Q&A with AVENUE Q’s Kerri Brackin

KB hedshot.jpg
Kerri Brackin is currently in the NYC production of AVENUE Q at New World Stages playing Girl Bear/Mrs. T. The actress chats with The Broadway Warm-Up about her journey as a performer, daily rituals/habits and her warmup routine.


When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

I started singing and dancing at the youngest age possible. I was around 2. I LOVED it!!!! I was into competition dance and pageants and singing at anything and everything. I started acting at about age 10 when I auditioned for and was cast in a production of ANNIE. I totally fell in love with musical theatre and knew I wanted to pursue a career in this industry. Believe it or not, I actually stopped performing at age 14 and didn’t pick it up again until I packed my bags and moved to NYC after college. The rest is history.

What’s been your best audition experience? Your worst?

My best audition experience may have been the series of callbacks for the tour of AVENUE Q. Worst? Hmmmmmm…maybe one where I had an awesome crack, a crack that just kept cracking, on a super long-held belt note at the end of a song. Classic!

Why do you do what you do?

I love being part of an experience for the audience that hopefully sends them away with a smile and some laughs and an enjoyed time for a few hours. Life can be hard…theatre should be fun!! I also love booking a job. It’s the great feeling and a feeling of accomplishment. And performers are always so much fun to work with!!! The sweetest people.

What are some daily rituals and non-negotiable habits that you include in your routine?

The Broadway Warm-Up is becoming the ritual. A good night’s sleep is a non-negotiable. A substantial meal a few hours before a show is non-negotiable.

How do you prepare for your show?

Typically my preparation for a show is what happens at half-hour…getting dressed, makeup, hair/wigs. Thanks to The Broadway Warm-up, honestly, I am really beginning to see the importance of and the difference that the physical and vocal prep makes. The Broadway Warm-Up is new to me and is making a huge difference for me. My body feels more aligned for sure. Physically, I’m more relaxed and more stretched. It has made a HUGE difference in how my voice feels and how I think it sounds onstage. It’s such a complete warm-up and my whole voice feels great after. Another thing that is extremely helpful for me….because of the vocal warm-up, I can see day-to-day where my voice is, where my allergies might be sitting, etc. and so I’m able to deal with that better in a show and better know how to negotiate any potential quirks for any particular day and how to sing around/work around any issues. A big help!!!!

What do you know now that you wish you knew 20 years ago? What advice might you give?

I wish I had known the sacrifice of being so far away from my family to perform at this level. I’m an Oklahoma girl and all of my jobs have been either touring or here in NYC. I don’t see my family enough. I wish I had known that nerves would become the biggest inhibitor and would, at times, take away some of the fun and joy….I say that because I wish I had learned how to deal with them and conquer them years ago. Also though, the incredible people I’ve met and made lifelong friends with, the excitement of booking a job, the love and appreciation for a long-term gig, and what a true dream it is to live and work in a steady show here in the Big Apple…There are no words for how much I love it and how grateful I am for this time.

avenue q.jpgLike this post? Check out more of our The Broadway Warm-Up interviews! 
#BeWarm

Meditation & Creativity with Mark Price

mark price interviewBWALPHAwww.broadwaywarmup.com

YO YO YO! I am so pumped to bring to you my first The Broadway WarmUp interview with the inimitable Mark Price. Mark is a creative genius and I look up to him so much. Both Ithaca grads, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark back when he was a mentor for the Hangar Theatre Lab Company in 2014. Mark’s energy, zest and passion is contagious. He is an incredibly talented performer and teacher. So generous and detailed with his insights, he’s the perfect person to start our interview series.

In this conversation, we focus on Mark’s meditation practice. I have personally struggled significantly with anxiety and stress, so I learned a lot from Mark’s words on his meditation practice, and I’m itching to take his course when it comes to New York this fall.

“The whole goal is not to be an expert meditator, the whole goal is to be better at life. To be a better partner, better creator, better husband, better wife, better friend, better brother, you know, whatever. So, the whole name of the game is up-leveling performance on all accounts.” -MP

We had such a blast talking that we exceeded our intended duration, so I’ve decided to break this interview into two parts. Part I is below…come back for Part II soon.

In PART 1, we discuss:

  • Vedic meditation
  • Left brain/Right brain functions
  • Finding spontaneity in work and life
  • ‘Fight or Flight’ response
  • The fourth state of consciousness
  • Plus much more…

LISTEN HERE:

 https://broadwaywarmup.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/mark-price-final.m4a

In Part II, we’ll dive deeper into Mark’s views on creativity. We discuss:

  • the importance of resiliency in actors
  •  How to ask better questions
  •  Self-Promotion
  • The advice Mark would give his 20-year old self

FOLLOW MARK PRICE

TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

  • www.alchemycollective.org — Alchemy Collective is a meditation and performance lab, designed for creatives and high performance individuals who are looking to uplevel their performance, dissolve stress, and increase fulfillment and bliss states.(Website live end of July).
  • www.aboutmarkprice.com (Actor, Teaching website)
Mark will be teaching a meditation course in NY this fall. If anyone wants to be notified, email for more info at mprice8@gmail.com.

