Friday, October 21, 2016

Being prepared

AMAHL Principals,

To follow up on our little chat yesterday, here are some thoughts:

-If you can't speak the text in or out of rhythm, without tripping, you don't really know it.

-If you can't sing it perfectly (notes and rhythms absolutely correct) while looking at it, you really don't know it.

-If you only get it right sporadically, you don't know it. It MUST be automatic before you can make music, make art, make drama.

After the play and the choir concert, refocus your efforts if necessary. Take this weekend, if you need, to tend to these things. Drill it daily if you must.

I finished yesterday's talk with the thought, "Keep the drama on the stage." Steven Pressfield says it quite well in his book, The War of Art:

The working artist will not tolerate trouble in her life because she knows trouble prevents her from doing her work. The working artist banishes from her world all sources of trouble. She harnesses the urge for trouble and transforms it in her work.

Once you get the grunt work done, then we can truly bask in the joy of making art. But not before.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

AMAHL schedule: check often for updates

Tuesday, October 25
3:30-4:10 Amahls and Mothers pp. 27, other scenes TBA
4:15-5 pp. 52-56

Thursday, October 27
3:30-4:10 closing scene pp. 57-end
4:15-5 All (we'll let everyone but Mothers go early) pp. 47-52

Tuesday, November 1 From now on, we are IN SIROTE! Enter through the scene shop, on the Alys loading dock behind the building. Ask someone if you don't know how to get there.
2-3:15 Chorus scenes (Amahls and dancers, come when you can)
3:30-5 All called

Thursday, November 3
2-3:15 Chorus scenes (Amahls and dancers, come when you can)
3:30-4:30 run all scenes with Amahls
4:30-5 Kings procession

Starting now, we may call rehearsals on Friday afternoons, 3:30-6. Keep this time free.

Tuesday, November 8
2-3:15 Chorus scenes (Amahls and dancers, come when you can)

Thursday, November 10
2-3:15 Chorus scenes (Amahls and dancers, come when you can)

Sunday, November 13
2-4 ALL CALLED. Dry tech (no singing: this is for lighting. No white or patterned shirts, please.)
7-10 (TBC) ALL CALLED: orchestra rehearsal

Monday, November 14
6-9pm (TBC) piano dress. Come early enough to get into costume and makeup: dressing rooms open at 4pm. Make your own arrangements for dinner. No food in the dressing rooms.

Tuesday, November 15
7-10pm (TBC) orchestra dress. Come early enough to get into costume and makeup: dressing rooms open at 5pm. Make your own arrangements for dinner. No food in the dressing rooms.

Wednesday, November 16
Final dress rehearsal 7pm

Thursday and Friday, November 17-18
7:30pm performances; 6pm call for group warm-up. Dressing rooms open at 5:30. Everyone stays after the final performance to strike costumes and props, clean dressing rooms, erase orchestra scores, etc. Tell your families now that you may not leave to celebrate until we are done! If you're efficient and everyone helps equally, we should be done by 9:30pm.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

AMAHL schedule

From now on, if you sing even a note on any pages named below, plan to be at rehearsal. Thanks.

3:30-4:00 remaining sing-through with second cast (Jeremy, you'd better be there!)
4:05-4:30 opening scene: Mothers and Amahls
4:30-5 Kings and Pages (first entrance)

Stress relief

Folks, I'm getting the impression that this is a stressful, busy time of the semester for many of you. I'd like to help. In studies as recent as 2013, meditating for 10-20 minutes per day has been proven to reduce stress, relieve sleep problems, and even improve your ability to recall information (hello, improved test grades!).

Tomorrow, after Voice Performance Class in Hulsey Recital Hall, I'll lead a quick, 15-20 minute meditation session. If you need to grab lunch, do that right after class and we'll start at 1:25 or so.

