I paid a friend who's a voice teacher for an hour's lesson one morning in 2008. It was amazing. She is a singer who's performed with gamelan groups and now sings with a women's choir that goes into hospices. We sat on her living room carpet and she listened to me describe how awful reading my work makes me feel physically. Then she gave me some tools for dealing with those feelings.
The suggestions she offered were simple, but I think their impact will be huge. Unlike the last performance class I took, I really felt like she was listening to me. She understood what I was trying to express. She accepted it as a valid way to feel. And she explained some simple gestures I can make that will look natural to an audience, but will set in motion physical processes that will calm me down.
Best of all, she addressed how I can make my voice seem louder. I've been in readings without a mic where I felt I had to shout, usually leading to losing my voice shortly thereafter. She gave me some exercises so that I could feel different places for my voice to come from. She showed me how to put more power behind my voice without straining it.
Finally, she discounted the order the last teacher had given to make eye contact with each person in the room. I *hate* when a speaker makes me hold his gaze and I am immensely uncomfortable putting anyone else in that position. She explained that we are a society who are used to watching, but not to being watched. People don't know what to do with their faces when they're listening and concentrating. It makes them uncomfortable when they feel they're having to single-handedly support and encourage a performer. She totally validated my desire to look over people's heads.
Hers has turned out to be some of the most useful performance advice I've ever gotten.
At the end of the month, my teacher is going to be singing Maria in a live score to the classic silent movie Metropolis in Santa Cruz. The details are at http://www.newmusicworks.org/.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports