High School Musical Wins Gay Subtext Emmy

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LOS ANGELES, CA – In a category packed with worthy nominees, the Disney Channel movie High School Musical took home the Emmy Award on Sunday for Best Television Programming With Gay Subtext. The Emmy was presented by former West Wing stars Bradley Whitford and Rob Lowe to Musical director Kenny Ortega, who won the Oscar for Gay Subtext in 1993 for his work on Newsies.

The victory for High School Musical was an upset in a category that featured four solid returning nominees: Arrested Development, Everwood , Smallville, and The O.C. The nominations caused some controversy, as gay subtext fans were disappointed by the omission of high school detective drama Veronica Mars. Shrugged one Emmy insider.

Although FOX studios had launched a marketing campaign for its hit show Prison Break, the show was ruled ineligible for the category under the “If it takes place in a prison, it probably isn’t subtext clause.

Some Hollywood experts had predicted a win for Arrested Development as a fitting farewell to the show that spent three seasons with the character Tobias Fünke mining the English language for the gayest possible double entendres. However, even Emmy voters looking to pay tribute to Arrested Development could not ignore the blatant gay subtext of High School Musical. “They had me at the title,” confessed one Emmy voter.

High School Musical, which quickly became a sensation among pre-teen Disney Channel viewers, tells the story of a jock and a brain who cause major upset to the status quo of their cliquish school when they audition for the school musical. Although none of the characters is openly gay, the flames burn bright across the screen throughout the movie. The reigning school star is a triple threat who sings romantic duets with his despotic sister, and who has a tendency towards tight pants and colorful hats that accent his stylish wardrobe. In the gayest onscreen occurrence, he shares a brief moment with a sensitive athlete who has been mocked by his peers for his love of baking.

The movie features countless other ambiguously gay characters, including a reclusive composer who mysteriously dons a tuxedo and bowler hat that would make any drag king proud, and a basketball team that is suspiciously agreeable to choreography. While the network shows nominated featured more screen time devoted to shirtless male horseplay, it was the incredibly gay singing and dancing that propelled High School Musical to victory.

This year’s ceremony marked the tenth year that the Emmy for Gay Subtext, known informally as the HoYay! Award, has been presented. The Emmy was first awarded in 1996 to the show Xena: Warrior Princess.

Response to High School Musical Auditions

To the many who have contacted me about Disney’s High School Musical 3 auditions – I regret to inform you I have nothing to do with them. I have even been contacted by hopeful actors who have told me the Disney Channel is giving out my contact info for auditions. I have a hard time believing that – but again, my regrets to inform you I do not work for Disney or HSM3.

As an additional tip – if you search “audition” on my website you will find many articles I have written about the audition process and tips to improve your success. Emailing people and saying “please fly me to auditions I’m really good” is not really the way to do it. And I say that to be helpful to your careers.

High School Musical Two – HSM 2

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High School Musical 2 is the sequel to the Emmy Award winning Disney Channel Original Movie, High School Musical. High School Musical 2 is set to debut on Disney Channel on August 17, 2007. It is the first DCOM to have commercials on ABC.

PLOT

Over summer vacation, the East High Wildcats are ready to enjoy their vacation and earn some money at summer jobs. Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) lands a job at the country club, Lava Springs, not knowing that his job is a part of Sharpay Evans’s (Ashley Tisdale) plan to steal him from Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens). Accidentally foiling Sharpay’s plot, Troy not only helps Gabriella get a job as a lifeguard, but also lands jobs for Chad (Corbin Bleu), Taylor (Monique Coleman), Zeke (Chris Warren Jr), Martha (Kaycee Stroh), Kelsi (Olesya Rulin), Jason (Ryne Sanborn) and the rest of his Wildcat teammates.

