Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mary Jo Dugaw

Mary Jo has credits that would take up three of four posts. Musical Theatre (Village, 5th Ave); Classical  (concerts, with symphonies). You name it - She's probably done it.

Recording: Yes - Yes and Yes. Find out if it's Tape or CD

Gender: Girl.

Piano Skills: She plays a wonderful lesson. Encourages you to find a coach to actually "prep" for the audition (i.e.  Listen to the accompaniment) - but plays well enough to run through it with you at her space.

Style: Specializes in techniques that apply to all styles of music from classical to popular. I will tell you from personal experience she teaches the mix in a clear, understandable way making it easy to make the translation from head to body.

Reputation vs. Isolationist: The woman is amazing. Back in my 20s when I thought I knew how to sing ( I had classical training after all!)
I was touring kid shows. If you have never led the glamorous life of touring kid shows - let me give a quick peek. No mics. Bad venues - Mostly gyms. The kids - were actually wonderful because I was lucky enough to be doing material by Brian Willis when I was with Seattle Public Theatre and by Bruce Monroe when I toured with the 5th Avenue.
So - clear picture - GYMS. Hard to be heard. I kept losing my voice. I was terrified, desperate and - terrified. (cue angel voices -now). She fixed me! She referred me to a specialist who assured me I did not have Nodes. Did I mention I was terrified? She then proceed to teach my everything I know about saving my voice while I speak - not just sing. She also solidified and increased my understanding of Mixing through the Psaggio (aka - your break). I am not the only one who has had this amazing experience.

Location: Eastside, Metropolitan area. So - when I took with her she was located solely in North Bend. BEAUTIFUL home and studio in the home. North Bend just became too far for me with my schedule.

Prices:  http://www.maryjodugaw.com/  Check her website for more info on cost and specific location
Mary Jo Dugaw - Savior (by my definition - not hers!) Sent me to a specialist to make sure I did not have the dreaded Nodes - I didn't. Then taught me how to speak - not just sing - correctly. Sublime.
Amazing teacher. If you are struggling at all with glitches in the voice or mastering the mix Mary Jo is a wonderful fit. If you are just looking for some great solid technique - Great fit!

Next Post: Kim Maguire also and Eastside Teacher!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jeff Caldwell - New York

Jeff Caldwell was the go to Music Director here in Seattle....Until he abandoned us-- Oh - I mean made a career choice and moved to New York.

Seriously...He is amazing and Seattle misses him. For those of you thinking of going to New York or already there -Let's talk about Jeff.

Recording: Yes, he does encourage it - I don't know if you bring your own or if he provides a machine. I suspect you should bring a device.

Gender: Well he is a boy.

Piano Skills: He is amazing. Plays everything, knows everything, sight reads well. He is amazing! Truly and excellent pianist.

Style: Specializes in legit technique, crossover coaching, and actors who sing. Because he regularly plays Broadway auditions he has a great sense of what goes on in the audition room.

Reputation vs. Isolationist: In my eh hem..Youth..I had a hard time hearing my register in comparison to boy registers. Jeff encouraged me to seek out a female teacher. At the same time he also taught me how to listen to his register and figure out where mine was in relationship to his. I did both. Yeah - Jeff and I go WAY back! So, I believe in seeing both genders - but as I said before - personal choice!

Location: New York based. best way to reach him - email! tomjeff1115@hotmail.com

Prices: New York prices are much higher than ours. Jeff's are really reasonable for NYC. $80.00 plus room rental but - he does negotiate-sliding scale. Ask.

I love this man. I still use some of the imagery he taught me after 20 years. The oblong Christmas Tree Ornament is still a fave! If you are NY - look him up!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last minute shopping ideas

Well that time is here - Holiday celebrations -and last minute shopping. Ok - All my shopping was done December 10th and the following ideas may or may not have been things I bought for my loved ones.

 Something for New York on Boxing day - Jeff Caldwell! To tide you over: Last minute shopping ideas

Finishing the Hat - Mr. Sondheim

Patty LuPone's New Book

Last year - a wonderful release by Julie Andrews about her life. If you like audio books - she reads it!

Have a wonderful Holiday everyone! Talk to you on Boxing Day!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ann Evans Zavada

There are a lot of teachers out there. I mentioned that I would be highlighting several over the next week. All of the voice teachers I will be talking about are ones I have worked with in some capacity. Either as a fellow teacher, fellow actor, or as a student. Often - all three!

