"Lucia is a wonderful musician and teacher full of insight to help you be a better musician and vocalist ... Lucia helps her students achieve success in becoming the best they can be."

- Michael O’Dell
Composer/ Lyricist


The Big Tip For Singers No One Evers Tells You About...

I remember asking an old voice teacher of mine for his opinion of some good colleges to recommend to my singing students.  He said something I had not expected, something I found not acceptable at the time, but something I have come to regard as a brilliant piece of advice.  He said to tell them not to bother with college undergraduate voice programs.  Study with a fantastic private voice teacher and READ ALL THE GREAT BOOKS YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON.  Of course, there was no way I could tell my young students not bother with college (their parents would have had me run out of town!).  Besides, I do thoroughly believe in a great education.  But that's the point.  What this teacher of mine was really saying was to immerse oneself in great literature, philosophies, sciences, history.  What does a singer/performer do?  Presents life in a work of living art.  It's a bit shallow, don't you think, to just pulse on and on about the demands of a particular urge - for song after song.  But when the singer (or actor) is able to convey a broad scope of all the many subtle desires, considerations, even intellectual analyses, along with those human passions, WOW, we all grow!  It feels like someone else gets us!  We're not totally alone with all of these feelings and thoughts that consume us.  How does a singer/performer do that?  By being emotionally available and by having an understanding of the human condition.  It's exhausting (and risky) to try to live out all the possibilities of experience that might be presented in a performance.  So, reading about everything is a great second choice!


What's With the Casting...?

I find it fascinating/horrifying/disappointing to attend a big show in the Bay Area (paying premium ticket prices) only to end up sitting through less than satisfactory singing.  I'm trying to be nice, here, but also truthful.  I don't get it.  This San Francisco Bay Area is loaded with great talent!  Any theater still able to mount a show has access to an amazing array of auditioners, yet all too often the people who get cast have "holes" in their voices; they can't deliver a vocal line with any expression beyond "loud"; the middle voice and the top of the voice don't match - or any assortment of other issues.  And don't tell me their acting talent more than makes up for it!  Uh, no...  Fortunately this is not the case with every show, but my point is that it doesn't need to be the case with ANY show here in the Bay Area.  I'm not asking for every voice to sound like an opera wannabe - I don't even want that!  But a good mixed voice, or even a good TRUE belt should not come from a pushed position.  Not only does it sound uncomfortable to listen to, it is dangerous for the singer.  Over time the range gets smaller and smaller and that old wobble starts to show up - seriously limiting the effective life of a performer.  Yeah, I love a voice with heart, but please give me some technique to deliver that heart!  I could rage on and on, but you get my point.  Doesn't anyone else care....?


Check out Boston Conservatory...

One of the things I've planned to do in this blog is do focus pieces on various colleges specializing in the performing arts.  So, this morning I just got an email with a couple of great links to a television show in Boston that did a short series on Boston Conservatory.  Pretty cool, especially since one of my old students, Georgia Tapp, is featured in the first one.  Check them out...





A Coach or A Teacher...?

People seem to get confused about the difference between a voice coach or a voice teacher.  Justifiably so. Often a voice teacher does a tremendous amount of coaching when rehearsing a song with a student, and a voice coach will often instruct a student on a vocal technique issue that will help deliver the song more effectively.  I'm sure many people have lots of passionate opinions about the differences between a coach and a teacher, but these are a few of my thoughts on the subject (which I think are pretty good!)

A good voice teacher will instruct a student on fundamental singing techniques.  How to produce beautiful, interesting, energetic vocal sounds that will be able to master a variety of vocal styles and effectively deliver songs with ease and a full palate of emotional expression.  The best teachers are familiar with a variety of vocal approaches and have an understanding of which approaches will best unfold a singer's voice for the songs being studied.  This must be done with great care so the singer will develop a fuller knowledge of how the voice works and how he/she can help it be "allowed" to sing really well, regardless of the musical genre.  The very, very best teachers are also somewhat intuitive about the singer's inner being - what are this person's vulnerabilities, passions, strengths, weaknesses, and the true goals of this person - to know the best ways to help the singer work with who they are to achieve what they want.

A good vocal coach puts the polish on the singer.  A coach will work a song with a singer until it becomes flawless (ideally...).  The singer must understand the intention of the composer, how the piece relates to the whole work (if it's from an opera, musical, oratorio, etc.); the timing, rhythms, pitches; the language and dialect; emotional expression; how much liberty can be taken with a song - how much SHOULD be taken.  A good coach covers all of this, while also acting as another ear to ensure the beauty and resonance of the voice itself is not compromised.  Additionally, a good coach will help chose repertoire for a singer.  A versatile coach will be able to cover a variety of genres, but there are incredible coaches that just specialize in one field, like many operatic coaches.  These are for the professionals.  You'll know when this is the one you want...

As I said earlier, there's a lot of overlapping within these two specialties, especially with teachers of beginning and intermediate students.  Essentially, though, what are the greatest strengths and the most intense focuses of the trainers.  Regardless of what one calls himself, he's got to know a lot about singing and music to be responsible for training a vocalist! 

I'd love to hear other opinions about this!  Shout out and add to this list, if you'd like!


The 10,000 Hour Rule

I've heard it before from various sources, but I just read it again in Malcolm Gladwell's book, "The Outliers."   Mastery of a craft (talent, job skill, hobby, etc.) takes about 10,000 hours.  Some people rush it, as when they are consumed with something.  Some people take the long slow journey, like the long time employee who has done the same job for a lifetime.  But pretty much across the board, it takes 10,000 hours for mastery.  Oh, you can be good; you can have talent or skill; you can be utterly sincere; you can have a great desire to succeed.  In fact you must have these things for success, but most importantly, these things usually move you to the front line of opportunities.  And it's the opportunities that enable you to keep working at your craft that continues to give you the leg up on the competition.  I noticed long ago that the kids who would get the lead parts in the teen musicals would often get them time and again.  They were better usually, but not by a great deal when they got their first parts. I suspected, though,  the reason they got better and better and kept getting the good parts was because they had more opportunities to practice their craft, and they had mentors paying close attention to them each time they got a special part.  To quote Ady Abbot's blog on Heretic Entertainment's website hereticentertainment.blogspot.com, "In Gladwell's examples, the future success stories were only happy to have a chance to do the work they loved.  Because they loved the work, they did it as often as they could.  Because they wanted it, obsessed on it and delighted in every opportunity to do it, they were provided with opportunities to work.  No guarantees of glory, just the chance to work a lot - that's what got them their 10,000 hours.  They were most certainly born with talent and potential, but lots and lots of work made them masters of their relative crafts."  So, bottom liine - do you love your craft enough to "obsess" on it?  10,000 hours goes by a lot faster when you love the journey.