ARCHIVE

January is not a holiday month!

Dale with Elizabeth Benson and Auburn Music Theatre students.

I have been having the most magnificent time in the United States and thought it might be update time. As I write this I am sitting in Starbucks at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music after watching a “Vocal Athlete” class with the incredible Wendy LeBorgne. I am staying with Wendy in her beautiful home for the next few days and shadowing her (lucky me – right!) at work. For those who don’t know, Wendy, along with the wonderful Marci Rosenberg, authored The Vocal Athlete, which is a fabulous pedagogical text for contemporary voice teachers. Seeing her in action with sophomores applying the principles of exercise physiology and motor learning in practical and specific ways to ensure triple threats voices are not compromised by the incredibly physical work they do onstage in music theatre was such a privilege.

I arrived in an extremely cold New York on the 28th December and proceeded to do a music theatre binge – 7 shows in 7 days. Three of those days had no performances – so it was intense! I saw Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, Hello Dolly, Hamilton, Spongebob: The Musical, The Band’s Visit, and Once on This Island. A truly diverse range of productions with incredible performers. I am so fortunate. There is nothing like seeing these shows live. Every performance I attend changes me just a little bit and informs my ideas about what the marketplace is doing, what singers are sounding like.

I was hit by the massive snowstorm and was stuck in New York and extra night but managed to arrive in Orlando at Central Florida University for the magnificent Music Theatre Educators Alliance (MTEA) conference. Amazing educators, information from Broadway producers, artists, and a fantastic panel from the cruise ship industry discussing what it takes to get employed! I was lucky enough to present on the final day, after some shifting around (my presentation was originally designed for the first day), and I have made new connections and friends from this great event.

My flight to Orlando was not without drama and I arrived in Savannah with a full blown chesty cough and cold. I worked from Savannah (which had snow on the ground – a rare event) then visited family in North Carolina who promptly tucked me into bed until I was well enough to continue on!

Next to North Greenville University where I conducted a masterclass for contemporary and worship students. Voice teachers Luke Browder, Seth Killen, Mark Eshenbaugh and Cheryl Greene (Head of Department) were so welcoming, and it was great to work with their talented singers.  My next day was to include speaking with the pedagogy class and another lecture in the afternoon but a snow fall meant roads were impassable and my day was cancelled. I soldiered on, getting to Auburn in two days – allowing for ice on the roads (very scary!).

Elizabeth Benson, Mary Sandage and Dale in the Auburn voice lab!

Once in Auburn I was lucky enough to visit with Mary Sandage, amazing voice scientist working out of Auburn University. Then it was off to the music theatre department with friend and colleague Elizabeth Benson who heads up MT Voice. I lectured and masterclasses with students, as well as observing Elizabeth in the studio. It was a wonderful couple of days.

And so, here I am at CCM. For those in Australia who don’t know , this is a very big prestigious school. The graduates experience extraordinarily high placement rates upon graduation, either on Broadway or in touring productions. I’m looking forward to an afternoon observing classes, and I am very grateful to the wonderful Wendy LeBorgne, and her husband Ed, for their hospitality. Lets hope we can get Wendy in Australia someday – she is a powerhouse!

And now for the practical. I’m back in Australia early February, lessons will start either Friday 9th / Saturday 10th, depending on my recovery after the flight. I’m SO keen to get back to teaching. And study – of course – the doctoral work is never far away! Please contact me email if you need to speak before I get home – I have had some texts come through, but the time difference means that these might be coming in at awkward times! Thanks!

Fabulous function AND performance!

LOVE the stunning Sheri Sanders! Her Rock the Performance classes are a must for anyone seriously into CCM Music Theatre styles!

I have been thinking since I returned from the United States in January about the amazing educators I have met and what they have contributed to my teaching and learning. I have blogged before about how I believe in lifelong learning. There are always things to learn, if you take the time to listen and assume that there is always more to be discovered than what you have experienced. I have been teaching CCM (Contemporary Commercial Music) and Music Theatre voice 16 years now, and I am so thrilled to have many things I’ve learnt along the way confirmed, as well as being able to ask great educators their ideas and opinions on issues that I have encountered in my studio.

My latest experience in training with fabulous teachers has been doing the Rock the Performance online class with the incredible, inspirational Sheri Sanders. WOW! This is an online course where we meet up online for eight classes of about three hours over a period of eight weeks, exploring a different contemporary voice style each week and learning how to apply this to music theatre auditions. I have been stretched and challenged and enhanced my skills every week. I have been imparted with boldness and a new sense of wonder and appreciation for the time periods which birthed the music we have been studying.

In San Diego at the MTEA (Music Theatre Educators Alliance) conference I discovered a group of people who are passionate and excellent at what they do, and the care and attention that they take in their student selection for their courses was profoundly moving to me. Of course students need to be talented and skilled, but they looked at the person,  the individual. The care and thought that goes into the education of these young performers was inspiring and left me the feeling that it was more of a mission than a job to these educators. I loved the acknowledgement of the need to equip students to be prepared for the industry as it moves into more digital platforms, synthesised with the incredible importance of the individual’s ability to perform at their peak though education, training and support. The incredible encouragement between professionals, an arena of acceptance, where each person is worthy and each opinion or idea is valid can only bring a strength to the learning institutions they represent. It was a rare environment.

I found a similar sense of encouragement and acceptance at Jeanette LoVetri’s CCM Institute at Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia last July where I was certified in levels I, II and III of Somatic Voicework. The excellent training and course content, Jeannie’s personal warmth and teaching style combined with meeting voice teachers as passionate about their work as I am made this a time of incredible fulfilment for me. I have found my ongoing lessons with Jeanette to be of great value both personally and professionally and am so grateful that she continues to work with me on my skills. I love training singers and emerging singing teachers and am thrilled to be taking some fledgling teachers back to Shenandoah to the new course this July. While the excellent Jeannette LoVetri has moved on to new and exciting horizons (stay tuned, Australia! So exciting!) the new course looks to be a strong training ground for these young voice teachers, and I am excited to be going back to beautiful Winchester, Virginia. I am hoping my students have a similar transformative experience with the new program.

With Jeannie, voice functionality has been my major focus, whilst also getting an even stronger sense of my own abilities and strengths. With Sheri’s classes, authentic and engaging performance has been the main event. And it has been AMAZING! My Masters (Voice Pedagogy – Contemporary focus) was mainly about voice science and its application in both the studio setting and on my own voice. It is challenging, being a student, but I believe it makes me an empathic teacher. I know what it is like to be always learning, and growing, even with a mature voice and tons of experience. I am  so excited to be teaching my amazing students and to see their successes in both the music industry and the music theatre world.  I teach the person, not just the voice (tell me how you can remove the voice from the person??!!) and I love that we all keep learning and growing and discovering ourselves in our voices and our songs.

ARCHIVE