Be Warm,

Johnny

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Hi, I’m Johnny!

BWALPHA

a Completely synchroninzed Vocal and dance warm-up

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Headshot

I’m Johnny Shea and I am the newly appointed Blogger-In-Chief and Head of Brand Ambassador Development for The Broadway Warm-Up.

I’m going to be posting some awesome content on this blog over the coming weeks, so I thought I’d take a moment to say hi!

I have just moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. Just over a month ago, I graduated from Ithaca College with my BFA in Musical Theatre. The link to Ithaca is actually how I met Kim Stern, Owner/Creator of The Broadway Warm-Up. Back in March, all of IC’s graduating Theatre Arts majors traveled down to NYC to for a week-long series of panels and workshops with industry professionals. Kim was joined by fellow IC alums Mark Price and Caesar Samayoa in their panel called Empowered Artistry. I remember feeling so inspired after this panel. I left with a feeling of confirmation that my dreams were legitimate and possible in this city.

I’ll be honest – there are times when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. For all my life to this point, I’ve had the structure and schedule of school to return to and live by. Now that I’ve graduated, the blank canvas before me is both exciting and terrifying. I’m choosing to be excited and inspired by the unknown ahead. I’d love for you to join me as I venture into the unknown and pursue my dreams of acting professionally.

This city, this lifestyle and this business are new to me, so my plan is to be a sponge. I will soak up anything and everything that pertains to life as an artist in New York. I thought it’d be fun to share what I discover as I go. SO, I’ll be conducting interviews with industry professionals to break down their daily habits & routines, and to deconstruct what makes them the best at what they do. In these interviews, I’ll talk to people with all different backgrounds and ties to the entertainment industry. I’ll speak with anyone from Broadway actors, composers, directors to ENTs, therapists, personal trainers…you  name it. I am interested in speaking to anyone with relevant info on this awesome industry. My mission is to inspire you to do what you love by interviewing people who have done just that.

Why do we warm-up? I know I warm-up so that I may perform at my best and stay healthy. I want my voice, body and mind to be in optimal condition before I go out onstage. The Broadway Warm-Up is designed to help performers reach optimal states before audition or performance. These interviews and blog posts are designed to dissect top performers so that all of us may strive to reach and realize our potential. My hope is that these interviews will provide tangible, actionable information that will inspire you.

The interviews will vary in form: video, audio & written. Be sure to follow the blog and check back soon for our first!

Be Warm,

Johnny

www.broadwaywarmup.com

3 Things That Every Thank You Note To A Casting Director Or Agent Should Include (And 1 Thing You Should Definitely Leave Out!)

Unknown-2

We’ve all heard that after an important audition, callback or meeting it is a good idea to send a Thank You Note.  Certainly a wise business decision- a way to keep in touch with your new business contact and potentially grow your relationship with them.  However, I think something gets lost along the way when this act of giving thanks turns into a business transaction. Over the years I’ve had multiple students ask me about what their thank you notes to casting directors or agents should look like. While no two thank you notes will look the same, there are a few elements that are of utmost importance to include and one thing you want to be sure to leave out:

THE ACTOR’S CHECKLIST OF WHAT TO INCLUDE IN EVERY THANK YOU NOTE

1. SINCERITY

Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever you do be sure you are coming from an honest and sincere place when writing your thank you note.  We are all people and we all have instincts and can smell insincerity a mile away.  Be sure to give yourself the proper amount of time to write your note and find a space to sit and think back on your meeting or audition experience. Try to find one or two specific things that you are really grateful for regarding your audition/meeting experience.  If you can’t think of any,  you probably should not be writing that specific note.

2. CONNECTION

Unknown-1

 

 

 

 

 

Your thank you note  is your opportunity to reach out to that new person in your life and begin to build a connection with them. Try to include your voice or personality in the note in some way.  Give the person on the receiving end a taste of who you are. A few examples of how to include this are:

– Choosing a note card that reflects your own personal style.

– Allowing your humor or personality shine through in the text of your note.

– Mentioning something specific about the role or audition that spoke to you as an artist.

3. PURPOSE

images

 

 

 

 

 

 

This goes back to the idea of sincerity.  Know WHY  you are sending a thank you note in the first place. Whether it is because the person you are writing to has taken the time out of their day to consider you for a role that you’ve been chomping at the bit to play or because they helped you discover your song in a new way – have a specific purpose for sending the note.  If you were at an open call with 300 people and they were typing and you got typed out-this could be a situation where you either don’t necessarily need to send a note OR you might find that you really appreciated the efficiency of audition- that is your call to make and really depends on your personal experience of the situation.

Once you’ve included Sincerity, Connection and Purpose into your note, the rest will generally take care of itself.  You may want to mention something specific about your audition to jog the person’s memory and put a face to a name but as long as these key elements are in place you’ve got a great place to work from.