Let us begin

Ann Evans Zavada

Ann has been my primary Musical Theatre, Belt technique teacher and Song Choice go to Gal (yeah - I made that title up) for 7 years. So I have a lot of personal experience as a student with Ann.

Ann is located in North Seattle. Her studio is an offshoot of her home. Spacious but not overly so, comfortable and beautiful.

Ann plays piano. Now, you'll have to ask her how proficient she thinks she is. I think she's pretty decent! Ann plays well enough to accompany me on audition pieces. She plays for lessons. Ann sometimes hires outside accompanist for special events.

Ann has a great little device that allows you to walk out with a CD of your lesson. Bring your own blank CD.

Ann holds cabaret's about once (sometimes twice) a year for her students to perform. A "showcase" of sorts. 

As I mentioned above Ann specializes in Musical Theatre and Belt Technique. Ann teaches you how to Belt safely and when not to belt.   I learned a lot from the way she teaches the Belt technique. I mix when I have the option but if I want to Belt safely I do so because of my work with Ann. She works every piece of music you are preparing to help you navigate those choices and execute them within the song.

Her library and musical knowledge of the cannon is extensive and impressive!

She's not a guru  (but has decent following!) Ann brings in guests on occasion. I have worked with Micheal Lavine and Terrance Mann out of her studio. They were incredible workshops. Check those guys out! Ann has a lot of students - Proffesionals and college bound.

You may contact an via email at annevansz@hotmail.com

What's New Wednesday! Shoshanna Bean

It's the Holidays! Solstice, Hanukka(Chanukah), Kwanzaa, Christmas! New Year around the corner. So there is a PLETHORA of holiday outings and events. What about those college students home for a visit wanting to keep their skills sharp, Professionals looking to keep their skills sharp or those who took vacation in hopes of finding non-traditional events.
Seattle has the answer! I want to highlight one event and pre-promote next week's event.

Shoshanna Bean is coming to Seattle!  (picture from Shoshanna's FB fan page photo credit Matthew Murphy)

She's doing a one day Master Class and Vocal Interpretation of Song . Although the performance slots are full, there are still observation slots available. Click on the Master Class link for more details!

For those of you who don't know - Shoshanna took over for Idina Menzel after she left Wicked and made a lasting mark on the Broadway community. She is originally from Olympia, Washington. A kicking voice and beautiful spirit, this class is going to be amazing! If you have a chance to go - do it! Check out her website- check out her voice - If you don't know who she is you are missing out!

New Voices 10 - The Best of New Voices - is next week's "What's New Wednesday" post - I mention it now because tickets fly!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Voice Teachers

So the next couple of days I will be focusing on Voice Teachers. There are voice teachers, there are audition coaches, there are voice teachers who also coach.
So - Why do you need one?

Did I mention technique? You need it. Period. Singing is a skill and an art. It's also a sport. Vocal calisthenics are part of my voice lessons. You need these amazing exercises that Voice Teachers... teach and guide you through in order to make singing a challenging song look and SOUND easy.

Say - A challenging song like "It's a Privilege to Pee" From Urinetown. It has the range of a goose. Low to very, very high. Maneuvering all that - singing high, low and through your Pissagio - Don't know what that means? A voice teacher does!

Choosing a voice teacher is incredibly personal but here are just a few things to consider.

Recording: Most voice teachers have some sort of recording device to record your lesson. This means you can use those wonderful exercises for years to come. It also means you can evaluate how you sound, how you thought you sounded etc. Most teachers WANT you to record. I believe it's an invaluable part of the process.

Gender: Some men only want to work with men, Women only want women or men only want women or... you get the idea. It's a personal choice.

Piano Skills: Some teachers play piano really well, others hire accompanists. Both are fine.

Style: Do they know the musical theatre cannon? If not that is ok - just know that you will need a coach when you prepare for auditions. Classicaly trained teachers have wonderful technique - but may not know how to teach a musical theatre sound. This is a different sound than classical. However, many of the techniques that keep your voice safe are the same. Some Teachers do both.
Belt  - Make sure the teacher is telling you how to keep your voice safe.
Mix - This is invaluable to get the psaggio. Also has a sound that is very similiar to belting.

