Articles: Coaching

Process

Note: This article is part four in an ongoing series about mastery. I have a friend who loves Leonard Bernstein’s Candide… and we’re still friends! Okay, so Candide is magnificent in its way, but I’ve been slow—very slow—to warm up to it. The show’s music is as intricate and fresh as Bernstein’s earlier musical West Side Story. But without Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics and Jerome Robbins’ choreography—and shackled to Voltaire’s relentlessly episodic plot—the play often never fully takes…

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Methodology

Note: This article is part three in an ongoing series about mastery. When the LA Opera recently announced its 2019-2020 season, a major coup was the world premiere of Eurydice by Matthew Aucoin. I am very excited about this opera and Matthew Aucoin’s music in general. Though, to be honest, as of today, I haven’t heard any of it. A quick explanation is in order: Matthew Aucoin rocketed to fame in the last several years as an unusually gifted…

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Principles

Note: This article is part two in an ongoing series about mastery. If you ever need a study break, I recommend checking out Thomas Hampson’s performance in the Willy Decker 2005 production of La Traviata. Hampson’s rendition of “Di Provenza il mar, il suol” has authority and a beautiful vocal line. His acting is also solid. At one point in the aria, he lumbers towards his distraught son, arms outstretched with love, but looking like Frankenstein’s Monster.…

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Mastery

I love watching opera master classes online. If you’re not familiar with this genre, here’s what it involves: Young singers perform in front of an audience, while well-known opera stars critique their performances in real time. The singer may start out as solid, or even exquisite, but the teacher finds subtle and blunt ways to coach them to new heights. Singing difficult material in front of a live audience—and a global online audience—with a famous expert standing…

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Don’t be a pushover

In my twenties, I was in a bad car accident. As part of my long recovery, I tried a bunch of things, including at one point Rolfing. During our first session, my Rolfer tried to explain her practice. She talked about fascia, energy patterns, and “vectors.” I didn’t get it. So she pulled out an album of photos of her past clients, each one standing upright. She asked me if I could see turned-in knees, flared chests,…

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