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Old News- 9.28.07

On Monday September 24 I had the honor to be asked to be one of the judges at the 2007 William Haralson Scholarship Auditions, sponsored by the Wickham Voice Studio. Over $20,000 in prizes were awarded to cover the expense of voice lessons for those who scored the highest in vocal and performance categories, with special awards for young people under the age of 21. It was one of the most educational, exhausting, exciting, and fun six hours I've ever had. I'm glad to say that two of my students participated, and I am going to urge everyone to enter next year.

During the two sessions I judged, we heard singers from 13 to 46 singing everything from jazz to Broadway to pop to opera to R&B to operetta to cabaret. Almost everyone was prepared, but for the most part, the primary thing that separated the "girls from the women" (most of the singers were female) was personal connection to the material. One of my favorite singers was the 13 year old girl, who sang a version of "How are Things in Glocca Morra?" (how many times have I heard THAT old chestnut?) and made me hear it in a totally new way.

Folks . . . as I keep saying, even though I'm a voice teacher, it's not just about the voice! Focus issues abounded. Those who stared at the back wall looked like deer in the headlights. Creativity and individuality were sorely lacking. Can't you imagine being a casting director sitting behind the table hearing 8 hours of high belters screaming at him all day until his ears bleed longing for a little change? Vocal issues included fluctuations based on registration issues, breath, breath, breath, as well as not paying attention to legato line when that was called for (and we know it not always is).

But then . . . once in a while someone came in who astounded us and made me smile or cry or gave me chills. One darling little munchkin of a singer, not particularly attractive, made me listen to a song I HATE and actually like it, because her voice was so totally HERS and she owned the song and the room. Another young man was able to transform from an operatic baritone, when he sang an art song by Ralph Vaughn Williams into an intense singing actor with a totally different vocal style when he sang from THE WILD PARTY.

So, all in all, I think I learned that we are on the right track in this studio. But there is more specific stuff for all of us to do. I look forward to the journey. I'm going to do my best to pass everything I learned on to all of you individually.

- Joan

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