Paying Attention, Are We?

I have super talented students/clients/friends/pals who, sometimes, during the course of our voice training, have a tendency to not “pay attention.”

Not to me;

Not to their vocal technique;

Not to the words or music;

But, to the “detail of performance.”

If you are looking for an edge in your auditions and performances, pay attention.

When you practice, make every practice a performance with performance energy — don’t practice with your typical high school, college, community theatre, or “hey, I’m a pro, I do this all the time” energy. That only serves to make you as mediocre as the rest of the performers.

Practice Performance.

Once you get into this habit, you’re still not finished.

Pay Attention.

Keep connecting the dots of the song. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve performed a song. It’s not just a series of notes or words strung together, it is something that lives through you. A song can ONLY live through you. The more attention you pay to the song, the deeper and more complex it becomes.

In other words, “If you phone it in, we won’t call you back.”

Take Off The Blinders

Blinders don’t give you determination. Blinders don’t give you drive. Sure, they help a 1,300 lb. horse run faster in a straight line or a single direction —

But, you’ll notice, the “little guy in charge” never wears blinders….

So, which kind of artist are you?

Like a thoroughbred; tunnel-visioned, blinders on, can’t even see the crowd and spent at the end of the race?

Or like the rider; flexible, strategic, in command, ready to “see the whole field” and ride again and again?

It’s your art.

The flag is up!

The Failure Dance

Work toward your successes, don’t dance over your failures.

And, fer Pete’s sake, don’t practice catastrophes.

Gimme a second, I can explain…

Whether we are doing a vocal warm-up, learning a new song or going over repertoire, every student of mine knows that if they stop, I’ll just keep going. I’m not trying to be mean or anything. It’s just that, if you practice stopping in a song whenever things “aren’t right” or you “made a mistake” or something “was weird,” then you are “practicing a catastrophe.”

Deep inside, you know that there is no perfect venue for singing.

There is no perfect day, night, time or temperature for singing.

Thus, EVERY singing experience will be imperfect, so get used to it.

Seriously. Get used to it.

Something’s always going to be a little weird or different somewhere, so don’t stop in the middle of your song when you’re rehearsing. Why practice stopping? Why stop and then dance around about how you missed a note (with all the energy you should have used to produce the note in the first place…!). Get over yourself and get back on the pony while it’s still near you — not after it’s galloped away.

The sooner you embrace the imperfection, the sooner you may exhibit the perfection.

“I Would Eat Taco Bell For A Year…”

That’s what a Sam Ash manager told me when I asked him what the economic outlook was for his music store a few weeks back.

He told me business will be the same as it always was because “Guys like me, I would eat Taco Bell for a year so I could save enough to get the best equipment. We’ll do anything for our music.”

“When It Feels Long, Something’s Wrong”

The reason a “song feels long” has more to do with the singer than with the person behind the piano.

We’ve all had it happen to us where, right in the middle of a song, we’ll think, “Damn, this isn’t over yet?!”

But if we have the time to stand outside of ourselves, observe and criticize — while we’re still performing — then we’ve really lost a grip on doing the job at hand, haven’t we?

More than technique, we singers/performers are judged by our passion and our presence.

Passion, because we have to care about and understand what it is we are saying — not just pretending we care by mustering up a concerned look on our collective face…

Presence, because we are in the “now” of a song, instead of focused on getting the words in the right order or hitting the high note or hoping the set piece comes in on time, whatever.

If we don’t stay in the now, we’re screwed because we have sacrificed our energy and attention to everything BUT the reason for our being on stage; to sing a song. We must be present for our own performance.

A song feels long to us when we are not involved and believe me, the audience reflects that feeling back to the singer very quickly.

Be present when you sing. Be passionate when you sing. Be alive.


Bailouts are bailouts.

You can bail out water from a sinking ship, but unless you repair the ship’s structure, it’s still going to sink.

The health of the U.S. economy relies on each individual’s strength of personal economy. This is where creating our own opportunities becomes crucial.

Instead of holding back, we need to go forward.


Instead of sitting and waiting, we must stand up and move.

Create something.

Don’t wait for someone to create it for you.

‘Tis The Season…? Oy Vey!

Christmas Greetings From Burning Man!

Above, Charles files suit against Dickens Carolers for trademark infringement…

Probably in anticipation of a turnaround in the California economy, Christmas Caroling quartet companies are announcing their auditions, uhm, now…in August.

Always seemed to me that they got around to it in mid-September.

But, indeed, this is fantastic news because the benchmark for a Fortune 500 company’s prosperity has always been whether they are willing to pay for carolers at the annual holiday bash.

I joke, but it’s kind of true.

Anyway, you’ve heard me harp on “stage time” and that all time on stage is a learning experience worthy of acquiring.

So get out there and audition, get hired, put on yer top hat or bonnet, paste a smile on your face and sing for angry, stressed out shoppers in the local mall, or angry, stressed out families at a theme park, or angry, stressed out company workers worried about next week’s pink slips…

Have I made it sound horrible?

Good, because that’s as bad as it gets.

The best part of caroling makes all the “other parts” quite tolerable.

First, it’s December, the darkest month of the year, and here we are singing the most joyful music — night after night after night;

Christmas lights are up and, next to fireworks, nothing appeals to my eye more than Christmas lights;

People WANT to celebrate something, anything. People WANT to celebrate;

There is hope — and it’s not even the new year yet…

So, in your performance, as you collect your caroler stage time (and paychecks), you have the option of focusing on the downside or focusing on the upside.

Spread the grumpiness or spread the joy…it’s up to you.

Yes, you’re going to be singing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” ad nauseum, but you’ll also be singing “O Holy Night,” “Chestnuts,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and a whole bunch of classic songs that you only sing for one month out of the year.

Joy to the world, baby!

What Are You Doing With YOUR Information?

Was picking up a pork tamale and rice from the Vallarta for Nathalie (chile relleno for me…) and this phrase kept going through my mind:

“What are you doing with YOUR information?”

All of us are informed.

Being informed has nothing to do with whether we have a high I.Q. or whether family and friends consider us “smart.”

Being informed is not really scientific because our “information” isn’t always based in truth.

If you “feel” fat — regardless of what the scale says — guess what?

Yer fat!

If you “feel” stupid or unworthy — guess what — you’re probably going to behave in stupid and unworthy ways because THAT is YOUR information.

If you “think” everybody else is better than you at singing, dancing, acting, writing, living, breathing, watching TV, well, yup, consider it a done deal.

Interesting that when someone lies to us, we get mad, we take it very personally.

But what if we lie to ourselves?

How should we take it then?

YOUR information leads you to your success.

YOUR bad information leads you only to cheap, self-fulfilling prophecy — which is usually shrouded in failure.

What would happen if you informed yourself that you ARE worthy?

What would happen if you informed yourself that you are as smart and as talented as ANYONE out there??

How about if you inform yourself that today, right now, within this moment, you are loved?

And if you doubt that, then you better get started loving yourself.

Love yourself and you’ll be able to love others.

It doesn’t work the other way around.

If you love yourself, then love others, you will be able to fill concert halls, theatres and stadiums with people who want to pay to see and hear somebody who loves themself.

Share the love, baby.

So, what are you doing with YOUR information?