What type of clinician would you like SNATS to provide in Spring 2018?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

On risking failure


I've promised a few of you a post on failure, and am still formulating it. In the meantime, here is an interesting article to get you thinking.

20 Tiny Changes

HI folks,

As promised yesterday during our opera viewing, I said I'd revisit my Tiny Changes theme, first posted in 2014. Between now and when classes resume in late August, I'll post 20 Tiny Changes that can, over time, change your life for the better. And they really are tiny...but you have to do them. Since they are tiny, they're also fairly easy and painless. 

Here's the first: eat breakfast. Every day. For the rest of your life.

I know some of you don't, and some of you think it isn't important. Here are some reasons why it is:

Better memory and concentration. If you have trouble focusing in 8am Theory or a 9am voice lesson, the reason is probably because you haven't eaten. Don't just blame it on the early hour!

Studies have linked eating breakfast with lower "bad" cholesterol. This will make a big difference in your life over the long term.

Skipping breakfast throws off your body's rhythm of fasting and eating. Skipping breakfast often means you'll overeat later in the day.

Your moods will be more stable if you eat regularly. Blood sugar spikes and crashes can be responsible for feelings of depression, anxiety, or even anger. Ever feel "hangry?" You know what I'm talking about.

Weight control. This article from the Mayo clinic tells you why it helps. 

It doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. A protein shake, Greek yogurt (you can add fruit, nuts, or granola to make it more of a treat), eggs (they're cheap, and you can hard boil a dozen ahead of time to get you through the week if you don't like to cook in the morning), instant oatmeal, or even cereal (go for a low-sugar one with some protein, like Go Lean, which is pretty delicious). A fruit and granola bar can work in a pinch. You'll note that I've mentioned some sort of protein for most of these options: including protein is important, as it gives your breakfast more staying power. For now, consider it a triumph if you eat any sort of breakfast at all. You can always aim to improve it over time.

I say it again: eating healthy DOES NOT have to be expensive. It just takes a little planning and thought. Start this habit this summer and see how differently you feel throughout the day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Jury sheets available

I'll be on campus Thursday late morning-early afternoon and Friday (time TBA). If you'd like your jury sheets, please email me and we'll arrange a time to meet.

Great work, everyone! I was proud of you.

Fall opera CHANGE

As we discussed today, the fall opera has been changed to AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS. We had a lovely video showing today, and I know it'll be a great production! We'll do it with orchestra in Sirote, and take it on tour to churches, schools, and the like. All rehearsals will take place during opera time, T/Th 3:30-5:15. I don't expect any extra rehearsals until tech week, and we'll have plenty of time for team-building and theatre games to get all of you more comfortable with your stage skills.

Stay tuned here for PDFs of the music to learn for auditions, and for more information.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

H.M.S. Pinafore synopsis

On the quarter deck of the H.M.S. Pinafore sailors are discovered at work cleaning brass-work, splicing rope and singing as they work. Presently their work is interrupted by the arrival of a Portsmouth bumboat woman, nicknamed Little Buttercup. Her basket is crammed with tempting wares--snuff, tobacco, scissors, watches, knives and ribbons and laces for wives and sweethearts. She introduces herself in a charming little ditty:
"I'm called little Buttercup,
Dear little Buttercup
Though I could never tell why."
In spite of Buttercup's gay and frivolous exterior she confesses to a canker-worm of worry that is eating its way into her heart. The secret of her remorse, which provides thedénouement of the plot, is not unconnected with the name of Ralph Rackstraw. Young Ralph, "the smartest lad in all the Fleet", and an A.B. of H.M.S. Pinafore, has fallen in love with Josephine, daughter of his captain. But Josephine is sought in marriage by no less a celebrity than Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., First Lord of the Admiralty. Ralph's love is returned by Josephine and to her father's dismay she confesses her love for Ralph, adding that though she can esteem, reverence and venerate Sir Joseph she cannot under any circumstances love him. "I hate myself when I think of the depth to which I have stooped in permitting myself to think tenderly of one so ignobly born--but I love him! I love him! I love him!" she cries and bursts into tears.