Now that we’ve taken a look at what we want to be sure to include. Let’s discuss the one thing you want to leave out of your thank you note:

THE ASK

quote23givingbeing-for-web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about Thanksgiving.

Thanks.

Giving.

Giving Thanks.

When we write a thank you note, it is an act of giving.  We are giving someone our genuine thanks for their generosity , their time or just for being who they are. So many times we get lured into the trap of thanking someone with an expectation or hope that we will get something back in return: another audition, an agent referral, some feedback etc. See what it feels like to send a thank you note with the the pure intention of thanking the person for the experience that you shared with them. I guarantee you will feel better for it and will most likely begin to build a more solid relationship.

 

KimStern_PC_1Kim Stern is a co-creator and owner of The Broadway Warm-Up along with Deidre Goodwin. She is also a private voice teacher and vocal coach in NYC. Kim is the editor of The Broadway Warm-Up Blog. For more information go to: www.broadwaywarmup.com

BWALPHA copy

A Completely Synchronized Vocal and Dance Warm-Up for Performers

Now Available for Digital Purchase or Rental and on DVD!

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Get Generous With Your Warm-Up!

BWALPHA copyOur friends at Motivated Movers recently asked Broadway Warm-Up co-creator Kim Stern to contribute a blog post that talked to their monthly theme of generosity. Check out this post and then get to know more about motivated mover over at www.motivatedmoversnyc.com!

GET GENEROUS WITH YOUR WARM-UP!

Generosity

It’s been said that generosity is the act of giving even when we are not necessarily in a position to give.

I recently joined a gym again and have started swimming. It feels great! The past two weeks I’ve committed to swimming every day and I have seen a marked change in my overall health, my energy level, my productivity and general well being.

imagesDespite all of these incredible benefits, this week it seemed to be more of a struggle to motivate to get to the gym and get myself swimming. I knew I would feel better for it, I had conscious intent to go and yet there was a part of me that felt a definite resistance. Oy! It’s no news that sometimes taking action to do the things that will benefit us the most can feel like moving a mountain. We just don’t feel like we have the time, energy or desire to give to ourselves.

Over my years of teaching, I’ve found this to be an overwhelming truth when it comes to performers taking the time to warm-up before a performance. While we all may have great intentions of warming up before each performance, a lot of the time when push comes to shove, our warm-up seems to be the first thing that gets thrown to the curbside if we are running short on time or energy. That was actually one of the things that inspired The Broadway Warm-Up, my business partner Deidre Goodwin and I recognized our students and colleagues either skipping their vocal warm-up and just doing a dance warm-up—skipping their dance warm-up and just doing a vocal warm-up or not doing a warm-up at all. We recognized that there was an urgent need for an efficient warm-up that could organically warm-up your whole instrument in a set routine and make it easier for performers to commit to the generosity of a warm-up.

lkIDuNPY44lbET9dwRvt7ba4-OsdQiJfAHlJRtFeAvg,FOW1SDVEwEr6Rr7Ta3MiCw7pi2gh-HvC6OMNMmZ11FU,LgeIJVEIJRVU0Z9AToMeISYh09KxWQSuBMVQnlpIQw0What if we looked at the warm-up as an opportunity to be generous with ourselves? An opportunity to give even when we are not necessarily in a position to give. How many moments in a day do really take out to take care of ourselves? A warm-up can be the daily gift we give ourselves and a true act of generosity towards ourselves and others. In warming up, we’ve prioritized our time and our energy towards the maintenance and betterment of our instrument. We’re being kind and generous to our muscles and are giving ourselves the best odds to avoid injury and achieve optimal performance.

Magic_Hat_-_sliderEvery time we warm-up we are increasing the probability that we will have a successful performance. By taking the time to prepare our voice, body and mind we are not only allowing the actual muscles to reach their potential but we are giving ourselves the incredible gift of preparation. Armed with the knowledge that we have properly prepared ourselves for our performance our level of confidence will automatically increase exponentially. That’s when we have an opportunity to discover some really magical moments as a performer. Because our instrument is awake and ready and we have gifted ourselves the confidence of preparation we are far less likely to become distracted by what is happening for us technically and have the freedom to be in the moment and artistically present! Huzzah!

In finding the time to warm-up you are not only being generous to yourself and images-1your instrument. You’ve also created an opportunity for yourself to be generous with your fellow performers and your audience. Take the challenge to give yourself the gift of a proper warm-up every day this week. Be generous with yourself. Let that generosity feed into your performances, your auditions and practice sessions. Comment on this blog and let me know how it feels to commit to that sort of generosity on a daily basis. As for me… I’ve got my bathing suit in my gym bag and am headed for a swim.

 

KimStern_PC_1

Kim Stern is a co-creator and owner of The Broadway Warm-Up along with Deidre Goodwin. She is also a private voice teacher and vocal coach in NYC. Kim is the editor of The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  For more information go to: www.broadwaywarmup.com

 

BWALPHA copy

 

A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up for performers. 

NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD!

www.broadwaywarmup.com

 

The Top 7 Signs You’re Working With THE BEST Voice Teacher or Vocal Coach

The Top 7 Signs You’re Working With THE BEST Voice Teacher or Vocal Coach

83336438.1

It goes with out saying that we would all love to be working with THE BEST. We do our research online, ask our friends who they study with, find out who works with the stars we love and try to make an informed decision as to who is THE BEST Voice Teacher out there. While most of this seems like good sense when looking for a teacher– there is an element missing in this equation that is crucial to your success as a vocalist. That element is YOU.

I’d like to believe that in the city of New York (or most any city for that matter) a person who has set out to make their life’s work to teach or coach voice will have something extremely valuable to offer their students. Hopefully, they will have spent years doing their own exploration, studying several different techniques and pedagogies and making discoveries with their own instrument. They may hold certificates of study or be members of a teaching association such as NATS or NYSTA. They will have gained a reputation by slowly building their clientele and benefitting from positive word of mouth about their teaching. They may even have reputable clients that you recognize.

"Hey Elphie, I found THE BEST voice teacher!"

“Hey Elphie, I found THE BEST voice teacher!”

Of course, these qualities are desired in a teacher and when your friend tells you their teacher is THE BEST– that’s probably a fantastic referral source that you should take very seriously .

With all this in mind, the most important element in finding THE BEST teacher is finding out whether or not they are the best teacher for YOU.  The following is a list of signs that the teacher you are working with is working for you and you are a THE BEST match:

 

weinstein_goals1. MUTUAL GOALS:  You feel like your teacher understands and supports the goals that that you have set for your instrument and for your career.

 

SO HOW DO WE OVERCOME COMMUNICATION BARRIER

2. COMMUNICATION: You feel as though the way in which your teacher communicates is clear to you. You’ve found a common language and way to express ideas. You don’t have the sense that  your teacher understands something and you’re just not getting it.

 

3. CONFIDENCE:  You feel confident that your teacher has an understanding of your instrument and you as a person and will be able to help you achieve your goals.

4. TEAM SPIRIT: You feel your teacher has your best interest at heart and is on your team.  

Quote-Productivity-is-never-an-accident5. PRODUCTIVITY: You feel that the time spent in your lesson is well structured and productive towards your goals. Whether your working purely on technique or on repertoire, you feel that the time in the lesson is geared towards helping you move forward. 

 

 

6. INSPIRATION: You generally leave your lessons feeling motivated and inspired.

images-1

7. FUN:  You look forward to your lessons and consider them an exciting and special part of your week.

Your voice teacher is an important member of your support team and the right teacher can be key in helping to reach your goals and stay motivated and focused. When it’s a good match you will feel supported, confident and like you are consistently making progress— it’s great! Whether you are looking for a new teacher or have been working with your teacher for years, it’s important to check in and see where you are and if these dynamics are working for you.

Keep in mind that sometimes we go through plateau phases or set back phases while other times we are growing exponentially. If you are feeling stuck with your teacher, that does not necessarily mean you need to move on. However, it would probably be a good idea to have an open dialog and discuss the situation. Most of the time, if you are feeling frustrated, your teacher is feeling that as well and would like to help you find a way through that frustration.You may make some exciting discoveries within that discussion. Other times,  you may discover it’s time to move on and explore your work with someone else– even if it’s just for the time being to discover a new perspective.

With the proper research you will be able to find several teachers who have a ton of great technique, inspiration, experience and resources to offer. The only person who can really know if you’ve found THE BEST teacher is YOU.  Whether a teacher or student, we are all artists and we got into this industry because we are passionate about music, theatre and creativity. It’s part of our life force.  We all want to be inspired and we all want to use our gifts and creativity to contribute to the world of music and art. The best teachers learn from their students and are there to offer their experience , knowledge, guidance and support. When those elements are in place and communication and inspiration is flowing… it is truly THE BEST. 

Be Warm, 

Kim Stern

The Broadway Warm-Up: 

A Completely Synchronized Vocal and Dance Warm-Up that can be completed in under 30  minutes!

BWALPHA copy

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Reverie Revelation: Rev It Up!


Exciting news folks! We are thrilled to introduce our first Guest Contributor to The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  Check out Broadway Warm-Up Cast Member Marc Santa Maria’s monthly installment of  Reverie Revelation for inspiring info on Acting, Fitness and Adventure:

Reverie Revelation: Rev It Upquote-reverie-is-the-groundwork-of-creative-imagination-it-is-the-privilege-of-the-artist-that-with-him-w-somerset-maugham-320200

What Up. I love me some Broadway Warm-Up. Huge fan. Honored I got to be a part of making the DVD. And super stoked to be contributing right here, right now to the BW Blog. Here’s how it’s gonna go down. I’m going to offer three thoughts (I’ll call them reveries) and three photos to support them. They will be in the zone of acting, fitness and adventure. And by adventure I mean living life large, trying new things, being well traveled, chowing down and guzzling tasty drinks. Let’s do this . . .

ImageACTOR REVERIE: I’ve got the coolest Acting Mentor – Roz Coleman Williams. She hits me hard with pearls of wisdom (and yet can crack me up two seconds later). In class yesterday she said this about “the Work” – the stuff we put out there to the world – “The key to growth is to stand in the strength of your own choices. True artistry is being your own gage. Walk in the strength of your own individual artistry.” Walk strong my artist friends, walk like a bad ass and work.

 

Wimpy Photo-2FIT DUDE REVERIE: I’m the National Director of Group Fitness for Crunch Gyms so I get a lot of questions about getting in shape. Like it or not, it’s a fact that what we look like is a major factor in how we are cast. So,what’s your body type and what would you likely be cast as? If you’re happy with your answers – awesome. You’re on the right track. Go get seen and go book work. But if you want to say, play an action hero in Avengers but have a physique more like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, then get thee into an exercise routine – pronto. Don’t think about it – just do something physical. Got a Crunch Gym in your city? Email me at marcsm@me.com and I’ll hook you up with a 5 day guest pass to jump start your routine.

Chariot photoADVENTURE REVERIE: I love wine. I love wine chilled – even my reds. I discovered this keep the wine cool gadget called – The Corkcicle. #protectcool. Google it. And use it. With what you say? How about a great red under $10? Chariot at Trader Joe’s. So tasty – we’re serving cases of it at our wedding

Until next time. See you on the dance floor of life.

-Marcmarc-santa-maria

Check out www.marcsm.com for more reverie.

Marc is a Contributor for:BWALPHA copy

The Broadway Warm-Up: A Completely  Synchronized Vocal And  Dance Warm-Up for Performers that can be completed in under 30 minutes

www.broadwaywarmup.com

You Want Me To Sing WHAT?!?!?… A Guide to Deciphering The Breakdowns

auditioning Please prepare: Your best 32 bars of an uptempo contemporary standard song, traditional musical theatre showing range and comic timing.  No pop/ rock or folk.

I can’t count the number of times a student has come into a lesson and been beyond confused as to what to prepare for their audition based on what it says in the breakdown or the information they have received from their agents. Most of the time the confusion is not the fault of casting or the actor.  It’s simply that over the years we’ve evolved several different ways to describe a style of music and have yet to agree on certain definitions. I think it is safe to say that everyone has a common goal when it comes to the audition.  The casting director would love for each actor to come in with a piece of material that is appropriate for the role they are auditioning for and that shows the actor off at their best.  The actor has the same interest going into the room. In the interest of getting us all closer to that goal, I’ve offered some definitions that I’m hoping will help to clarify some key phrases and begin to distinguish certain categories.  This is by no means a complete list –it is simply a conversation starter. Please feel free to share your thoughts as some definitions will certainly need to be looked at further. The list you see is taken directly from current breakdowns and auditions received from students.  If there are additional definitions you would like for me to explore please leave comments below and I will be happy to delve further.

Ballad: a song that utilizes a slower tempo.  Generally a ballad will contain sustained notes and emphasize longer musical lines and phrasing.

imagesBlues: Among the formal, identifying musical traits of the blues are the familiar “blue notes,” a three-line AAB verse form, and a characteristic use of the familiar blues chord progression. Examples: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith,Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, B.B. King.

Brief Song: Around 32 bars or 60-90 seconds of music.

Classic Musical Theatre: Refer to Musical Theatre Standard. NOTE: this does not necessarily refer to a “Classical” style of singing.

Contemporary: a general term for a song that would be heard on the radio today. Not Musical Theatre.

images-1Contemporary Musical Theatre: A song from the musical theatre repertoire written within the past 10-20 years that embraces a more contemporary style of writing. This could also include a stand alone song or a song from a musical that has yet to be produced. Examples: Jason Robert Brown, Michael John La Chuisa, Stephen Schwartz, Joe Iconis, Kerrigan-Lowdermilk, Pasek & Paul , Ahrens & Flaherty,Jonathan Larson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adam Gwon , Andrew Lippa, William Finn 

UnknownContemporary Rock: Modern rock, a rock format commonly found on commercial radio; the format consists primarily of the alternative rock genre. Generally beginning with late 1970s punk but referring especially to alternative rock music since the 1980s, the phrase “modern rock” is used to differentiate the music from classic rock, which focuses on music recorded in the 1960s through the early 1980s. Examples: Nirvana, Green Day, Linkin Park, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avril Lavigne, Florence + The Machine, No Doubt, Alanis Morissette, Coldplay, Green Day

images-2Country:  Ranges from old-time string-band music to “Western swing” from blues decorated with yodels to smooth, pop-influenced vocals. The basic core formula, which consists of a straightforward chord progression, a resonating chorus or bridge, and a memorable story, will most often be the foundation of country music songs. Examples: Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, Garth Brooks,Kenny Rogers,Lyle Lovett, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash

