Friday, February 12, 2016

It's Too Late Baby

I recently received an email from Jason, one of my occasional students.  Jason is an actor first and singer second.  His vocal talent is modest, but he has the potential to be a much better singer than he currently is, and he knows it.  So do I.  Even better, when Jason actively practices and studies, his singing improves immensely.  Unfortunately, like all of us, Jason gets distracted.  In addition, like most of us, Jason doesn't have unlimited resources of either time or money.  Jason had been studying with me (and practicing on his own) faithfully for almost a year.  He was closing in on sounding like a singer, not an actor trying to be a singer.  And then he stopped.

 Back to Jason's email, which went something like this:

"Hey, how are you?!?!?!  I know it has been a long time since I saw you for a lesson, but I have an audition next Monday for the upcoming Broadway revival of Hello Dolly.  They want to hear 16 bars of an uptempo and they sent me 3 sides.  Do you have any time to see me?  Needless to say, I'm freaking out!"

And so it starts.  Another episode in which a talented artist has put themselves in a very difficult position.   You see, when Jason stopped studying and practicing, he was mere months away from becoming the master of his vocal skills.  Become the master of a skill and you'll find your confidence rises.  And guess what?  That's a huge part of what those wicked people who sit on the other side of the table are looking for - strong skill sets and confidence.  Now, Jason found himself approaching this opportunity from behind.  He had to try to get his voice back in shape and at the same time, prepare new music (that wasn't easy), AND, convince himself that he was up to the challenge.

It's too late, baby.

Let me see if I can say this another way.

All of us, no matter what type of work we do, have skills that are necessary, but not our strong suit. We have a choice.  We can ignore them and hope we never have to use them.  OR, we can work on them and improve our mastery, so that our ability to use them becomes stronger; indeed, strong enough so that when we combine this weaker skill with our naturally stronger skills, they are no longer so weak as to be a negative.

It's not fun working on our weaknesses.  We fail at a much higher rate, we feel vulnerable, we disappoint ourselves. we don't have as much fun.  I recognized that recently, as I was flailing away at Sammy Reyes' Hip Hop Class at Koresh Dance School.  There I was, the only middle-aged white woman in the room....actually it wasn't as bad as you're imagining.  I've had the pleasure of working with Sammy before, so I know he lovingly embraces everyone where they are in life.  I failed, I felt like an idiot, I couldn't remember the routine, but I had a great time moving.  Plus, I got a fabulous workout.  Win win!

Viola Swamp, one of the characters Sammy choreographed for me at the Walnut.
Back to Jason.  He scheduled 3 sessions over the course of a week.  This is not the best way to prepare for an audition, particularly when you're in Jason's situation.  We got him to a place where he could sing 3 of the 4 pieces, but we both knew that he could have been so much better prepared.

There was no miracle at the audition.  Jason told me he presented himself as best he could, but he didn't get cast. He didn't even get a callback.

End of post?  Well, you all know how I thrive on being positive, so here's the post I wanted to write:

I recently received an email from Jason, one of my voice students.  Jason is an actor first and singer second.  While his singing talent is not huge, it is adequate. He has been actively studying AND practicing for the past two years.  Like most of us, Jason doesn't have unlimited resources, either time or money.  Yet somehow he has put this work at the top of his list. He now sounds like a singer, not an actor trying to be a singer.  And he knows it.

 Jason's email went something like this:

"Hey, how are you?!?!?!  Guess what?  That audition I had for the Broadway production of Hello Dolly?  They cast me!!! I'm in the ensemble and understudying Barnaby.  I'm in!!!  Thank you for your help!!"

Don't let it be too late, baby.


  1. ACK. This story made my stomach hurt (for Jason). Frustrating to know you coulda/shoulda done better if you'd kept plugging away. BUT good for you for hip-hoppin'!! Cynthia

  2. I think Jason learned a lesson, Cynthia!