Posts with the label west end guide to singing
Showing posts with label west end guide to singing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label west end guide to singing. Show all posts

Saturday, 24 November 2018

A Stagey Guide to Singing... Mané Galoyan | La Traviata | Interview

Mané Galoyan is currently helming the UK tour of Glyndebourne's La Traviata where she plays the heartbreaking character of Violetta. Watching the opera, one thing was evident: Mané's voice and technique are second to none, so I jumped at the chance to get some inside information and tips all about singing from the lady herself...



Can you tell me a little about your vocal journey and training?
I started voice and piano lessons at the age of 9 and I’ve always been lucky because I had the best teachers. I hold my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Yerevan State Komitas Conservatory, after which I was a studio artist at Houston Grand Opera for its 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons.


Violetta is a vocally demanding role, how do you maintain your voice and vocal health?
For me, the only thing that is very important is a good night’s sleep. Since our instrument is our body itself, we just need to treat our body with respect and care, but nothing is better then a good night’s sleep and healthy food. Other than that, I live my life as I normally would (without any extremes, of course! ha ha)


Violetta is also an extremely emotional role, how do you distance yourself from the emotion so your voice remains strong and you're not overly affected by it personally?
The truth is, you can’t fully distance yourself from Violetta. It is an extremely relatable role and I remember when I first started working on the score I was sobbing reading through the text. But it is important to understand that you are not the character – you are just the one who gives voice to the character and keeps it alive. It is indeed a fine balance to keep the emotions and the technique on the same level, but that is the challenge and of course the rehearsals are there to help you to find it!


What is your pre-show warm up like?
I usually do at least 5-10 minutes of yoga to stretch my body and warm it up first. It’s much easier to warm up your voice after your body is warmed up and your breath is going. And then some humming, a couple of scales, check in with the score and ready to go!


Who is your dream duet partner?
A partner who is always present dramatically and who I can make beautiful music with! And right now I am very lucky to have Luis Gomes as my partner in La Traviata. He is the best!


If you could describe performing in 5 words, what would they be?
Sharing, living, exciting, transforming, loving.


What's your top piece of advice for aspiring singers?
Always be open to accept feedback from the professionals around you, but never forget to listen to your own intuition…

La Traviata is on again at the New Victoria Theatre on 24th November, before continuing it's tour.

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell


A Stagey Guide to Singing... Mané Galoyan | La Traviata | Interview

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Sunday, 15 July 2018

A Stagey Guide To Singing... Josefina Gabrielle | Chicago | Stagey Sunday

Welcome back to Stagey Sunday! I hope you're all well and not too saddened by the football... although if you're reading this, the chances are that you were at the theatre instead of in front of a TV! Anyway, this weeks guide to singing is brought to you by the female lead of Chicago the musical, Josefina Gabrielle who plays Velma. Josefina started her career as a dancer before transitioning into the world of singing so it's really interesting to hear how she built up her voice and stamina to be able to perform such a demanding role...


Can you tell me a bit about your vocal journey? 
Well I went to a theatre school, Arts Educational school, from about the age of 10 so we had an all round performing arts education. It incorporated singing, ballet, jazz, modern, tap, drama, you name it! So I had that in my life for as long as I can remember. 

Then I specialised in Classical ballet, so I danced only for quite a few years and, I worked abroad. When I came home to London after about 8 years, I joined Carousel the musical which was being done at the National Theatre. They needed strong ballet dancers so there was this perfect break from one world into the next so then I was surrounded by singing again and kind of got back on the saddle with that. 

I had been a soprano and hadn’t really experimented with the musical theatre sound, mixing or belting or anything like that so I learnt a lot about that during my time at Carousel. I learnt a lot about different voice types as I joined different companies and slowly developed a belt voice which was quite daunting at first because it’s quite muscular, you know you can push the wrong way and make yourself hoarse. So that was quite an interesting journey and I think having a typical dancer mentality I pushed it quite a lot which made it strong but compromised it’s flexibility. So that’s been my journey into different sounds! 

I went to a singing teacher for a little while who gave me all the knowledge on how to belt but it felt painful, so I shied away from it. But as I came to acquire, note by note slowly, I was able to process what she’d told me to do. But at the time it felt scary. It’s like doing push-ups! Twang and tilt are also an important part of that- I’ve learnt all the terms along the way! 


Was there anyone or anything that got you into music in the first place? 
I’ve always enjoyed music, my primary school before I went to ArtsEd- my mum has since told me cause you don’t think about these things as a child- focussed a lot on the arts so we did have a lot of musical appreciation. I remember playing all the percussion stuff and recorder and clarinet and things. So I’d already started that journey at my primary school so I think it's always been a part of my life. 

