What I Have Learned About Being A Successful Performer…From My Dog

I am back after over a month hiatus from blogging. December brought many changes in my life. These changes were mostly good ones, yet time consuming both mentally and tangibly. The day before Thanksgiving I lost my cat of 17 years to renal failure. After a couple months of treatment and cuddles, he started to show signs of pain and discomfort. Thus came the difficult decision to let him go with whatever happiness and joy he still had left. While I miss him, I am so thankful he was in my life for as long as he was.

Fast forward roughly two weeks later, I brought a new loving fur child into my life. I always wanted a dog of my own (as I grew up with dogs in my family), but never felt like it was the right now. However, this time, it felt like the right time. I found my furry companion via the internet through a rescue organization in Columbus, OH. Meet Ollie. My sweet 8 month old pup.

          

The past month I have been spending time with my new boy. In the midst of all the snuggling, playing, and training, I noticed how Ollie was reminding me and teaching me a few things about being successful–successful as a performer, as a blogger, and as a human being. Ergo, I am using him as my inspiration for this post–how he has taught me how to be a successful performer.

First is Curiosity.

When in a new environment and meeting new people, he sniffs his way through discovering all the new. He follows his curiosity and usually ends up with a new person he loves or a new toy or new activity. While I don’t recommend using your nose as a tool for discovering the new, work on keeping an eye out for new opportunities to chase after. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve done one project and another project popped up because of that one. Or how I wasn’t sure if there would be a place for me in the opera world, but I wanted to explore it. Here I am today, performing opera! I also loved writing, but wasn’t sure where to start or what to write about, until I went to graduate school for pedagogy. I realized I LOVED research and reading about singing. Following curiosities can lead you to something you love whether that be the thing you aimed for or something that came up along the way.

Next, Persistence.

I do not think this is a new characteristic singers are told to acquire. However, it is an important one. Think about it—how many times do you think performers are told “no” before they are told “yes?” A LOT. Sometimes 100’s, if not more. I think about how many times I have to tell my puppy, “no.” Yet, he still does it again. Now, I know telling my dog “no” is in an effort to train him how to behave and to keep him from eating things other than his dog food. Yet, I started wondering, how successful would I be if I stopped letting the rejection stop me. If I practiced the same persistent energy as my dog, I would have many more additions to my resume.

Have a Routine.

Dogs LOVE routines. It gives them the comfort of knowing what to expect and it shows them what you expect. Nevertheless, not all aspects of our lives can be anticipated. In fact, most of the time, we can’t. Like as I sit here now with a horrible cold that I tried so hard to avoid, but I am now having to deal with. But, routines give us comfort because they are things we can control. For example, I love to have a 20-30 minute workout session 5-6 days a week. I like to get up at roughly the same time. I like to meal prep for the week so I have food ready for me in the fridge. I also like to schedule time for vegging out in front of the television. Also, having a practice routine is also great, while sometimes hard to do. Make your practice time a priority. What I tend to do is practice in between teaching lessons. So I always have my repertoire book with me or if not that I practice sight-reading piano music or play my students music so that I may better accompany them. Make time for your priorities and figure out what those priorities are. Write them down or put alerts on your phone. Make a habit of your routine. It will make you happier and more adaptable to change or unexpected events.

Talk to everyone.

Let me tell you, Ollie is a social butterfly! He thrives when he is meeting new people and new dogs. He even sometimes cries a little when he isn’t able to meet a new person when on a walk. This attitude reminds of the idea that connections in this business are some important. Connections with fellow performers, directors, producers, conductors, accompanists, teachers, or donors etc. are all so essential. Make relationships with these people. Connect with them and stay connected. Opportunities for roles, solos, collaborations, and other jobs present themselves when you work to maintain connections and seek new ones. So be like Ollie, and don’t shy away from meeting people.

Lastly, Take a nap.

