Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Voice lesson in which all I did was talk

I came down w/ a cold over the weekend so a voice lesson seemed a bit pointless today.  However, given that I want to start preparing soonest for my School of Music audition, I didn't want to lose a week, so my teacher & I ended up doing a Skype lesson.  Saved me an extended drive in rush-hour traffic, and she didn't have to be exposed to my germs in the run-up to Easter.  I told her what I'd learned about the Music program yesterday, and we discussed possible audition pieces.  She gave me the name of a studio where I can get my audition recorded so I can call about pricing, and also the names of two recent students who used the same accompanist for their auditions.  I'm hoping one or both will respond shortly with contact info so I can find out what he charges and get a rough idea of when he'd be available. (My own availability will depend on my class schedule this fall, which I obviously won't know until late August.)

Current goals for the audition:
- learn and polish 4 audition pieces: 2 for the video audition, and 2 to have available for the live audition;
- between now and fall, work on 2 or 3 songs from the 26 Italian Art Songs book to add to the "significant solo repertoire" list I'm supposed to submit with my SOM application
- keep reminding myself that the other applicants are high school students, who haven't been taking voice or performing as long as I have. Heck, they weren't even alive when I started this stuff! :D

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wow. Just, wow.

After touring the music & theater departments and seeing the spectacular performing arts facility they have access to, I was ready to start classes right that red-hot second!  However, I restrained myself and waited until tonight to submit my application.  Now to sit back, cross my fingers, and wait for the emails to go out sometime in early July.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Back-to-school update

Tomorrow I'm going to school instead of work - I have appointments with people in the Music & Theater depts.  I'm finishing up my list of major questions, and I'm sure I'll think of more as I talk to them.  I just hope the predicted rain ends before I finish my first appointment so I'm not schlepping across campus in the rain.

Last night I sent out the first draft of my essay to family & friends who've recently had kids go through that ritual.  Waiting to hear what typos they catch for me and whether they have any editorial suggestions.  Most of them are church musicians, so Palm Sunday is a busy day for them.  Maybe I'll start getting responses tomorrow...

Winter's going down fighting

This winter flatly refuses to yield easily to spring.  Yesterday's highs were only in the high 30s, and we even had a lot of snow flurries.  This morning it's only 29 degrees - brrr!  So much for wearing a skirt to church for Palm Sunday.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tryng to get the Regency project back on track

Someone on Facebook posted a link to a blog post giving a checklist for a complete Regency outfit.  I commented on FB that I'd love to put such an outfit together but needed a set of long stays.  The costumer for Daddy's Dyin' sawmy comment and shot her hand up, saying she'd love to try it.  She admits she's never made stays but if I'm willing to "tolerate [her] learning curve", she'll be happy to have a go.  Tomorrow I'll probably go over to her house w/ my pattern & busk and let her take a first batch of measurements.  I have no clue how long this will take - she wants to make a first draft in muslin while she learns the techniques - but maybe I'll have stays that actually fit me by Christmas.  I can finish the chemise while J is making the stays.  Once I have the stays, I'll be able to start on the dress.

This project is taking a whole lot longer than anticipated, but finding someone willing to make those stays was probably my biggest hurdle.  Done!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I don't feel like a high school senior and yet...

I'm taking Monday off work so I can go to campus and get Music and Theater tours and visits.  Between the two appointments, I'll probably stop into the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for a little chat, then see what lunch options are available at the student union.  Tonight I started working on a first draft of my college essay.  Funny, I don't feel like a high school senior, yet here I am with essays, applications and campus visits.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Slow, incremental progress on the college application front

Today I got an email from the U School of Music (SoM) responding to all my questions about the audition pieces.  That  information and a few music books (one each of arias, oratorios and chansons) will go with me to tomorrow's music lesson.  We might not get a lot of singing done, but identifying audition candidates is every bit as important right now.  Once we have the finalists, then we can start working them into shape for my audition recording.

I left a voice mail asking about scheduling a SoM visit and also put it in my response to the SoM's email about audition selections.  I noted I'd like to schedule something soon and listed several dates, starting this Thursday.  Me, eager?  Whatever gave you that impression?!? :D

Ideally, I'll be able to schedule the Music and Theater visits for the same day so I'll only have to take one day off work.  (I can't bear to wait until after my May 1st retirement date.)

I just sent off requests for letters of recommendation:  one to a favorite director, for the Undergraduate Admissions folks; the other to K,  a former voice teacher and another favorite director, for the SoM.  K responded immediately with an "Absolutely!"  I'll ask my current voice teacher, C, to write the second SoM letter; C and K would be my "dream team", as one can give the current state of vocal affairs, while the other can address how I've grown vocally in the 15+ years since I first started taking with her.

