“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?

Good Advice For Creative People…


From Geoff Boucher’s column today on Sid & Marty Krofft

The Kroffts began renting out their puppet and production savvy. They designed stage productions for fairs and amusement parks, took corporate work from Ford and Coca-Cola, and did some work for Walt Disney as well. Marty had crossed paths with the entertainment icon in 1959; Marty was at the Polo Lounge having drinks with Charisse when Disney stopped by to chat and gave him a bit of advice. As Marty remembers it: “He told me, ‘The one thing to remember is, don’t ever sell anything you create and always put your name above the title, whatever you do. They’ll fight you off from doing it, but stick to it.’

To a certain degree, I’m pretty sure that was Bill Gates’ approach….

A few years back, a lawyer (who was trying to negotiate the purchase of music I had written) tried to convince me that only Rodgers and Hammerstein got their names over the title of their shows… I didn’t buy into it then. I don’t buy into it now.

I also ended up not selling (or even licensing) my music to them!

Hit the little iTunes button at the very bottom of the page. It will link you to a children’s album I wrote and produced for BMG. At the end of the contract term, all rights to the masters and the publishing still belonged to me.

Oh, and my kids!!

Legit Chicks

Okay, aside from the bridesmaid dresses, “wheres-the-blowdryer?” hairdos and wild-eyed looks, here’s an interesting example of “legit” (legitimate) singing from a variety of gals.

Any female who has studied with me should recognize the “home position” of the mouth(s). Big bite, tension in sides of mouth, jaw pressed down, lips pushed away from teeth, strength and flex in the major muscle groups, teeth on top and bottom showing…

Wagner (pronounced “VAHG-ner”) is the Heavyweight Division of legit singing. Demanding, Big, Dark, Extreme, Dramatic….it takes everything you got.

It also takes a lot of years to get the false vocal cords to create big, fat tones like this. On the other hand, the female belt for Broadway and Pop — using the true vocal cords — comes very quickly.


Oh, hey, and if you make it all the way to the eight-minute mark, Brunhilde arrives looking like an operatic Liza Minelli.


Musical Theatre Prescription

One of my favorite people told me last night that she was considering going back to college to get her degree in Musical Theatre….

Uh…okay, “yipes!”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, musical theatre is fun and all and if you know how to save money when on the road, it’s even better….

But when colleges do so many things right (science, poli-sci, environmental science, business, law, accounting, history, chemistry, literature, phys ed, marketing) why go through the expense of something they continually do so wrong like musical theatre?

And no, I’m not talking about EVERY college — just 99% of them.

In my one year of college, I flunked Intro To Theatre (was busy rehearsing and having fun instead of reading the book). 13 years later, I won the L.A. Drama Critic’s Circle Award for Best Production.

In theatre, you don’t need a degree. You need guts and a willingness to learn about everything in your theatrical environment.

Which ain’t always in L.A.

But, if you’re “stuck” in L.A. and you ultimately want to do musical theatre in N.Y., here’s my best prescription for proactive, positive growth and development:

1. Focus on getting commercials: The pay’s good and you can become a familiar face throughout the world;

2. Focus on getting in front of the camera: Any instance where you say words with your clothes on is a learning experience, so get started — you can become a familiar face throughout the world;

3. Study acting with a teacher who has trained people who are currently working in front of a camera: Makes sense, doesn’t it?;

4. Study voice with a teacher (like me) who has trained singers who are currently working on the stage;

5. Take a dance class at least once a week: It’s good for you.

6. Every audition is a chance to create a positive relationship with a producer, director, casting director, musical director…GO TO EVERY AUDITION. NO EXCUSES.

You can work and you can train at the same time. Don’t worry about the money. Budget accordingly, but PRACTICE YOUR STUFF.

Love on ya!

A Simple Song

Was just ruminating about how — oftentimes — my most accomplished singers have a tendency to look down on “simple songs.”

You should see the faces I get when I assign a golden moldy like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” to a singer who can already belt everything out of WICKED and CANDIDE.

Two realities are at play here.

When we are “accomplished,” we want to sing all the stuff with vocal fireworks — super high, super low…

And when we are “accomplished,” we don’t want to spend (make that “waste”) the time practicing songs we believe are not challenging.

When we buy in to and reinforce those two realities, that’s the mindset the production staff picks up on before declaring they need to “go in a different direction’ — which, ostensibly, doesn’t include you.

Treat a simple song as if it is the most difficult song ever written.

Do that and you will discover volumes of information about the character, yourself, the show, life….

Treat a simple song as an unworthy task and you will ease yourself right out of the running for that revival of “Sound of Music.”