Could you enthuse kids about the science of singing?

 

How could you pitch it. Have you ever seen that brilliant you can make with a couple of balloons and an old plastic drink bottle. If you get a chance check it out. its a brilliant way to show how it all works. I have been singing and teaching for 20 years and i learned something from that little experiment.  I’d have kids make that model. I don't know if you have ever seen a video the vocal folds working via larynxoscopy. Pretty fascinating and pretty weird. I can just hear a bunch of kids shouting “gross” They would enjoy it though. the last thing I would get them interested in is the possibility of breaking glass with the voice. Can it really be done. There is so much science right there and huge potential for comedy. I’ll give you a hint, you have to sing a note at the exact frequency the glass vibrates at when you flick it with something or if you wet your finger and rub it around the rim. I think it could be a pretty good incursion. an extraordinary incursion…..

How it all began

I was on the phone to a lady the other day who was enquiring about our singing dance and drama program and I found myself telling her our story from the very beginning, Beccy and I are opera singers when we aren't teaching but our kids were never really stage kids. They love singing, they are always singing but the aren’t those kids that just have to be on stage under the lights with the costume. They never really had the desire to be centre stage they just wanted to be involved. We wanted to find an outlet for their love of the theatre but it was really hard to find something that wasn't really strict, that didn't require a uniform, that was a no pressure environment. The big bug bear for me was the end of year concertand the awards. As parents we once attended a drama program’s end of year concert that went for 4 hours. I’ll say that again 4 hours. I was dying. 

at the end of the night they gave out awards. There were 30 kids and 20 kids got an award for something or other. My kid of course was one of the kids who came home empty handed. 

 

That’s why we decided on no hierarchy and really really mercifully short concerts. Regular Yes but short. If your experience is a good one you don't mind regularly attending. Even though I create kids concerts, I still hate going to them. I can sometimes dread them for days. That’s because they are too long. If you have to have an interval in a kids concert then the concert is too long. I would just have a couple of smaller concerts on different nights so you don’t have to watch everyone else. When putting on a concert you have a responsibility to your audience to make it run really smoothly to cut down the time that person is sitting there. 

 

Friends of our suggested we start our own school. We shrugged it off at first but when our kids found out that it was a possibility there was a sense of excitement in the air. To be quite frank the idea of creating a program for kids in the local area was scary. I would have much rather done it in an area where no one knew us that way, if it failed we could have disappeared without a trace. But we created it in Balwyn where we live and a lot of kids who knew us came and it was kind of exciting.

 

 

I used a lot of props when we first started laser lights and smoke machines, story books with pictures that kind of thing. That had it’s place but over time I realised that it’s really about the imagination. More and more I asked the kids to create things in their minds. 

 

We also played a lot of musical games then which we don't do so much of now. I often ask myself before I plan a song or game “ DO I want to sing this? Does this game sound fun to me?” It really is trial and error. Some activities seem so utterly lame and i’ll try it and the kids love it . 

 

We play this game sometimes called Battle of the air bands. It’s like an air guitar competition but with a whole band.  Kids form bands and come up on stage and the group that rocks out the best wins. It’s one of those activities where if there are parents in the room I wonder what they are thinking. Imagine “where’s the educational value in this…”  The value is in standing up and making a twit of yourself in front of people and getting applause. 

We have been going for 4 years now in Balwyn

So we started Extraordinary Kids 4 years ago because our kids wanted an outlet for their enthusiasm for musical theatre but we couldn’t find anything that wasn't stagey or hierarchical that taught all 3 disciplines, singing, dance and drama without horrendously long end of year concerts. 

We did the old “ if I were to start a school i’d do this… “ My particular thing was “ Not have long concerts” so we made them short. We approached it from the point of view of the parents as much as the kids and threw out the notion that we are going to make you a star.

 

 

So 4 years on, we are still at the Deepdene Uniting Church Mondays and Wednesdays. We still have the same ethos. Over time we have started to theme each of the terms. (This year there’s a fairy tale theme. ) There’s a lot of Disney and some songs from Sondheim’s Into the woods!