The one thing tempering my enthusiasm is the language used to describe the application requirements.  It sounds a bit intimidating:

All undergraduate applicants should submit a repertoire list, showing the most significant solo repertoire you have studied for your primary instrument or voice. Please include technical studies where appropriate (Include both title and composer.)  From memory: Two contrasting songs chosen from solo vocal literature (songs or arias of composers such as Gluck, Handel, Purcell, Mozart, Schubert, Faure, Barber, or Rorem). Musical theater songs or self-accompanied “pop” songs are not acceptable for the prescreen recording or a live audition.
Bouncing with excitement - now if only the SoM would reopen the online application for Fall 2016 so I can get started... :D

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Seeking mezzo role models

After finding that Stephanie Blythe youtube video, I've decided to start a "mezzo file".  Doesn't have to be opera - e.g., Karen Carpenter moved effortlessly & seamlessly between her head & chest voices, and I've loved Annie Lennox' voice from the first time I heard it.  Denyce Graves is gonna be on that list, Joyce Didonato, at least one local diva - I'm on the hunt! :)

This week's plan

I learned last week that, because I already have a B.A., U considers me a transfer student and the application deadline for transfer students isn't until June 1st., so I still have a chance at getting in for this fall.  I still have to apply, of course, and hope there are slots left, but that gives me time to write a 300-word essay designed to convince them they want me as a student, submit my application, and have my first U send a transcript.  I'm not required to submit a letter of recommendation but may have someone write one anyway, and I will definitely send them a copy of my community theater resume.  I hope to get at least a first draft of the essay written by the end of the week, then polish it over the weekend, add it to my application, and submit it.  One thing they want for the application may not apply to me, given the passage of time:  do they really need my high school GPA, which is decades old?

This week I plan to contact the Music and Theater depts. to schedule tours and a chat with someone in each program.  Among the list of questions I'm compiling is what my Plan B should be if I don't get accepted for the fall semester - what I could take at the community college level that would transfer.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Going back to SCHOOL!!!!

I'm getting really excited about this fall.  I've missed the application deadline for the university, so I've already applied to the community college.  This week, the plan is to do my first year at CC (cheaper, and I don't have to wait until next year), then transfer to "uni", as they call it in the UK.  

I want to double-major in Music and Theater.  U's School of Music application deadline is Nov. 1st.  That gives me a good 6 months to choose and polish two audition pieces, record them, and send in my pre-screen audition recording with the rest of my application materials.  I should find out in December whether they'll let me do a live audition in January.  It won't be until February or March of next year that I find out whether U will support my double-major plan, or make me settle for a BA in Theater and an AA in Music.

U is on spring break this week, so I have to wait until Monday before I can call them to schedule a tour and a meeting with an advisor from the Music School.  I'm hoping to be able to schedule something similar with the Theater Dept. the same day.  This weekend I want to figure out CC's in-house email system so I can arrange to see an advisor about the Fall and my grand plan.  

Oh, and I have to figure out how to open the transcript my first U sent me.  Right now it's just sitting there, saying "Your Adobe reader isn't good enough for something as important as I am."  I'm not too worried yet; CC has already waived all the gen.ed. requirements for me, so I can get straight to meaty stuff like Intro to Stage Make-Up and Movement for Actors.  (This CC's Music offerings aren't nearly as enticing as those in the Theater Dept.)

This is so exciting - I'm really looking forward to sinking my teeth into things like Costume Construction, class piano, and Stage Rigging!  I'll even have access to real practice rooms, instead of my library cum sewing room cum storage room cum practice room.

Just imagine - after all these years of theatrical OJT, I'll finally get some actual training! :D

Monday, March 09, 2015

A chest/head mastery to emulate

I just came across this video embedded in a silly FB meme.  Not particularly interested in the meme, but this video I'm definitely going to watch a few more times.  Stephanie Blythe's got a facile, seamless shift between head and chest voice, and every note sounds wonderful and seems effortless.  I gotta start collecting some mezzo divas as research - Stephanie Blythe, Joyce Didonato, Denyce Graves...

Thursday, March 05, 2015

My first roasted squash

Today I roasted butternut squash for the first time, instead of baking it as I always have.  Can't decide whether to use it for soup and see how it compares with the baked/pureed version, or just dive in with a fork!

Not how I planned to learn more about the neighbor

I used up some chicken and made a pot of soup that turned out to make a LOT more than the two of us can eat before it goes bad, so last night I decanted some of it into containers to give away.  Turns out one of our new neighbors is vegetarian - oops!  Guess it'll have to wait in the freezer until his wife comes home from a trip.

Snow day agenda

As I was hoping, we've got a snow day today.  (Hard to fathom that the SAME storm extends from Texas all the way to the mid-Atlantic!)  I've got plenty to fill the time: repair the fur coat Veta Louise Simmons wears in much of Harvey, review my script a few more times (tonight's line run is cancelled), do closing-night thank you notes for cast and crew - and that's just the Harvey-related list.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Dodged a bullet!

Today was the first day of a 2-day conference about 30 miles from home.  I opted to drive myself rather than go into work (in the opposite direction) and drive to the conference with colleagues, which would have added at least 90 minutes to the day's commute.  The forecast for this afternoon was ominous - the dreaded "wintry mix" of some combination of sleet and freezing rain.  The last time I did this sorta thing, I ended up spending the night at a nearby hotel rather than risk sliding into a ditch or another vehicle.  With that in mind, I took an overnight bag with me when I set out this morning.  To my great relief, it was barely raining on the way home tonight.  It was a long drive (nearly 2 hours, vs. 1 hour to get there this morning), but I made it home without incident and got to dine with my theater widower on homemade turkey soup.