Hard Work

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In the song “Hard Work” from the musical Fame, the students of the High School for the Performing Arts vow that they’ll “show the world that I can make it… by doing hard work.”

Virtually no one will deny that the path to becoming a musical theatre professional requires lots of hard work. To support this reality, many philosophies exist regarding the training of pre-professional musical theatre performers in preparation for the industry, as well as the continued training of professional performers as they maintain previously gained skills and develop new ones

Whether you’re looking for a training program, teacher/coach, and/or ways to continue developing skills on your own, here are five tenants fundamental to my own approach that I believe contribute to solid philosophies of industry-geared training in general:

  • The training of professional musical theatre performers is a fully integrated endeavor.

Richard Rodgers once observed that “In a great musical, the orchestrations sound the way the costumes look.” Just as Rodgers believed that a quality orchestrator becomes engrossed in the costumer’s renderings (and all aspects of a production’s creation), so too must the musical theatre educator view the training of students in a holistic way. Acting and voice meld to become one entity, as do voice and body. Acting tactics and their expression through the voice and body synergize to form something entirely new, unique and colorful.

Musical theatre trainers should seek not only to approach their work in a highly collaborative way, but even more importantly to inspire and actively encourage student performers to do the same. The more a musical theatre performer is able to synergize — both philosophically and practically — the multiple aspects inherent to his or her work, the more prepared he or she will be for success in the industry.

  • Song work begins with — and centers on — the action.

I believe that a foundational tenant of solid training philosophies is to approach songs in musicals from an acting perspective first. Through my years of experience as both vocal coach and technician, I’ve come to find that establishing the specifics of a song’s action (via given circumstances, objectives and tactics) lays a groundwork that later proves critical to technical concerns for vocalizing the piece.

At one time my process was to begin work on a song — whether solo or ensemble number — from the vocal side of things. I’d first work on vowel modifications, issues of placement and timbre, navigating the song’s tessitura, addressing passaggio concerns, and similar parameters regarding the song’s vocal delivery. But as my work as a coach-technician and musical director continued to develop, I began to notice that when I approached songs from an acting perspective initially, many of the decisions to be made regarding their vocal execution started to fall much more naturally into place.

Not only had I found a more efficient way to utilize precious time on a student’s song; I’d also realized that high-quality musical theatre songs are made with a multi-ingredient recipe. A well-made song, like its interpretation, begins with acting at its core, then stirs in the voice as a conduit for expressing those specific acting choices.

  • Voice = Body.

I always tell students that if I could leave them with just one thought about the voice, it would be that the voice is not the larynx alone. It is the body itself; the two are inextricable from one another. From the legs to the crown of the head, the pelvis to each cervical vertebra, the slightest adjustment to even the most seemingly unconnected part of the body results in greatly nuanced results with regard to vocal production.

Students must be taught to “play the instrument” that is the body in optimal ways according to its design. In my view, awareness is everything to the musical theatre performer. She must be aware of the specific tactics driving her characterization; he must be aware of the variety of ways to express these tactics through both body and voice.

First, one must develop fundamental skills that promote healthy, sustainable use of the voice in the vocally acrobatic pursuits of our industry. Second, the natural colors, shadings, and parameters particular to the individual student’s instrument are honed, so that the performer retains his or her versatility while also possessing the ability to craft unique, exciting interpretations.

  • Teaching a student “to fish” is key to his or her success in the industry.

Throughout a student’s training, one must learn to navigate the passaggio, mix with clarity, and act with conviction. One must learn to know one’s body as an instrument, be a gracious and collaborative scene partner, and access the chest register. These and countless other skills are crucially important to the student. What is just as critical, however, is to train the pre-professional musical theatre performer to be able to function independently as a member of the profession — “to fish so she’ll eat for a lifetime.” Students must learn how to identify outstanding audition cuts for their  books, say, or diagnose the reasons that a particular note might be coming out under-pitch, or to hear when their sound is being overproduced (and on and on). Of course, continuous and consistent instruction throughout a performer’s career is the ideal pursuit, but one should be able to address basic concerns on one’s own during those times when access to formal training is not a possibility.