And then in the classical ballet world you dance to so much music. I feel like I’ve got quite a nice, wide variety of music that I appreciate and it’s quite wonderful to identify and recognise composers easily because I’ve acquired it as opposed to studied it. Rodgers and Hammerstein are a musical duo that I absolutely adore and Stephen Sondheim as well because there’s so much research and such an education while you're performing and learning the subjects and your journey. It's fascinating. And the structure of the way they write just does it for you really. 

I think maybe because I’ve come through dance, I’ve been a little gung-ho with my singing and sometimes I've not thought “well this is as good as it gets”; I've dared to be a bit rough on my voice and sort of thought, well, I’ll just face the consequences… I don't find that pure singing comes easily to me so I focus very much on telling the story through song and that seems to find my voice; so there’s always the thing of juggling the X and the Y, the technique and the emotion and I think I focus more on the emotion and hope the technique will follow! 

Josefina Gabrielle and Hugh Jackman as Laurey and Curly in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel

You've had a long career with Chicago now so you must know a lot of it like the back of your hand but are there any moments you still find hard or have to put extra focus on? 
I do find every every show that I do, I play my voice in, I’m not a person that can just pick something up and sing it beautifully. I need to almost dig a trench in my voice so once it’s played in I can do it. I’ve found that if I just treat it with respect but don’t get too fixated on it, it will find it’s way. I find a lot of that is once the breathing becomes choreography, you automatically prepare in the right way and you know when to hold, when to let go and when to not step on the gas. That just comes with repetition. I think that the moment my breathing has sorted out it’s choreography then I’m in safe hands. I also feel that I'm very much a voice that works with a mic. So the mic informs how I’m going to hold back or let go. 


You've recently had Mazz Murray join the cast of Chicago as Mama who your character Velma is very close to; what’s your process like when you work with someone new in terms of figuring out how to blend and balance one another? 
Again that comes with time, we’re early on so we’re still blending. But she's a wonderful musician and has one of my favourite voices. You know you're in fantastic hands and you just you feel and you listen and that’s how you come together, just like any orchestra would really. 


What are your tips for maintaining good vocal health? 
Drink a lot of water, the usual. Sleep, always get a decent amount of sleep. I have to be careful with acid reflux so I try not to eat too late at night. If I do eat too late at night or am feeling full or even just in case, I’m never far from Gaviscon Advance. Until you know about acid reflux, you may not even know you have it; it’s basically where the acid comes up your oesophagus and can sit on your cords and swell them. I didn’t realise but I’d often wake up coughing at night and I now know it’s because of the acid so now I'm very aware of that as it got me a lot of trouble in the past. 

I have an excellent warm up tape from by singing teacher Mark Meylan which I do religiously before every show and even when I'm not working, I’ll try and do that warm up regularly because my singing muscle needs to be looked after regularly. I’m not a person that can just sing, I need warming up well for flexibility. 


Who would your dream duet partner be? 
I’ve never really though about that! Well I just had the most amazing time singing with Ruthie Henshall; that felt wonderfully organic and I enjoyed it enormously. I'm now having a wonderful time working with Mazz and we're on a new journey. I even put this in Mazz Murray’s card on opening night that I have a laminated wish list of leading ladies I'd like to work with and two of them have come along at once! 


Could you tell me your top piece of advice for aspiring performers in terms of finding and maintaining their voice? 
Well I’ve kind of already blended those answers into my others but I’d say, don’t get upset because the emotions really affect your voice, they’re both in the same place so it can hinder performance. Breathing is terribly important and don’t push something they doesn’t want to go there- coax it gently and it will come!


A huge thank you to Josefina for taking the time to give her stories and advice on singing. You can catch her in Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre until 5th January 2019.

See you next Sunday for the final instalment of our singing guides!

A Stagey Guide To Singing... Josefina Gabrielle | Chicago | Stagey Sunday

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Sunday, 1 July 2018

A Stagey Guide To Singing... Dayle Hodge and Michael Watson | Jersey Boys (UK Tour) | Stagey Sunday

Happy July stagey people and welcome to the first instalment of this month's Stagey Sunday. This month, instead of focussing on a specific show, we're looking at vocal tips and advice from theatre professionals. As a classical singer in training, I find hearing about other people's vocal journeys and advice super interesting, so I hope others who are hoping to get into performing or just general theatre fans will find it interesting and fun too!

This week's advice is brought to you by the two Frankie Valli's of the current UK Tour of Jersey Boys: Michael Watson and Dayle Hodge...




What has your vocal journey been like?