Making it worse, Sharpay finds out Kelsi has written a duet for Troy and Gabriella that’s sure to outperform everyone at the club’s annual Midsummer Night’s Talent Show. Reminded of her humiliation in winter musical, Sharpay is determined not to suffer a repeat and forms her own campaign to make sure she’s not upstaged again. As they go head to head, Troy is enjoying the life of the privileged set, and begins to question his values. [1]

CAST

* Zac Efron as Troy Bolton
* Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella Montez
* Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay Evans
* Lucas Grabeel as Ryan Evans
* Corbin Bleu as Chad Danforth
* Monique Coleman as Taylor McKessie
* Olesya Rulin as Kelsi Nielsen
* Chris Warren Jr. as Zeke Baylor
* Kaycee Stroh as Martha Cox
* Ryne Sanborn as Jason Cross
* Bart Johnson as Jack Bolton

101 Things We Learn from Disney’s High School Musical

  1. Hitting someone in the face with a cream pie is still funny
  2. If you’ve been dating for 5 days, it’s ok to start holding hands
  3. Dancing jazz squares still sells tickets
  4. It’s easy to bounce a ball in time and dance
  5. Basketball players have feelings too
  6. You can hack into a school electrical grid with a laptop
  7. Most high schools have dozens of pro music arrangers to choose from
  8. “Coming Out of the Closet” means you admit to playing cello
  9. It’s normal to see full scale choreography in the school cafeteria at lunch time
  10. A good rhyme for a song is “Are you gonna be strong, gonna sing a song…”
  11. High school students still need to “stick it to the man”
  12. Basketball players can sing three part harmony
  13. In Disney shows, couples fall in love without ever kissing
  14. German and French sound the same
  15. Now post some of your own!

And you know what, I’m running out of things to add to my “101 THINGS” list – can you guys help me out and add your own?

Looking forward to your lists!

HSM DVD Release Party

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Yea! It’s finally going to be here! Cast, crew and production staff are invited to a premier showing of the DVD of Theater Arts Guild’s presentation of Disney’s High School Musical.

Cast, crew and production staff should have already received an email with the time and place of the showing – this is a private showing and not open to the public.

Disney HSM 2007

Disney’s High School Musical run at McIntyre Hall (Mount Vernon, WA) has wrapped. Thanks to all for a very fun run. Special kudos to our tech crew on this show – thank you for all your hard work.

Here on my website I have a whole section just for High School Musical related articles and photos – check out the “High School Musical” link on the right bar navigation.

HSM 2007 PROGRAM CREDITS

Disney’s High School Musical
Book by David Simpatico
Original songs by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil; Ray Cham, Greg Cham and Andrew Seeley; Randy Petersen and Kevin Quinn; Andy Dodd and Adam Watts; Bryan Louiselle; David N. Lawrence and Faye Greenberg; Jamie Houston.

Music adapted, arranged and produced by Bryan Louiselle

Based on a Disney Channel Original Movie Written by Peter Barsocchini

Theater Arts Guild Production March 23 – April 7, 2007
Produced by Jann Barem, Clarence Holden and Harold Page
Directed by Scott McDade
Musical Direction by Conrad Askland
Choreographed by Donna Carroll and Jennifer Newell
Lighting Design by Steven Craig

CAST
Troy Bolton – Ryan McNamara
Gabriella Montez – Miranda Zickler
Sharpay Evans – Havalah Calderon and Adria Finch
Ryan Evans – Cody Adelman
Chad Danforth – Mikel Armstrong
Taylor McKessie – Emma Lynn
Kelsi Neilson – Sarah Damstra and Mandy Vander Mey
Zeke Baylor – Stefan Vanden Kooy
Martha Cox – Kaela Springer
Jack Scott – Mason Eger
Ms. Darbus – Laurie Miller
Coach Bolton – Bruce Vilders

Cheerleaders – Ellis Jones, Haylie Ingman, Carly Richter and Lisa Wallace

Jocks – Jake Updegraff, Justin Lawrence, Connor Crosby, Tyler Luvera, Miles Lee, Jeff Huschka, Michael Peterson

Braniacs – Emily Lester, Alec Hernandez, Madeline Furlong, Lauren Leer, Mathias Struck

Thespians – Pete Grace, Rebecca Wright, Amelia Furlong, Lauren Sigfusson, Chloe Roberts, Emma Ferguson, Nicole Jennings

Skaters – Lindsee Nichols, Demi Fair, Chelsea Hawkinson, Courtney Blunt, Jana Collins, Kyle Mitchell

Wildcat Dancers – Mikalah Barem, Adria Finch, Gina Wallace, Braelyn Whited, Miranda Peterson, Malia Woodard, Felisha Palomera

Wildcat Students – Teylor Wilber, Kiralee Nichols, Ashley Christoferson, Dorothy Howard, Laura Andrich, Emily Watilo, Emily Shapiro and Hanna Ermi.