Finally, it’s okay to take a break. Whether that’s a mental health day or a break from performing for a while, it’s OKAY. If you are feeling run down and tired, relax and reset. A break can be a good thing and it usually allows you to work harder and smarter once you’re ready. As singers, how our bodies feel, both mentally and physically, greatly affects how we perform. So take a pause. Take a moment of solitude or cuddle up next to your favorite person (or furry friend) and remind yourself to put your stresses into perspective.

                    

 

 

Conversations with Performers: Interview with Julie Baird!

I hope you enjoyed the last interview post! If you haven’t checked it out yet, Click here.

Today, I have another very special performer who is also currently working at a Disney Park. However, she is working at Tokyo Disney in Japan! I am so excited to introduce Julie Baird. She is not only talented and a fabulous dancer, actress, and singer, but she has one of the most positive attitudes in show biz. I am not exaggerating when I say this girl lights up a room with her smile and grace. We had a wonderful time catching up via Facebook video messenger! Here is what Julie had to say!

5 Facts About You:

Favorite Musical: Once. The actors play instruments AND sing. And the non-traditional love story is centered around the amazing music making on stage. It makes me cry. Also, I have to throw in Once on This Island. The score is beautiful.

Favorite Job or Role so far: Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. It requires so much energy and it’s exhausting, but so rewarding.

Role You Want to Play Next: Jenna in Waitress!

Gender-Bender Song You’d Want to Sing: “It All Fades Away” from Bridges of Madison County.

Coffee or Tea: Coffee. Black.

Julie as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

What are you up to right now?

I’m actually in Japan! I’m working for Tokyo Disney. I’m in a show called “Big Band Beat.” It is a huge show with an 11-piece orchestra, 20 dancers, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Daffy Duck. There are also 4 singers—2 boys, 2 girls. We sing solo, quartet, and duet arrangements of Jazz standards like “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and “Bye, Bye, Blackbird.”

How did you land that job?

I auditioned in February of this year in Chicago, where I’m from. I had a lot of auditions that week. I went in, did my audition, and found out in early March that I got the job. I started in August. And here I am in Japan!

What are some of the differences in the performing world in Japan versus in the United States?

Wow. It is definitely different. Communication is a challenge. We had a translator in rehearsals because the dancers and the director are Japanese. Because we are sometimes speaking different languages, things can take a little longer to come together. I am taking Japanese lessons once a week though, so I am learning the language.

Also, the audience is Japanese, but we sing in English. They are so passionate about music and really enjoy it. But it is interesting that they don’t always know what words we are singing. This particular show has been going on for about 15 years, I believe. It has a big following. The audiences are also bigger here with about a 1,500-seat theater.

What has been the most challenging experience you’ve had as a performer and how did you overcome it?

Part-time jobs to make enough money while in a show! Some gigs don’t pay enough and you have to supplement it with a coffee job in the mornings. It’s hard because I feel like I don’t have enough time to sleep and it is tiring work. It’s worth it, but you have to be good with time management.

What got you started in the performing arts?

When I was little, maybe 3 or 4, I was obsessed with the VHS tape of Oklahoma, Cats, and Donny Osmond! I loved musicals. My parents thought they should put me in performing arts camp and community theater productions. Once I started, I never stopped! I went to college for musical theater too. I think I’m living a “normal” life doing what I love. I might not always be able to get sleep, but I live my life to the fullest!

           Julie as Amber in Hairspray.

What are your go-to audition songs?

Well, for this current job, I sang “Happy Days Are Here Again” from the musical Beautiful. I sang the Judy Garland, up-tempo version. It is such an upbeat, happy, cute song. I also sing “Something Are Meant to Be” from Little Women and “I Don’t Know What I’d Do” from Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

How do you stay focused and determined?

I have to do the same show 5 times a day. I end up singing the same song 7 times a day including mic check. I have to find ways to make the song different. I have to make sure I’m singing the song with good technique, but also with energy I can sustain. It’s a balance and a creative process. I have to say that being around people who are so professional everyday is really refreshing. They inspire me to be on their level.

I usually do yoga or stretching to quiet music to keep the body relaxed. I love my 20-minute walk to work too. Sound check also helps me see how my voice is doing that day.

If you could have a coffee date with one singer, who would it be and why?