Michael Watson: I always loved singing, I found my voice as a child and kind of carried on from there. As I progressed into shows, I met various teachers along the way who taught me their different ways. 

Dayle Hodge: I’ve always sung from a very early age. In fact I was probably singing before I could speak and always had Disney sing-a-long videos on at home and singing was always something that I just kind of did. I was part of the school choirs and things like that but I never went to a choir in a way of “I’m going to go to a choir, I want to be a singer”, I just sang. I started performing at a very early age, I went to theatre school when I was 2 and did my first professional job when I was 4 so I’ve always been performing.



I did have singing lessons as I got older but not really proper ones until I went to Arts Ed sixth form when I was 16. Obviously being a boy you go through your voice breaking; my voice broke when I was 13 and it took a while to get it where it needs to be and back into a place where I was comfortable singing again but in terms of the journey I just always sang. 


What/who got you into music? 
Michael: It was probably Michael Jackson and my mum really! She used to play a lot of music in the car and I loved that 

Dayle: Growing up I always watched so much Disney and I’m still a big Disney fan now (not many people aren’t!) so Disney put me in that direction. The first show that I loved and always was singing at home was Oliver. When I was a kid I wanted to be in it so that’s probably what made me want to get into performing. I’m also a huge fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury and his voice is one of, if not the best, male voices ever so he’s a real inspiration to me. 


You’ve had a pretty diverse career vocally. How do you adapt to various styles/genres and when did you find your Frankie voice? 
Michael: I kind of had the falsetto there already for Frankie and my singing teacher, Mark Meylan helped me hone it to be able to do it everyday and to strengthen it. I think if you can keep your you voice supple enough and do enough exercises, you can sing any style really. 

It’s about maintaining the voice. You always want to bring your voice back to zero after you’ve sung anything so I would do a warm up and a cool down. As long as you can keep your voice around that level you’ll be good! 

Dayle: It’s interesting because someone came in to do a talk with us at college and basically said “we don’t think people can be that different… If you’re in Phantom we’re not gonna see you for Mamma Mia” and I completely disagree with that, as you can see from my CV. I think you can adapt and you can change and it’s all just about knowing your voice and how to use it. Everybody’s voice is different, obviously you can be taught technique and skills but only you know what your voice can do, so you have to find your way of doing it and making it work. 

The singing teacher can help you do that safely and technically correct. The best singing teachers that I’ve worked with, use exercises that they have created and developed themselves rather than using somebody else’s technique which for me is brilliant. It’s them saying, "I was struggling with this so I developed this to help with that" and I can take their advice and ideas to put that to use myself. There are some parts that I love to use and some bits that don’t work for my voice. So it’s just about knowing your voice and how you use it. Obviously some people are very much suited to one style and can’t necessarily sing others or they have a smaller range so in regards to doing different styles I think using your voice and practising different things, not just what you find easy is the best way to develop. 


How do you maintain good vocal health? Do you have a tips of tricks for when you’re feeling down? 
Michael: I have a few things! I think the best thing any singer can do is stretch their whole body through yoga or something like that because you’ll find that tension in your voice can come from weird places in your body. You could have a bit of tension in you hip and it can affect your jaw. Or your alinement could be off so your jaw is poking forward and you didn’t realise so you’ll get fatigued quicker, so stretching is vital. 

In terms of illness, I like to use day nurse. Don’t steam too much. I use a thing called accent method if I’ve got a cold which is connecting to the breathing. Don’t warm up too quickly or push the voice and also don’t try to ignore it; you want to feel as free both physically and mentally as possible. If you have something else on your mind it can distract from focussing on your voice so it’s important to be free and relaxed. 

Dayle: Loads of water. Drink as much water as you can, even if it means you’re on the toilet every 5 minutes, just drink loads because it’s so good for you. If I feel my voice is getting tired I steam which puts high intensity water onto the vocal cords at a temperature that’s very hot and clears any rubbish that’s on your cords. And rest is a key thing, that’s what your voice thrives on really; the more rest it can get, the better it will be. I look after myself a lot, I don’t drink really or go out partying in loud places very often because you have to shout over the loud music and that will affect your voice. 

In terms of if you’re struggling and feeling under the weather, again those things with water and steaming will help, if you do it all the time. I don’t really take anything other than before a show I take gaviscon to stop any acid reflux, but I don’t like to reply on taking pills or anything like that because to me you’re then just covering up anything that’s damaged and then you could damage it more. 