Voice of Ms. Tenny – Shelby Celia
Voice of Decathlon Moderator – Rebecca Wright

UNDERSTUDIES
Gabriella Montez – Lauren Leer
Taylor McKessie – Lauren Sigfusson
Zeke – Jake Updegraff
Martha Cox – Miranda Peterson
Ryan Evans – Pete Grace

PRODUCTION STAFF
Producers – Jann Barem, Clarence Holden and Harold Page
Director – Scott McDade
Musical Director/Conductor – Conrad Askland
Choreographers Donna Carroll and Jennifer Newell
Stage Manager – Dave Wright
Set Designer – Scott McDade
Design Consultants – Harold Paige and Steven Craig
Costumer – Cathy Pfahl
Lighting Designer – Steven Craig
Makeup / Hair Designer – Amy Vermulm
Makeup Assistants – Nicole Trepus and Claire Miller
Props Managers – Amanda McDaniel and Suzann McLamb
Director’s Assistant – Shelby Celia
Choreographer’s Assistant – Tessa Bisby
Costume Assistants – D.J. Walker and Cecilia Andress
Dance Captians – Adria Finch and Miranda Peterson
Audio Engineer – Kyle Blevins
Audio Tech 2 – Milton Grambo
Baksetball Coaches – Anton Fero and Bruce Vilders
Volunteer Coordinator – Ann Nelson
Set Construction Lead – Don Willcuts
Set Construction Crew – Mark O’Brien, Phillip Brown, Bob Jones, Joriah Barnett, Walter Pfahl, Aaron Haba, Roger Ragusa, Leif Barem, Glen Huschka, Bruce Vilders

Scenic Painter – Karen Bakke
Set Painters – Elizabeth Haba, Alicia Huschka, Glen Huschka, Elizabeth Risser, Kathy Lester, Karen Gardner-Brown, Kathy Brackett, Clarice Lee, Ebony Lee, Debbie Mitchell and Dave Mitchell

Productin Photographers – Gary Brown and Eric Hall
Program – McDade and Company
Program Assistants – Jann Barem and Harold Paige
Program Photographer – Scott McDade

RUNNING CREW
Fly Lead – Dave Mumford
Fly Crew – Spencer Demarais, Nate Young, Roger Ragusa and Leif Barem
Stage Crew – Chelsea Lankford, Madelynne Nore, Lauren Reilly and Anna Oomen
Light Board Operator – James Yandel
Follow-spot Operators – Wes Furlong and Cameron Craig

ORCHESTRA
Conductor/Keyboard 1 – Conrad Askland
Keyboard 2 – Brianne Weaver
Guitar 1 – Luke Hansen
Guitar 2 and Saxophone – Kyle McInnis
Bass Guitar – Peter Bridgman
Percussion – Oscar De La Rosa
Drums – David Bridgman

Keytar Photos

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Thanks to Gary Brown for these photos from our half time show for Disney’s High School Musical. I ham it up by playing a Roland Keytar through a JP8000 synth. The best part is at intermission when the kids come down to the pit to see all the musicians. On some shows I’ve let the kids each take turns playing my Keytar. They start by asking “What’s that?” and I say “It’s a keytar!” – then they say “What’s a keytar?” and I say “It’s a keyboard that wants to be a guitar!” – and the great thing about kids is: That’s a perfect reasonable explanation to them and they accept that. I’m sure it makes it more fun for them to watch the half time show after they’ve seen the keytar up close and played it themselves.

Audiences have been really fantastic for this run. They are very enthusiastic to jam with the band by clapping and singing along to our jams. Each show’s jam is a little bit different – and I know each night how much the crowd enjoyed it by their lion-like screams and yells when we’re done. Life is good.

The keytar I use is the Roland AX-1 – I used this for a couple shows when I toured with Freddy Fender but he didn’t care for it much – “Dude, why do you have to play so many notes?” – I don’t think he ever heard of Keith Emerson.

It was really fun to dust off my keytar for this show. Disneys High School Musical is very “bubble-gummy” – and the keytar came to mind as the perfect complement to the show. Opening night I picked it up out of storage and we worked up a jam with the band.