Brandi Carlile. She is a folk rock singer. She writes her own music and I love her albums. She has a unique voice that is so raw and organic. I really love that kind of folk twang style. She is also just a badass woman with a wife and child. I think Sara Bareilles would also be cool to meet!

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring performers?

Enjoy your work! Whatever your work is and wherever you are in life–enjoy yourself. And don’t be discouraged by not getting work. If you really love it and the work isn’t given to you, do it yourself. We do this work because we love it so make it happen. There are no guarantees in life, but you can guarantee that you are happy.

Thank you, Julie! You are an inspiration both on and off stage. Check out her website www.juliebaird.com!

 

Let me know what you think about these interviews in the comments below! If you have questions you want answered in the future, let me know too!

 

 

 

 

 

What It Means to “Be Yourself” In an Audition

Have you ever been told to “just go into the audition and be yourself?” I know I have. My immediate reaction is “YEAH” with an internal fist in the air like John Bender at the end of The Breakfast Club or this Target manager who gave a marvelously inspiring Black Friday speech.

                                                                           (Chole Sier/via YouTube)

My instinct is to go into “beast mode” and channel my inner Beyonce. Yet, that moment of unwavering confidence is accompanied by another thought…what does “being me” mean? Of course, I know what I sound like, my repertoire, what roles I’ve learned, and my strengths and weakness. I can even recite verbatim what is on my resume. But what does “being yourself” in an audition REALLY mean?

 

Here is what I’ve learned.

  1. Be UNAPOLOGETICALLY you.

This means DO NOT say SORRY. Walk in with confidence and stay focused. Practice telling yourself I will not apologize for my performance. This includes both saying “sorry” out loud or acting as if you don’t belong there. You make a mistake, so what? Even the “greats” have messed up in an audition and still got to where they are. The point is you don’t let it bring you down long enough to ruin the rest of your audition. Dignified self-assurance is attractive and makes you stand out.

  1. Play to your strengths.

If you know your strength is acting, bring it out in your audition. If you know your strength is the 8-bar melismatic passage in the B section of your aria, sing that melisma like it’s your job. If you’ve got low notes for days, CHEST it. An audition isn’t meant to be perfection, it is potential. I’ll say it AGAIN, an audition is NOT meant to be perfection, it is POTENTIAL. This means that casting agents, directors, etc. are looking for what you have to offer and what they can work with. Relish in your strengths and show them off.

  1. Dress as your professional self.

First impressions are important. Before you open your mouth, people make assumptions of you. I used to watch the show “What Not to Wear” on TLC with Stacy London. I LOVED that show. It talked about what kind of statement you want to make when you first meet people. A lot can be said about your outfit choice, so choose with purpose.

In the opera world, conservative attire (meaning skirts/dresses down to at least the knee, minimal cleavage, and covered shoulders) is expected. While for musical theatre auditions, the outfits tend to be more casual and at times slightly more revealing. I recommend sticking to those expectations, but also show a little bit of you in your outfit. For example, if you need to have a conservative dress for an opera audition…why not buy a green or red dress? I have a black dress that fits perfectly, except it’s not very eye-catching–add a necklace or some earrings. For guys, wear your favorite pair of stylish dress shoes or a colorful tie. These tiny details will have directors remembering you and might even spark a conversation. So add some color or sparkle and let your appearance reflect you in a sophisticated and inviting way.

 

There are so many other audition tips on etiquette and repertoire, but it should never be that you lose yourself in the mix. Stay true to who you are and if you aren’t sure of what that is yet, it’s time to explore that. Because you as a person reflects who you are as an artist.

Crossover Repertoire Ideas for Sopranos PART 1

Crossover singing has become a necessity for singers. The ability to sing arias and musical theater songs are a coupled expectation for performers. With audition season in full swing, I was inspired to start blogging about repertoire ideas. Let me first say, my first love was musical theater (I love opera too, but it’s not how I started). While I ended up studying classical voice in school, I continued to sing musical theater rep for the sheer joy of singing it and because there was always a need or opportunity for it. There still is! Have you noticed how many opera houses have musical theater shows included in their seasons?! See, singers do have to do it all! So here is part one of a series of repertoire posts. I hope these repertoire posts will provide you with new ideas for yourself or your students. These songs could be used for recitals, studio classes, auditions, etc. Here is the first installment of musical theater songs for classical sopranos. Enjoy!

