This could be due to the fact that both ACTING and SINGING are the two most isolating states in which a person could be. As an actor you are expected to “lay all your cards on the table” ensuring a legitimate and real connection is made to the text and communicated to the audience. Singing is exactly the same, only the stakes are higher. It's often said that songs are put in musicals because the spoken word is no longer powerful enough. “We sing because we have no words left to speak”. So why do many young singers lack any connection to the text when singing?
There are many opinions on the “correct” way of singing, and many methods of teaching that say you MUST sing with a certain posture, or you MUST sing with your soft palette raised, or you MUST sing by taking BIG DEEP BREATHS!!!! All of these methods and opinions should not be declared incorrect, because they all allow the singer to sing well in one certain way, however the singer must consider the restrictions these methods make on their ability to communicate the text. In acting methods we explore reaction, objectives, intention, and we do many exercises to encourage our brain to honestly feel real emotions thus allowing the audience to connect with our performance and believe what we are expressing. So if singing is merely a heightened way of speaking, why do so many singers put so many restrictions on their ability to communicate truthfully?
Vocal expert, Tim Smith, has conducted extensive research in vocal anatomy. It only takes a quick glance, with an open mind, at one of his online singing lessons to realize that he is RIGHT ON THE MONEY! He approaches his unique method of singing from “the feeling”….what do you feel, and how do you react? Which would make sense to any well trained actor. He has specifically designed his online singing lessons in an order in which the student learns to let go of everything that has been restricting them in the past and rebuild, through emotive state referencing, all the essential tools to become a truthful and, equally as importantly, a safe singer! His methods are tried and tested over his 20 year career through coaching many of Australia’s finest singers.
Through my work as Music Director at Patrick Studios Australia (PSA), my key responsibility is to ensure all students are given the opportunity to acquire the BEST vocal training possible, as well as obtaining an understanding of music. PSA prides itself on providing training that meets current industry needs to all its young hopefuls. Our students range from ages 2 to 25 and sometimes older. They come to us from an eclectic mix of training grounds and cultures. Some are very strong dancers with little vocal training, some have no dance training and sound vocal capabilities, others have incredibly natural acting capabilities and a natural voice. Each student, obviously, requires different training. The basis of all singing training at PSA comes from an actors perspective, connection to the text is imperative.
In our fulltime Musical Theatre Course at Patrick Studios, I have worked with course director and leading Australia choreographer – Andrew Hallsworth to design specific training for students wanting a successful and long career in musical theatre. Ensuring they have all the tools they need to meet TODAY’s industry requirements. Gone are the days where dancers were cast as dancers, singers were cast as singers and actors as actors in musicals. Every casting team in this country is looking for true triple threats. Our first year students have the incredible resource of Tim Smith’s online vocal lessons, as well as constant group vocal workshops with the man himself. And unlike any other course in the country, we have made sure that every second year student has 1 hour of private vocal tuition per week included in their course costs. Our private vocal teachers come with a wealth of experience and knowledge, not only about singing and repertoire, but about the industry in which our students are training to be in. Music Theory, Sight Singing and vocal anatomy classes are high on the agenda also ensuring students are given a wealth of knowledge about vocal health and learn valuable skills to ace an audition when faced with music they have never seen before.
For young hopefuls wanting a career in Musical Theatre, it is imperative for them to obtain as much information as possible about every aspect of the industry. Preparation is the key, and refining your self discipline is paramount! Learning how to objectively critique your progress will help you achieve great things. Remember one thing, stay truthful to yourself and your capabilities. A truthful performance speaks louder than one filled with doubt and insecurities.
Pictured: DAVID WISKEN – HEAD OF VOICE AND MUSIC
David has been involved in all facets of theatre from a very early age. Having started studying the piano at the age of four he quickly took up singing lessons after that. He has appeared in, Music Directed and Accompanied many shows around Australia and Overseas. In New York, David has performed at the International Jazz Conference and Juliard School Of Music. He has also been a featured soloist at the Western Australian Academy Of Performing Arts for a National Conductors Conference. AS well as providing original orchestrations for "Seriously – The Pet Shop Boys Reinterpreted" in Australia and Edinborough, David has Assistant Music Directed and Music Directed productions of Company, Sweeney Todd, Godspell and Chicago. He has Music Directed the Cabaret Showcase for the Foundation Music Theatre Students at VCA and is currently Resident Music Director at Patrick Studios Australia where he teaches private and group vocal classes, music theory and "Vocal Alchemy" – a unique method of teaching devised by Tim Smith. In 2013 David assisted in the Music Department for King Kong Live On Stage (Secondment) as well as Assisting on the Stephen Schwartz Tryptich for Magnormos at the Melbourne Recital Centre. He had the pleasure of playing for Mr Schwartz in his Intimate "In Conversation" event during this season. David has studied conducting under the tutelage of Fabien Russell and Chris Van Tuinen, as well as studying Music Direction for Musicals at Goodspeed Institute Of Musical Theatre in Connecticut. He holds a Licentiate Diploma In Piano and an Associate diploma in Clarinet.