Now that you have identified what your character is thinking, what they are looking at and reacting to, and what they want you are ready to go back and decide what action belongs in the circles you drew on the action music on Day 1.[Read more…] about Action!
101 Day 1
Acting 101 for Singers Day 1 Topic 5
Have you ever gotten up to perform only to realize you don’t know what you are supposed to do with your body? You try to do what you think you have seen other people do but it just feels like an awkward first day where you are trying to act calm, cool, and collected but you are anything but that. This type of performance isn’t pleasant for anyone. After these kinds of performances, the first three questions most acting coaches will ask are “Who are you?”, “Where are you?”, and “who are you talking to?” Inevitably the performer then looks stunned and confused as if they are waking up from a coma and don’t know who or where they are.[Read more…] about Where am I? Who am I?
If you are one of my university students mark up the song you chose for your first performance project and bring it to class to hand in when this is due.
If you are not one of my university students I highly recommend this as a great way to take your performance from amateur to professional.
Mark up a copy of the sheet music for the song you are working on with the following elements talked about in this section:
Translation – If it is in a foreign language or if there are unusual or unknown words you must translate the text word for word and understand what it means. We didn’t talk about translation as its own topic in this section. It is a much larger topic that to cover well would take us beyond the scope of this course.
Here is an example of what this might look like:
- Writing in pen. Don’t do it! Find a pencil and a good eraser.
- Writing in the original music. Don’t do it! Get a good clean copy to use as a worksheet. This piece of music will have writing all over it by the time we are done. Keep your original copy nice and clean so you can use it to copy other worksheet versions in the future.
You will be doing this for each of the songs we work on this semester and adding even more to these scores after future lessons. Make sure you are doing this work on a clean copy that is separate from the clean copy you will hand your accompanist and the clean copy you will want to keep for voice lessons. So, 3 copies of the same piece (1 clean copy for the pianist, 1 that you are using as a worksheet and will mark up, 1 clean copy for your future reference and use).
Acting 101 for Singers Day 1 Topic 7
What is it that makes someone sound so expressive when they talk? What is it that makes someone sound so musical when they sing? It all comes down to natural accents and word stress. Here is how to make your vocal expression more dynamic and captivating.
What are natural accents?
The easiest way to identify which syllables and which words should be stressed is to speak the text until it sounds like everyday conversation. If you are singing in a language that isn’t your native language or even if it is and you aren’t sure then either consult a native speaker or more language savvy person if it is a sentence or a dictionary if its just a word.
Identifying word stress?
If a word or syllable is usually spoken louder, longer, or higher pitched it is a sign that you probably have a stressed word or syllable on your hands.
Lines – write down your accent and stress decisions.
Underline the stressed syllable(s) in multi-syllabic words. The key to singing these as stressed syllable isn’t so much about making these syllables louder as much as it is making the syllables around them softer. It is also about stealing a bit of time from words that aren’t underlined and giving it to the stressed syllables and important words.
X Marks the spot
Next, we are going to mark an “X” above the most important words in the phrase. These are words we would highlight in a sentence if we were just speaking the text as well. Often a good composer will make these words longer, louder, higher, or in some other way make them stand out from the words around it. If we choose the right words then we should be able to read them in sequence and get the basic meaning of the song. When we mark the X we are going to mark them in relative importance. The higher we place the X in the blank space above the work then the more important that word is. The word or syllable that is at the climax of the song will get an X with a box around it. By doing this we are diagraming out the basic shape of each phrase and the overall flow and shape of the song. If you are confused then check out the example and it should make more sense.
Here is an example of how it could look
- Take the time to speak through the text until you get each phrase so it feels and sounds natural. Be deliberate about what words you are wanting to accent.
- It might be confusing and frustrating at the start. Be patient and get help. It gets easier the more you spend time doing it.
- Don’t skip this. You will be amazed at how much more expressive and clear you will be after taking the time to identify natural accents and word stress.
- Thinking there is only one right choice of which word is most important. One of the choices left to the performer that shows their artistry is which words they chose to stress and how they do it.
- Not taking the time to think it through. This about it. Try each sentence by speaking it out loud until it feels right.
- Thinking of word stress like an on-off switch. Word stress isn’t a matter of a syllable or word being loud or soft. It is the rollercoaster type shape each sentence makes where no two syllables within a phrase are the same in duration or dynamic level.
- Disconnecting speech patterns from singing. If you want your singing to sound musical and expressive then inform your singing with expressive speech.
Certain kinds of music prompt us to imagine certain actions in connection with those sounds. Disney movies and cartoons have some of the easiest examples of “action music”. Imagine what kind of music would go with someone sitting down, windows opening, someone frowning, or a host of other actions. There is just some music that calls for an action to go with it. These action music moments are the information we need to gather next as we find fuel for the imagination.[Read more…] about Circles – Finding the music we have to move to