While I was away, Scott decided to go through "The boxes" in the back of the closet. You know those boxes that sit in the closet or maybe your basement (if you have one) or your attic year after year. You swear that... "One of these days we're gonna go through them and get rid of what we don't need". Well, the day arrived and I was in San Antonio. I swear I didn't plan it that way.
Anyway, he found some old outlines from when I lived in Daytona Beach. Yes, there were cool times between NY and 'Music City'. This was from a seminar called "The preparation of a song" I was not the only speaker. There is even a part where I refer to all the kids in the area going to work at Disney. It was only an hour away. Okay, lets see if it holds up over a decade later.
I had a theory that you could break down preparing a song in 5 steps. Here it goes...
1) Choose A Song
That certainly sounds easy enough and for many people it is. However, so many things must be considered regardless if the song is for an audition or just to put in your set. Is the song in your range? If not can it be transposed into the appropriate key? Is it age appropriate? This isn't just for young people singing songs that are clearly too adult but, for people in their 30's for example singing "On the good ship lollypop" If it is for an audition is the best choice to showcase your voice and style in a such a short amount of time. Sometimes a song we love to listen and sing with just may not be the best choice.
2) Learn The Song
Memorize the lyrics. Know what key you sing that song in. If the key changes anywhere in the song, know where that is and when exactly that happens. I realize that some singers don't know what "keys are?" In this case it doesn't matter. This is for the purpose of conveying information to another and to sound educated. Learn who wrote the song. If the song is from a musical, know what show and who the composers are. Understand where each verse is, chorus and bridge. If you do not know the difference between a verse, chorus and bridge...LEARN IT!!! Understand where the most powerful 16 bars are. HINT..It usually isn't at the beginning. Most of the time it is the bridge and the last verse. However, you may not even have that much time. Know where the good stuff is. Mark the music for an accompanist and make sure each page is photocopied , separated and taped on the back. This is usually for auditions. But whatever the reason, you do not want the accompanist having to stop to figure out where they are. Or worse, have a big book fall of the piano. Bottom line if they mess up. You mess up. You are the one that was supposed to be prepared.
3) Interpret The song
This is where a true performer is going to shine. What is the song about. I mean really about. Let's talk about so many of you kids that are getting gigs at Disney. What is the song "Part of your world" about? A mermaid who wants to live on land right? Well, sure. But, maybe there is something more. Maybe the song is about someone longing to be somewhere else. Someone believing that life would be so much better "if only". Suddenly a song that very few people can relate to becomes a song that everyone can relate to. Who hasn't at one time or another thought "if only"? Use all your acting skills, talents, body language and facial expressions to tell the story of your song.
4) Add Movement
Okay, this is important. You have to add some kind of movement to every song. Movement. Not full choreography! Movement can be an outstretched hand at the right time, or a smile a head tilt...a faster song may just need some swaying to not look boring in an audition. In a performance you will need more choreography and that must be worked on. Otherwise your song, your entire performance will be lifeless. Also, if this is not something that comes naturally to you, ask for help. Hire someone. You do not want to look awkward and robotic.
5) Make The Song Your Own
By far, this can be a very creative part of the process. This is where you can break away from what you have heard a million times before and try something new. Change the ending. Or, work with someone to add a different kind of chord progression to it. Maybe you want to speak a line to give it more intensity. Whatever it takes. You may not have written the song but, you have to look and sound like it is yours, yours and all yours.
Don't you ever just wish you were one of those lucky people? The ones that just seem to get everything they dream about....Everything we all dream about? Well, I've been watching these "lucky" people a lot lately and here is what I've noticed.
1. Most of them aren't lucky at all. They work very hard for the things that they get. We don't hear about that we only hear about the part where it all turns to gold.
2. There aren't really lucky people vs. non lucky people as much as there are smart people or should I say people who really you use their God given smarts in a way that many of us just don't.
3. These people also seem to have an incredible amount of patience and they do not give up.
I'm not saying there aren't cases of luck. There are both good and bad. Winning the lottery is a case of very good luck. Then again, what does everyone who has ever won the lottery in any amount have in common? ANSWER- They all got off their behinds and bought at least one ticket. If I won the big lottery last week it would've not only been luck, it would've been a miracle since I didn't buy a ticket. So, even something as vast as the lottery isn't all a matter of luck.
Real luck is when a tornado rips through your neighborhood and for some unknown reason decides to leave your home untouched. Or 2 brothers spend their lives smoking cigarettes. The same brand and the same amount. One develops heart disease and the other lives a healthy long life. We have to call that luck.
Other than those things that are completely random, if you think about it most luck has some work or preparation behind it. Many people define luck as the moment when hard work and opportunity meet. Well, if this is true, then we all have a shot at being one of the luckiest people alive. We can create our own luck.
If we want something. Really really want something. We should be willing to put lots of time, energy and work into it. The "thing" we want should be worthy of it. And, finding opportunities to show off our hard work aren't that hard.
Of course I'm thinking of all of you that are pursuing careers as performers. If you are in my neck of the woods, I can find you multiple opportunities to showcase your hard work any given day or night of the week. If this is done long enough and with the attitude that the lucky people have ....not giving up, incredible patience etc. there is no other outcome then success.
I'm not exactly sure what your success will be or what success means to you. However, I bet when you tell your story someone says "wow, you're really lucky"
So now let's raise a glass to those who actually went out,bought that ticket, and had it pay off BIG!!! (THIS IS REALLY CUTE)