Life here, life here
No rules no restrictions
(No rules no restrictions)
Army of geese, army of geese, army of geese
Microbeads of life
Trees in front of sky
Life here, life here
No rules no restrictions
(No rules no restrictions)
©2017 Mia & Sophie Grizzuti, Jack Reilly, Mallorie Hoeland
Last weekend I hosted Alyson Greenfield at my home. She is a singer/songwriter and composer. Alyson was gracious enough to co-teach a group songwriting lesson with some of my young students. We sat outside on a bench by the lake and had everyone observe their surroundings and write down anything that came to mind. We combined some of their phrases to write a little lyric story. Jack made us laugh when he observed the “army of geese” on the other side of the lake. Once everyone shared their observations it was clear that everything around us was simply existing without rules. The flowers allowed the wind to cause them to dance. The little patch of grass was its own universe. The sun and clouds created paintings and patterns.
Don’t wait to be inspired or motivated. The stress of life replays in your head over and over while the world around you is alive and wants you to play. A little spark of imagination is all you need to give you a starting point for your lyrics.
This spring I had the opportunity of being the student director of my high school’s drama club play. It was such a rewarding experience and a lot of stress and hard work. I am so thankful for being able to see the other side of a production. So, I have some advice to actors about how to stay on the director’s good side:
1. Be At All Rehearsals and Be Focused
Little can get done without you. Every single rehearsal counts in making the production the best it can be. Most directors will try to let you know what days you are needed at rehearsals, but even if you aren’t being used be patient: run lines, choreography, songs. Always use rehearsal time to rehearse. It is okay to have fun, but don’t be distracted from the reason you’re there.
2. Write Down Your Blocking
It is just as important to memorize blocking, as it is lines. Directors spend a lot of time creating the movements of the production, so it is extremely important that the actors remember those movements. The blocking is the essence of a director’s vision. It is such a disappointment when important movement is lost in a scene.
3. Know Your Character and Make Decisions
In casting, directors want the person that conveys their version of the character the best. Even if you do not have any lines or your lines do not convey much about your character, you must still know your character inside and out which might entail being creative with the backstory. The reason you need to know your character is that directors want to see your character come through in the choices you make as an actor. Subtle movement, voice dynamics, and the use of pauses are just a few examples of the choices an actor should be making throughout the production. If the director doesn’t like your choice he or she will tell you.
4. Be Off-Book ASAP
Everything runs smoother when the actors know their lines. It is so much easier to get the sense of a scene when the actors aren’t looking down at their script every other line. It is a distraction and hinders the actor as well.
5. Make Their Job Easier
Directors will remember who listened to them and improved throughout the progress of the production. If you might want to be cast again or cast in a better role bring your A-game to every rehearsal. Be considerate of the director’s time and effort he or she puts into a production. Respect them.
By Mallorie Hoeland
As songwriters you have the opportunity to open someone’s eyes, change someone’s mind, and open windows they didn’t even know existed. Words are powerful. Words that hurt can last a lifetime. Words that teach and heal do the same. Have you ever been hurt by someone’s words? And then have you been inspired and moved by lyrics so much so you thought the artist was singing about you? What are you going to write about that can help at least one person?
Use your words as weapons of wisdom. Goodness knows, we need them.
essence |ˈesəns| noun the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character
My art and teaching mentor used to tell me that we wear identity like clothing. At any given moment it’s how we want to be seen but may not be our essence. We dress ourselves in a character depending on our circumstance to impress. With children, what you see is what you get. By the time you are conscious of how others form an opinion of you based on your image, the costumes start emerging. She used to say a life like this leads to crystallization when you are frozen in some type of personality.
I have a lot of smart students. Really smart. Too smart to allow their talents to shine. They know the judgments others use so they choose to hide under a cloak. It’s safe in a cocoon, but lonely. What I see in them is fear of others finding out their essence and then rejecting it. Or even worse, embracing it. Then they may have to expose more - or do they? A view from a window is sometimes more than enough.
When an artist reveals their essence they find fans who care about what they are saying in their art. With that comes a lot of responsibility. The fans hold on to the words and images of an artist so they don’t feel so alone in their cocoon.
What’s next? That depends on you. Will you take the route to a safe and predictable future or will you share the part of yourself that your audience is searching for?
When you take a selfie, are you really representing your “self” or are you posing? Does it take 20 shots before you post a photo? When you sing are you listening for what you think you should sound like or are you singing from the depths of your soul?
The more honest you are with who you are, sight and sound, the more you will attract an honest audience.
Be who you are. Sing what you feel. Your audience is waiting.
This morning I got outside to plant my beans because it’s going up to 90º. I would be very anxious and cranky if I decided to wait and work in the heat.
This week I read that it takes 4.53 people to write a hit song. That’s the heat that’s happening today. If you jump into that fire by teaming with at least 4 others to write a song, it may be too hot to handle. You may find yourself being anxious and cranky because you read the stats and now you think you must do the same.
I have many students who are extremely prolific and write poppy and catchy hits. Stats change. What can you do now before the next direction gets too hot?
Have you been guilty of any of these thoughts?
Should I sing it like this? Do I sound funny when I sing this phrase bright? Do I sound boring with this dark sound? I want to sound just like __________!! She sings so much better than me. I sound better on that song than he does. I wish I could sing higher/lower/softer/louder/grittier/smoother. I should just give up because no one will like my weird voice.
All humans on this earth are beautiful and the colors of sound are infinite. If you sing from the depths of your soul, many will be drawn to your sound. Be honest, be real. Share the unique colors of your voice.
Share your voice with my online group vocal class specifically for pop/rock artists. Get more details at zuketunes or contact my assistant, Katie! email@example.com If you put COLORS in the questions or comments section in the contact field on the details link, you’ll get 25% off your first month! That’s $30 for 4 lessons and access to the Facebook group.
The short answer is that of course your voice is unique. The problem is we often try too hard to sound like what we think we should sound like. Why would you want to shy away from who you truly are as a person by disguising your voice?
Go ahead and have fun working on your image and your branding. Go crazy with creative ideas on your songs. Figure out ways to be heard at your next networking event. But please be true to your voice. The more you try to be something you’re not, the more likely you’ll find yourself in vocal trouble.
Did you know I have an online group vocal class specifically for pop/rock artists? Get more details from my website or contact my assistant, Katie! firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you think you’re the only one? How many of these are on your worry list?
Not only am I a voice teacher, but as a mentor I help you to comfortably look at any issues that may be getting in the way of your journey as an artist. Some things must be at least acknowledged so they don’t get in the way of progressing as a singer.
What’s on your worry list? Know that you aren’t alone and I’m here to help.
This past weekend was my annual trek to Lancaster, PA for their LAUNCH Music Conference & Festival. It was my 3rd year speaking and mentoring artists. The common thread I noticed this year was all about opinions and who to listen to. All of us on panels at the event have our own experiences and backgrounds to guide you. None of us have the exact answer for you but collectively we can guide you to the answer. Ultimately it’s your viewpoint that’s going to service you best.
Yes, I know it’s frustrating because you just want someone to tell you what to do. Or, you do something with great conviction only to have “experts” tell you it’s not good enough. Balance the salty critiques with sweet words of wisdom.
If you are true to yourself and work your little tush off you will start molding yourself into a creative force.