While learning to function independently, students must also be made aware of  resources available to them in the professional arena, and to be able to find success in seeking out resources on their own. Similar to the ways in which a researcher is taught to identify potential resources within his or her discipline during doctoral research training, it is critical that the musical theatre performer regularly receives — in tandem with skill building — active direction from the teacher on ways in which to continue developing professionally in addition to lessons, classes and coaching sessions.

An especially important component of teaching the student “to fish” is the teacher’s ability to educate him or her on the signs of vocal misuse that could, if left unaddressed, lead to pathology. With the vocal demands of the musical theatre industry requiring ever-higher ranges and increasingly versatile stylistic abilities, it behooves the student to become his or her own first line of defense where vocal health is concerned — and to know when to seek medical attention if necessary.

  • Excellent trainers of musical theatre performers model passion, dedication, work ethic and fun — and expect the same of their students.

In today’s increasingly competitive musical theatre market, performers-in-training must learn both past and present, Golden Age and contemporary. They must have exposure to Gilbert and Sullivan, Bock and Harnick, and Bono and the Edge alike if they are to thrive professionally. Students must develop as artists honing their crafts while at once becoming savvy strategists, knowing their core types while at the same time demonstrating versatility and flexibility.

Just as the musical theatre industry is not for the faint of heart, the training ground for musical theatre performers must mirror to a degree the environment into which students will be introduced upon graduation. Students can only be expected to be as dedicated as those who teach them. Their work ethic can not be expected to exceed that of their mentors, and the passion of those who instruct and guide them must be evident to each student as an individual. Trainers must be invested in their students’ professional success beyond the immediate halls of the institutions in which they work together.

But in addition to all of the blood, sweat and tears that is the training arena of     budding pre-professionals, it is the distinct responsibility of the musical theatre  educator to establish an environment rich with fun, inspiration and excitement.   After all, no one would choose to pursue a career in the field of the performing   arts if the vocation didn’t offer such rewards. As educators of pre-professionals and professionals alike, we as trainers of the musical theatre performer are charged with embodying for our students all of the joys and vitality that musical theatre holds. And that, perhaps, is one of the greatest privileges of sharing our knowledge with the next generation of artists to take the musical stage.

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In My Own Little Corner

Sightlines In My Own Little Corner

Lessons and coaching sessions are great ways to gain new performance skills and audition material, but for a variety of reasons it might not be feasible for an individual to undertake a consistent regimen of one-on-one work.

When circumstances dictate that you must be away from your teacher, coach or class for a period of time, the good news is that your productivity doesn’t have to come to a halt. There are a multitude of ways for musical theatre performers to continue developing their skills and material in their own little corners. Read on to discover five of my suggestions, which are listed here in no particular order:

  • Set aside time for “critical” listening/viewing of others’ performances. When watching musical theatre performances or listening to cast recordings, most of the time we’re probably entering into the activity with little more than the well-earned desire to escape into the experience. Obviously, taking in performances for sheer enjoyment is a big part of what gets performers hooked on musical theatre in the first place and should never cease as a pursuit. What’s equally important, though, is to set aside a predetermined amount of time each week to watch and listen to others’ performances with an analytical ear and eye. Scheduling these sessions for yourself at specific times (as one would do with lessons) is often helpful. You might even choose a predetermined theme for each analysis session. For instance, one sit-down might focus on different performers’ use of breath, while another could be geared toward physical acting choices. In all instances, it’s advisable to consider an overarching question with each listening/viewing: What factors contribute to making this performance engaging (or how could the level of engagement demonstrated by this performance be expanded upon)?
  • Video your audition cut as you rehearse, then play it for yourself. The fact that you’re reading this article probably means that you have a phone, computer, tablet, or other device with video recording capabilities. Use it to your advantage! When you’re at a point with your audition cut where you feel it might be  “ready for the room,” set up your device to record your performance. Play it back while you observe with critical ears and eyes. The idea is not to criticize your performance within an inch of its life, but to become better aware of the choices you’re making and their clarity. There’s something special about one’s own brain processing one’s performance. The only way for this to happen is to record yourself, watch it back, become aware of how, if and when your choices are being communicated clearly, and repeat the process. One fun and interesting variation is to play the recording on mute for a friend who’s unfamiliar with your cut, then ask him or her to describe your character’s traits,  circumstance and situation. This can prove a particularly helpful step in discerning whether one’s actions are indeed communicating what is intended.
  • Audiate daily. Audiation is the process of imagining sounds that aren’t actually occurring. Musicians are often taught to audiate both phrases and entire pieces of music, focusing their energies on creating the most vibrant and realistic aural images they can achieve while doing so. Lots of exercises for audiation can be found online, in addition to those featured in Bruce Adolphe’s fantastic book The Mind’s Ear: Exercises for Improving the Musical Imagination for Performers, Composers, and Listeners (2nd ed., published by Oxford University Press). As with the other suggestions for on-your-own work listed here, it’s helpful to set aside dedicated time for audiation in one’s day, and to incorporate the process regularly in learning new material.
  • Listen to genres other than Broadway. Many MT performers can rattle off long lists of obscure Broadway shows and songs. But as the tides of musical theatre styles have shifted with the sea change brought about by jukebox musicals in the past couple of decades, it’s more important than ever to have a good amount of “radio songs” under your belt. You might even dedicate each month to a different decade of popular music — both listening to the songs of that era and identifying a cut from that decade for your rep book. Continue to stay up on both the latest musical theatre offerings and the the Broadway scores of yesteryear, of course — but don’t neglect popular radio — the latter is now providing the core material of many musical theatre rep books.
  • Identify and pursue a variety of creative outlets. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we all know that it can be hard to find time for projects that provide creative fulfillment. But whether it’s performing in a musical, taking part in a weekly jam session, painting a piece of art, writing poetry, or any number of potential creative outlets, be sure to keep your creative juices flowing. Many creative types find Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (now in its 25th anniversary edition, published by TarcherParagee) to be an especially helpful resource for this pursuit.