Training: What is their background? Their training? Find out.

Reputation vs. Isolationist: Are they a guru? Do they think they are the only one that can help you? If so - Run. Do you know any of their students? What do they have to say about them? Look for that good Reputation.

Location: Close or 50 miles away. May or may not be important to you. Time is money and gas is expensive these days. But if they're worth it...

Prices: In Seattle anywhere from $50.00 - $65.00 is reasonable. If it is more than that -well one of two things. They are REALLY specialized in what they teach and in HIGH demand or they aren't on the up and up. Refer to Rep/Isolationist. Ask around. Check their rep.

"Chemistry...yeah Chemistry" - No matter how good they are - you need to have a click -Proffesional or Personal - hopefully both. BUT - don't go with someone who is not qualified just because you like them.

Throughout the week I will be posting local voice teachers and information about them and how to contact them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Do you sing?

Do you sing? Most people answer yes. In the shower, with the radio in the car. So my next question is - Are you a singer?

If you are a singer you have technique, you at least work on being able to read music, perhaps you sight sing (if not - work on that!) you may have been in a choir, you take voice lessons.

I have met a lot of young actors who love musicals. The American Musical has made a huge comeback. Wicked, Next To Normal, American Idiot (hate it or love it!) just to name a few have drawn in a whole new generation of Musical Theatre Fans. Ten years ago you could count on your hands the number of Universities that had legitimate B.F.A's in Musical Theatre. Now - close your eyes, open the directory of schools and point - they are everywhere.

It doesn't mean they are all good - but that's another post!

Because of this love and enthusiasm for the material a lot of people want to do musical theatre. Well then -get some training. Why?

Technique. Your voice will not get through the run of a show if you do not have technique. You will lose your voice, you won't sound as good night to night - you will hurt yourself - the list goes on. The voice is an instrument. You wouldn't pick up a trumpet for the first time a couple days before an audition. So why would you do that if you're a singer?

 Some quick bullet points that we will explore in more detail in later posts!

  • Find a Voice Teacher
  • Practice Everyday
  • Speak Well - don't gutter out.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol (moderation!)
  • Drink Water. Make it a habit
  • Get enough sleep
  • Protect your voice.
Your voice is your instrument. Treat it with respect.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Musical Theatre Audition

The Musical Theatre Audition
Let me first say – have you read the fundamentals I posted earlier in this blog? Yes – Good! No – after you read this run on sentence – Stop – go read them- come back. Are back? Let us begin.
Auditioning for a musical is the same as any other audition with a few more elements thrown in. Singing and Dancing. Here is the thing. Singing is not just about sounding pretty. It is, or it should be, about acting the song.  Dancing is about – well – I’ll leave that to the experts (guest bloggers) but for me – it’s about doing the best I can and trying really hard to get them to look at my face – not the rest of my body! Over the next couple of posts we are going to talk about choosing an audition song. We will talk about ballads vs. up tempo, how to organize your book, how many books you should have, acting a song, where to find music, voice lessons etc.
We will also have some discussions and posts from some Music Directors, Choreographers and maybe a couple surprise visits!
In the mean time, keep singing. I hear Carols are hot right now! ;0

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Problem with Auditioning

Getting cast. Ok. Well. It's not really a problem "It's not a problem it's a challenge - it's what I wanted..." (L5Y). I know I haven't been posting. When you get cast, and you work, and you have friends and you have a spouse - well - I know EXCUSES! But I'm back! I have noticed from the traffic reports that the good ol basics are getting used so YAY! We are moving into Musical Theatre Auditions. Having recently been cast in some musicals - I'll pass on what I knew before going in - and what I know now. "And I know things now many wonderful things" (Into The Woods). I'm excited to jump into this world with you. It's one of my faves! Joining us at some point will be some more guest bloggers - Zach Ortz, Tammis Doyle and many more!

What's been in the way?  I just finished playing Matron Mama Morton in Chicago. This week I was cast as the Drowsy Chaperon in - you guessed it - The Drowsy Chaperon.  Learning to balance my writing life with my acting life - well - I'm here to tell you that "I'm not going" (Dream Girls). So my commitment to you - at least 3 posts a week.I hope you will continue to check back.

Happy Holidays! Talk to you next week!