This is a tool you can use on your own once you get the hang of it. It's also an introduction for the Koru meditation class I'd like to offer next semester (not for credit). The class will be four 75-minute sessions, or once a week for four weeks. The cost of that class will be the cost of the book, which is about $12. If you can find the book online for a lower price, that's fine with me. This is a chance to "test drive" the experience.

If you'd like a mini-vacation for your mind, I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

AMAHL schedule and reminders


This week's schedule will remain the same.

Thursday, September 29
3:30-4:30 Mothers, Amahls, and Kings: pp. 56-62, 48-49
4:30-5 Kings pp. 38-40, p. 47

A friendly reminder: come prepared to rehearsals with your notes and rhythms learned. We cannot waste time banging notes and fixing rhythms. That's your job to do before you ever come into the room, and that's why I post the schedule ahead of time.

Another friendly reminder: when you review the music we've already worked on, be sure you are integrating the things we've fixed, the changes we've made, and any breath marks or diction things we addressed. We can't re-learn it every time you come.

Blocking begins soon, so we need to be able to move on from this part of the process and get the show on its feet.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Folks, a few of you have asked about my expectations for AMAHL rehearsals. These are outlined quite clearly in the syllabus. If it helps to have them reiterated here, they are included below.

  • It is expected that you know your music when you come into to rehearsals. Rehearsals are not the time to teach notes: that is your job, outside of class. This means correct notes and correct rhythms from the very first time you sing your part in class. A right note at the wrong time is a wrong note. If rhythm is your weak link, start by speaking the text in rhythm, then adding pitches, under tempo at first. DO NOT RUSH the process: unlearning mistakes is much harder and time-consuming that simply learning things slowly and correctly in the first place. 
  • It is expected that any mistakes we correct in rehearsal stay corrected. Retention is a large part of your grade. Making sure that you integrate any corrections, breath marks, diction directions, at the like is part of this. Your practice time outside of class is meant to be spent doing this.
  • It is expected that you have a pencil at all times so you can mark any directions in your score. Otherwise, you won't remember them when you leave class! As I was always told as a student: a singer without a pencil is a singer without a job.
  • It is expected that you arrive on time, ready to work, with a great attitude. This has not been a problem in any way this semester, but it never hurts to have this as a reminder of basic professionalism. Being supportive of each other is vital. Not talking while others are working is crucial. Talk during breaks, and never talk while the director or conductor is working with anyone, whether it's you or someone else.
We only rehearse twice a week, which is a very light rehearsal schedule. That means the responsibility is on you to do the work outside of class. Most shows rehearse 5-6 nights per week: I am respecting your many commitments by not insisting upon more time.

It is also worth noting that in the real world, it is expected that professionals arrive at the first opera rehearsal with music not only learned perfectly, but also memorized. Realize that this is a very forgiving process in an academic environment. If you are falling short of my very easy expectations here, you will never perform for long. Meet or exceed my expectations, and you'll have a shot.

The grading scale from the syllabus is below. I look forward to your fabulous work!

Class participation          50% (Music / blocking learned completely, correctly, and on time)
Performance             40% (Retention of what we polished and addressed in rehearsal)
Reflections                       10% (Critical observations of your performance and/or others’)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

AMAHL rehearsals

Tuesday, September 20
2-3:15 We will be playing theatre games during Chamber Singers. Attendance is not required, but if you can and would like to come, it might help relax some of the folks who seemed nervous!
3:30-4:30 Mother and Amahls: pp. 14-19
4:30-5 Kaspar: revisit aria pp. 25-26

Thursday, September 22
3:30-4:30 Mothers and Amahls: pp. 61-63, p. 27
4:30-5 Kings and Pages: pp. 52-53

Tuesday, September 27
3:30-4:30 Amahls pp. 48, 53-55
4:30-5 Mothers and Kings: start Quartet pp. 28-33

Thursday, September 29
3:30-4:30 Mothers, Amahls, and Kings: pp. 56-62, 48-49
4:30-5 Kings pp. 38-40, p. 47