And remember: even from your own little corner, in your own little chair, you can productively continue your growth toward being whatever you want to be.

Sing Out, Louise!

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…and when you do, you’ll want to be sure it’s in a healthy way.

So, for all of you belters (and mixers, falsetto-ers, head voice-ers, and speakers) out there, I’m pasting links below to five videos about vocal health (well, four videos and a website) that I find particularly useful. This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor does the information at any of these links substitute for medical advice tailored to an individual. But when taken together, the following resources provide a nice smorgasbord-style introduction to treating your voice well. Under each link you’ll find the video’s description as presented on YouTube.

The Business: Vocal Health and Technique

“Actors’ Equity Association, The Actors Fund and the SAG Foundation present an interactive presentation by Broadway Voice Teacher Deric Rosenblatt and Otolaryngologist Dr. Linda Dahl

Come learn about how your voice works and the techniques to keep it healthy for your arsenal of talent.”

Restructuring the Singing Voice in Silence

“Our voices are musical instruments, and we need to structure (form) them in preparation for playing them so that we can make the kinds of sounds that we desire. Here are a few ways to prepare the vocal tract for playing purposes.”

Care of the Singing Voice

“Healthy Focus Seminar:
Care of the Singing Voice
August 22, 2013”

The Business: Breath and Voice: Vocal Health, Technique and the Creative Connection

“‘Technique frees the imagination.’ – Mary Hammond

The care of the voice is essential to the professional actor and singer. The more solid, practiced and unconscious the technique, the freer the performer is to grow, mature and access emotional range and creativity. But a host of common bad habits coupled with stress, flu season, hectic schedules, frequent performances, smoke, certain foods and drinks, body tension and many other challenges can make maintaining healthy vocal production a mystery and impede the creative process.

In this in-depth and interactive seminar, panelists will explore the connection between breath, voice and creativity by sharing tools and techniques for connecting breath to sound, approaching text and music with healthy vocal production rich in emotional depth, and providing advice on how to address vocal tension and injury while on the job.

Panel includes Dr. Linda Dahl, Jane Guyer Fujita, Kristen Linklater and Deric Rosenblatt.

Moderated by Shane Ann Younts.”

Not a video, but a link to a fantastic site with wonderful resources for vocalists of all walks: The Voice Foundation. Visit often.

 

 

Got the Time And the Place And I Got Rhythm…

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…now all I need’s the cut to go with ’em.

But it’s not just an audition cut that I need; it’s a cut that’s marked clearly for the accompanist.

