Think. Breathe. Sing.

cultivating voices. art. life.

Think Breathe Sing, Daniel Klein’s Voice Studio specializes in uncovering and refining the potential of each individuals voice and bringing these abilities to light as quickly and efficiently as possible.  He uses his extensive knowledge of classical ‘bel canto’ technique coupled with recent breakthroughs in physiology and neuroscience. Additionally he brings his personal experience on both sides of the audition, as a professional singer and General Director of the North Shore Music Festival.

The studio’s focus is on young adult and early professional singers.  Many students come with a focus on NYSSMA, competitions, college and conservatory auditions. In this regard Daniel Klein’s teaching has been extremely successful with alumni attending such schools as The Julliard School, Indiana School of Music, Carnegie Mellon, Manhattan School of Music and Peabody. 

 

Making of your Music Book

It is the end of summer, and for me this usually means making my new book.  To a singer, the concept of the book is of utmost importance.  It is the physical real world repository of music, notes, work, art. Plans for what to work on next, what I am refining, what I want to do, it is what I am presenting, and in a sense what the image is that I presenting to people.

Last year, I made my book spiral bound beautiful number, which I brought with me to Europe on auditions and beyond.  I learned however, that as sexy as it is to have one book that is bound and essentially set in stone.  Reality doesn't really allow for it.  After a few months I started getting asked for specific pieces that weren't in my 25 aria selections I had put together.  I also built one using Staples Arc system, with a beautiful leather bound cover and sturdy construction.  I love this system so much, but it really didn't allow for ease of page turning in an audition situation.  When putting together an audition book, the simpler the page turns, and therefore the simpler for the pianist the better.  This year I am returning to a 3 hole punched notebook…. what is different this year, is that I am also putting it online in Evernote and on my iPad in ForScore.  

Before we go any further we should talk about how many books, or copies we need.  When I was in school I had 3 identical copies.  One for me, one for my pianist, and one for my voice teacher.  If you are still in school, I highly recommend this is the approach you do, when you start to do auditions I would recommend adding a 4th book that will have clean copies and only the notes that you have really decided need to be there for the pianist, as opposed to marks that you are making for yourself or your technique (reminders etc).

Currently I make two copies, I make one which I entitle my "workbook" and the second which I call my audition book.

(obviously you will need to duplicate this for how ever many copies you will be having.)

Basic Materials you will need:

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3 Ring Binder

You will have to decide how many you need, 2 for me this year.  I would also get 1 of them (if not all of them) in black.  Get the best one they have in the store usually I go with an Avery Durable Binder somewhere between 1.5 and 2 inches.  This year I decided to try Staples Better Binder.  I got one in Black and one in Dark Blue, and I am starting with a 1 inch, and if I need I will buy a bigger one later.

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Table of Contents

I would get no fewer than 10 tabs, usually I go for 31 and leave room for expansion as the year progresses. If you can find the ones in color, those are best.  Though both Staples I went to today were out of them.

Protip

Protip

 Before writing anything in your book, make color photocopies and/or scan a copy of the first page of table of contents.  Things will change over time, and the erasing and writing in again just starts to look dingy.

Your Music

  • Make a list of all the pieces you plan on including.  Then organize this list in the following alphabetical manner

1. Composer Last Name 2. Opera 3. Aria Title.

I have asked dozens of pianists what way they would like to see a book organized if they had a choice, this is the most common answer, and one that they almost never see.  When they do, they always seem very pleased with it.

  • Print or Photocopies all of your arias and songs. 

I have had enough students come in with poorly photocopied music that I feel I need to give a little tutorial on how to make the copies.

Photocopying Tutorial.

Count the number of pages of the piece and figure what is the least amount of page turns. Arrange the music with as few page turns as necessary.  This means in a 4 page piece, there should only be one page turn, between page 2 and 3.  I realize

Make the copies double sided.  If you can't then use scotch tape and tape the upper and lower corners of the music to make them double sided.  

Do not under any circumstances use staples.  

Do not use clear vinyl sheet protectors.  If you are asked specifically to use the clear plastic sheet protectors, take the time and money to make a separate book specifically for that person with the covers.  Most pianists do not want nor appreciate them.  

Do not under any circumstances use staples.  should i write that again?

Now all that is left to put the music in the binder, in the right order…

but I have 3 binders…. 

So in your's, aka the work book.  You have the music, you should also include in there: translations, ipa, research notes, notes on character, interpretation, etc

in all the others you should just have the music, clearly marked.  any cuts, tempos, etc all clearly marked.  Don't include anything in there that you don't want to do..

let me elaborate on that for a minute. In an audition book, you should only include arias and songs you are feeling ready to sing and present.  It has happened in auditions that they want to hear something else, and pianists have gone through and offered pieces they find in the auditioners book.  Yes this has happened.  If you only include copies of music you want to offer, then there is no problem.  If on the other hand, you start to include songs you are working on, then all of the sudden, they could ask for something that you don't actually know yet.