A barge is now seen to be approaching H.M.S. Pinafore and from it steps Sir Joseph Porter, accompanied by a collection of ladies, consisting of his sisters, his cousins and his aunts. Sir Joseph introduces himself in an impressive song:

"When I was a boy, I served a term
As office boy to an attourney's firm."
After this beginning Sir Joseph has risen to the position of First Lord of the Admiralty--a "take-off" by Gilbert of the newly-appointed First Sea Lord, William H. Smith, who, despite his lack of familiarity with the ocean, made a highly successful head of the Royal Navy. Sir Joseph inspects the crew of H.M.S. Pinafore and in a democratic speech declares that all men are equal. These sentiments encourage Ralph Rackstraw to propose to Josephine, who, however, temporizes and rebukes him for raising his eyes to the daughter of his commanding officer: "Sir, you forget the disparity of our ranks." In despair, Ralph decides to take his life, and has actually put the pistol to his head when Josephine intervenes. "Ah! stay your hand. I love you!" she tells him, making her confession before the whole ship's company. They plan to elope that very night, in spite of objections from Ralph's odious mess-mate, Dick Deadeye. Twisted in mind and body, he urges Ralph vindictively to "remember she's your gallant Captain's daughter and you the meanest slave that crawls the water". But he is howled down by the rest of the crew, who all side with Ralph and Josephine.

That night on board H.M.S. Pinafore Sir Joseph expresses to Captain Corcoran his disappointment with Josephine, who has not responded favourably to his proposals of marriage. "Josephine is of course sensible of your condescension, Sir Joseph, but perhaps your exalted rank dazzles her," pleads the Captain. So Sir Joseph once again tackles Josephine, and hoping to further his own suit, he tells her that in his opinion difference of social status is no barrier to love. Little does he know how eloquently he has pleaded his rival's cause, and Josephine, who was in doubt as to the propriety of eloping with Ralph, has now no qualms. But Dick Deadeye has warned Captain Corcoran of the intended elopement and the Captain is in time to prevent it. He rebukes Josephine for the company she keeps, and Ralph Rackstraw bitterly resents the Captain's class-consciousness, telling him proudly: "I am an Englishman." The crew back him up and the boatswain sings in his support:
"For he himself has said it
And it's greatly to his credit
That he is an English man.
(That he is an English man.)"
But Captain Corcoran is unable to repress his anger, and in front of all Sir Joseph's female relations, who have arrived on the scene, he turns on Ralph with: "Damme, it's too bad!" Sir Joseph is horrified at the Captain's bad language, and orders him to his cabin in disgrace; then, turning to Ralph Rackstraw, he inquires in fatherly fashion how Captain Corcoran came to forget himself. "I am quite sure you had given him no cause for annoyance." Ralph then admits his love for Josephine, who precipitates herself into his arms. Sir Joseph is livid with rage. "Insolent sailor, you shall repent this outrage. Seize him," he commands. And Ralph is led off in custody. "Josephine, I cannot tell you the distress I feel at this most painful revelation. You, whom I honoured by seeking in marriage--you, the daughter of a Captain in the Royal Navy," says the injured First Sea Lord.

At this point Little Buttercup intervenes with a truly remarkable story. Many years before she had been a baby-farmer and in her charge were two infants; one a well-born babe, the other of humble origin. Inadvertently she had mixed them up, and Ralph Rackstraw is really named Corcoran and the Captain is Ralph Rackstraw. On hearing this revelation Sir Joseph sends for the two affected parties, and Ralph enters dressed in Captain's uniform, and Captain Corcoran as a common sailor. Addressing Captain Corcoran, Sir Joseph says: "I need not tell you that after this change in your condition my marriage with your daughter is out of the question." The Captain protests in Sir Joseph's own words that "Love levels all ranks." "It does to a considerable extent, but it does not level them as much as that," says the First Sea Lord crushingly. Handing Josephine to Ralph, Sir Joseph admonishes him to treat her kindly, and the curtain falls on general rejoicing and a finale in which all the best tunes are repeated and which finishes on a patriotic note in praise of Englishmen.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

H.M.S. Pinafore roles

More information and links to come!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Opera Scenes video viewing

Today we watch the video of your opera scenes performance. I wish we could have popcorn in HRH, but alas, we can't. Come enjoy our movie night anyway! See you at 3:30.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

For those who have missed required performances...

...you may make one up by attending tonight's Honors Recital at 7pm the Reynolds-Kirschbaum Recital at the Alys. Ten of the Department's strongest musicians will be featured, along with an awards ceremony to celebrate many achievements.

It should be a wonderful night. Hoping to see you there.

Opera Workshop: pizza day!

Folks, remember today is our day at Mellow Mushroom. See you there at 3:30!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The power of discomfort

I found this article quite wonderful. More on this topic soon. In the meantime, contemplate what this might mean for your own artistic and personal development.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fall production: PINAFORE!

Yes, it's official: our fall production will be Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS PINAFORE! Our performances will be in Sirote Theatre November 17-18. Info on the show and a description of roles is here. I'll be posting more information and videos soon.

