Actor Life, Theatre

“Don’t Take This the Wrong way, but You’ve Really Improved”

These words were spoken to me upon the completion of the singing portion of a recent audition.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’ve really improved a lot since last year.”

The director said this and caught me completely off guard. A few hours later, he apologized, and caught me even more off guard. He explained that he’d meant what he said as a compliment, and hoped it hadn’t sounded rude.

My response was basically, “yeah, of course it’s a compliment, duh.”

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

Why Singers Shouldn’t Strain for High Notes, According to Physiology and Anatomy

You’re probably not being told everything you need to be the best singer you can be.

Singing is at once an intricate art and a complicated science. We often forget about the science part, because it’s not usually the most visible facet of singing– when we hear incredible singers, we are typically drawn to the depth of their emotional performance, not so much their ironclad technique and mastery of their bodily “instrument.”

Any vocal teacher worth their salt should spend time discussing both the science and the art. Proper understanding of human anatomy and physiology as it relates to the voice will be necessary to produce sound in a healthy, pleasing way. Strict scentific understanding alone nonetheless won’t make someone a great performer if they’re unable to harness and use artistic expression to their benefit. The science is in many ways rather instinctual to humans– we’re born able to produce sound and typically start singing even before we start speaking. As we age, we tend to become less free with our emotions and more reserved, and so the emotional work of singing can become the most pressing matter for many voice teachers. Many new voice students need a lot of help expressing themselves with some small technical pointers along the way. This generally yields passable enough results. Besides, most students aren’t seeking long term careers in singing, and don’t really have enough use for the complicated scientific teaching as would make the effort to teach and learn such principles worthwhile.

This unbalanced treatment, however, means that many beginner and even intermediate singers never fully understand the science behind their voices, and therefore get overly wrapped up in the emotional side of things. We put so much weight on emotion and see so much emotional power in great performers that without scientific understanding of the voice, we assume emotion will be enough to power us through nearly anything. “Pushing” or straining is associated with heightened emotion, and assumed to be the necessary “secret sauce” to make difficult voice work happen. This is not the case.

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

Where to Grow Next: Self-Evaluation and Targeted Practice Recommendations for Performers

Do you feel like you are falling behind compared to some of your performing peers? Do you feel that you have plenty learn, but aren’t sure where to focus your energies next? It might make you feel better to know that lots of other actors and artists feel exactly the same, but that knowledge alone won’t help you become a better performer.

When you feel like you’re cornered in terms of growth and improvement, one of the best things you can do is stop and take stock of where you currently are. Self-evaluation is something most performers do on the daily already. What if we harness that often-negative energy and use it to help you grow in a positive way?

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Guides and Tips

6 Non-Theatre Subjects Every Theatre Person can Benefit From Learning More About

A single performance in theatre requires many diverse skillsets from many diverse people. There’s simply so much young actors and artists have to learn about the craft itself just to get through auditions that spending time on learning things that aren’t immediately connected to performing skills can seem like a waste. However, it’s precisely because shows require such diversity that learning everything you can about nearly every subject you can will always be of an actor’s benefit. If you’re ready to take your theatrical training beyond the basics, try moving away from acting, singing, and dancing for a bit and looking to these adjacent areas of knowledge instead!

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