I had the joy and honour of singing at three Anzac Day Services on Sunday. It has been a long time since I have sung in front of an audience and it was wonderful to be able to sing for people again. There were good crowds at all the services and I had a lovely response, with many saying how much they enjoyed my singing. I believe it is such an honour to be able to sing at an Anzac Day ceremony and to be able to sing at three was very special.
The first ceremony was actually held at the local cemetery. In my town we have quite a beautiful cemetery, with beautiful gardens, a recently renovated band rotunda and a substantial newly built memorial in memory of returned service men and women who are buried at the cemetery. This year was the first year since 1946 that an ANZAC day ceremony was held at the cemetery. This is because the town cenotaph was built after the second world war and the yearly ceremonies are now held there.
THE LAST POST
One thing I was able to observe in detail was the bugler at each ceremony. There was a different person at each ceremony and they all had a very different experience performing. One of the buglers was a mature person who had been performing for many years and was very experienced at performing. One was still quite a young person but had played for many Anzac Day ceremonies, even though they were early on in their performing career. The third was a young person, had been playing for a few years, but had not had experience playing to a crowd. It was interesting to note that they had all obviously practiced for the event and they could all play the last post, but they had very different experiences. None of them played it perfectly, but the mature person and the very young person continued on in spite of any little slips they made.
The person who had never performed for an audience before did get through the performance, however I could see very clearly that they were extremely nervous and tension had built up in their body, and they simply could not get enough air in to support the notes fully. They are to congratulated on their performance, performing for the first time and in spite of being nervous, they did get through the last post and overall it was played correctly. It was sad to see their response afterwards. I didn't get a chance to speak to them, but if I could have, I would have told them how well they played for a first performance.
PERFORMANCES ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN
We can be so harsh on ourselves for performances that don't go as well as we would like. Especially when we are first beginning to perform for an audience. As I said previously, none of the performances were perfect, but the people who had performed previously did not worry too much about perfection, shrugged off a missed note and kept playing. It is so important that we practice performing, getting used to being in the stressful situation of standing in front of an audience and playing or singing. I have been performing for many years now, and although I can still get nervous, I have performed enough times to understand how my body works and I can prepare and be aware of what I am doing, relaxing and breathing well for good breath support. That does not mean my performances are always perfect. Usually I go off stage thinking about what I can do better, but generally I am pretty happy with what I have done. The audience wants you to do well, and are for the most part very supportive, so we shouldn't be afraid to perform for others. Perfection is hard to achieve, but we are often hard on ourselves when we don't achieve it.
It has been wonderful greeting students for the new year, hearing about their holiday adventures and seeing their joy at returning to lessons.
For the adult students there has been less about holidays ( unfortunately) but there has certainly be the same enthusiasm as they arrive for lessons.
For students who have been studying with me for a while, it has been great to hear their voices again and realize the progress they have been making vocally. It has been so exciting to hear the way their voices have matured and developed. For new students it has been exciting starting with them and helping them uncover the voice they have inside them.
A big welcome to all the new students who have started for 2016. I look forward to working with you on your musical journey!
News from the Studio:
Students have new repertoire to start working on for 2016.
To get you into a practice routine I am holding a practice blitz for the next two weeks.
The blitz will run from Monday 22nd February until Sunday 6th March . All you need to do is practice consistently and record your practice times on the singing strong website. (remember you have to log into your account to fill in the details. If you need help with this please let me know.) You can log in at the bottom of this post.
There will be prizes and surprises for the person who clocks up the most practice hours!
Take some time now to work out times during the week when you can dedicate 15 -20 minutes to practice. Record this on your calendar and then stick to it!
Congratulations to all the students who participated in the Summer Pantomime “Aladdin”. It was a fun show and I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I went to see it.
Congratulations to Alicia Hooimeyer who played the title role and to Sophia Patikisa who was a gorgeous Jasmine.
Hollie Gibson was terrific as the dog and there were other fantastic performances from the following students as well:
There are numerous students involved in the many productions that will be held during 2016. I will keep you informed as they come up.
I have tentatively booked our first term Cafe Concert for Wednesday 16th March from 6.30pm. Please put this date in your diary. I understand that some of you will have commitments on this evening, but it would be appreciated if you are able to come and sing, even if you are only able to pop in and out.
I will put out some more information about this event during the week.
The answer is yes. If you are able to talk then it is possible to sing.
Singing is a skill that can be taught just like any other instrument or any skill actually.
I have worked with many students who wanted to sing but didn’t have the skills. Over time with study and practice these students became very good singers. These students wanted to be good singers and they put in the time and effort required to get good at it.
