Wednesday, October 26, 2005

one down...

I’m in the San Jose airport, waiting to fly home from my Merola audition. Overall, I was happy with how I sang, and I felt like the response from the adjudicators was fairly positive, but I did not make the finals, so I’m on an early flight home. I was a bit disappointed, because I feel like I’m bringing a lot more to the table in auditions this year than I have in the past – my voice is totally different than it was a year ago, and I feel like I’ve grown as an actress as well. My resume has grown, too, though I’m missing a major apprenticeship or young artist program. I feel like I’m in the position of needing to have experience to get experience, which is an interesting and somewhat frustrating dilemma. However, this was only the first of several auditions this year, and as I said, I was happy with how I sang, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. There’s a lot that’s out of my control, so all I can do is control the things I can and hope that the rest eventually takes care of itself.

On a lighter note, it was a fun trip! I got lots of quality time with SL, my oldest friend (we’ve been friends for over 20 years!) and her lovely, lovely little boy Ty (who at 21 months knows that “Uncle Alec plays drum set” and that he loves his “Auntie Meliss” – how can that not melt your heart?). I also saw two colleagues at the audition. It’s a small world we singers live in!

Onward and upward!

Monday, October 17, 2005

my first meme!

I was tagged by Gia-Gina to write the 23rd and 5th meme, where I am to dig in to my archives and write about the 5th sentence of the 23rd post. So, here goes......
  • All this is to say that it is wonderful to see the kids at camp, all music geeks in their own ways, all getting along, making music together, and finding a network of support and friendship among people who share their passion for music.

Those who know me, or have been reading this blog for a while, know that I have been working at the same music camp every summer since I graduated from high school, and had been a camper there for a few years as a child, as well. It has been a constant in my life. Wherever I was going to school, as I was starting life as a professional musician, as I was transitioning from pianist to singer, camp has been part of my life through it all. Some of my oldest and dearest friends are ones I made working there. I met my husband there. It has helped me become who I am today, in many ways. It's a magical place, and I'm always touched by how accepting the kids are of each other, and how kids who just "don't fit in" in their regular lives can come to camp and totally come out of their shells. They come in shy and self-conscious and leave with confidence and a new circle of close friends who love them for who they are.

This was a particularly poignant summer for me, as I realized that camp is a chapter of my life that is coming to a close. I was able to fit it in to my schedule this summer, but while I was there, I felt like it was pulling me away from singing, and it didn't feel quite right. Hopefully, in future summers, I will have direct conflicts with apprentice programs, or roles, or concerts. But even if I don't, I can't take a month off of singing in the middle of the summer. It's not that I really felt like my voice suffered because of it, but I can't stand to be away from it for that long. As hard as I tried this summer, I realized that it is impossible to focus on learning a role or practicing without feeling like I was ripping myself in two. Camp is basically a 24-hour a day job, and the things I do there definitely do not relate to opera. People there do not know me as a singer, which is fine, but the more time I spend there, the less I feel like a singer, and I don't like that at all. So, as much as I love it, I think it's time to say goodbye. Some of my friends from camp will stay in my life in other capacities, and I will still get to visit (Alec still works there), but I'm fairly certain that this was my last summer of working there. Change is hard....

.... and now, acb, it's your turn!

you be the judge....

The performances of H&G this weekend went very well. Being a boy is fun! Here are the promised pictures of my hair, from the dress rehearsal. I actually got it a little straighter for the performances, but this will give you the basic idea....

So, what do y'all think?

Friday, October 14, 2005


I commited the cardinal sin of theater a couple days ago. I got my hair cut right before the opening of a show. I know, I shouldn't have done it, and believe me, I've learned my lesson. I checked it out with the director -- we mutually agreed that I would get my nearly shoulder-length hair cut in to a page-boy style, which would look much more Hansel-like. I went to my stylist on Wednesday, and the dress rehearsal was last night (Thursday). The director was the first person I saw in the theatre, and she loved it (as do I), and thought it was perfect for the show. I was relieved and thought that would be the end of it. Boy, was I wrong!!! EVERYBODY had a strong opinion about it, from the stage manager to the general director of the company, to the ladies in the chorus, to the little girls playing the gingerbread children. Some loved it, and some (while most of them tried, unsuccessfully, to be diplomatic about it) definitely did not like it. But, the one thing all of them had in common was an apparent need to share their strong opinions with me. None of them seemed to care that it had been an agreement with the director, or that there was no mention in my contract of what I should do with my hair, or that there is no hair person for this show to give me guidance, or that I really do look much more like a little German boy with my hair this way. Once my ego has recovered, perhaps I'll post a production photo and you can give me your opinions as well.

Once that element was added in to what was already destined to be a stressful rehearsal last night, I was grateful when I woke up this morning and remembered that my sister and I had a date to come here this morning to unwind and relax. It was just what the doctor ordered, and it's only 10 minutes away from my house! I'm currently sitting in their free internet lounge, drinking a melon-pineapple-mango juice from their juice bar, and basking in the residual warmth from the hot therapy rooms and whirlpools. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh........

