Sunday, December 21, 2008


Well hello there! I know, its been like a million gagillion months since I last wrote in this thing. That's not to say I haven't had plenty of things to talk about, it just means I'm a lazy bum who didn't necessarily want to write down her thoughts. But I'm back! *rejoicing begins*

So! Whatever shall we talk about? There have been a lot of things that have happened since my last post. The most obvious is that I graduated from college. It has been a very life altering experience to say the least. I'm officially an adult now and it has really taught me a lot about myself and how I have to deal with different life situations.

We all know that I got my degree in Theatre Studies with the intention of becoming an actor. This is still a very big reality and in the last few months I've really gotten myself in gear. I've gone on auditions (no parts but still experience) and I've been doing what I've needed to improve upon all that I've already learned. When I finally got serious about this whole thing a few months ago, one of the first things I found necessary to do was work on my singing. Sure, I'm a pretty decent singer; I've been told that I have a good voice but it hasn't been a priority for me in a long time. I called around to people I knew and one of my dad's friends has a daughter who is a singer. So I asked her for reccommendations to find a good vocal coach/teacher who could help me better my voice. She did and I was grateful because it wasn't terribly out of my price range ($80 an hour) and it was easily accessible.

At our first lesson (which I was incredibly late for due to trains and ferries just hating me) she taught me her methods for breathing and how to support your breath, etc. Most of it was not stuff I had ever heard anyone suggest to me before. But I went with it because well one of her students was nominated for a Grammy so I figured she knew something. Well, over the course of our lessons, I've mainly been preparing for upcoming auditions and so have specific styles and songs that I've wanted to work on. Now let me say something here; I don't believe in just learning enough of the song for an audition. But after we'd "warm up" and she'd push me to make my voice do things I didn't think I could do (nor did I want to sometimes) then I'd finally be able to get to the song I wanted to prepare.

Let me say, she has a very different approach working on a song than anyone else I've worked with. Sure, if I've never heard a song before I may download it so I can hear it and get a feel for it but I would never really use it to work on the song once I knew all the words. But that's how I would have to do it. After we'd warm up, I'd get out my iPod (never the sheet music) and I'd sing along with the song until she'd stop me and critique what I as doing wrong. Can I just tell you that it's one thing to sing along with Lisa Loeb (the last song we worked on) in my kitchen than it is to sing along with her to try and work on a song that I wanted to learn? It's practically impossible. And now I have her forcing me to do things with my voice and my words that didn't even sound like me singing. Um hello? You don't belt 'Stay', you sing it. It's a ballad and not Celine or Christina or Beyonce or something. This is the last song we worked on so the experience is still freshest in my mind. So now that she's ripped apart my interpretation of the song and the way I sing it, I find myself changing things to make her happy and not to really sing the song the way I felt I should. Oh and did I mention she doesn't play the piano? So When I'd go in for an audition, no one had ever played the song for me on piano.

And I only know 16 bars of all 5 songs that we worked on. She only worked with me on the 16 bars I needed for the audition. Okay granted, we only had an hour but time could have allotted differently to allow working on a whole song. So now I know 16 bars of 5 songs. But what if I don't want to sing the 16 bars of the songs that I know? Yeah, I'm totally winging it. Wonderful isn't it?

So anyways, when I scheduled a lesson for this past week (for a time completely annoying for me but more on that in a sec) I had to cancel last minute because of the snow. Staten Island was kind of a mess and it started snowing right before I would have had to leave for our lesson. The buses were slow and so were the ferries so I would have been late for our lesson anyway so I just canceled. I know her rule is that you cancel at most 24 hours before your lesson but um hi, couldn't anticipate the weather. When she called me back to confirm that she got my message, she was very angry and rude with me! I was like "look, I'm sorry and I know your rule but there's really nothing I can do." So she proceeds to try and schedule another lesson for this weekend or beginning of next week. Now its almost Christmas and if I could save myself the $80 I wouldn't be spending on the lesson to buy presents I hadn't even gotten around to yet it would be helpful. I asked if we could reschedule after Christmas because money is a bit tight right now. And she responded with "this is my job you know" and "you have the money right now yes?" and I'm like well I do but I could be putting that to other uses right now. (I don't really need this lesson because there are no auditions I'm going on anytime soon and I'm getting ready to move (another blog at another time) so I'm not even going to be here in a few weeks) She got very snippy with me and pretty much bullied me into a lesson on this coming Monday that I do not need/want.

I discussed the matter with my father who in turn told me to call her back and explain to her my financial situation (Friday was my last day of work because of the move) and that my parents couldn't ppay for it because they've been paying for about half of my lessons and just wouldn't have the money for Monday. I can't expect them to starve just to please this woman ya know? So since the money things wasn't going to be a strong enough argument, when I called her today (Saturday) I also added that I would have to cancel because my mom is going in for a test at the hospital Monday (I did not give my mom a fake illness, she is actually going to the hospital to have a test done just not for another few weeks) and then when she asked about rescheduling I told her I couldn't because I really didn't have the money. I also mentioned the move after she suggested a lesson on Wednesday which is Christmas Eve. When I reminded her of this, her response was "So?" Really? This comment prompted me to tell her of the impending move that I was going to tell her in person had I kept my appointment for my lesson.

I told her flat out that I couldn't afford an extra expense right now with the holidays and the move and she had the gall to say "I thought you were serious about this." To which I wanted to say "I am...seriously broke!" That $80 for a lesson I don't need would eat into almost half of my last paycheck! I was just really surprised that this was how she was choosing to conduct our conversation. I was trying to be as rational and honest as I could and she was just firing back accusations at me like everything I was saying was just an excuse. Finally I was just like "I'm really sorry but this is how it's gonna be. No more lessons, its over." Now I didn't want to burn that bridge because when I come back from said move, I would have continued lessons with her (well possibly. I was still debating it in favor or someone who would possibly work in a manner I was more used to) but her complete disregard for my personal struggles was just really disconcerting. I mean, seriously, did she really expect me to make myself even more broke just to keep a lesson with her when I'm sure she could find someone to fill my spot? That is not how you run a business. But I think I handled in a very adult manner. I didn't raise my voice, I didn't swear and I tried to stay as calm and levelheaded as I could.

1 comment:

Tracy Fancher said...

sounds like a real bitch. voice coaches are totally hit or miss..i've had some amazing ones, and i've had ones that just waste my time.

i wanna hear you sing lisa loeb!