumstances, and one had better be able to deliver.
V. went on to be featured in one of my showcases and eventually moved to another city to pursue her career further. I wish her all the best and hope she is studying voice, taking care of herself, and learning her craft.

 

Before the Sleuth…

Part the Due  03/17/2014

Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.”
James Joyce, Ulysses

So I was just stopped by someone at the Singer’s Salon who said to me that she read my blog about “stopping”, (see below) that it was just what she needed to hear and that in fact it inspired her to come. Yay! I thought and perhaps spoke at least in some way or another. Then she said-“But you didn’t answer the question-why?”  Why indeed? Far be it from me to attempt to definitively answer that question, but let us discuss.

My final question was: What are we afraid of? So I am going to start with that assumption, (hey ya gotta start somewhere!) that we are stopping out of some version of fear.  Let us jot down the list:

Fear of failure

Fear of success

Fear of fear (not joking)

Fear of crowds

Fear of the actual work of making work

Fear of utter annihilation (again, not joking)

Fear of our truth

Ding ding ding! That’s the one I’m going for. Because all of those fears are real and we may experience them to some degree regarding performance, or other ways that we make art or challenge ourselves. But that final one, is the most pertinent to this particular discussion. When we seek to make work, to sing beauty, or pain, or even to relate a simple incident, when we tell our story , we reveal ourselves. It  matters not if we are revealing ourselves by painting our self portrait, or by telling our darkest secrets in a poem, or singing a cover version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, or playing the part of Lady Bracknell in the community center’s production of  The Importance of Being Earnest. If we truly dig into the depths for our artistic gold we may start to hit pay dirt, which may well scare the bejesus out of us. Because we are brought up to conform, we are brought up to be polite and to say the right thing and we are expected to be productive members of society, (more or less). And a whole long list of other stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with our deeper truth or with making a work of art or making ourselves into creative beings. Now I am not saying that to be an artist you have to go all anti-social and cut off your ear or anything like that…although it can’t hurt. (Well it can hurt your ear. Anyway you get my point.)  Great art isn’t made by people trying to be polite.  It Just. Is.  Not.

Aw now you’re gonna ask me why again.

The Phenom of stopping just when things get going… 2/23/14

I am still surprised at how often I experience this, both in my studio with students and I must confess, for myself, as well.  Someone comes to me for lessons, or they start coming to the Singer’s Salon, or they are pursuing their artistic dream in one form or another. They are perhaps just starting to make headway, they are getting deeper, they are starting to confront the real “issues’ – and they stop. The process of developing your artistic skills, mining your gold as an artist, so to speak, is somewhat like therapy in that sense. We find the real goods and fear wells up and we run screaming from the lesson, session, workshop, audition process or –fill in the blank. We run from the studio, the blank page, the collaboration when things get going, when things get DIFFICULT. And of course this is just the time to hunker down and get to work, for here is where we will find our true dilemma and our true voice. We must write through, sing through, work through this discovery process but fear- fear overtakes us? Why?

What are we really afraid of?

sunset bird                                       *******

Thanks for visiting my new website and checking out my blog! I will maintain my previous blog (http://wendysvoice.blogspot.com/) but concentrate here on helpful articles for singers.  SO where do I begin?  SINGING!

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What’s so special about singing? And why does everybody want a piece of the action? Well, that’s easy. Your voice is the source of your expression. You may or may not be aware that your 5th chakra is your throat chakra; there is the center of your voice. Your expression comes through your voice, and the sound it creates.  The throat chakra is a powerful source of creation and inspiration. For singers, this may be about making music, but it is actually much, much more. It is the center of how you express WHO YOU ARE. This center also has many healing abilities through the use of pure toning and creating sound. We all want to express who we are, don’t we? We all want to be heard.

chakras image

When you add words to the mix, you get articulation. Articulation is what we do all the time when we talk. But as singers, we are articulating on sustained sound, a much more involved process that presents different challenges. Combining articulation, with the use of the pure, free vocal sound, in the context of “melody”  (or some sort of vocal line) is what creates mastery within the art of the song.

The problems begin because most people do not have a pure, free voice. They have tension filled, muscularly driven voices that dry up on them when they need them the most. They don’t know how to use support of the skeleton and muscles of the diaphragm and rib-cage to utilize the air needed to fuel the sound they would like. And that is why they need the help of a good vocal instructor. Finding your free, natural and beautiful sound is not an intellectual process, but a physical one. It is more like training for a marathon then like studying for a test. Of course, knowing how the vocal mechanism works can be helpful, but is not the most essential ingredient. Correct practice is.

Once your voice starts doing what you want it to do, the fun begins!

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