“No other love” from Me and Juliet

While many people are quite familiar with The Sound of Music and The King and I, Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers also wrote another beautiful show called Me and Juliet. The musical comedy involves the romantic relationships that happen off stage while preparing for the opening of a Broadway show. The “show-within-a-show” has many classic Rodgers and Hammerstein style songs, but I was drawn to this number. It is a relatively short ballad that has some fun melodic skips into the lower register. I think this is a great piece for sopranos because it has both moments for a warm “chest” voice and moments of lovely G5’s perfect for the high soprano. It is also a great piece if you want to show off or work on legato. The entire song is only 36 measures—great for legit musical theater auditions!

 

“Somebody Somewhere” from Happy Fella

This Frank Loesser song is stunning! However, it is not easy. The range is nice for a high soprano, but with some challenging vowels on the high G’s. The melody and accompaniment has a jazz influence, which is a fun transition and change for classical sopranos. It allows for an exploration of new types of vocalisms and phrasing.

 

“My True Love” from Phantom

I had to throw Phantom into the mix, but no, it is not the one you are thinking. Maury Yeston’s Phantom has a somewhat similar plot to The Phantom of the Opera, but focuses on the relationships between the theater manager named Carrière, Christine, and the Phantom. In this song, Christine sings to the Phantom about her desire to see his true face without the mask. The song sits fairly high and hovers around the passaggio (E5 & F5). Therefore, a soprano with a good handle on the  passaggio should add this to their repertoire. For most auditions, this is considered a contemporary musical theater piece as the show premiered in 1991. (The audition requirements usually say “post-1960s,” so this would would qualify.)

 

“I Don’t Need a Roof” from Big Fish

I love to sing this song! The music itself is not challenging and the range is not significantly difficult. It does require a solid mix, but I find a mix is much easier for sopranos to learn how to mix. This ballad also has a few good 16-bar or 32-bar audition cuts you can use.

 

“Nobody Makes A Pass At Me” from Pins and Needles

This is a great early comedic song to add to a soprano’s repertoire. It has a wonderful up-tempo patter section. If your strength is acting, this song is for you! The show premiered in 1937 and has many references to that era so you might have to look up some of them…I know I did.

 

“No One Else” from Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

I have been dying to see this show after watching the performance on the Tony Awards this past year. This is a wonderfully unique ballad that is great for sopranos to explore more contemporary musical theater repertoire, while still having the opportunity to show off the upper register. The song does require the use of the mix belt. Also, the music is somewhat difficult due to the rhythmic intricacies between the melody and accompaniment.

 

These are definitely NOT the only options out there or my only suggestions. I have simply chosen a few of my favorites of the moment. I will continue to post more repertoire selections for sopranos, as well as mezzo/belters, tenor, and baritone. So keep an eye out for those posts! Toi, toi!

 

*You can find the first two songs in Hal Leonard’s The Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthology for Soprano Volume 1. “My True Love” is in Volume 2. “I Don’t Need a Roof” is in volume 6 of The Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthology for Soprano. “Nobody Makes a Pass at Me” is in Volume 4 of the same series for soprano. I purchased “No One Else” from musicnotes.com. However, it is also in the Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 Vocal Selections book found here: https://www.amazon.com/Natasha-Pierre-Great-Comet-1812/dp/1495091260.

Singer’s Cafe Interview Series Featuring Matthew Lincoln-Bugg!

I am very excited to start a new series on the blog! The Singer’s Café Interview series will allow you to get to know fellow performers who are currently workin’ it in the industry. There are so many opportunities throughout the United States and the world that these amazing singers are doing! I am so thrilled to share their experiences and wisdom with you!

