Master Class Prep 101
"Enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success." - Dale Carnegie
In being invited to do a Master Class, whether it is here in the USA or Europe, I am almost always surprised by how unprepared the singer/performer can be. What is the purpose of a Master Class? It’s an opportunity to let the Master Teacher see, hear and feel, where you are right this minute vocally, interpretively, artistically, language wise, and dramatically. It’s putting what you do and how you do it on the line right now with focus and purpose. Anyone giving a Master Class knows our job is to help the performer better understand all the components of presenting oneself in a supportive and caring way. We want you to succeed and be able to take away perhaps some new techniques, ideas and thoughts to then make your own as you put them into what you do and how you do it. It’s not about “trying” to impress the Master, because that is impossible. You impress them by being present, prepared, focused, and willing to fall on your face, fail, and make mistakes as you work through what is being suggested by the Master teacher.
If you have questions along the way, ask them. Get it clear in your own mind what the Master teacher wants from you. Get involved right away. Don’t care what others think because that just doesn’t matters. You will always find those that just don’t like you or agree with you, so stay true to the learning process and use the opportunity to get better and more refined at what you do, rather than worrying about what others are thinking about you.
Let me share some food for thought on how to better prepare yourself for this kind of opportunity.
The world of opera and classical singing has given me over 45 years of living the dream—world travel, meeting and working with some of the most famous singers, conductors and stage directors of yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s been a successful and very satisfying journey for me.
Success means something different to everyone…..so let me ask you, what does success mean to you? It is different for everyone. Most people are afraid of both success and failure. What are you afraid of and why? Once you know the reality of what a singing career demands, are you still interested in pursuing this dream and why? And last but not least, how is your current career plan working out for you? Need some help? You’ve come to the right spot.
Here are my four key cornerstones, the necessary foundation upon which to build and support your career:
- First and foremost, having a solid and consistently dependable vocal technique.
- Knowing who you are, from the inside out.
- Having a destination and a solid plan to get there.
- Maintaining personal accountability in all areas of your life.
Let me help you review where you are in your career, confirm what you already have in place and honestly works well for you. Together we can define any areas that might need some adjusting. Let’s set up a plan to make your career foundation whole and solid knowing there is no progress without change.
Before you leave this website, make sure you check out my Newsletter Archive. If you find one that really resonates with you, let me know about it. Or if you have an idea for a subject that you would like me to discuss, let me know that as well. And don’t forget to sign up for my FREE Aria Ready Monthly Newsletter to help keep you on track and inspired.
Check out the completely revised and updated 2nd edition of my book, “Aria Ready, The Business of Singing”. There are many books out there about singing and many books out there about business, but this is the only one available that explains the Personal & Business Aspects of building a singing career. I not only tell you what to do, but how to do it by giving you the tools and skills to create your very own personalized path to successful career building. It’s a great resource and reminder of how to do what needs to be done. To have an achievable purpose, creates motivation to get you where you want to go, even if and when you stumble and fall or just don’t have the vision for a while. You will be able to actually go into the book to read some of the materials to see if this might be a good resource for you.
Thanks for stopping by. Bookmark this site so that it will be easy to use as a resource, as well as a place to discuss and digest subjects that you are interested in. Let me hear from you.
Collect and Reset Yourself
Has there ever been a time when toward the end of an especially challenging day, you felt compelled to sit, close your eyes and try to calm your body and quiet your mind because you had an important audition or performance two hours from now? Are you having trouble with this? Is your anxiety level beginning to feel overwhelming so it starts feeding on itself the more you try to quiet it because you know those feelings will spread to those involved, i.e. audience or those auditioning you. You have worked hard and know in your heart of hearts you are ready, but those old tapes start playing in your mind, and your “Brat” shows up big time to remind you of the times you weren’t so good? I have to say, that simply reading this, I feel anxious and nervous for absolutely no reason.
When we’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, we’re different people than when we’re calm, safe and secure. When we are in our senses, our prefrontal cortex runs the show, and we’re capable of making informed choices. When fear intrudes, our amygdale and the lower regions of our brain take over, and we literally can’t think straight. Fear contracts us. It sucks us inside where we self talk in not such nice terms to ourselves. This kind of anxiety and fear is the primary weapon of terrorists. And our sense of value and worthiness is abolished. We simply don’t trust ourselves any more.
