Monthly Archives: March 2010

How to use this app

Greetings and thank you for downloading our new vocal warmup app! We hope you will find it useful in warming up your voice before performances.

We’re in the middle of a massive reconstruction of VocalU.com, so for you early adopters that downloaded the app (thank you!) check back next week for more articles, news, and vocal performance assistance listed in this section of the app. We’ll be updating as we go along. Thank you, and welcome!

The vocal warmups

The vocal warmups are broken into two “flavors” — group exercise and solo exercise.

For a thorough vocal warmup, just choose the first group exercise (easiest) and sing along with the rest of the cast as a group. Then choose a couple of other group exercises (they get faster and more difficult) for a total of three. That should get you energized and ready to perform. If a note goes too high or too low for you, just drop out until the scale returns back to your range. There are singers of all vocal levels represented, so you’ll always hear somebody singing along with you.

If you’d like to just hear your own voice with the piano, do the solo exercises. The vocal coach will tell you what to do. The solo exercises are better to listen to your pitch, since there are no other voices.

The tongue twisters

Similar to the group vocal exercises, just say the tongue twisters along with the group, three-times fast. They get get very fast and difficult. Great for non-singers who just want to warm up their monologues.

The starting-note finder

Have you ever been sitting in your car, wondering what in the heck your starting pitch to your audition song is? It’s easy to discover and hear it with the starting note finder. If you know the name of your starting note, you can look it up by name. Or, just compare the graphic note on the left of each starting note to the first note on your sheet music, counting the lines of the staff. When they match, you’ve found your starting note and can play it to get your pitch. Easy!

News and guides

The news and guides section will be updating with new articles on an ongoing basis. There is no need to update the app to see new articles — they will be updated in the app automatically when you open the app (if there are new articles since the last time you connected to the Internet).

Have an idea for an article you’d like to see? Let us know in the credit and suggestions area of the app!

Credits and suggestions

In the credit and suggestions section, we thank the singers and other folks who helped to make the app possible, and also give you a way to contact us with your ideas and suggestions via the “email us” button. You’ll need to have email set up on your iphone or itouch. It will send an email to our apps@groupofminds.com address. We’d love your suggestions and feedback to help make this an even better app (or to suggest other apps you’d like to see).

Thank you for purchasing this app — we hope it helps to contribute to your singing success by helping you to be fully prepared!

Ron Evans, Founder of VocalU.com and “Vocal Warmups: On the Way”

Principal consultant at Groupofminds.com arts marketing and technology consultants

A few new tongue twisters

Here are a few additional tongue twisters we like to use now and then. Change it up a little and have fun with it!

Betty Botter bought some bum butter, but the butter Betty Botter bought was bitter. So Betty Botter bought some better butter to make the bitter butter Betty Botter bought better. But instead of the better butter Betty Botter bought making the bitter butter Betty Botter bought better, the bitter butter Betty Botter bought made the better butter Betty Botter bought bitter!

Arnold Palmer, Arnold Palmer, Arnold Palmer…

A quick witted cricket critic.

People pledging plenty of pennies.

I never smelled a smelt that smelled like that smelt smelled.

The epitome of femininity.

Freshly-fried flying fish.

A tree-toad loved a she-toad
Who lived up in a tree.
He was a two-toed tree-toad,
But a three-toed toad was she.
The two-toed tree-toad tried to win
The three-toed she-toad’s heart,
For the two-toed tree-toad loved the ground
That the three-toed tree-toad trod.
But the two-toed tree-toad tried in vain;
He couldn’t please her whim.
From her tree-toad bower,
With her three-toed power,
The she-toad vetoed him.

Good sources for monologues

Although not often required for musical theatre shows, monologues are often required for straight plays. So it’s good to be prepared. Choosing a monologue can be as difficult as choosing an audition song, and is usually a much more intense acting effort. The right monologue can show off a vast acting range in a short period of time, but the wrong monologue can be a horrible experience, and even insulting if handled badly. Where should you look for monologues and what types should you choose?

Consider the show

Is the show a fast door-slamming comedy? A tragedy? A period piece? Try to think of sources for monologues in the same style, as usually the director doesn’t want to hear anything from the show you’re auditioning for until callbacks. If you’re not sure of other plays in the same style, ask an acting friend, or join one of the many acting mailing lists on Yahoo and Google, and folks will be happy to help you.