I predict the keytar will be the new secret weapon of the Vikings when they regroup and once again being their world domination.

HISTORY OF THE KEYTAR

A keytar is a keyboard or synthesizer worn around the neck and shoulders, similar to a guitar. The word “keytar” is a portmanteau of “keyboard” and “guitar”. Keytars allow players a greater range of movement, compared to conventional keyboards, which are placed on stands.

Originally the creation of guitarist Steve Masakowski, the keytar was commercially introduced in 1978 as the Moog Liberation. The first Liberation owner (#1001) was Spyro Gyra keyboardist Tom Schuman (with numbers 1002, 1003, and 1004 owned by the band Devo).

Perhaps one of the earliest printed use of the term “Keytar” was circa 1980 in an interview of Jeffrey Abbott (owner of Moog Liberation #1005) by Tom Lounges of Illianabeat magazine (now Midwest BEAT Magazine)

The keytar was made popular in the 1980s by hair bands, as well as synthpop and New Wave groups. Changing trends in music diminished the keytar’s popularity shortly thereafter. The keytar has enjoyed new visibility due in part to software innovations from companies like Musiclab (RealGuitar), UltimateSoundBank (PlugSound) and the Williams (Keytar V-1).

THE ROLAND AX-1

The Roland AX-1 is a keytar (a shoulder-held clavier keyboard worn like a guitar) that does not produce its own sounds but controls other devices (such as keyboards, sound modules, and samplers) via MIDI.

Henrik Klingenberg of metal band Sonata Arctica played an AX-1 before upgrading to a Roland AX-7.

More recently, Jake Hallman, pianist for Eric Lee Beddingfield and County Line was seen playing an AX-1 at several live shows, a rarity in country/Southern rock music.French Maestro Jean-Michel Jarre has used the AX-1 Both a Black(with customised lower Octave having reversed colour keys)and also the Red Version during his Europe in concert tour back in 1993

Imogen Heap formerly of British pop duo Frou Frou sported an AX-1 while touring with Frou Frou and on her solo tours.

ALTERNATE NAMES FOR A KEYTAR

* keyboard guitar
* Synth-Axe
* remote keyboard
* portable keyboard
* belly-synth
* synth guitar (not to be confused with MIDI Guitar)
* master keyboard (as most were used as MIDI controllers)
* electroponce
* Schmidtkeytar
* Kaytar
* Piano guitar (in french Canada)

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Peter Bridgman – Bass Guitar

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Oscar De La Rosa – Percussion

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Luke Hansen – Guitar

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David Bridgman – Drums

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More pics of Conrad with his Keytar

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Brianne Weaver – Keyboards

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Pit Band Musician Photos – High School Musical

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Exceedingly rare and vintage pit band photos of the musicians for Disney’s High School Musical presentation at McIntyre Hall 2007. These musicians were VERY fun and intense to work with. When we get a tight groove going on it feels more like we’re cruising down the street with the subs cranking.

UPDATE – MORE BAND PHOTOS HERE!

Most of the musicians I’ve worked with before on other productions and they are all my first choice players to work with right now. They consistently rise to the occasion and raise the bar where most others would have folded and settled for “just ok”.

These photos are courtesy of Gary Brown at Stage Images – he’s doing a lot of photography for live shows now and prints are available online. Gary is kind enough to spend a little time taking pictures of the musicians which they REALLY appreciate. Pit orchestras are usually overlooked when it comes to photo opportunities, so players rarely have pictures of themselves playing their instruments.

But Gary, I think I should point out that all of these musicians are devlishly handsome except for me. I think you accidentally hit the “ugly” button when you took my photos. Does anyone know a good photoshop airbrush artist?

UPDATE 04/07 – Gary took some new pics of me and I really like them. Check out the KEYTAR PHOTOS – Thank you Gary!

HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC BY DISNEY – PIT BAND PHOTOS

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Oscar De La Rosa – Percussion
Oscar is the “mojo” of our group

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Luke Hansen – Guitar
Luke grows guitar amps in his backyard

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Kyle McInnis – Guitar and Saxophone
Plays the best “Mario Brothers Theme”
this side of the Mississippi

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In the Orchestra Pit
Throw a flank steak into the pit – we’ll keep playing

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David Bridgman – Drums

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with Peter Bridgman – Bass

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Conrad Askland – Conductor and Keyboards
Five keyboard rig for fast changes

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Conrad warms up the crowd for Act II
with his “Keytar” – a keyboard that wishes
it was a guitar

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View from the Drums looking up at the Balcony
in McIntyre Hall – Skagit College Campus

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The Band is Focused and Intense

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Brianne Weaver – Keyboards

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Ray Cham – HSM Song Composer – Dies

Our condolences to the family of Ray Cham. Ray was one of the songwriters for Disney’s High School Musical.

Ray Cham, 2006 Emmy-nominated Songwriter/Producer, passed away in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 4, 2007. Cham passed away from injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident. Cham was 35.

Ray Cham was described as …a great musical talent & genius, who hadn’t even begun to tap his full potential yet.
Ron Fair, Chairman, Geffen Records

Ray Cham was co-writer with his brother for music and lyrics to “Get Your Head In the Game” – arguably the most well known song from High School Musical. He was also a 2006 Emmy Nominee for Outstanding Original Music with Getcha Head in the Game.

We are currently running High School Musical and I can tell you that the “Getcha Head in the Game” song is one that really binds the cast together. It’s a great positive message for everyone, not just kids. I think it’s every composer’s desire to create music that outlives themselves, and in that respect the Cham’s have hit a bullseye with this song. Kudos on that.

RAY CHAM is survived by his wife Alexandria Cham, two children Raymond Jr. and Romijn of Los Angeles; and his brother, Emmy-nominated co-writer Greg Cham of Los Angeles.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Ray Cham started his career in 1998 working as a musician and arranger for TLC, Aaron Hall, Morris Day, Tracy Spencer and Brandy. He was a producer, arranger, musician and songwriter, having written for Christina Aguilera, Sting, Mya , Sounds of Blackness, Miami Sound Machine, and Hoku. He developed and arranged the live shows for many artists including Toni Braxton, Kenny Loggins, Monica, Earth, Wind & Fire, Aguilera and Destiny’s Child.

Most recently he was a songwriter, producer and music supervisor for many of the Disney musicals and television shows – including the CHEETAH GIRLS and HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. He was a 2006 Emmy nominee for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the song GET’CHA HEAD IN THE GAME that he co-wrote with his brother Emmy-nominee Greg Cham, and recording artist/composer and Emmy nominee Drew Seeley. He was music supervisor and composer for the Disney Channel film GOTTA KICK IT UP, and most recently wrote, produced and did tour arrangement for the CHEETAH GIRLS CD and tour.

Through his company Last Man Standing Inc., he was developing talent as well as writing songs for the next HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL movie and CD, as well as developing Seeley as a solo artist. Ray Cham most recently worked with Seeley on the recent HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL live show where Seeley was the male lead vocalist.

Memorial services will be held on TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2007 @ 11:00 a.m.

Pre-Service @ 10:30 a.m.

Westchester Christian Church

(site of Breath of Life Seventh-day Adventist

8740 LaTijera Blvd., Westchester, CA 90045

General viewing will be held on:

MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2007 @ 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Holy Cross Mortuary – located at:

5835 W. Slauson Ave., Culver City, CA. 90230

Disney HSM – Cast and Musician Photos

Disney’s High School Musical opened at McIntyre Hall on March 23, 2007 for a three week run. Here are some photos of the HSM cast and musicians in rehearsal. Full cast is almost sixty strong and the live pit band is seven musicians (and six keyboards!).

High School Musical Cast at McIntyre Hall – Warmups

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HSM Cast in General Rehearsal

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HSM Musicians Setting Up In Orchestra Pit

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Rhythm Section Compares Notes

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Conductor’s Keyboard Rig

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Oscar De La Rosa – Percussion

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Scott McDade – Director

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Cathy Pfahl – Costume Design

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Theater Arts Guild Gobo

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Jann Barem and Harold Paige

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Disney High School Musical

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Mount Vernon, WA – Disney’s High School Musical opens at McIntyre Hall (Mount Vernon, WA) on March 23, 2007 for a threek week run. Included in the run is a school show and a bargain night on Thursday March 29th.