I am an ok dancer. I can move in time to the beat and when I take time to go over a dance routine I can learn it reasonably well. But I will never be a great dancer. That is because I like dancing, but not enough to want to do it all the time and take the classes to become really good at it. My daughter loves dancing, goes to classes, practices a lot at home and is becoming really good.
But I love to sing. I have had lots of lessons and performed quite a lot and I have developed skills I need to be a good singer.
I will never be great at violin because I don’t have an interest in playing it. I would like to learn cello though.
I love to teach but I would be pretty useless as a nurse as it is something I don’t want to do.
They say it takes around 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. I think that this is pretty close. If you were to ask anyone who is an expert at something, they would probably tell you these sorts of hours. They would be working on their craft every day over a long period of time.
Learning how to sing well is like any instrument. You can’t expect to become a concert pianist with a weeks worth of practice.
When you look at the lives of some of the famous singers who are really good at their craft – you would discover that most have been singing since they were young children. They sing all day every day, listening to music and singing along, they probably go to voice lessons and are involved in any performance opportunity they can.
If you would like to be able to sing reasonably well, in tune, yes you can learn. You probably don’t need to spend 10,000 hours. Maybe 100 hours would be a great start.
How good you get depends on how much you want it. How much is your desire? Are you willing to do what it takes to get really good?
Here is a video of Jessie J at 15. You can tell she has been working on her craft for many years already.
The Tony awards were held this week and and one of the performances included a medley of songs from The King and I that is currently being staged on broadway.
Kelli O’Hara who plays Anna in the show had to do a 47 second quick change during the performance. The video of it is below.
This brought back happy memories from last year when I performed the role of Carlotta in “Phantom of the Opera”. In Act One I actually did a quick change on stage! Full costume change including a wig change in less than 30 seconds! In the second Act I had a quick change from the Masquerade scene to the next office scene. I had just under 1 1/2 minutes to do a full costume change, similar to Kelli. I had to get out of a ball gown, change all jewellery which included removing a tiara and then putting on another hat, earings, then put on a gown and a huge red coat with a gorgeous fur collar (fake of course). Being a vocalist can include so many challenges, like quick costume changes. You have to do all this at lightening speed and then continue on as if it were all a breeze. It’s all a part of the fun of music theatre. Just love it!
Eisteddfods are a great opportunity to use as motivation to learn repertoire, improve your skills and practice performing.
Eisteddfods date back to the 12th century in Wales.
Eisteddfods are competitions that involve testing individuals for singing, dancing, acting and musicianship. The Royal South Street Eisteddfod in Ballarat has been running since 1891. The Sydney Eisteddfod commenced in 1933 and offers some 400 events across all Performing Arts, catering to 30,000 performers annually. Modern equivalents in Australia are competitions reserved for schoolchildren, though many have open sections where anyone (including professionals) may participate and compete. Typically, a prize may be a scholarship to pursue a further career. Many young Australian actors and dancers participate regularly in the various competitions scheduled throughout the year.
Please note there are costs involved such as entry fees, purchasing sheet music, paying for rehearsals with pianists. There are also rewards such as a sense of achievement, prizes that include cash, and feedback from the adjudicator (the person judging the performances)
If you would like to know more about entering an Eisteddfod or would like singing lessons to help you better when performing in things like Eisteddfods click here and send me a message. Would be happy to help.
For a list of Eisteddfods and festivals in Victoria click here.
I have a limited number of places available for in person or on line lessons. To enquire about singing lessons click here.
With a cafe concert fast approaching, I thought it valuable to discuss performance anxiety.
It is always nerve wracking to get up and perform, I have been doing it for years and I still get nervous.
In the video below I talk about one thing you can do to help with those nerves. It sounds a bit obvious but we often forget to do this.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions.
At the Oscars this year The Sound of Music celebrated 50 years. I love the Sound of Music (I have performed twice in this show, once as Sister Sophia and once as Mother Abbess, and I have also helped with a performance last year with my daughter’s school. By the way, Rose also had the role of Sister Sophia). The music is simple but beautifully arranged and I like to use the pieces My favourite things and Do re mi when I begin young students with singing lessons.
It was an interesting decision that was made at the Oscars to allow Lady GaGa to perform a medley of the songs. No one would think that this was her style of music.
Lady GaGa did train classically, but went another way obviously with her outrageous style of music and persona. However, I would have to say that she did a wonderful performance at the Oscars. Very tastefully dressed and she performed the songs with confidence and style. Apparently she practiced every day for six months for this gig. (makes you realise it never ends, even for professional singers).
I have posted a video of the performance for you to have a look at. What is your opinion?
I would be interested to know what you think.