Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Keeping it Sexi on the Road

By Shareese Arnold

Every Sexi Soprano loves her routine, but between traveling for auditions and gigs it can be pretty difficult to keep at it. Being active has become an integral part of healthy singing. Here are a few tips to keep in your toolbox:

     Have a Plan B workout schedule. This should absolutely be something similar to your normal workout regime. Traveling is not the only thing that can be tiresome when you are on the road. Long rehearsals require mental and physical focus and can take a lot out of you. Sticking to even a modified workout schedule will help keep your energy up and allow you to focus on doing amazing work.

Gym lover? If you love going to the gym and are going to be away for an extended stay, check to see if any local gyms offer free classes or a free pass for a week. Many gyms offer trials that are either free or as cheap as buying a latte and a cookie at Starbucks.  

Try a workout DVD or Streaming Service. You can find many DVDs or Online fitness streaming that contain workouts that last anywhere from ten minutes to an hour. We recommend Beachbody On Demand, for when you can’t get to a gym, but still have time blocked out to work out, this is a great option. 

Talk to a personal trainer about creating a workout tailored to your needs. Trainers are interested in seeing you succeed in your fitness goals. Explain your situation and you might find he or she is willing to jot down some exercises just for you.  

Pinterest is AWESOME. This may give some purpose to the hours spent “researching” on Pinterest. Go crazy pinning your favorite workouts to your fitness board; and actually do some of them!

Have an accountability partner. Having a good friend/partner/spouse to text or chat with about your workouts is a great way to stay focused. Find a fitness group online for some extra encouragement.   

Be creative!!! If you don’t have time to work out as much as you would like, incorporate more active movements into your day. We all have rehearsal schedules where the time commitments make it difficult to commit to a full workout; but doing things like squats, push ups, and other body weight exercises will keep your muscles active so when you get back to your regular routine, your body won’t hate you. 

And finally, dance parties are an awesome way to keep yourself pumped up and in a good mood. Who doesn't love to dance in their hotel room to “Run the World” by BeyoncĂ©?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Audition Attire Refresher Course

Is your audition attire ruining your image?
I know we’ve all heard it a million times. How you represent yourself at an audition is often just as important as how you sing. While we all know this, every time I show up for an audition women are wearing attire that can either be described as scandalous or atrocious. Neither is the way to go. Since things will be gearing up again quickly on the audition circuit, perhaps it’s time for a little refresher course. Shall we?
  • Be Appropriate. How many times have you seen someone at an audition wearing something that’s too short, tight, or low cut? This isn’t a blind date, it’s a job interview. There is nothing wrong with style, but please make sure your cash and prizes are properly concealed. I can’t believe this would still be an issue, but my goodness is it ever!
  • Material. Does this dress require ironing? If ironing is a problem for you, perhaps try a different material such as jersey. Jersey is great because you can throw the dress in a corner for three weeks, pick it up, and it’s perfect! (Don’t ask me how I know this – I’ll deny anything you’ve heard.) Please, for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t show up to an audition looking like you just crawled out of a box. That’s not how you want to represent your brand.
  • Trends. This is where the opera world can be a bit of a drag, but trendy is generally not for the audition room. Big patterns? Nope. Crazy shapes? Probably not. Avoid anything that’s going to distract from your voice. Think classic, elegant, and refined.
  • Shoes. Your shoes are just as important. Ask anyone who knows me – I love a good stiletto much, MUCH more than I should, but if it’s more than three inches it’s going to throw off the alignment of your entire body. This isn’t exactly conducive to the job you showed up to do.
It’s as simple as that! It's really about the singing anyway, right? That’s what I thought.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Create Your Summer!

It's no secret: this audition season was tough. Now that the deluge of contracts or PFO's (rejections) are abating, it's time to look at your calendar. If you were lucky enough to land a gig in the coming months, you have some preparing to do. But what if all you have to show for all of that work is a pile of rejection emails in your inbox? You could just feel dejected and say, "Well, I guess I've got nothing to do this summer!" Wrong! Time to put on your grown-up pants and create the summer you want!

