I’ve noticed that lately I’ve stopped playing it safe when it comes to my voice. Although the material that I’m being given is getting harder, I trust that my voice can handle it. I’m beginning to absorb the technical aspects of singing. I’m not nailing it every time, but I’m getting more confident about the forward placement and not hesitating.
My teacher just keeps reminding me that it’s a percentage game. In addition, he says I’m playing catch up because the people in my year have had a year to absorb this information whereas in some way I’m working twice as hard during a performance. Not only do I have to think technically, I have to put it into performance mode and think about being grounded, what the lyrics are saying, phrasing, my character, my interpretation and more. Every time I perform I feel my mind focusing on so many things it’s crazy.
A prime example would be on Thursday. I was in a class called Acting Through Song and my teacher Norma, who was in the movie Mamma Mia, along with other films and shows, told us to bring a song that presented itself to be a vocal challenge. Normally in this class the teacher would have students jump on and off of tables, run around the room, roll on the floor, push against walls, recite the entire piece as a monologue and act. Mind you, the student is doing all this while singing. Her methods are off the wall, but I have to admit they produce results.
I brought a song called Patterns from the musical Closer Than Ever. The piece presented itself to be a challenge because it uses forward placement and I have to belt an E in the same place. Normally belting/ whaling high notes isn’t an issue; however, placing the sound in that area makes me hesitate. I’m still learning where to place the note as well as how to support the sound to make it effortless. But as my teacher said it’s a game of percentages.
I sang the song, but as I was doing it I was thinking of support, placement and the words. She wanted me to act it out immediately, which I thought I was doing but she wanted it to be bigger. Instead of using a focal point I had to tell my classmates. The song is about somebody noticing that they are trapped in their own life. They noticed that they are too structured; what seems to be perfect allows no room for vulnerability. The remedy for the character is to bury the feelings that she’s not used to emoting. She knows that she must change but doesn’t know how. I hit all the notes, added character and I felt as though I really put my own spin on the song as though it became fresh. After doing it the first time she said I did very well. She told me to stop using my hands.
Once I was done, the last person went, performing the song China Doll, which sounds airy. Norma hand her rolling on the floor, in the fetal position, as if she was having a bad nightmare. With ten minutes to spare Norma called me back up to re-sing my song. This time I was sitting against the wall and singing the song to myself as if I was questioning my life. Then it became me kneeling singing to God.
In dance my body is also starting to retain its technique. I asked two of my teachers for feedback this week because I still don’t feel as though I’m doing certain moves correctly. One class that is difficult for me is Ballet. The muscularity and strength that it requires is intense. In addition, memorizing all of the French terms seems impossible some days. My ballet teacher told me that I’m doing very well especially since I’ve never taken ballet before.
My other teacher, who is also the Head of Dance at Moutview, told me that I’m a good dancer and I have a lot of passion and energy. She said that she cracks down on me in class because she wants me to focus on the detail in the steps. So it’s safe to say I’m doing well and my extra early morning practices are paying off.
When it comes to Oklahoma we only have a week left to finish staging the show. During our last dance rehearsal we incorporated a series of lifts into the dance. It reminded me of high school when I was in a show called Rock and Roll Revival and we used to perform lifts like the duck, assisted cartwheel, assisted flips, etc. It was so much fun. I got to teach one of my friends how to do a cartwheel and then the choreographer helped her learn how to do the assisted cartwheel.
Years ago, I learned that it’s the initial fear that made me hesitate to do the assisted cartwheel. I always thought I was going to fall on my head. So we had to convince my friend that after she tries it once she will overcome the fear. Needless to say, it only took her 15 minutes to attempt it. Our choreographer told us to just go for the lifts and if we happen to fall, relax. By doing this we are less prone to being injured. My partner is uncomfortable doing lifts, partly because he doesn’t want me to get hurt. I did get dropped but I relaxed and was okay. However, he is a good dancer and strong enough to lift me. It’ll be okay though practice makes perfect!
People at school seem to be dropping like flies due to injuries and sickness. This week my body was so sore that every muscle was screaming at me. I feel as if my left leg is shutting down slowly. I could barely walk on Thursday and Friday and now every time I move something clicks. One of my friends broke her ankle after landing one of the lifts incorrectly. Of course she is one of the leads in the musical Oklahoma and she is on crutches in a full cast.
The funny part of this was that when she fell nobody thought it was serious. In addition, she is one of the funniest people in class. So she crawled out to the common room to sit in one of the chairs. Next the director comes into the rehearsal room with a serious face and said that we were going to have to incorporate an injury into Oklahoma. All of our jaws dropped and the choreographer asked if it was broken. Then the director chuckled and said that he was joking. After the school sent her to get x-rayed as a precaution, unfortunately the joke was true. Our Laurey for Oklahoma was injured. I figure we will just incorporate it into the script somehow and make it work.
This week we’re doing a cockney accent. To make it more interesting, instead of having scenes we have monologues. Therefore, it’ll just be me standing in front of class reciting this 3 minute or more monologue, in a cockney accent to the entire class.
In my singing rep class this week we have a brief that we’re going to an audition for Phantom of the Opera. So we have to bring two songs: contemporary legit and other. After we audition we will find out whether or not we are booked for the job. For my contemporary legit I’ve selected How Could I Ever Know from Secret Garden and I’m still thinking about the other. I feel as if I might sing No One is Alone from Into The Woods but then I’d have two ballads. As fun as this brief is it’s kind of stressing me out because I wouldn’t audition for Phantom of the Opera. In addition, I don’t have any clue what would be good to sing for the other song. I keep asking myself if I should just sing an actual opera piece or an up-tempo Andrew Lloyd Webber song. Still, I have to have the songs mastered by Tuesday and not enough time in the day to learn two full songs. Either way at least this will be a learning experience.
On a fun note I went to winter wonderland. We really need something like that where I live. It was basically a Christmas fair/amusement park. There was Christmas music, a Santa, a singing reindeer, so much food and an ice skating rink. My only issue was that is was crowded and expensive. I’m going to go back and go ice skating at some point. I bought a 3 pound cookie that said “sweetie” which the salesman argued was a gingerbread, but I still believe it’s called a cookie; a gingerbread COOKIE! (Isn’t the customer always right?) Oh well, to each his own.
I only have 21 more days in London before I come home for winter break. Each day I get more and more excited. I know Thanksgiving hasn’t happened yet, but I’m in such a Christmas spirit. I keep listening to the Jackson Five Christmas album and watching ABC Family’s Christmas movies. I even went to Starbucks and got a mint hot chocolate…I swear those things are like Christmas in a cup!