WOW! Time flies when you're having fun, right? I can't believe we've been here for two weeks already!
This week was personally trying for me for reasons outside of the program, but I often found that despite any exhaustion I felt the classes and people here raised my spirits and charged me with energy. While last week ran on the adrenaline, this week was about making different types of connections for me.
First of all, everyone here is so inviting, warm, and open. You can't NOT love them. :) It's a very unique environment because in our world of professional competition, collegial relationships can feel shallow. Here, however, I have had the privilege of living, working and playing with these amazingly talented human beings who have the same fears and worries as myself. It has created a sense of solidarity and trust within the group that I have not experienced before. I feel now as though I will move through my professional and personal life with much more kindness and insight that we are all going through similar issues though we may present a tougher front.
Perhaps due to my exhaustion, classes this week felt a lot more cerebral. While I felt physically giving my all was too much, I spent much of this week realizing how the techniques we're learning could be a applied to my career beyond the program. (Which I suppose is the point... :P) At the top of this list comes Zeffin's techniques from Acting class. I came to this program seeking more consistency in my performance. I am a good performer, but auditions and competitions, in particular, still set my heart racing, my legs shaking and results are hit-or-miss. On top of that, there are some days I just DO NOT want to audition, but have to anyway. Zeffin advised us to focus on who we are, both as a people in general and that specific day, and using those current states to fuel our performance. This was revelatory to me! This idea of taking who you are and what you want on any given day to fill the character inherently makes the performance more real and alive regardless of nerves or being out of it (those are both a part of YOU and you can make that a part of a character). Needless to say, I'm excited to put this technique into practice! (P.S. Here's a hilarious video of Zeffin and Ann!)
Visualization class also offered some useful hints for real world applications of the OW methods. David Aks introduced us to the idea of visualization last week, and honestly I was skeptical. He told us that research has been done to show that the body does not recognize a difference between visualized actions and real actions, therefore practicing can be done silently, at least a portion of the time. While I had used visualization before performances to calm me, I had a hard time believing what David said until we had our first class using this trick. We started by singing a portion of a piece that gives us trouble (I chose the middle section of "Je dis" which leads quickly to a high B, and is imbued with fear and old habits). We then identified the issues we felt needed attention and he asked us to visualize singing the piece with our eyes closed and just notice what is happening in our body. I felt my body tense and my tongue pull back in the moments leading up to the high note, and for the non-singers reading this, those actions are less than helpful. He then had me repeat the visualization three more times, each time attempting to release my body and jaw more and more. Then I sang again, and it was significantly easier, AND I felt much more warmed-up! He said that was true: if the body can't distinguish between real practice and visualized practice, the results are the same, although it is best to visualize 10-15 times before singing again. This idea is still a little beyond my comprehension, but I am definitely planning to work visualization into my daily practice.
The connections go beyond the personal and cognitive, as we have now started to discuss career planning and marketing (we are a product after all!) I got valuable advice on how to maintain my social media presence without becoming a braggart (Goal: Don't be the singer everyone hates to see another gloating update from!) While I had already worked on my career plan at Roosevelt, we went a bit further and discussed our marketable skills. Though most of us assumed we'd struggle to find things to sell about ourselves, we all surprised ourselves and came up with giant lists of our talents, both singing and beyond. It was empowering, and inspired me make sure my media presence represents ALL of me, not just who I am as a singer.
It's been an absolutely marvelous week, and I'm looking forward to our excursion to Harry Potter World tomorrow before jumping back in on Monday!
OH, and P.S. Got our assignments for the show! I'm very happy with my song and character (which I will leave as a surprise for now!) We are following a group of city folks on a journey through an abandoned subway, an art museum and...wait for it...a Donald Trump rally! (AH!!!!!) If you're going to be in the LA area on July 23rd and 24th, this is not to be missed! Here's the link to more info and to buy tickets: https://www.facebook.com/events/1721229151479378/