This show is the latest craze with pre-teen audiences. See it and find out what the fad is all about. It’s silly, it’s fun and great family entertainment. And the message of the play is fantastic: Don’t accept what others think about you, follow your dreams.

I can tell you we have a very strong ensemble chorus and we’re all looking forward to the opening. If you have a child in elementary or middle school, this would be a great show to see with them.

See you at the show!

Bringing Vocals Forward

The challenging part of vocal coaching is getting singers to understand the feeling of vocal placement for their particular voice. It’s common at some point to show a vocalist an actual anatomy picture of the throat and muscles involved in vocal production. After that, it’s a mind game to have them understand the nuance of their own instrument.

One way to have singers bring the sound forward is to have them push out with their hands slowly while they are singing. It will look something like water aerobics – a bit silly looking and awkward. But I’ve heard this work well with individuals and especially in larger vocal ensembles. Just in bringing the hands forward I would estimate a 30% increase in overall volume without degradation of tone.

With a vocalist recently we tried this excercise but it wasn’t producing the desired effect. So I had them actually walk forward slowly while singing several phrases. For this particular vocalist it did the trick. The lightbulb went off in their head and they were very excited to feel the difference in bringing the sound forward.

Often I have heard a vocalist who is singing individual notes, but not driving through the end of a phrase. It’s as if they are sitting complacently on each note. The hand and walking excersises prove useful in getting a vocalist to visualize the forward motion of a phrase.

When a vocal phrase is “given up on” before it’s completion, it’s not very interesting to listen to. Why should the listener be engaged if the vocalist is not interested in the phrase? By singing through with intent to the very last note of a phrase, the listener is engaged in what is happening.

The walking forward is nothing I have ever read about – but came about because of a related idea I keep in mind. If you are instructing someone and they are not fully grasping the thought then you have two basic approaches: you can keep repeating the same information until they get it, or you can find a new way to explain the concept. I have found that finding a new analogy or explanation is infinitely more productive. I’ve slowly made it a habit. The reward is seeing the lightbulb shine in someone’s eyes; yes, they’ve got it!

And the thought that drives the creation of different examples is this: Know the final outcome you want. Chances are there are many varied roads to get there. Just pick one.

High School Musical Part Two

hsm2poster.jpgHigh School Musical Part Two begins production soon. The movie is slated to begin production in Utah on February 19th, 2007.

On February 9th, it was reported that three of the cast members are holding out for a more lucrative contract. The actors reported to be involved in the dispute are Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu and Vanessa Anne Hudgens. Disney Channel representatives claimed rehearsals would begin on schedule at the end of February.

HSM 2 PLOT

To stay together as a team during the summer, the East High Wildcats get jobs at the Evans’ country club as caddies, bus boys, and cooks. Every year the country club puts on a show in which all the club members and employees put on their own acts. Sharpay unites the club members, while the basketball team organizes the employees.

The producer, Bill Borden, has confirmed that Troy will kiss Gabriella, and that there will be a musical number that occurs at the swimming pool.

PLANNED CREDITS

Directed by Kenny Ortega
Produced by Bill Borden
Written by Peter Barsocchini
Starring Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman
Distributed by Disney Channel
Planned Release date August 17, 2007
Preceded by High School Musical
Followed by Haunted High School Musical

Definition of Tessitura

Literally, “tessitura” is the Italian for “texture.” So it isn’t just the range of pitches that is included in the concept of “tessitura”, but also their arrangement. Examples of differences in tessitura include: does the piece have mostly sudden or gradual rises and falls in pitch; the relative number of very high or low notes, not just the total range; whether lines and phrases of music in the piece tend to rise or fall – the muscular tendencies of a singer may be more suited to one or the other direction. Speed of the changes in pitch is also a factor.