Unknown-7Country-Rock: A subgenre of country music, formed from the fusion of rock with country. The term is generally used to refer to the wave of rock musicians who began to record country-flavored records in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Examples: Emmylou Harris, The Eagles, Dixie Chicks, Carrie Underwood, John Mellencamp, Jim Croce, Keith Urban, Taylor Hicks, Taylor Swift

Gospel: A form of impassioned rhythmic spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing in the American South, central to the development of rhythm and blues and of soul music. ( We probably want to hear you wail.) Examples: I’m Amazed, I Never Lost My Praise, God Is Here, We’ve Come This Far By Faith, I Don’t Mind Waiting, Great Is Your Mercy, Wonderful Change

Unknown-6Legit: Refers to a style of singing that embraces a more classical vocal approach. Generally this will involve an open throat, rounder vowels and vibrato. Songs can come from Contemporary Musical Theatre Repertoire but are primarily found in Standard Musical Theatre. Examples: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Weill, Bock & Harnick, Yeston, Gershwin, Meredith Willson, Kern, Sondheim,Paul Gordo

Musical Theatre Standard: Generally this will refer to a song from the musical theatre repertoire from 1980 or earlier. The song will embrace the traditional stylings of Musical Theatre and can either show off a legit vocal quality or a belt. PLEASE NOTE: This is different from a STANDARD ( See definition below) Examples : Styne, Kern, Gershwin, Strouse, Porter, Lerner & Loewe, Jones & Schmidt, Rodgers & Hartt, Rodgers & Hammerstein

Unknown-2Pop: Pop music has been and continues to be a melting pot that borrows and assimilates elements and ideas from a wide range of musical styles. Rock, r&b, country, disco, punk, and hip hop are all specific genres of music that have influenced and been incorporated into pop music in various ways over the past 5 decades. Pure pop  typically consists of relatively brief songs with vocals that have a very strong catchy chorus, or hook. Examples: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Beyonce, Pink, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson

Unknown-1Rock: Generally referring to music from the “golden age” of rock or “classic rock”. A genre of popular music that o developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. Examples: Aerosmith, Led Zepplin, Styx, Queen, The Who, Meatloaf, Guns n’ Roses, Deep Purple, U2, Whitesnake

R & B: Rhythm & Blues. A kind of pop music with a soulful vocal style featuring much improvisation. Characterized by a strong backbeat and repeated variations on syncopated instrumental phrases. Examples: The Four Tops, The Drifters,Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Barry White, Lou Rawls, Ben E. King, D’Angelo Unknown-3 Showing Range: This is a request to show off some of the strengths of your vocal range and what you would be comfortable singing 8 shows a week. The material need not show every possible note you can sing, but should give a sense of whether you are a rocking’ high belter, a fantastic rich mezzo, a lovely soprano with a solid floaty C, a soaring tenor or a warm rich  bass. Use this request to show off the best parts of your instrument.

Unknown-4Soul: A combination of R&B and gospel and began in the late 1950s in the United States. Soul differentiates from R&B due to Soul music’s use of gospel-music devices, its greater emphasis on vocalists and its merging of religious and secular themes. Examples: James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Patti LaBelle

Standard: A song of established popularity. Standards can fall into several categories such as Jazz Standard, Blues Standard, Pop Standard, Musical Theatre Standards or Songs from The Great American Song Book.

Traditional Musical Theatre: Refer to Musical Theatre Standard.

Up-tempo: a song utilizing a quicker tempo.

16 bars: A cut of your song consisting of  approximately 16 measures of music. Ideally, this cut will have a beginning a middle and and end and will give a sense of your vocal strengths and ability to connect to a lyric. The measures do not need to be consecutive, but do need to be clearly marked and make musical sense. In some cases, your 16 bar cut could be the equivalent of 30 seconds of music.  You can generally have a cut that is slightly longer than 16 bars (18-24) but should be prepared to sing EXACTLY 16 if asked. Unknown-5 32 bars:  32 measures of music.  Generally the equivalent of Verse / Chorus / Verse of a song or around 60 seconds of music. As in the 16 bar cut , your 32 bars should have a beginning a middle and end and should give a sense of your vocal strengths and ability to  connect to a lyric. You may generally have a cut that is slightly longer than 32 bars but should be prepared to sing EXACTLY 32 bars if asked.

You may notice that there are several categories that can easily cross over and be misinterpreted. The more precise the breakdown information can be  the more likely actors will show up with appropriate material.  At the same time, it’s important that the actor make an informed decision going into the room. Be aware of who the composers  of the show you are auditioning for are and what their writing style is. Make an educated and informed decision on what to sing based on what you know about the show and the information that has been provided to you in the breakdown.

