While driving to work one day recently, I decided on a whim to listen to some recordings of my college choir concerts (c. 1989). One of the programs included a couple of pieces from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, arranged by our director, Dr. Robert Page. As the second of these pieces, “Make Our Garden Grow,” began, I felt tears welling up and I had to stop and marvel at that for a moment. The performance was far from perfect. The piece was being sung by both of the university’s choirs combined, which means that the skill level of the singers (both in technique and musicality) varied greatly. [Read more…] about Make Your Garden Grow
This wonderful documentary is about the musical, A Chorus Line. It tells the history of making the original stage production and also follows the casting process for the latest Broadway revival. Fascinating – and surely a must for anyone considering a career in theater. It also speaks to everyone who does something because it is “their passion.” EVERY LITTLE STEP is in theaters now. Go see it.
My students tend to hunch over music placed on the table in front of the piano. No more. I found our music stands. I’ve placed them at two heights – for shorter or taller singers. Now, stand tall and look straight ahead when you sing. It’s better for breathing, singing and appearance. Remember you don’t want to sing to the ceiling either. We want to see your eyes, not your chin.
Something that came up recently during our weekly studio meeting (aka Sunday afternoon teatime after walking the dog), was the difference between working with students who are “serious” and “not serious,” what that really means, and how to encourage talented students to consider becoming “serious.” It’s true that we’re always going to be teaching quite a number of students who are in it “just for fun” and there’s nothing wrong with that. But what is especially rewarding for us and where we can best enjoy the fruits of our labors, is working with students who have a serious goal in mind, whether that goal is to make a career in the arts or even just to have a stronger audition for next year’s school musical.
Years ago, about twenty-five or thirty, I think, a small group of, at that time, current and former students sat in our family room in Bridgeport, Michigan and tossed around the idea of one day living and working in a shared arts community. It was referred to then as the “family mansion”. We truly considered ourselves one large family and in many ways still do. These were young people, high school and college kids who had worked closely with us in school and out. We talked about it a lot in those days.
Of course, it wasn’t at all realistic. No consideration was given to the reality of them one day having families of their own or the financial enormity of such a venture. It was just a wonderful thing to contemplate. The thought of the “starving artist” never entered the conversation, but gads it was inspiring and fun.
The extended family is much larger now and many of them continue to pursue their artistic visions. Many do have families of their own and all are much more aware of the “starving artist’ scenario. The realities that restricted the original dream are still in place, but in quiet moments a stray thought of that time long ago manages to creep in. At my age I should not entertain any such thoughts. But hey, any of you out there have any hot ideas?
Your use of practice time between lessons can definitely influence “getting your money’s worth.” You will make progress even if you rarely practice between lesson sessions, but you will get more for your money and get ahead more quickly if you make good use of your practice time. Here are some thoughts. Feel free to comment or add to the list.