Auditions will be the first week of class in August, on Thursday and Friday. If you'd like to be in the chorus without auditioning, just come to Chamber Singers on Tuesday and Thursday!

The show is in the public domain, so you can view the entire score here. If you'd like to audition for a role, start looking at one of the songs that character sings. I'll post my preferences soon.


Thank you and what's next


Bravi tutti on last night's performance! I enjoyed every moment, and it was such a joy seeing each of you take chances. Everyone was further along than even last week, and shed some inhibitions. It was pretty exciting to see the adrenaline coursing through your bodies! Some of you sang better than I'd ever heard you, because you were dramatically invested. You were complete professionals: I was so pleased to come backstage and to find you silent and focused. As with any performance, there were things that didn't go quite as planned, but you rolled with it. That's the challenge and the joy of live performance! I was so proud of you.

It's wonderful that you have a chance to refine it when we repeat the performance tomorrow. If you have things you know you'd like to improve, you know what to do. Review your score, walk through it physically, speak it, work it mentally, etc. I said I wouldn't give you notes, but tomorrow morning I'll probably give each performer one little thing you might do to take your performance to the next level. We must never give up the quest to do it better the next time: it's what keeps ups motivated.

We'll meet at 9:30 at my office and HRH to load props and set pieces. Let's divide our group in half: folks that can carry heavier items, meet me downstairs. Everyone else, meet at my office. There are a few ruffled shirts still on the clothes rack, so PLEASE check to be sure you have everything you need before we leave the building. Double check for socks, shoes, and accessories that are easy to forget. I propose we do the show straight through without intermission: that will have us finished by about 1pm or so. I'm going there today to get a sense of the space.

Thank you so very much for the flowers and cards. I was truly touched, and will treasure and keep your cards always. I must confess that I was taken aback by the gift card...you are college students, and shouldn't be giving me money. That was very generous and far too kind. Here's how I want to spend it: I would like to take all of you out for pizza, and I will pick up the remainder of the check. If everyone is available, we can do it right after our performance Saturday. I'd like to hope we'll have everything unloaded back at school by 2pm, so we could be heading to Giuseppe's by then. If even one person can't go, however, let's do it Thursday after watching the video, which again shouldn't take longer than an hour. I want everyone to be able to go! It wouldn't be right if someone were missing, and of course everyone is very busy.

As always, you know I love y'all MADLY. What a team you are!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Call times, etc.

Dress rehearsal information is below. Be prepared with hair, makeup, all costume pieces as noted. "I forgot" is not an acceptable excuse.

Thursday: we'll meet at 3:30 and do a quick walk-through of scene changes (not in costume) and bows, then I will let you go to rest, eat, and prepare. Call time for the performance: 6:30. After the performance, NO ONE LEAVES until everything is out of HRH and we have all met as a group to sign off. Everyone will be responsible for taking his/her costume and bringing it on Saturday. For those of you that share a costume, decide who takes what ahead of time.

Saturday noon performance: 10am call. As this is a new space, we need time to get set, see how we'll make set pieces work, etc. Scrollworks is located at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 1500 6th Ave N. Enter through side door near the parking lot. If you have any issues getting into the building call them at 205-908-8843. Plan to have my number with you as well. 

On Saturday, plan to carpool as necessary, and come with your hair and makeup done. We may not have time to do it that morning, depending on how the space works for us. Again, NO ONE LEAVES until everything is loaded out of the church, we have all met to sign off, and you are released by me. We're a team: no special treatment for anyone.

Thank you for your work, folks. Here we go!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dress rehearsal Wed.

Everyone, as we discussed today, you must (simply MUST) have everything requested for tomorrow's dress rehearsal. As of now, I am only providing a belt for Austin, a larger pacifier for Maurice, and barrettes for Macy. Everything else is your responsibility. If you need something, please ASK: I am happy to help, but can't if do this you are too shy or embarrassed to let me know. Cindy is buying a dress and will be reimbursed, for example. 

When in doubt, ASK. At this late date, texting is best if you have an emergency. If a prop needs attention (is broken, etc.), let me know so I can fix it. I have glue; will travel.

Be on time and ready to start at 1:30. I'll be in my office by 1:15 to move props: if you haven't helped lately with The Great Prop Shlep, be there to help.

Some of you seemed taken aback that I barked at you, especially if you haven't done something you're supposed to do. Know that you're loved regardless. Just do what's required and I won't scold! Fix what must be fixed, especially if you have gotten a note repeatedly.

In the meantime, please send all good thoughts for Siobhan's recovery so that the fruits of her labor will be on display along with everyone else's! We're thinking of you, Siobhan.