My answer is simple.  The workbook, is the complete and total copy of what you have.  Keep the numbers the same on the other copy, but only include the songs you want to on the list… if this means that of your 31 dividers you only have 4 things in that book and the rest are blank, that is totally cool.

An Opera Primer: Part 2

Major Players at the opera

When going to an opera, there are a multitude of people involved in making what you experience.  Here is an incomplete list of the people who will be involved in this.

For ease of writing I will refer to people that can be either female or male in the masculine

Conductor: This is the guy standing down in front of everyone with his back to the audience. He waves his arms around a lot. Basically, he is the one in charge of keeping everyone together.  Keeping everyone literally in the same place on the same page.  He also makes big musical decisions and shapes musical ideas (like how fast a section will be or how loud it will be).  Singers and orchestral members watch him a lot, he does really interesting stuff.

Orchestra: The people playing the instruments. Depending on which composer they are playing it can range the gamut: from amazingly virtuosic playing to an umm-pah-pah or um-pah-um-pah.  Usually the story is told as much through these musicians as the people on stage.

Director: You won’t see him till the curtain call (if he stuck around for the show to open) they are in charge of making what you see happen onstage.  Their ability/importance can go form being a traffic cop (i.e. you go here-leave there) to making big dramatic decisions about what the whole show is REALLY about.

Principles: These are the people on stage with names and play vital parts in the onstage drama of the opera a.k.a. singers

Comprimario: other people on stage with names, often with more general names like “the doctor, "the armored man" they generally don't sing as much as the principles, but are vital for moving the story along.  From the italian meaning “with the principal” In many operas they provide comic relief

Chorus: these are the other singers on stage. They often play the role of the masses, the crowds, townspeople, slaves, etc etc etc. Who have something to say about what is going on with the principles.

Supers: short for supernumeraries, they are on stage but they don’t sing but they do make the crowds armies and such look bigger, sometimes they will have important acting roles that don’t require talking or singing.

Dancers: well they are the dances, for the ballet. In many operas there are ballets, so these people are vital for that. A lot of operatic music is based on dance

Stage Manager and Crew: These are the people behind the stage you don’t see, they are immensely powerful people when it comes to the actual performance.  It is up to them to create, change and maintain the worlds in which the opera takes place. So we treat them nice and with great respect.

Designers (Set, Lighting, Costume etc etc etc) They will often come out to take a well deserved bow at the curtain calls, they are involved in creating the picture that you see up there.
Coming soon... Opera Primer Part 3 : The parts of an opera

An Opera Primer: Preface and Part 1

Preface:

feel free to skip down to part one if you don't want to read about where I got the idea

A few weeks ago over dinner I was discussing my upcoming opera with some friends and my friend Tommy turned to me and said, Dan I have no idea what you are talking about. Tommy is a brilliant architect, educated and cultured in many areas of which I have limited knowledge. This sparked a discussion about our gaps of knowledge. Things that we should, as members of society, cultured individuals, and people of discriminating taste should all know about, but don't. From this idea the primers were born.

This is my primer for Opera. Consider it a beta version. All thoughts and ideas and takes on it are from my point of view. The goal of this is to give you enough information that you will be able to have an opinion, even if that opinion happens to mine. I am attempting to answer big basic questions about what it is and what you need to know. Hopefully after reading through the primer a few times you can enter into a talk during an intermission and be able to mingle with the conosceti of the art.

Part 1

Q: What is this ‘Opera’ anyway?
A: In Ambrose Bierce’s A Devil’s Dictionary he defined it thus

Opera
n. A play representing life in another world, whose inhabitants have no speech but song, no motions but gestures and no postures but attitudes. All acting is simulation, and the word simulation is from simia, an ape; but in opera the actor takes for his model Simia audibilis (or Pithecanthropos stentor) — the ape that howls.
The actor apes a man — at least in shape;
The opera performer apes and ape.

In a more serious manner, opera is a dramatic art form combining stage action (drama) music and words in an endeavor to tell a story and create something more than the sum of its parts.

Q: Isn’t that musical theater?
A: Yes that could also be a good definition for musical theater.  The line between what is an opera and what is a musical is often fuzzy.  Traditionally the difference was that musicals had more spoken text with music interspersed throughout, and opera had much more focus on the music to tell the drama.

There is no clear cut rule as to what the difference is today.  In new operas/musicals it is what the creative team (composer and writer) decide to call it.  So if they call it an opera, it is an opera, if they call it a musical it is a musical.  There are stylistic differences between the two which I could go on about ad nauseam but the quickest way to tell the difference, is that an opera usually doesn’t have any microphones and in musical theater everyone will have a body mic.  Although this isn't even a hard and fast rule anymore, in the recently debuted Doctor Atomic (an opera) the composer wrote for amplified singers.

coming soon Part 2, the Major Players