How I Spent My Holiday

  I had the best holiday I’ve had for years. Hopping onto a train, sitting in comfort watching the fields and towns roll by, hopping off the train to be met by lovely friends who wined and dined me for a couple of days before dropping me off at another train station, to be met a few hours later in a different part of the country by more friends who wined and dined me, with lots of lovely catch up chatter. My last stop was Liverpool, staying with my son Roderick whom I conscripted to accompany me for a mini-gig I had acquired as part of the 2016 Threshold Festival. This is a delightfully vigorous grass-roots music-and-the-arts festival that takes …

The case for learning about sonnets – in reverse

Working – or playing – with sonnets is a fabulous way to learn about how language works, why poetry CAN be its highest form. But where do you start? Ask just about anyone what they know about sonnets, and they will probably say “iambic pentameter”.  Then ask them what that means. Some will know that it refers to a kind of rhythm, most will say it means 10 beats to a line, and some that it means 10 syllables to a line. That is not what the words actually mean, but they are on the right track. Let’s break it down. What does ‘iambic’ mean?  Perhaps you know it refers to a specific rhythm, the one that occurs when you have an unstressed …

Playing comedy – for real

A young actor remarked to me the other day “when you play comedy, you can’t be real.”  My response was a heartfelt denial. Broadway actress, Andrea Martin, 5 times nominated and 2 times winner of a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, says in today’s New York Times, that “comedy comes from dedication to a role, rather than angling for laughs.  ‘To go into something thinking, How am I gonna get a laugh?  Is really disastrous in a play’”. Her current co-star, Tracee  Chimo, agrees: “You want the audience to laugh, and you want them to enjoy themselves, but you can’t ask for it – it’s a funky balance,” she said, “like walking this beautiful tightrope. You just …

Freshly Reviewed

Here, out of the blue, is a lovely review of the warm up app by voice, accent and text coach  Keely Wolter in the September 2015 VASTA Newsletter. Being in Voice Price: US$3.99 This is VASTA member Flloyd Kennedy’s app, and it is a steal at twice the price.  The app provides a good deal of groundwork for beginners, and a handful of warm ups that range in length and intensity.  I actually use this one often myself, and sometimes do the less intensive exercises in the car during my morning commute.  Flloyd’s lovely voice leads you through each exercise and it is a great way to start your day!  

Anatomy of the Larynx

Something technical, just for a change. My colleagues at VASTA posted a link to this tutorial on Facebook, and it is just the most wonderful resource:  one episode in a collection of clear, detailed tutorials on the anatomy of the larynx. I know some people find it challenging to deal with the “how it works” part of the voice. I’m not one of them, I just love to know how things work, how the different parts of the body interact and support each other – collaborate, indeed – to give us the actions we call our own. So please, watch, listen and learn. Follow up with the next tutorial, and the next, but don’t get bogged down in the technical terms, …