Many musical theatre performers select solid audition cuts, but few — in my experience, anyway — bring in sheet music that is presented and marked with a high degree of clarity. The next time you go on an audition, consider this five-step checklist for ensuring the best possible collaboration between the audition accompanist and yourself:

  • Have I arranged my pages to make for the fewest turns possible?
    • Tip: Most 16-bar cuts can be presented on side-by-side pages, alleviating the need for any turns.
  • If the title of my song doesn’t already appear at the top of the first page of my cut, have I written it in?
    • Tip: Ensure that the title of your cut appears at the top of your first page of music. It provides an immediate frame of reference in the event that the accompanist is already familiar with your song.
  • Have I clearly marked the “Start” and “End” of my cut, and in doing so, have I been sure to account for my introduction?
    • Tip: Be sure to consider whether you want a measure of introduction, a bell tone, or some other sort of lead-in to your cut, and that whatever you’ve chosen is explicitly indicated.
  • Have I marked a clean version of my music that is free of stray erasure marks?
    • Tip: Be sure that your music (and your markings) are as clean and crisp as possible. Stray markings — even if they’re only half-visible from previous erasures — muddle up the sheet music. You want your cut to be as clear and legible as possible, with only applicable markings incorporated.
  • Is my music “accordioned” together in an easy-to-unfold way, or are my sheets in non-glare sheet protectors?
    • Tip: Personally, I’ve always preferred non-glare sheet protectors when accompanying auditions. I find that the taped-together “accordion” method of arranging sheet music in one’s book often means that the sheets “fall over” and off the music rack.

One very important thing to remember:  although you may give your accompanist a wealth of verbal instructions prior to your audition, all of that information needs to be replicated in writing on your sheet music, too. Audition accompanists often play hundreds of auditions in the same day, and even if you’ve just given clear verbal instructions to him or her, the redundancy of having these marked on your sheet music is a huge help.

I’ve included here the five music-marking considerations that I feel are most necessary to address when preparing your sheet music for an audition accompanist. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d suggest checking out Andrew Gerle’s The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition, published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.

Happy auditioning!

 

 

 

Life Lessons from the Mortuary to the Theatre

Stages of Death
Life Lessons from the Mortuary to the Theatre
Originally published in The Austin Chronicle on October 11, 2013
https://www.austinchronicle.com/arts/2013-10-11/stages-of-death/Sightlines Post 5

If you’re a Central Texan, chances are fairly good that you’ve seen Bernie, the dark Richard Linklater comedy starring Jack Black in the title role. I saw it with a friend a few weeks after the movie’s release and remember vividly the opening scene of Bernie’s return to his alma mater as a guest lecturer … on the process of embalming. My fellow audience members shifted uncomfortably in their seats and let out gasps of “eeew!” I, however, smiled quietly, for I knew what many of them did not: that the onscreen depiction of the process of preparing a body for viewing was spot-on.

So how do I, a theatre guy from the rural Midwest, have any clue as to the accuracy of that scene?

Answer: My family is comprised entirely of funeral professionals.

And they’re coming to town.

The National Funeral Directors Association will be holding its International Convention & Expo Oct. 20-23 at the Austin Convention Center. Like most conventions, there will be networking events, continuing education seminars, and new products on display. But when everything is packed up each night, funeral professionals from around the world will have the opportunity to experience Austin’s cultural offerings.

The image of a funeral directors’ convention in a city chock-full of theatre got me to thinking about how my own experiences with funerals have had such an immense influence on my professional approach to the stage. I realized that not only has my view of life been profoundly shaped by death; so, too, has my work in the theatre.

The lessons I’ve learned from my family’s approach to its profession could fill volumes, but here are a few with particular resonance for me.

Lesson No. 1: Realism Is an Art

Perhaps the most obvious correlation between funerals and theatre is in the body’s physical presentation, whether the performer’s or the deceased’s. Just as the theatre has its behind-the-scenes artists, so do funeral homes. Costume designers, makeup artists, and special effects masters are instrumental in achieving a sense of realism onstage. As Jack Black demonstrated in Bernie, funeral directors serve much the same function in preparing a body for viewing.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been a master at all things restorative and prosthetic; families bring in photos of their loved ones in life, and somehow Dad always seems to be able to translate the qualities in them to the departed with astonishing naturalness.