It’s easy to underestimate how deeply vulnerable we are, especially to feeling devalued, and how easily those feelings can be triggered. Rejection is a big part of working your way up the performance food chain. And then there are those at your workplace who might be critical about your work, how you dress, or hair and makeup, etc. Just how much energy and capacity do we squander each day worrying about these issues? How much time do we spend being afraid of the competition in the music world? How much individual energy could be released if we felt safer, more secure and valued both at work and by our musical peers?
Psychiatrists tell us that we need enough environmental stress sufficient to promote development of skills and positive stress, combined with sufficient buffering to prevent them from over whelming us. So the adversary of sustained productivity is not stress but rather the absence of rest and renewal and not just physically. We have to learn how to quiet that inner voice successfully and when it’s necessary. The most powerful source of renewal is the experience of feeling valued and appreciated not just by others, but mainly by ourselves.
So how do we make that happen? Think for a moment of how you behave at your best. Next, think about what you’re like at your worst, and how radically different those two selves are. They’re both “you.” But in behaving at your worst, you are limited in what you choose to focus on and therefore inflexible, often cruel with your inner self talk and stingy in behavior. On the other hand, when you behave at your best, you have the potential for profound focus, you are awake and present. You can be creative in the moment and become genuinely connected to others.
You already know how to think the worst, so let’s get to how you can collect and re-set yourself. It’s quite simple. It’s a matter of turning your attention to your senses, rather than wallowing in your emotions. Let me ask you, has there ever been a time when you felt things were moving along nicely in your life, in your work and in gaining ground as a performer? Can you reconstruct the best day out of the rest of them. Once you have done that, it’s important to move to your senses for the next phase. This exercise is about the act of feeling through your senses. Take your time to discover how much you notice as you do each focal point of the exercise. Start by sitting up straight at the front edge of a chair, feet flat on the floor, with your hands on your knees, closing your eyes, and let the mind and body come to rest. Then feel the feet on the floor - the body in the chair – the clothing against the skin - the air on the hands and face – taste - smell. Now let the listening go out to include everything in the room and beyond without naming anything and rest here for a good while. As thoughts come in, let them go out and return to listening.
When you are done, notice how valuable and worthy you feel. You feel rested. Notice how your body has relaxed and you feel calm, peaceful, and motivated? You might notice that you feel organized and centered. It’s good to feel this way. You feel powerful and in control. You are ready to present your best self in whatever it is you are doing. Memorize this small exercise and use it each and every time you need to get back to the good stuff. Bravo!!!
You know what I think, now let me hear what you think. Avanti, and ciao until next time. Carol
Dry Mouth – Auditions/Performance/In General
How many of you have experienced dry mouth when auditioning, performing or just in general? We all need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths and digest food. It also helps prevent infections by controlling bacteria and fungi in your mouth. When you don’t make enough saliva, your mouth gets dry and uncomfortable. This condition can be caused by a whole plethora of reasons including some medications and over the counter drugs like antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants and pain medications. Your toothpaste and mouthwash might also be contributing. And of course dry mouth can also be exacerbated by the anxiety and nerves you encounter when it’s time to audition or perform.
In researching this topic, I was really surprised to find that most “commercial brand” toothpaste and mouthwash products are one of the biggest culprits in promoting dry mouth. The majority of us are simply unaware of the toxic ingredients that are in products like this, that we use every day.
Did you know that most commercial brand toothpastes on the market today contain something called Sodium laureth sulfate, also known as sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), orsodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). They are the creators of the foaming action in your mouth as you brush. Both SLES and SLS do a couple of other things as well. Has there ever been a time when after brushing your teeth no matter what food you eat, it tastes a bit bitter and you seem to have lost your ability to taste the sweetness in any food or drink? Do you think it’s just something wrong with you? These chemicals in your toothpaste suppress the receptors on your taste buds that perceive sweetness, inhibiting your ability to pick up the sweet notes of food and drink. And, as if that wasn't enough, they break up the fatty molecules called phospholipids on your tongue which usually keep bitter tastes from overwhelming you, but when they're broken down by what’s in your toothpaste, bitter tastes takes over and that is all you taste. Your sweetness taste buds get suppressed so your ability to pick up the sweet notes of food and drink is blocked out. Everything tastes bitter.