What is your pre-show warm up like? 
Michael: So I come in, if I’m feeling a bit stiff I’ll have stretch then I’ll chill out for a bit. If I’m feeling tired I’ll do a bit of accent method which gets the breathing connected. Then I start with slow humming, some lips trills and a lot of tongue loosing exercises particularly for this role, and then some jaw loosening exercises. Then going higher into my falsetto with a lip trill, a bit more falsetto and I should be done at that point. The warm up only really takes about 10 minutes but with the stretching and stuff it’s about half an hour. 

Dayle: I have a singing teacher that I see every couple of weeks and have a lot of exercises that she gives me. With singing the Frankie Valli stuff it makes your tongue very tight so I do a lot of tongue loosening exercises which get your tongue out of the way of where you sing. The more space you can create in your mouth, the easier it is to sing. The top of your mouth is a dome so if you get your tongue out of the way of that, the sound can just swell in there. I do those exercises on my own and then we do a full company warm up which is more scales and stuff which get me to the notes which I’m going to need for the show. On my own it’s more of a mechanical warm up to make sure that the mechanics of my voice are ready and then with the full company I use that to get the notes in my voice warm and ready for the show. 


Who would your dream duet partner be? 
Michael: Well besides my fiancé, I think I’ll go for Celine Dion. Her voice is unreal. Or if I wanted to look like I couldn’t sing, I’d go with David Phelps who would school me, he’s got an amazing voice! 

Dayle: Oh that’s a good question! I’d definitely go with Freddie Mercury! 


What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring performers in terms of finding and maintaining your voice? 
Michael: My best advice is to find the right teachers. If you’ve got a voice that seems to do what you want it to do then just keep going and don’t think about it too much. With the voice it’s all about bringing it from a place of joy and fun; don’t think that you have to try so hard and that it’s a rough journey. Find it fun. Your voice is meant to be strong naturally- a baby never loses it’s voice when it cries! So you’re just getting rid of habits you’ve formed as you’ve grown up so just enjoy the journey because your voice wants to go to the right place. You have to study it though; a book I like is called Finding Your Voice by Barbra Houseman, I worked with Barbara and she’s fantastic so I’d recommend her book to anyone. 

Dayle: If you want to do it, you’ve got to be very serious about doing it. It’s a very overpopulated industry and there’s always going to be somebody that’s better than you so you have to work hard to get what you want and to where you want to be. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it though, if you really want it bad enough, go for it and don’t give up. 

Give yourself the best opportunity you can, don’t go to an audition after being out the night before cause you’re not going to be giving it your best and if you’re not the best then you’re not giving yourself the greatest opportunity to get the job. All the things I said about looking after your voice, do that and keep on top of things. Keep your voice active and moving but don’t overwork and make sure you rest!


A huge thank you to Dayle and Michael for chatting to me. Both can be seen as Frankie Valli in various Jersey Boys tour stops around the UK. More information can be found here.

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell


See you next Sunday for a BATTY Stagey Sunday ;)


Photo credit: Brinkhoff & Mögenburg

A Stagey Guide To Singing... Dayle Hodge and Michael Watson | Jersey Boys (UK Tour) | Stagey Sunday

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Sunday, 16 July 2017

A Stagey Guide To Singing: Kerry Ellis


If you've ever wanted singing tips from a West End star, then this series of posts is the one for you! This post is courtesy of the wonderful Kerry Ellis who will soon be starring as Eve in the tour of the new show, Heaven on Earth...


When did you realise you could sing? Did you have singing lessons?
I always sung from an early age I knew I loved it and that was enough for me to want to pursue a career it wasn't really about whether I was good enough or not. I've had lessons with various people along the way but nothing consistent. I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

Have you always been able to belt? If not, when did you start belting?
I think so yes I grew up listening to Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, Barbra Streisand Celine Dion and other incredible female vocalists. Liza Minnelli too and I'd just try to sing along with them so I guess it was all from a natural place. 


What vowels do you find easiest to belt? Do you modify words to make them easier to sing?
I think you have to sing the lyrics of the song regardless whether it easy or not but a good teacher would help you work your way through the song without forcing or causing any damage.

What tips do you have for singing and dancing at the same time?
Breathe and go for it and have fun!

How do you keep your voice healthy, do you have any rituals before shows?                              Depends on the day I think the best advice somebody gave to me was use the voice you have that day, which means you mustn't give yourself a hard time if your voice doesn't feel the same every day just sing with the best of your ability and give yourself a break. Lots of water lots of rest and don't abuse your voice.
Rest is so underrated you have to take care of your voice like any other part of your body it's precious and needs care and attention and respect!

Overall, what's your number one piece of advice for finding and developing your singing voice?        Trust yourself and enjoy it!

A Stagey Guide To Singing: Kerry Ellis

Sunday, 16 July 2017