This first interviewee is particularly special because he is incredibly talented, determined, humble, and one of my greatest friends. Matthew Lincoln-Bugg took some time out of his busy performing schedule at Disney to talk with me 🙂

5 Fun Facts About You:

  • What is your favorite musical?

My favorite musical at the moment is Hamilton. I love the creative nature of the story and how the characters switch roles within the show.

  • What’s your favorite job or role you’ve had so far?

Soldier Ancestor from The Addams Family Musical. I played the role a few summers ago at Shenandoah Summer Music Theatere. I also loved teaching at Adventure Theatre.

  • What role do you want to play next?

My dream role is to play Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The song “Out There” is one of my favorites. The transformation into Quasimodo is amazing. He signs throughout the whole show.

  • If you could perform a gender-bender song, what would it be?

“Defying Gravity.” (YASSSSS)

  • Coffee or Tea?

Definitely, tea.

What are you currently doing right now?

I am currently a Dapper Dan at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney. It is very challenging. I sing baritone in the barbershop and have to sing more than an octave range in every song. Sometimes I have to sing above the lead and below the bass. I work full time at Disney, which is 4 days a week from 9:00 am-6:00 pm with 10:00 am sets everyday.

Matt as a Dapper Dan (in the green).

What is your daily routine? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Well, I have to be at Magic Kingdom at 9:00 am. I warm-up in the shower, grab a banana usually or something else light to eat. I also make sure to check-in with the fellow Dapper Dans to see how they are doing and feeling that day. We catch up while getting dressed in our costumes for the day. Then we hop on the trolley to greet the people at the park.

What made you decide to pursue music as a career? What is the most rewarding and fun part of being a professional singer?

I’ve always known I was going to have music in my life. I originally went to school for music education, but found it wasn’t my passion. I discovered I wanted to teach through performing. I use show experiences and clips of me performing to help teach students and inspire them. While in school at George Mason University and teaching at Adventure Theatre MTC in Maryland, I realized I could do both: educate and perform.

I am singing with barbershop gold medalists. There is a huge underground world for barbershop music. There are barbershop standards that everyone knows and certain polecats that guests will request and sing with us. I never knew that. It is so fun. Working at Disney is so rewarding. I love seeing the faces of children and visitors that are amazed and engaged in the magic. I am a part of that magic.

How did you get your start in the biz?

I feel like my start was really with the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre. It proved to me that I could perform professionally. Every time I get a contract, it reminds me that I am performing in this beautiful career. I think “I can actually do this. I AM doing it.”

What has been your greatest obstacle so far?

Hmmm. Auditioning when you’re sick, especially with bronchitis. I had to do that and it’s not fun. You have to stay well and most of the auditions are in the fall…of course, that is when I get sick the most. Actually, I remember someone told me that there’s only one performance in your life where you feel 100%. You just have to work with what you have.

What has been your greatest triumph?

 Getting a contract with Disney on the second try! I auditioned for the Voices of Liberty Choir for the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. There were 150 people who auditioned and 16 were called back. I didn’t end up getting the gig, but later I auditioned at UPTA (United Professional Theatre Auditions) and Disney World and Disneyland were both there. They remembered me and told me to attend the Dapper Dan auditions. It started with 50-70 guys and then narrowed it down to 5-7 guys. I got a call a month later saying I got it!

Matt on his way to UPTA with friend, Courtney.

How do you stay focused and determined?

Always have an open mind. I remind myself to keep an open mind. I know that there are people who look up to me. I want to be able to talk about my life experiences and inspire people, especially now when kids are able to see a black man singing on a street that is set in 1910. I want kids of color to see that and think “I can do that.”

If you could have a coffee date with one singer, who would it be and why?

Ben Vereen. He was my inspiration growing up. I saw him in Pippin. He was the lead and he was black. I thought if he can do that, why can’t I do that. I also admire his life’s work. He teaches too and he worked closely with Bob Fosse, who is one of my favorite choreographers. I could listen to him for hours, while sipping my tea. Hahaha.

What are your words of wisdom for aspiring performers?

