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Los Angeles Vocal Workshop Series

By Jennie Ford
Chair, Western Membership Education Committee

The Western Region Membership Education Committee hosted a series of three vocal workshops in April 2011. Each workshop featured a guest teacher. The guest teachers were Rachael Lawrence, Dan Callaway and husband and wife team, Tom Griep and Evelyn Halus. Actors' Equity, as a benefit of membership, presents free educational Workshops and Seminars for Members and Membership Candidates.

Rachael Lawrence

Rachael Lawrence is known for turning actors and comedians into singers, and singers into better singers. She has been teaching voice and musicianship skills to a multitude of artists for over a decade and is known for helping artists realize their true potential. She strives for the most natural sound from clients, encouraging everyone that if they can speak, they can sing. Rachael talked about the16 or 32 bars asked for at auditions.

Advice: Casting personnel need to hear a brief, efficient snip-it of a song that is just long enough for them to experience you and hear your voice. But they don't literally count bars of music. Rachael's tip: Sing only the best section of your song and don't fixate on the exact number of bars.

Dan Callaway

Dan Callaway recently completed a production of WHERE'S CHARLEY with NY City Center Encores! and has performed leading roles at the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, and Musical Theatre West where he was nominated for an Ovation Award. Other credits include the Broadway National Tour of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA as well as leading roles at the Guthrie Theater, and the Sacramento Music Circus.

Advice: Dan's philosophy is that singing should consist of three things: breath, space and how easy it feels. To make the most of the breath while singing, Dan explained the air space behind the soft palette (gaggy spot in the back of your mouth where the uvula hangs down) and the nasal passage. He also spoke about jaw tension and keeping the tongue loose so it does not retract into your throat. For the best sound and the mechanics of the voice functioning, Dan works with singers physically and utilizes visualization.

Tom Griep and Evelyn Halus

Tom Griep is a well known Music Director and Pianist. He has played for artists such as Cher, Carol Channing, Nathan Lane and Tommy Tune. Evelyn Halus has taught at The Orange County High School of the Arts, USC, UC Irvine, and at UCLA. Her clients include Matthew Morrison, Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Lane, Harriet Harris, Kenneth Branagh, Cher, Olivia Newton-John, The Spice Girls, Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Advice: As a Musical Director and frequent audition accompanist, Tom prefers music taped or printed onto card stock because music placed within plastic sheaths is often, due to glare, difficult to read. Be prepared to review all pertinent markings and to sing a little from the beginning so that the accompanist can get the tempo. If your music is not well marked you are putting your audition at risk. If you can't read music, he suggests getting together with someone who does so that they can help you make precise cuts in the music and show you how to clearly translate them accurately to the page.

Evelyn spoke at length about being loose and keeping your larynx down to get the most out of your voice without tension. They both talked about the purpose of a song, what makes it interesting both to listen to and watch; emphasizing that purpose can be more important than great vocal ability.

To read more about the Teachers:


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