Why Hire an Acting Coach?
Singing is a communicative, giving art - more than just "voice". Singers must use all their assets: the body, hands, face & eyes - in addition to their voice - to communicate clearly & honestly. This combination is what makes a song or aria touch the heart, and separates a singer with a good instrument from an artist that audiences clamor to hear.
An audience knows instinctively when they hear a giving artist.
In the past singers could rely on voice and technique alone and have a career. Looks and acting ability were less important. Today, directors, conductors and managers demand a "total package" from singers. A singer's look and ability to communicate are now critical factors in hiring decisions. Audiences are visually oriented, and because of television - more sophisticated in what they expect a live performance experience to be. With today's high prices for opera they are in a position to demand it.
Singers must learn to ask questions when studying and preparing a song:
Singing by rote in a foreign language is not acceptable. If the text is not in English, it is essential that you do a word for word translation, and know exactly what you are saying on every note in the original language.
The words and music are two halves of the whole. The answers on how to interpret a song are in both the music and text - including the accompaniment. The accompaniment is an integral part of the piece. Singers must look at the accompaniment, know its meaning and how it fits with the vocal line. The accompaniment can be quite different from the singer's line, supporting or complimenting it. There is no excuse for a singer not knowing and understanding what the "other part" of their song is!
Learning to trust that "outside eye"Acting coaching is not meant to replace work with a voice teacher - It is a compliment to good vocal technique. However, an acting coach working with singers needs a solid understanding of good singing technique in order to communicate with singers in the context of the music. The acting coach builds on what each singer brings to the process, making it very effective for voice teachers to collaborate with an acting coach. In the master class setting the group of singers learns from each other about body language, interpretation, and effective ways to communicate with an audience.
From beginning student to professional singer - performers need a director. It is particularly important to the classical singer. There is rarely the luxury of time for detailed character work in rehearsal with operatic stage directors. Conductors rarely involve themselves with this aspect of the performance, and in professional productions, singers are thrown into staging rehearsals with a minimum of time to rehearse. A singer's understanding of the character and text must be worked on in advance. Then they have a solid foundation for the work in rehearsal and performance - owning the skills of an artist.
"Shelley gave my daughter the self-confidence and presentation skills necessary to win her first big audition. Shelley is an articulate, dedicated, experienced, talented professional. Intelligence, sensitivity, flexibility, and supportiveness make her a skillful teacher."
– Kathryn M.
Shelley is a fantastic director to work with because of her background in theater and singing. She understands exactly where a performer needs to be coached and when to step back and allow them to work things out on their own. I worked with Shelley on the most challenging material I've ever had to do because of the nuance required in order to make the character natural rather than cloying and I don't think I could have done it without her sensitive direction and sharp critical eye. "
-- Diane S.