Do a role study. Is there a role that's perfect for you, but you've never had the chance to sing? What's keeping you from learning it? Get with a coach and your voice teacher and really hit the score hard. Also, guess what? When you have that role under your belt, you can put it on your resume under "Roles Learned." If you have a group of friends who are all interested in studying a new role, pick an opera that you can all learn and work on recitatives and ensembles together.

Take a class. Are you one of those singers who says they can't dance? Why not check out your local dance studio? Many studios have classes for adult beginners. You'll get in touch with your body and improve your coordination. You could also try a ballroom class, which will come in handy when you find yourself doing an opera with a big party scene! Or, you could go in a dramatic, new direction by taking a scene study or monologue class (lots of YAPs are asking for monologues these days!). Learn some new acting techniques that you can apply to your audition arias - or that new role you're working on.

Create new performance opportunities. Take a look around your community. Are there other opera singers who are hungry for more experience? Do you know some instrumentalists with whom you could collaborate? Put together a recital, concert, or maybe even a small production. Pick some new chamber works you'd like to perform, or a small chamber opera that you could produce with minimal sets and props. It might take a bit of entrepreneurial skill, but it could be a great experience for everyone involved. 

Pick up a new instrument, or dust off an old one! There's nothing more fun than jamming out with friends around a piano or having a sing-along with a guitar. Isn't it satisfying to actually play the accompaniment for yourself and your voice students rather than just plunking out the melody? Add some structured practice time into your calendar and you'll start to see progress.

You don't have to get a gig or pay thousands of dollars at a summer program to grow as an artist. A musical and productive summer is in your future - make a plan and stick to it!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How Do You Respond to Adversity?

By Stacy Dove
Almost exactly two months ago today, I fell. Now you’re going to think this story is romantic and full of love and promise, but let me stop you right there. What I’m going to tell you actually happened and it wasn’t romantic or pretty. I fell and my face hit the hardwood floor. I was rushed to the hospital because my roommates thought I needed stitches, which I totally did. After we waited a while (and by a while, I mean about 7 hours) I was told that my jaw was broken in two places and I would need to have emergency surgery, which would involve wiring my jaw shut for four to six weeks.

(Notice the sparkle – every girl needs a little, even in a wheelchair in the emergency room!)

Imagine you, a classical singer, in the emergency room when the doctor tells you they need to wire your jaw shut for six weeks just before Christmas. Not a pretty sight. Not cute at all. Emergency surgery is going to be involved meaning they’re going to slice your face open. Sound like a nightmare?

Yeah, kind of. Or at least it was mine. I’m not sharing my story so you’ll feel sorry for me because really, I’m totally fine. I have a scar that I didn’t have before, and my bite is a little more perfect than it was before (thanks Dr. McDreamy!), but all in all I’m doing pretty great. Guys dig scars, right? My point is life can hand us some really crazy things. In fact, living this life out in the open like we need to is pretty terrifying. What we do – the act of performing an aria with our souls bare for the world to see is kind of like being naked in front of hundreds, maybe thousands of people. We are asked to be completely vulnerable. To lie our souls bare on stage. To leave nothing left unsaid and yet so often we don’t. We’re afraid that someone might actually see us.

It is now nine weeks later and you know what? The break I took from singing might actually have been a good thing. I’m more settled. Things happen. You’re going to fall. Hopefully not as hard as me, but still it’s going to happen. How will you deal with it? I spent my nine weeks reading and studying about the breath and my characters. Nine weeks later, my singing is actually better than it was before I fell. How crazy is that? Sometimes we just need a little perspective (a broken face will totally do that for you) and a little bit of time away. We come back stronger than before because we want it more than we ever have.

How do you respond to adversity? Do you run and hide? Or do you walk up to it and stare into its eyes and say, “Is that all you’ve got?”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015