Month: April 2016

You Can’t Stop The Beat!

Playbill from the Broadway production in 2007

Our local middle school, George Washington Middle School, recently performed their spring musical, Hairspray Jr! I went to opening night of this show and the music transports me to a different world every time. All of a sudden, I’m bouncing in my seat to the tunes and laughing out loud. I saw Hairspray on Broadway three times during its’ almost 7 year run and I even auditioned for the national tour twice (sadly, even after a callback, no contract was offered).

Middle school is a vocally tough transition time. Students this age rarely understand their break, how to switch seamlessly between registers (what’s a register?), and how to extend certain vowels without getting too nasal, too heavy, or too bright. I always suggest a good warm-up that includes both head and chest resonation. Opening up the upper register will help with the pop mix sound that is needed throughout Hairspray.

Breath is also a huge factor in a high energy show like Hairspray. “You Can’t Stop the Beat” requires excellent breath support for singing through the phrases, catching a quick (but still full!) breath where appropriate, and dancing at the same time in this fast tempo.

PRACTICE RECOMMENDATION: Run & Sing! You might not make it through the first time without panting, but ultimately, I’ve found that physical activity while singing (running, jumping jacks, even planks) can help to improve stamina, endurance, and diaphragmatic breath support.

Go Go Go Joseph!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a show that will always have a special place in my heart. It was my first professional stage gig. I was an ensemble wife in the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre’s production and was 18 years old when rehearsals started.

Seeing this awesome show at MVCCT last Sunday brought back fun memories. I had several students in this show (6 to be exact and at least 3 working backstage too!) and certainly am a proud voice teacher.

Vocally, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is not an easy show to sing. Until working with my students (Emma Brown and Lyndsey Lawrence), I never realized the vocal range for the narrator and the demand for a strong high mix in this role. Here is a video that demonstrates the use of this high mix register in “Jacob & Sons” and “Go Go Go Joseph” as well as two exercises to help singers develop their high mix!

Spring Cleaning Your Audition Book

_DSC2022It’s that time of year again! For me, I love going through my clothes, shoes, and household items to decide what to donate, what to sell, and what to keep. It gives me such joy to organize and get rid of things that I no longer want or need. The same can be true with our audition books.

As people, we are always growing and songs that may have worked for you in the past may not work for you anymore. What should I take out of my audition book?

For starters, there are songs that no longer fit your type. If only a year ago you were a 4’11” boy soprano singing “Lift Me Up” from The Secret Garden and you are now a 5’3″ fourteen year old boy with a tenor range, this song can easily be discarded from your audition book. The same can be said if you feel that you no longer appropriate for teen roles, 20s roles, and so on. Height can play a big factor, especially in children’s roles. In fact, certain casting notices list height restrictions. Matilda (max. 4’3″ for the title role and 4’10” for children’s ensemble) and The Producers (women 5’8″ and up for Ulla) are great examples!

Sadly, I have aged out of the title role in Annie!

Next there is your vocal development. Has your voice changed since the last time you went through your audition book? Have you developed a stronger belt or polished your legit chops? As you continue your development as a singer, you’ll notice your ability to sing certain repertoire will change and therefore your audition book must also change.

Then there is material that you no longer are passionate about singing, don’t feel a connection to, or simply can’t relate to anymore. This can be a little harder to decipher, but look through your book and think about what songs you actually enjoy singing. If you’re bored with the song, then there is a huge likelihood that the people auditioning you won’t be impressed either. There’s so many songs out there in every genre that there’s no need to audition with stale material.

Once you have done all of this, think about what types of songs you still have in your book. What are you missing? What do you need for the upcoming audition season?

Now it’s time to find some new repertoire!