First, “be like a duck and let the water roll off your back.” My mother has told me that since I was a kid. Secondly, remember that everyone you meet in life is going to have an influence on you whether you like it or not. Think of life as a tree where friends and acquaintances are like leaves and during a storm some leaves fly away and during the changing of the seasons, some leaves changes their colors. Don’t hold on too tight to the leaves, as some leave for a little bit and some friends and people are meant to be there only for a moment.

Our delightful FaceTime coffee (and tea) date.

Thank you, Matt! We are in this performing community together and we can all learn from each other. I am truly inspired by Matt’s unwavering joy and ambition to be in the “magical” world of performing.

Keep an eye out for future interviews! And if you are in the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL, say hello to Matt!

 

 

What is a “Vocal Cool-Down?”

We have all heard about the vocal warm-up. It is likely we do it EVERY day or at least before we begin an intense singing session. We have our favorite warm-ups and feel the moment when our voices feel ready to REALLY sing. But what is a vocal cool-down? You’ve probably heard about it, but do you really know what it is?

I try to maintain a good workout routine complete with a warm-up and a cool-down and stretch portion. The cool-down prevents or at least alleviates future sore muscles and improves flexibility. So this got me thinking…why isn’t a vocal cool-down stressed in the vocalist world? The voice is a series of muscles working together, right? Well, here is the current low-down on the mysterious vocal-cool down.

What does current vocal research say?

There have been studies conducted on the benefits of the vocal cool-down. Their conclusion was that majority of singers had a positive self-perceptual difference when including a vocal cool-down. But quantifiable data…that wasn’t as significant. The thought is that there are too many other variables such as stress, vocal hygiene, reflux, etc. that differs from singer to singer to definitively state that vocal cool-downs work. The research is limited.

What exercises are considered vocal cool-downs? How long do I cool for?

Vocal exercises that are most popular in the cool-down category are straw phonation, humming, and “floaty /u/.” The idea is that the exercises bring the voice to a neutral state much like the singer’s normal, supported speaking voice. These exercises can be done in ascending and descending slides, triads, or sustained with multiple proceeding vowels on the same pitch. Other exercises include a short gentle vocal fry, lip trills, and easy slides into chest voice on the syllable /vae/.[1]

Here are the exercises in more detail:

  • Straw phonation
    1. Ascending and descending slides in full octaves and fifths
  • Humming in thirds in your middle, most comfortable octave from about G4-G5 for sopranos (depending on your voice type)
  • Hm-/i/, /a/, /o/, and /u/ on a single pitch and descending by half steps (start at about a C5 for sopranos)
  • Sing triad /vae/ in modal register
  • Sing five-note descending scale on a lofty /u/. Focus on keeping a forward resonant sound with easy phonation.

What else should I know about vocal cool-downs?

Complete the exercises in a medium-soft dynamic. Be careful you are actually cooling down your voice and not adding more stress. The cool-down can be anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on your vocal needs. Hydrate! Most importantly, listen to your body. The amazing and sometimes frustrating part of singing is that you live with your instrument 24/7. It needs you to treat it well and keep it healthy!

Give these exercises a try! I hope they help keep your voice even happier and healthier!

[1] Ragan, Kari. “Impact of Vocal Cool-down Exercises: A Subjective Study of Singers’ and Listeners’ Perceptions,” Journal of Voice 30 no. 6. 2016: 764.e1-764.e9.

3 Things You Might Not Be Doing, But Should Start!

  1. You don’t put yourself out there.

This means audition for everything you can. Even if you don’t get the role, you put a name to a face. Try sending in digital auditions. Introduce yourself to directors, conductors, prominent voice teachers, producers, etc. Just do it. There will come a time they will need someone for something and they will think of you. (That being said—don’t be a squeaky wheel about it. Be confident and professional. One of my theater friends said to me  “Complete 100 auditions. If nothing comes of those 100, then you can think about another career.” So wholeheartedly and fearlessly, put yourself out there.