Case Study: I recently had someone come in for a Beauty and the Beast audition. She wanted to be considered for Belle. When I asked her what she was thinking of singing she said “Somebody, Somewhere”. I was confused. She said she was going to sing something more contemporary and belty/mixy but the breakdown had said “Classic Musical Theatre”.  I went on to explain to her that in that case, they were asking people to sing a musical theatre song as opposed to a pop or rock song. While the breakdown was a bit misleading, it’s also an important lesson in using your judgement to go into the room with something that you feel represents you best for the role you are auditioning for.

As musical theatre continues to evolve to embrace a full spectrum of musical styles, it’s important for us to continue to evolve our understanding of these styles along with it. Continue to explore musical styles that you may not be familiar with and really do the research when you are going in for a role so that you can be confident that you are going into the room with something that will represent you well and give sense of the style that is needed. If something is unclear in the breakdown, see if you can get further information either by asking or looking for other clues from the show— the character, the composers, who else is working on the project and so forth.  At the very least you will have an expanded knowledge as a musician and performer and know that you’ve done the work.

I encourage you to comment and continue this conversation— I’m certain there are several descriptions I have not hit upon and would be happy to explore them further.  Thanks!

Be Warm,

Kim Stern

www.broadwaywarmup.com

The 9 Essential Steps to Preparing for a Role and Maintaining Vocal Health Throughout the Run of a Show

jumping_man_excited-332122530_std

You Booked The Job!…Now What?!?
9 Essential Steps To Preparing for a Role and Maintaining Vocal Health Throughout the Run of a Show
The day you’ve been waiting for has arrived!  You nailed the audition, kept your cool through what seemed like an endless round of callbacks and finally got the call you’ve been waiting for. You booked the job. Congratulations!

After you’ve finished your obligatory happy dance and called your nearest and dearest who’ve been supporting you through this process, it may begin to hit you that you actually have to DO this now. You’ve got a ton of material you need to learn, you’ve got lifestyle preparations to make, and you may have to prepare to leave town- very likely at a moment’s notice . It’s exciting, a relief and anxiety inducing all at once. Many performers feel overwhelmed with the task at hand.

The following is a  guideline of basic steps that you can take to prepare yourself for success in the run of your show while helping to maintain your vocal health along with your general well being.

images1. RESEARCH: Begin to do your homework uncovering the world of the show and your character. You may have already scratched the surface in the audition process.  Now is your opportunity to find out as much as you can and use your creativity as well. Try to uncover the details of where the piece is taking place, the time period, important events of the day, how people interacted and so forth. The more you can understand the world of the show going in, the easier it will be for you make strong and creative decisions in the rehearsal process.

2. NOTE BY NOTE:  Get a hold of the score and script ASAP . You’ll want to go through the score and first identify any specific challenges you may want to work through with your teacher. Begin to figure out sustainable approaches to any challenging sections and make yourself familiar with the rest of the score. You’ll also want to take a look at the text and become aware of any moments that may be vocally or physically challenging there as well.  Keep in mind that everything can change once you begin the rehearsal process such as vocal line designation and even entire songs and scenes being replaced. You want to go into the rehearsal full of information but ready to be malleable and open to new information.

ChorusLine3. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER:  If it’s a revival – know what’s out there- know what’s been done. I’m not saying one needs to obsessively watch every performance of Gypsy that’s crossed the boards. I’m saying it’s a good idea to have some awareness of what’s come before.  Have a knowledge of the work that’s been done on the piece and then see what you can bring to it  to make it your own.

If it’s a new piece of work, try to become familiar with the teams previous work.  Get a sense of their general sensibility.  Seeing as you’ve booked the job, chances are you’ve already got a good sense of this. It can’t hurt to delve a little further and see what you can find.

bigstock-The-d-words-What-s-Your-Plan--241257414. PLANNING: Rehearsal can be the most challenging part of the process and it’s helpful to go in with some sort of game plan as to how you need to pace yourself.  Decide in advance if you are going to try to keep up with your regular workout schedule during rehearsal or reduce it. Keep in mind that every body is different and has different requirements for rejuvenation. It’s important to be in tune with your body and have a strong sense of when it needs rest, when you are feeling vocally tired and what foods you can eat that will help to promote your well being , energy and focus through your rehearsal process. Come up with a solid game plan for work time, rest time, play time, homework and food prep going into the rehearsal process and make adjustments as you discover they are necessary.

my-daily-routine-2bu3bqq5. ROUTINE:  Once you’ve gotten through the rehearsal process, you will want to discover what routine works for you on a regular basis to maintain your health and well being throughout the run of your show. It can become tempting to fall into to some bad habits after the rigors of a challenging rehearsal process.  Balance is an important key to keeping everything copacetic. Take the first few weeks of a run to ease into a routine that is going to keep you healthy and able to be at your best regularly and at the same time is fulfilling on a personal level.  You can always make adjustments along the way as you discover the need for them. 