The ability to sing pieces with fast or slow note-changes is related to the muscular tendencies of a singer. This difference may be similar to, or identical to, the distinction made in sports medicine between slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscular abilities. Singers who can change pitch easily and gracefully may have difficulty singing long, sustained passages, and vice versa. Young singers need to learn this and until they do, may choose pieces which they can’t sing well — the tessitura needs to be considered.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tessitura

Pharyngeal Vowel Exercise

Pharyngeal Vowel Exercise:

Excerpt:

The next step is to work with the pharyngeal vowel exercise that I designed years ago. I have found it works with approximately 95% of singers. Have the singer sing a 5-tone descending scale with the tongue between the lips imaging the vowel space straight back behind the tongue. Then have the singer place the tongue inside the mouth and sing the five basic vowels in any sequence KEEPING the pharyngeal vowel space behind the tongue root. You will find a large, resonant, yet body-connected sound results. Vocalizing with the tongue between the lips in the middle register demands a body connection and this is a good way for teachers to vocalize any student who has difficulty with this concept.

Causes of Vocal Fatigue

Causes of Vocal Fatigue by David Jones (2001) VoiceTeacher.com.

Causes:

(1) Smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages.

(2) Belting: using too much chest voice pushed up to high in the scale.

(3) Using a technique with a tight solar plexus during singing.

(4) Singing with a high larynx.

(5) Singing with a low soft palate.

(6) Singing with a forward jaw position.

(7) Singing with the vocal cords too far apart or too squeezed together.

(8) Pushing too much breath pressure through the larynx.

(9) Incorrect posture; dropped chest or hyper-extended chest.

(10) Singing with the head posture pushed forward from the spine.

(11) Use of mouth vowels instead of pharyngeal vowels.

(12) Unsupported singing; lack of connection to the resistance of breath pressure in the lower back and abdominal muscles.

Visualization Rehearsal Tip

During an initial rehearsal with the vocal chorus of a musical, something seemed out of place to me. The cast was very talented, there was just a lack of focus. How do you get all that talent to bring it as far as they can? I spent the better part of a week mulling this over. I came to the conclusion that the lack of focus had nothing to do with a lack of intent. It had more to do with a lack of knowledge on how to rehearse most effectively. Or more accurately, a lack of quality rehearsal habits.
Thoughts and actions repeated become habits. Through repetition you can create the habits you want for your cast that will make the difference in between an ok show and an exciting adventure.

Breaking in a cast can seem a little like breaking in a horse. So know in advance what your expectations are and keep driving that home until it happens without thinking. Here’s a two step process I used tonight for breaking in a new cast and I feel it was effective.

FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION

I think a non-equity (read non-professional) cast needs a delineation for when concentration begins. I began by showing them a hand clap signal. I clap a “ta-ta-teetee-ta” rhythm and they respond in like. Over the evening we repeated this with an expectation of total silence at the end. Perhaps a little grade-schoolish, but a good tool bringing a large cast back to focus. If there wasn’t silence then I would repeat the sequence. The whole idea being to make the instant focus switch a habit.
Most pros have an imaginary veil they step through that delineates a time for focus. At some point they were probably taught how to do that. If there’s something you do well, there’s probably a little pause you take before beginning the task. That’s your mental preparation.

VISUALIZATION

I had the cast split up into four sections. We did “Row Row Row Your Boat” as a round with each part singing once through and starting every other line. There were some snickers because that was a bit silly. Then I asked them to do it again but not to sing. They were instructed to hear the parts in their head. There were a lot of confused looks and hands went flying up, and I just cued the first group who started singing. A few started singing, not quite understanding the game yet. I stopped and told them again that we were doing the song but no one should sing, they should just hear it in their head. I started the first group, then the other three.

Here’s the great part. In many of the cast’s eyes I could see a lightbulb shining. An “AHA” moment. Many of them could indeed hear the singing in their minds. I wonder if for some of them this was the first exposure they had to visualization as a rehearsal tool.

Then they were instructed that while one part was practicing, they should be running their own parts in their minds. That’s the purpose of this exercise. For cast members to get in the habit of rehearsing parts in their head while other groups are singing.

Keep demonstrating different takes on visualization until it becomes a habit for the cast. As a musician, I can see most of the music I play in my head. If I can’t see it, that means I don’t really have a grasp on it. Many times I’ll practice in my head to find out the rough parts I need to work on. If I can’t see it, then that’s what I have to work on.

May seem like work, but this is one rehearsal tip for lazy people. By incorporating visualization into your practice time you can get as much done in 1/3 the time.

If you have other visualization tips for actors and singers please drop a comment here and let me know about them.

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