Where to find monologues (the expensive way)

Major bookstores have a “drama” section, and you’ll find collections of monologue books there. They are usually broken down by gender, style, or age range, such as “50 Monologues for Young Women.” Pick it up and read through them — most will be about 1 minute long. Consider the character in each monologue — is that character one you feel you could understand well enough to accurately portray at an audition? Please keep things like race and gender in mind — if you’re Caucasian and you audition as an African-American character, you’re likely to offend someone, so don’t do it.

You can also search for monologue books at online stores such as Amazon.com, and find an even greater selection than your local bookstore.

Where to find monologues (the inexpensive/free way!)

Libraries are an excellent source of monologues. Go to the drama section of your local library, and look for monologue books, or plays by the same author that might have monologues. Check your library to see if it as a loan agreement with other libraries in a network — you can often have uncommon books sent to your home library on loan from another library for by just putting in the request and waiting for a couple of days.

Used bookstores have old and wonderful resources. Search out your local independent/used bookstore, and ask the owner to suggest some books for you. You’ll find old monologue treasures that are waiting to be read, you’ll get the help of an expert for free, and you’ll be helping to support local businesses. Plus, many an idle and enjoyable hour can be spent in your local bookstore. Give it a try.

Look online. Several websites offer monologues online for free. A Google or Bing search for “free monologues” should reveal some options.

As a final note, unless you are taking a class in writing monologues where you can actually workshop your ideas and get feedback, it’s probably best to avoid trying to write¬† monologue from scratch. It is safer for your audition to use an existing work that is connected in some way or style to the show you’re auditioning for. You’ll have the added benefit of being able to spend your limited time making the piece better, instead of trying to write something from scratch.

Find a couple of monologues and play around with them. Read them in front of a friend or loved one, and see if that person thinks the monologue fits you. That perspective can save you a lot of time and allow you to focus on a monologue that is a good fit for you.

How to choose audition songs

Choosing an audition song can be a daunting task. Most of the time, you only get 32 bars (sometimes only 16) to impress the casting team, so those 32 bars need to show you off in your best light. You need to tell a story in a short period of time, with a beginning, middle, and end. And that’s where you show off some of your acting chops as well.

Pick a show-appropriate song

Let’s say you’re going to be auditioning for a guy’s role in “Oklahoma.” Singing a Sondheim song is not the best idea. Consider choosing a song from a musical that is similiar to “Oklahoma” in style, time period, etc. “Annie Get Your Gun” or “Will Rogers Follies” both offer good guy audition songs with a “western feeling.” Or, choose a song from another show by the same composer. Rogers and Hammerstein wrote several other musicals, such as “Carousel,” “South Pacific,” and “The King and I” — all of those offer audition options that will allow you to show off your ability to sing in the style and feeling of “Oklahoma.” And that’s a good way to get the thumbs up from the casting team that you’ve got what it takes to sing the part.

Stay away from songs that are overdone

The worst offenders seem to be songs from “Les Miserables,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Annie,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and recently “Wicked.” It’s all great music, but it seems to be the first choice new people to go to when looking for audition songs. Using the ideas above, look around on Amazon.com at soundtracks from musicals by the same composer or in the same genre, and listen to the free sound samples. If you find a few you like, look for them on youtube to see if you can hear the whole song. And if you really like one, call your local music store and see if they can get it for you (please support local businesses when you can!).

Be wary of super-difficult piano parts

Your accompanist on the piano is human, and makes mistakes. Unless you know who is going to be playing the piano on the day of your audition (and you’re sure he/she can play your piece without errors) don’t pick an audition song with a super-difficult piano part. You can be doing your best up there, and if the pianist can’t play the song, you’ll still end up looking bad. It’s not worth picking a difficult song to show off your patter skills and risk a bad audition unless the show itself calls for challenging vocal parts. In that case, it should be expected that the theatre company will provide someone with enough skills to play piano for the show’s music, and auditions. But try to find out in advance

Have a backup song(s) and a professional binder

Have you ever been sitting in open auditions, and the person who auditions in front of you sings the song you were about to sing? Not a good situation, but it happens more often than you’d expect. Better to pull another song out of your bag of tricks and not sing the same song back to back. Get yourself a plain black binder with plastic sheetmusic sleeves, and fill it with a few songs you feel comfortable singing. A couple of ballads and a couple of uptempo songs. Give the whole binder to the accompanist, so they can easily turn the pages while playing (they will thank you for it). Don’t take them a long set of six pages of music taped together with scotch tape that stretches over the whole piano (they will glare at you).

With these few simple rules in place, you’ll help to minimize mistakes, and maximize your chances of having a memorable (in a good way!) vocal audition!