Thursday, October 13, 2005

the experiment, part deux

Goodness! Apparently this is a problem that is not just confined to the singing community! I had my second appointment this morning, and am feeling even better than after the first. So far, I'd say the clenching has been reduced by 75%. I've never had these kinds of results before -- with regular massage, stretching, night guards, you name it, I've tried it. It's definitely not comfortable while it's happening, but the results are amazing. We've set up weekly appointments for the next month, and I'm assured that by the end, there will be no clenching, even in my sleep, and the shiatsu won't even hurt anymore, at which point I can switch to a monthly check-in.

According to my sister, there are literally thousands of forms of shiatsu, variations stemming from several original masters and dating back thousands of years. This particular method is known only by Mike (my sister's Sensei), and his brother, who has a practice next door to Mike's in Seattle. Mike has chosen three students --his nephew, my sister, and one other woman -- to pass on his knowledge to and ensure that the tradition will continue. Pretty cool. All I can say is, if the Seattle area is accessible to you and you suffer from this problem, you should go see them!

Monday, October 10, 2005

an experiment

For years, I've had a problem with clenching my teeth. Mostly, I just do it while I'm sleeping, but I also catch myself doing it often when I'm stressed or worried. I know lots of singers with the same problem -- I'm not sure whether it's more common with us, or whether it's just a common problem in general. It's terrible for my teeth, and not so good for my singing or general well-being either, as it causes the muscles in my neck and shoulders to tense, and gives me headaches when it's at its worst. Last week I was particularly busy, and there were some fairly stressful H&G rehearsals, and I noticed my teeth were mashed together so tightly when I got up in the morning that I felt like I had to pry them apart.

My sister, who is an amazing massage therapist, is currently being trained by a shiatsu master. (I imagine it to be a Mr. Miagi/Karate Kid kind of relationship.) She has regular lessons with him, and since she's begun her training, her outlook on many things, particularly diet and medicine, has changed drastically. She was giving me a massage the other night, and briefly rubbed my jaw. I winced in pain and she asked if this was a normal occurence. Then, she said, "After your massage, I'll work on that a little. I can make it so that you won't clench your jaw anymore." I was extremely skeptical. Apparently, clenching my jaw is a manifestation of stress (big surprise), but the reason I clench my jaw as opposed to any other physical manifestation of stress is that my circulation (which seems to be at the center of the theories behind shiatsu) around that area of my body is not good, and I clench to try to move blood through. After my 80-minute, heavenly, relaxing massage, as I was ready to drift off in to blissful slumber for the night, she told me to sit up on the table, and rubbed my jaw in quick, half-moon motions. I tell you, it was perhaps the most excruciatingly painful experience of my life -- for about 5 seconds, and then the pain disappeared. We repeated this, her rubbing, me whimpering, in three different places on each side of my jaw, and then around the back of my head. OUCH! But, afterward, I did feel better. The muscles all the way down my neck had released, and my head moved freely from side to side in a way that felt slightly foreign to me.

She told me that it would take a few more sessions for me to stop clenching entirely, so I'm going to see her again on Thursday. Already, I've noticed that I've all but stopped clenching during the day, and I can tell by the way my jaw feels when I wake up that even the night-time clenching has been greatly reduced. If this works, it will be a miracle -- I've actually bitten through night guards! I'll let you know.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

the ideal bag!

Since beginning my editing job, which I can conceivably do anywhere in the world I happen to be for gigs, auditions, or other travel, I've been looking for the perfect bag -- something that would protect my laptop; leave room for music, i-pod, current novel, purse, and other essentials; and yet still be comfortable and not appear bulky. I was not having much luck, but then I received this belated birthday present from my parents over the weekend. At first I thought it would be too small -- it's only 14" tall, which is exactly the size of my laptop. However, I've currently filled it with my computer, H&G score, i-pod, binder of arias, book to read on the ferry, zicam and emergen-C (I'm fighting the cold that has knocked my poor husband on his a** this week), mini-disc recorder and microphone, purse, and datebook, and not only did it all fit, but it's compact, organized, and comfortable to carry, thanks to the padded, ergonomically-designed shoulder strap and well-padded back (so my hip doesn't get bruised from walking around with it banging against my body. It both zips across the top and buckles at the flap, and the strap is long enough to wear across my body, so I'll feel totally secure with it on the subway and streets of NYC or wherever I happen to be. It even converts in to a backpack! Hurray!

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

another Requiem down....

The Mozart concert this weekend went extremely well. I got to listen to the recording at the post-concert party at the conductor's house, and the choir and solo quartet both sounded great - there were some truly stunning moments. For a couple pictures and more info on the concert, visit the concert. I had a great time getting to know and singing with SH and RA, two friends of ACB's from Santa Fe.

In other news, I booked my flight today for my Merola audition later this month. I love booking flights -- there's something about the feeling of being at the beginning of a journey that appeals to me. It's so full of possibilities. Plus, on this trip, I will get to stay with Sandy, my closest friend from 4th grade, and spend some time with her and her family (including cutie baby Ty!). Hopefully, this will be the first of two audition trips to San Francisco this season, so I'll get to see them again soon.

I also got a call for a new gig this weekend -- a Messiah in December. It will be my first full Messiah (I've done all the arias in concert, but never in the context of the entire work), and there will be three performances, so I imagine I'll feel very comfortable with it by the end of the weekend. The timing worked out perfectly around my audition trip to NYC in December, and it will be the second of three (so far) concerts that ACB and I will get to sing togeteher this season. It's always nice to be able to work with good friends that I also highly respect as musicians and colleagues.