6. WARM-UPS:  Identify 3 specific set vocal and physical warm-ups that are great for this specific show that will prepare you for: 1. When you are under the weather  2. Feeling ok- it’s an average day and  3. Looking to challenge yourself.  These are not the only warm-ups you will do while you are working on this show.  However, it’s always helpful to have at least three tried and true warm-ups that you know you can turn to and that you feel confident will get you ready to go.  Keep in mind these don’t need to be drastically different from one another, you may make some slight adjustments to your favorite warm-up for when you are under the weather or when you are feeling great and Voila!

2054147. CHECK-UP:  Check in with your ENT before you start the rehearsal process. Assuming you have health insurance, this is a great opportunity for you to check in and be sure that you are starting the rehearsal process with a clean bill of health.  If at any point you run into to difficulties either during rehearsal or the run of a show, it’s great for your ENT to have a record of what you looked like when you were healthy and perhaps be able to trace when your problems started to arise. In checking in with your ENT on a moderately regular basis you are also developing a relationship so that if an issue should develop at any point you are dealing with a doctor that you know and trust as opposed to someone whom you are meeting for the first time.

8. CHECK IN:  Whether or not you are going to be in town, out of town or on the road ,set up a game plan for checking in with your voice teacher intermittently. That can mean weekly lessons , Skype or Facetime sessions, email correspondences or pop in lessons when you are in town. If you are not in town, you can also find out if there is someone in the area that your teacher would recommend working with as well as an ENT they may be aware of.

9. YOU DESERVE A BREAK:  If you have the time and funds  before the run-SCHEDULE YOURSELF A VACATION – you’ve earned it! Hoping and assuming your show is a hit, you may not get another break for a while. If you don’t have time for a vacation , try to reward yourself with something grounding like a massage, some meditation or even a nice bubble bath before you dig into the rehearsal process. You’ve worked very hard to achieve this and you owe yourself a pat on the back and a moment to take a breath and enjoy the victory.vacation_965867

Please feel free to make suggestions for other topics you would like us to explore in this blog, comment or ask any questions.

Be Warm,

Kim Stern

Co-Creator, The Broadway Warm-Up 

A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up that can be completed in 30 minutes! 

www.broadwaywarmup.com

The Organic Connection Of Emotion To Breath When Singing

 

943486_641699659178497_477169934_n

“If you are connected to a feeling your diaphragm WILL respond!”

I was doing a 29 hour reading of a new musical recently and these words came out of the director’s mouth. It instantly struck me that this is an idea that I teach in my studio repeatedly and it was worth exploring further .

I think what struck me about this director’s words was that singing is a truly organic experience connected to an emotion and more specifically connected to the body, mind and spirit’s need to communicate that emotion. We can spend countless hours in the studio hammering out vocal technique (which is of course a crucial basic element), but when push comes to shove, if we are not fully invested emotionally and spiritually, that magic “X” factor will inevitably be missing.

I just took a break from writing this to teach a lesson. As I was working with the student (who is someone new to the studio) on her song, instead of working on her breath support, vowel structure or resonance, I simply asked her to speak the lyric and connect to what she was saying. I then asked her to sing the segment we were working again. The result was immediate and dramatic. Instantly, she was connected to her breath , she was articulating and the sound was ringing like a bell!

In her book The Right To Speak, Patsy Rodenburg talks in depth about the connection of emotion to the release of sound and breath support.  She states, “Once we feel supported and ready to speak we connect to real vocal power. Any previous temptation to push, bluff, embellish, or even retreat from words is lessened. These are, after all, only manipulative habits we use to compensate for our fear of trusting our innate means of support. The whole scope of the voice opens and widens.”

She goes on to say,” Sometimes when we come face to face with a heightened choice-a moment of grief, pain or joy- we can experience support as never before. The habits of the body and the voice are overridden and suddenly we go on automatic pilot, almost as if the moment can only be purged through sound. We laugh till our sides ache, someone new to support work will feel their ribcage beginning to work.”

This same idea is true when we are singing .  We can train our voices and work on our breathing, but it’s the intention to communicate a feeling that will really allow the breath to respond and the voice to soar. So often the performer gets caught up in “How do I sound?” “Here comes the high note” or “I wonder what they’re thinking of me right now”. I can guarantee that performer, audience and everyone involved will feel a greater sense of fulfillment from a performance the moment the singer lets go of all of those questions and commits completely to what is happening in the song. That means what the lyrics are saying, what is happening on the page in the music, what the accompanist is giving you in the moment, and the energy in the room.

When working on repertoire, I’m insistent that my student bring their acting choices into every lesson from the start. What you are thinking and feeling as an actor will dramatically affect how you are approaching the piece. Chances are, you’ve done your work and trained. You’ve warmed up your instrument and are ready to go.  Now that you are working on a piece of material, it’s time to trust that work and know that “If you are connected to a feeling, your diaphragm WILL respond!”

Be Warm,

Kim Stern

Co-Creator : The Broadway Warm-Up

A Completely Synchronized Vocal and Dance Warm-Up That Can Be Completed in under 30-minutes!