2. You don’t have a web presence.

The reality is that we live in a world driven by the internet. In order to be seen by many, you must put yourself in front of many. Hence, my advice to make yourself present online. A website is a solid plan when marketing yourself online. Websites allow you to represent yourself in a professional, yet personable manner and highlight your strengths and accomplishments. It is also a SUPER easy way to submit applications or audition materials! There are many different online tools to create a website such as Wix and Squarespace. I personally use GoDaddy for both performing domain and this blog. Look out for a post on how to choose a website builder and my reviews of a few different options. (Coming soon!)

3. You’re not an active learner.

Let me explain this one. If you are not “game” for a life of continuous learning, then you might want to think again about being a professional singer. Those who thrive are those who seek more experience, more knowledge, and more guidance. You will learn something from every director, conductor, cast member, stage manager, and choreographer. Whether you take or leave that new knowledge is up to you, but be open to it. Ask for constructive criticism. Learn from it and grow. Side note: This active learner attitude also makes you a more desirable rehire because it shows you are adaptable and versatile.

One of the most unique and sometimes exhaustible parts of being a performer is the amount of “outside” work it takes to succeed. It truly is a never-ending list as our performing jobs are never permanent. There are many moments where I have found the process overwhelming. However, I discovered two positive methods of thinking that make the “work” more meaningful. First, I look at my website, my audition repertoire binder, and my various recordings (needing editing) as my scrapbook of my performing exploits. They are memories I want to keep and I can recall them anytime I want. The second method is seeing every application, every audition or pre-screening video as an opportunity for a new experience, a new page in the scrapbook. It has helped me to view those tedious tasks into a vision much bigger and more special than simply applying for a job.

Be creative and be open-minded. More opportunities will arise and more doors will open!

3 Remedy Beverages To Blast Away That Fall Cold

Oh, the fear of getting sick. Singers know this feeling very well. Many of my students and fellow performers are “manning up” for the onset of fall cold/allergies. When our bodies feel crummy, our voices suffer too. Therefore, keeping ourselves happy and healthy is of the utmost importance. The key is not to wait for the illness to set in, but rather fight back the second you start feeling “under the weather.” Better yet, nourish your body daily to prevent being sick!

  1. Hard CORE Cold Crusher (Get it? CORE?)

I call this drink the “apple kicker” because it literally flushes out your system without being harsh on the vocal cords. First, mix 1 part organic apple juice and 1 part water (about ½ cup of each). Then add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, several shakes of cinnamon, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Mix it all together and drink with your breakfast.

Apple cider vinegar has many health benefits, but the one singers will love the most is that it disinfects any germs that are in your throat. The germs hate the acid in vinegar and won’t stick around. Also, vinegar helps thin your mucus and can therefore ease congestion. Guess what? It is also said to give you energy! So, bust out this cocktail when you start feeling a sore throat OR better yet, start drinking it BEFORE the sore throat starts to prevent that pesky sore throat.

 

2) Honey Garlic Singer Shot

Instead of buying over-the-counter cough syrup, try this homemade spoonful of natural medicine. Make sure you use local honey as the pollen in the local honey aids you with an immunity to allergies. Garlic is a great antibacterial and boosts the immune system. Together, this “shot” will fight your cold, flu, or allergies.

Here’s how you make this deliciously natural (and potent) medicine.

Step 1: Finely chop several cloves of garlic (5-7).

Step 2: Mix the garlic with ¾-1 cup honey.

Step 3: Heat on low in pan on stovetop for 2-3 minutes. (Do not over heat as that will diminish the medicinal properties.)

Step 4: Store in mason jar or an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Step 5: Take a teaspoon every couple hours when the cold strikes.

OPTION B…I personally cannot stomach chewing raw garlic, although many of my friends can. For me, instead of heating up the ingredients on the stovetop and spooning it into my mouth like cough syrup, I mix a spoonful into hot water and drink it. That is how I prefer to take my “Singer Shot.”

 

3) Make a SMOOTHIE!

