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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.

New York update

Dale with Jeanette Lovetri in her New York studio.

I have had an amazing time in New York. I saw Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, On the Town, Beautiful – The Carol King Story, On the Twentieth Century and An American in Paris. Each musical was absolutely stunning and each had great performers, singing, acting and dancing. More than ever Musical Theatre professionals really MUST be a triple threat. The standard of dance in the productions Mamma Mia, On The Town and An American In Paris was absolutely stunning. On Broadway they really do only have the best!

It was fascinating to listen to the different vocal styles in each production. Singers need to be able to adapt to whatever genre of musical they are performing in, in order to serve the musical style. The singing in Kinky Boots and Mamma Mia was completely different from the singing in An American in Paris and A Gentleman’s Guide to Murder. One sound does NOT fit all, and one singer may be required to produce sounds from belt to legit within a musical, within a song! Classical training just doesn’t work to cover all musical theatre genres and this was completely obvious in this sample of shows.

I was also lucky enough to go to the famous Blue Note Cafe for some wonderful jazz and to Subculture, a fantastic music venue where Jason Robert Brown, his band and two wonderful singers  performed both new and old compositions. I must admit, this night was so good, I had trouble sleeping afterwards. Actually, each performance I have attended has left my brain and ears and eyes buzzing so much that getting to sleep has been tricky! But hearing Jason Robert Brown perform his own works (lucky me – my second time) was definitely a trophy in a week full of incredible music performances.

The absolute highlight of my week, however, was my three lessons with Jeanette Lovetri in her Upper West Side home studio. Jeanette is warm and approachable and an affirming teacher and voice pedagogy expert. Her husband Jerry also made me feel welcome, even though my lessons interrupted her break and their private time. I am so grateful that Jeanette agreed to teach me.

I loved my lessons, which I recorded and have listened back to a few times, and made notes, and have been practicing in anticipation of the weekend where I begin the CCM (Contemporary Commercial Music) Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia. Voice teachers from around the world are coming to soak up Jeanette’s knowledge in this ten day, three level course. I am here with my colleague, Jenny Howlett, and am extremely excited about the coming week, and of course, bringing it all back to my studio!

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