To attain the skills necessary for presenting the most holistic and “real” image of the body for viewing, embalmers-in-training take classes in restorative art, learning to re-create and reshape features that may have been damaged in death. One of my sister’s assignments in mortuary school was to bring to class three photos of a celebrity, from which she would re-create that person’s likeness in clay. She chose Elvis. Now, she received only a B+ on that assignment (apparently the nose just wasn’t quite right), but despite that, she has become a truly A+ makeup artist.

To create a space that encourages feelings of reality (when it’s desired in theatre) is an art, as is the evocation of a sense of reality in the viewing of the deceased. Both onstage and in the funeral home, evoking the potential for perceived realism is truly an art.

Lesson No. 2: A Little Humor Goes a Long Way

In fifth grade, my class was given a how-to assignment. You’re probably familiar with these from your own elementary school years: You pick a topic or an action and teach the class how to do it. Not to be outdone by my 11-year-old colleagues, I decided on a topic that would be unique and meaningful. The title of my demonstration? “How to Embalm the Human Body.”

I grabbed my younger sister’s “life-sized” doll, placed it on one of the funeral home’s gurneys, acquired the necessary “props” from Dad, and wheeled my way into the classroom. The expressions on my classmates’ faces were not unlike those I observed all those years later at the movie theatre during Bernie. Everyone’s eyes were wide: some with intense curiosity, others with shock, and many with a twinkle of amusement.

Wait … a “twinkle of amusement”? Was the presentation I created in a fifth-grade classroom that brisk fall afternoon a farce? Not really. What I was learning from growing up around so much death was the necessity for a sense of humor in life. Although I didn’t actually live in the funeral home, I spent a lot of time there and wanted my friends to be comfortable “coming over.” I had learned early on in childhood that death is a very distancing concept for many (maybe even most) people. The tinge of humor – and gigantic dose of theatricality – with which I’d chosen to imbue my presentation would, I hoped, do a little to make my classmates more comfortable with one great certainty of life.

It was then that I realized that theatre wasn’t just about the singing and dancing of the community musicals in which I was taking part. It could also be a vehicle for bringing audience members closer to otherwise distancing topics. And oftentimes, even the smallest dose of humor can make those subjects that we find hard to experience, be it the death of a loved one or a difficult but important topic, a little more bearable.

Lesson No. 3: Catharsis Is Key

In the tiny, rural town where my family owns and operates its funeral home, it’s fairly uncommon to experience a funeral without viewing the body unless direct cremation has been chosen. Of course, not all faiths or cultures favor a viewing of the deceased, but there are other ways to achieve catharsis and celebrate the life of the departed that are just as meaningful.

See, funerals aren’t really “for” the deceased. Yes, of course, they’re memorializing events that encourage meditation on a person’s character and accomplishments. But they’re really for those who are left behind, often attempting to comprehend death, and forced to come face-to-face (literally, in the case of most funerals back in my hometown) with it, knowing that, one day, “that will be me.”

This element of catharsis – which I use here not in its literal sense of “cleansing” or “purifying,” but in a more colloquial connotation of emotional release – is really the crux of where funerals and theatre intersect for me. The most rewarding aspect of my work in the theatre is the opportunity to share an important story onstage, to open a dialogue between audience and performers, to blur the lines of reality and ask “what if?” Like a funeral, the theatre has the capacity to create a cathartic space where we confront difficult topics, share stories, and laugh together – even through the hard moments. Invariably, we recognize that the characters onstage might not be that different from ourselves, and the epiphany of “that could (will?) be me” is not so distant a thought.

Looking back, perhaps the most profound lesson I’ve learned is a sentiment shared by funeral professionals and theatre practitioners alike, summed up beautifully by a Broadway man, composer-lyricist Irving Berlin: “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” If we can help the melody linger a little longer for just one family or audience member, then we’ve succeeded.

What Did (S)he Have That I Don’t Have?

In On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Daisy Gamble wonders “What did I have that I don’t have?”shutterstock_477480340

Daisy’s question is replayed often by musical theatre auditionees for whom the casting well seems to have dried up inexplicably after a string of successes. But there’s a variation that comes to the fore even more frequently: “What did she (or he) have that I don’t have?”