While orange juice might seem like the best choice to combat your cold, the whole orange is actually better for you. Most store bought orange juice has added sugars while whole fruit has a amount of higher fiber and antioxidants. The added spinach has a significant amount of vitamin A for healthy skin and hair (which is also very important) and Vitamin C, which is, again, helpful for the immune system. The spinach also contains a sufficient amount of iron, potassium, magnesium, and B and vitamins that contribute to the maintenance of your health.

 

So here is my go-to Serenade Me SMOOTHIE.

Ingredients:

½ banana (frozen if you want the smoothie thicker)

1 small handful of frozen strawberries (or raspberries)

1 small handful of diced frozen pineapple

1 orange

1 handful of spinach

1 cup almond milk or coconut water

Mix all the ingredients in a blender and drink as a snack or for breakfast!

 

*(Disclaimer: I am not a licensed dietician or a medical doctor. These are suggestions and remedies that have worked for me and many others.)

 

 

 

 

Your Monday Mantras to Keep You Motivated!

Have you ever felt you need to hear just a few little words or one simple, yet powerful sentence? I have. Whether it is an important audition, a graded voice jury in school, or having to rediscover my confidence after questioning having a career in music, I sometimes need a pick me up. I shamelessly LOVE inspirational quotes. I have several framed uplifting quote such as “do what you love, love what you do” or “be awesome” featured in my apartment. But that’s not all, my workout shirts have quotes like “be bold,” and “be happy, be bright, be you.” Plus, I have a quote sent to me at 9:00 am every morning from the Daily Quote app on my phone. You could say I have an obsession…I am an inspirational quote addict.

But this addiction is one that can actually help you. I find they can aid in reaffirming my confidence or temporarily mending a broken ego. So here I am sharing some of my favorite quotes and mantras to alleviate your troubled mind. I hope the following quotes will inspire you and encourage you to keep working, keep smiling, and keep being the incredibly talented and passionate you that you all are.

These quotes are in no particular ranking order except for number one as Eleanor Roosevelt’s tenacity makes me want to claim her as my spirit animal.

  • “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

As performers, we are constantly judged by directors, conductors, adjudicators, and even our peers. This is the nature of the business and the game of competition. But do not let any of those people take away your joy of singing and your determination to perform. Take the experience and the criticism for what it is. It does not define you and it does not break you.

  • “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” –Kurt Cobain

This is a big one…comparing yourself to others. We’ve all done it. It’s hard not to when a sea of sopranos walks into the audition room and you know they are all singing the same repertoire as you. You feel me sopranos? The key is to bring a little bit of you to the audition like a different take on the character of the aria you are singing or impeccable comedic timing. No one can duplicate another person…people see right through it. (Note to young singers: please do not try to emulate your favorite singer by doing everything they do—use them as inspiration, not material).

  • “Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain. Breathing out, I feel stable and solid.” –Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh

If you do not already know, Thich Nhat Hanh, you should. He is a Buddhist monk who has written many books on mindfulness, fear, peace, and mediation. I have always been intrigued by the Buddhist belief and practice. I found Hanh through my research of Buddhism. I have read a few of his books, but my favorite so far is Peace is Every Breath: A practice for our busy lives. Stress, busy schedules, and anxiety play into our everyday lives and as singers, we have to be extremely attune to those factors as they can affect our performance. The meditative quotes throughout this book can be helpful for almost any situation. I particularly love the above meditative quote as it reminds me that I have control of my mind, my reactions, and my attitude.

  • “For me, music making is the most joyful activity possible, the most perfect expression of any emotion.” –Luciano Pavarotti

This is for all you tenors out there. Pavarotti is gold both on stage and off. I found this quote not too long ago and at the most perfect time too. I had been seriously considering looking at another career path because I felt stressed about having to constantly audition. But Pav’s words reminded me that I started pursuing music because I enjoyed it. So I challenge you and urge you to relish in the joy. Remind yourself that that’s why you started because that is what will drive you to continue forging on. It is your why.

Hello! First Post!

Welcome to the Singer’s Cafe! I am so excited to begin blogging! This has been a relatively long process of brainstorming, creating, and simply “just doing it.”

I am going to start with 1-2 blog posts a week. Be sure to stay tuned for some interesting posts and some updates!