Off Pitch

Hi all,

I’m still here.  Happy almost Halloween!  It’s my brother’s favorite holiday and his birthday is on Tuesday so everyone wish David a Happy Birthday!  In other news, I am blogging from a new Apple computer as the video card in the other one decided to die and after some drama getting the Genius Bar opinion, I decided to buy a new one.

This past week I got a dance callback after auditioning for Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical.  It was for the same company that I auditioned for for The Producers and they remembered me.  I was even asked to sing a second song, and I was really deft at finding one of my signature pieces, So Many People, from Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim.  I haven’t ever been asked to stay for a dance callback in a pro company, so this is great progress.  I got in there and broke out the dance moves.  We went in a group to learn the number, then in smaller groups, then guys and girl separately, and then alternating four guys and four girls.  It was all very Broadway.  Speaking of Broadway: I finally listened to the entire Hamilton soundtrack!  I was blown away and deeply glad that Lin-Manuel Miranda was able to bring his masterpiece to the biggest stage in the US and win multiple awards.  He really is a musical genius.  I was so inspired that I decided I am going to learn the song, Helpless, from the musical.  While I know the main roles are not for pasty Scandinavian people to play, I can still sing the music.  The common wisdom is that one should not sing a song for an audition from a currently running Broadway musical, unless that musical is a revival.  So this one is definitely for showcases for now.  I have also learned How Could I Ever Know from The Secret Garden, which came out when I was a little girl.  I will definitely be singing that one at my auditions from now on; I just need to go over it on the piano with someone, because while I can technically pull off singing it for the first time with piano at an audition, I definitely know from experience that it’s a bad idea.

All this talk about singing reminds me of a story or two.  When I was growing up, I was all about ballet and whatever side activity there was.  I wasn’t really aware that I had any singing ability whatsoever.  I knew other people who sang, but it never occurred to me that I could ever be good at it.  I took piano and then bass guitar, so I knew music.  I decided to take the plunge and join the liturgy band that did all the songs at my high school masses.  I labeled myself an Alto and then found out about being a cantor.  I only needed to join the cantor class.  I used to be so nervous about singing in front of people, that nothing would come out of my mouth.  Therefore, in the class I would try to sing the music and it came out all wrong, to the embarrassment of the coordinators.  My high school was not a place to test out your talents and learn that failure is a part of life; they had a reputation that they couldn’t risk at any cost.  All the cantors alternated weekly and one time when it was my week, one of the coordinators told me not to embarrass them.  You don’t say that to an insecure 15-year-old!  I had no self-esteem in my teens; it was bad enough I gained weight in the 8th grade and had braces.  My fellow students didn’t care if the notes were right; they told me “great job!” no matter what.  I wouldn’t realize until a really long time later that tension in the jaw muscles can make notes go awry and that nerves can really sabotage you.  For the next year, they decided that cantoring would be by audition only.  I missed the sign up, so I was out of contention.  I had started taking voice lessons at the behest of one of the coordinators and found out that I was a Soprano.  I had had a lonely moment the year before when I was singing the Alto part of a song and realizing that I was the only one and that I really wanted to sing the higher part.  The next year I was in time for auditions and had to audition in front of the choir teacher and the one coordinator, which is a great deal of nonsense considering choir had nothing to do with the liturgical administration.  I was actually never in choir.  Well, I found out the next week by reading the list on the coordinator’s door that I hadn’t made the cut.  He happened to be there at that moment and I gave him a look that said, “You’d better explain yourself.”  He tried to cover for himself and then I got the truth when he told me, “You have a beautiful voice, but you can’t sing in tune.”  Mind you, there was a girl who sang like nails on a chalk board that made the cut, so I knew that was ridiculous.

I would later sing in the church choir at college and then I met a voice teacher who showed me I could actually sing in tune and that I had a great deal of talent.  I took from Janet for three years before I went to Drama Studio London and I will forever be grateful to her for giving me a foundation of confidence.  I think I might be fully cured by now of my insecurities around singing.  It was only recently that I gained the ability to sing in an audition without getting really nervous and mucking up a note, or having my voice go thin on me.  I don’t fear the singing audition like I used to.  Now about those Broadway auditions…

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