Opera run-through today

Be ready to do the whole show, with costume changes, without stopping. Come as early as 3pm, if you're available, to help bring everything downstairs. Have everything I've asked you to bring! Thanks.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Please return my music


Many of you still have music and/or books you have borrowed from me. Please return ASAP. Michael, Madison, Maria, Nole, Alyse, Briana, Toure...this means you!

Clarification re: today

Everyone must try on his/her full costume for each scene, with the shoes you plan to wear, so that our divine costume assistant will know what needs attention. This also clarifies for me what still needs to be obtained. Leave in groups of no more than two at a time. If you need me to get something which I've told you to provide, TELL ME. I cannot help you if I don't know what you do not have.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: every class period, be early to help with props, come get your own costume, and be ready to start on time. Stay the entire class period, unless you have made prior arrangements with me. The only time you should leave the room is to try on your costume: we will take a break mid way through the class. No more of this coming and going during class.

Do not work on anything else during class, and do not check your phone. Be present, be respectful, and learn from the process.

Thanks, folks!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Being hard on yourselves


I've enjoyed reading your observations of your scene work. Some thoughts with regard to these:

Some of you have done a great job being objective about your work. Evaluating what see in a dispassionate manner is so crucial to our growth. Some of you are very hard on yourselves, and that makes the learning process more painful than it needs to be. I encourage you to take a step back and simply do the work rather than worrying about what others will think. I know that it can be hard to watch yourselves for the first time. Get used to it! This is how you learn, and many times, you are able to see things on video that you might not otherwise believe when they are pointed out to you.

Your classmates are not "co-directors," and I want to be clear that offering direction is not what I am requesting during our rehearsal discussions. That's my job! Your job is to articulate what you see, not attempt to direct each other. Use the class as an opportunity to learn how others' struggles might inform your own work, and to offer feedback. That's it. 

Be kind to each other and to yourselves. All of you have grown during the past few months, and of that you should be proud.

Another recurring theme in your observations is that of intention. In each of your scenes, your job is to move/speak/gesture with intention. If you are always in character, certain of what you are saying (especially if it is in Italian or German), then you are at the starting place for being able to do so. If you are at all unclear about what you're saying, why or to whom you're saying it, and what other people are saying, there is no way you can move with intention. When in doubt, always go back to the text.

As mentioned some time ago, everyone needs to be in class the entire time from now on, no exceptions. Due to illness, class trips, and lack of preparation, there are times we have had to deviate from the schedule. Not being there not only hurts you, it hurts anyone else in your scene. I've given all of you many hours of freedom while I work on other scenes for the past two months: some of you have used it to your advantage, and some have not. Be in the room, not in the building.

We will do final costume preparation tomorrow, as Rae's mom will be present. She has graciously offered to alter the few items that need adjusting. If your costume needs any attention, get it from my office before rehearsal and bring it down to the hall so that you may come and go from rehearsal quickly and efficiently. Everyone needs to help with props: be here early.

WEAR YOUR COSTUME SHOES. Bring them each time. This is part of your grade, no excuses. If you have more than one option, bring them and show me.

Tomorrow, we will work the last scenes we have not yet covered, and revisit the few rough ones to see what needs to be cut. Tuesday's schedule will be determined by tomorrow's work: regardless, everyone needs to be present. Wednesday will be a dress rehearsal, and will take as long as necessary. The day of the performance, we will likely not sing much (if at all), but may simply walk through the scene changes.

Let's do this!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Keep them coming!

I'm truly enjoying reading your scene observations! Keep them coming: your deadline is 3:30 today.

Master class tonight at 7pm

Hi folks,

Please note that the master class with Keith Wolfe of Opera Birmingham is at 7pm, not 7:30. I have heard from two students who cannot attend due to Spring Awakening rehearsal, and one who has a class. If you have a conflict, I should have heard from you by now.

See you there!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Please return music

Folks, nearly half of you in my studio still have music that you borrowed from me, in some cases months ago. The idea is for you to borrow it, make copies, and return it promptly. Please return it immediately. Thanks!

April 1: no fooling

As posted, all called today 3:30-6:30. The only one who noted a conflict with me was Mallory, who is at a conference in Florida. Everyone is required to stay the entire time, watching each scene and learning from each other. We'll start at the beginning and work through in performance order.

Enjoy getting to know each other's work! Support each other by helping with props, etc.

Final performance class

We will all meet together in HRH today. If Mr. Byrd or Dr. Mosteller is playing for you in lieu of Dr. Steele, be sure they have your music!...