Many gracious and sincere emails have come through my inbox over the years thanking me for the opportunity to have auditioned for a given project and asking for advice on what could have been improved about the sender’s performance. Quoth Charity Hope Valentine, “There’s gotta be something better than this.” Right?

Not necessarily.

Yes, of course: there are many times when an audition could be critiqued for a less than stellar performance, inappropriate choice of song, lackluster preparation, poor outfit selection, or any number of missteps. But on occasion — perhaps not infrequently, even — my reply could also be “You gave a solid audition. Great work.”

When this response is given, it’s nearly always met with some degree of confusion: “But if my audition was solid, why wasn’t I cast? What do the others have that I don’t?” To be commended for a quality audition that did not result in a casting offer must be very difficult when you’re a musical theatre performer who’s worked tirelessly for years to improve your craft. To think that you’ve given your best and it still wasn’t “good enough” must be incredibly hard. But that thinking is not always accurate.

Yes, there are almost always at least a few tweaks that might improve the overall quality of one’s audition. But that performance in and of itself is only one piece of the large and highly subjective casting puzzle. For example, there are times when a given performer is initially cast in a significant role (a lead, even), but when another role is then cast with someone of a very different type, it no longer makes visual sense to continue with casting the first performer. This doesn’t mean she’ll be made aware of the process behind those decisions, however. In the end, she usually knows only that she wasn’t cast, leading to thoughts of “Where did I go wrong?,” and  “What aspect of my audition was poor?”

Musical theatre performers should constantly seek to improve the quality of their auditions, of course. Yet, it’s also important to remember that casting decisions are made with a whole product in mind. The absence of a casting offer is not an automatic indication that one has given a poor or “wrong” audition. Too much time spent in the throes of self-doubt following auditions can result in a lack of confidence that really will impact the quality of future ones.

So the next time you find yourself trapped in the depths of “What did (s)he have that I don’t have,” remember that one day you — like Charity Hope Valentine — might just find yourself singing “If they could see me now…”

Dynamic(s), Reconsidered

dynamism /ˈdī-nə-ˌmi-zəm/ n.Sightlines Post 3

Energy and a strong desire to make something happen.

That’s the dictionary definition.

In my last post I addressed the propensity of some musical theatre performers to over-sing, albeit unwittingly. The connotation of “belt” with “loud” seems to be at the forefront of this epidemic. Due to a (very) “strong [and laudable, I might add] desire to make something happen,” performers often wind up with all their might, anticipating that fortissimo pitch they see coming their way in a song’s climactic moment.

The mindset preceding those blared, out-of-control moments of screlting (etymology, according to Urban Dictionary: “Scream + Belting = screlting”) is frequently to blame. When we step back and look at the ways in which we usually address dynamics in a musical score, one culprit begins to emerge as a consistent theme: the notion of pp, p, and mp as simply “soft,” and mf, f, and ff as simply “loud.”

This is a hard one. We’ve been taught throughout our music studies that the dynamic spectrum in music is analogous to the volume knob on a radio. Thus, we too often assume that the ff marking under that sustained high note at the key change means — simply, directly, and unabashedly — to “sing loud.” But to give a truly dynamic performance, one must also carefully consider the aspect of energy contributing to the definition of dynamism.

Too often one observes performers overloading the vocal mechanism by putting too much responsibility for an energetic performance on the single factor of vocal production. In my experience, this frequently stems from too little specificity in acting choices: objectives, tactics and the application of these in performing the song. In fact, the dispersion of energy throughout various aspects of one’s performance — i.e. physicality, action, textual momentum, pathos, and vocal realization) is one of the greatest skills a performer can learn.

One way to make use of dynamic indications (and most musical markings) in considering the flow of energy among the various aspects of one’s performance is to think of them as akin to stage directions. Just as playwrights use stage directions to indicate those intentions that aren’t readily evident in the dialogue itself, dynamic indications (along with articulation and phrasing markings) can be thought of as brands of “stage direction” that help to elucidate and support the lyrics. How might we use a f marking as a motivator for movement, say, or ff as a suggestion for a more specific choice of tactic — and thus remove undue stress placed on the vocal mechanism to convey all energy aspects of a given performance?

“How can I make my performances more dynamic?,” I’m often asked. A big recommendation: reconsider dynamics. Engage, Support and Allow. And remember: Dynamism = Energy, wisely delegated.