I want to promise you some things.
the world of auditions and performances — especially for the voice — is a world in which a singer may become overwhelmed and possibly harmed by conflicting opinions coming from all sides. teachers and coaches have a responsibility to protect students from this confusion. if i don’t know the answer to a question or the solution to a problem, i will tell you that i don’t know. i will not pretend that my opinion is a fact. if you like, i will share with you my knowledge and my opinions, and we can use those to find our way to a solution together.
learning new material and preparing for auditions and performances usually carries moments of frustration and anxiety. in all aspects, i aim to reduce the frustration and anxiety whenever possible. i look for signs of present or future terrible feelings, and i aim to prevent them and/or discuss them, in order to reduce their power to ruin the joy that we would like to occasionally feel in this pursuit that we have chosen. this applies both to touchy-feely things (“i have four auditions tomorrow and i’m terrified” or “i am learning this song for my book even though no casting director will see me”) and to practical things (“the notes in this section are unpredictable and i keep getting them wrong and it makes me want to give up and eat so much ice cream”).
and now, i am going to say quite a few words about children and singing. much of this will also apply to my philosophies of coaching adults too. but some of it will not.
i had the extraordinary privilege of serving as the Children’s Music Director for the Broadway production of Matilda the Musical. i spent over four years helping to walk sixty-four children through the thrilling and frightening experience of singing difficult material in a Broadway audition room and on a Broadway stage.
there are many who believe that children should not study singing until a certain age. the landscape of thought is changing in that area, and i am on board with the change. if a child wants to sing, and if the child is going to sing anyway, then i am happy to be a part of giving structure to this part of the child’s life, partly in order to help prevent harmful singing, and partly to turn the hobby into an activity that generates a sense of accomplishment and confidence.
there are also those who feel driven to turn their children’s musical gifts into young stardom, even at the expense of emotional and mental and physical health for the child. i do not support such goals.
i am overjoyed to help guide a vocally gifted child through this business in pursuit of employment, if the child truly loves this pursuit. during this pursuit, i will also be a partner in guarding against the emotional and mental and physical dangers of the business. whenever the child gains employment, i will rejoice with the child. whenever the child does not gain employment, i will help the child to process the pain, and work to keep finding the love of the activity itself.
and if the child achieves the goal of becoming a “star," if we continue to work together, i will be a vigilant guardian of the possible dangers.
and if the child does not achieve the goal of becoming a “star,” i will be exactly as proud of that child as i am of the others.
and the same goes for adults.
we did not choose this pursuit in order to feel terrible about ourselves. the terrible feelings are an unexpected side effect. let’s cope with this together.