 

We have started to use microphones for the songs and skits in the concerts too. we have built up a whole system that we now use for our own gigs. In case you didn’t know Beccy and i are performers our selves - Opera singers by trade. 

 

When we started there was a huge percentage of kids from Deepdene Primary school. That’s probably because our kids go to Deepdene Primary and a lot of parents and friends got wind that we were starting a performing arts program and decided to tag along. 

 

Now we have a broad cross section of kids from a lot of local schools: Kew East Primary School, Kew Primary, Doncaster Primary school, Birralee, Balwyn North Primary, Balwyn Primary, Ringwood Primary, Mont Albert primary school,Kew East, Boroondara Park Primary ,Ivanhoe Primary, Camberwell girls grammar school, Deepdene PS, OLGC, Deepdene, Kew East Ps, Mont Albert primary, Our Lady of perpetual help, Mont Albert Primary School, St Gregory the Great, Greythorn Primary School, BALWYN NORTH, Xavier ,and Chattham Primary School to name just a few. That is an incredibly broad cross section of schools.

We actually have a lot of kids that come from Richmond West primary and Richmond primary.  There’s also a couple of kids that come from Ivanhoe as well.

 

 

I honestly don’t know how they found us because schools are very protective these days and wont endorse extra curricular activities and lets face it theres a lot of drama programs, dance programs singing school, musical activities in the South Eastern Suburbs.  I think this is only going to grow as the population grows. It’s fantastic for kids whose English is their second language too. We have a lot of gorgeous Asian kids who attend at the moment. It’s a real cultural melting pot. 

 

 

It is very rewarding to see all of the kids coming on their own and being creative and having fun with a whole lot of kids from different schools. There’s something about the performing arts that breaks down boundaries. The games we use are usually ice -breakers and we spend a lot of time laughing. Its a great bonding agent.

 

It’s great to hear the singing come out of the singing studio too. The kids go ape over Into the woods. The great thing about that for me is I love the show. It’s really sophisticated Musical theatre at it’s very best. It’s one of the first shows i was exposed to when I was a student at the Western Australian Academy of Performing arts. If we don’t churn out stars ( thats certainly not the aim) One thing I sincerely hope is that we do create great audience members and patrons of the performing arts. 

 

I can honestly say that my life has greatly been enriched through the performing arts. I’d like to see the kids get the same benefit

 

 

 

 

What is learning to sing ?

When i was a kid, I had a sneaking suspicion that I could be a good singer. I would sing in the shower and what not and I could hear a decent voice. I wished I knew where to go from there. I wished I even know what sound to aim for. I was always a good mimic so I figured if I knew what good singing was then i could aim for that. Problem was I didn't really know what good singing was. 

Someone asked me recently what are you trying to do when you do singing lessons. 

I didn't understand the question and asked for clarification and the person said

 

“ well when you learn a sport you learn to kick a ball you learn to dribble and to pass and positions etc. What do you do in singing”

 

It was a genuine question and an excellent one. 

 

The best way I can describe what you do when you sing is this. 

 

Everyone has a basic instrument learning to sing is optimising and maximising that instrument through the use of air and the supporting muscles. 

 

That’s what it is in a nutshell.

movement

I’ve got an idea. Kids have to move. We do a lot of circle work at Extraordinary Kids and i look around the circle. especially when I’m trying to explain the exercise, and they are jiggling and wriggling and there’d be a few hand stands and what not. I wonder if you couldn’t have a program that is always moving. If we stand in a circle we all walk in a clock wise direction and then the other way. As i explain the next thing it happens as we are all moving. watch this space..

Patch Theatre Company

Much of the philosophy of Extraordinary Kids, especially for drama, is so heavily influenced by a small children's  theatre company in Adelaide. A tiny company who punches way, way above her weight internationally. Most of it is due to a guy called Dave . It was always an incredible journey of self discovery working there  I remember doing a particular scene where I was a servant and i was to share my lunch with the king. ( I think the king had gone broke or something.) I gave the king this little brown box that contained brown bread and honey. "Brown bread and honey?????" said the king. “ Yes brown bread and honey.” I gave the box to the king.  But i gave it to him like I was handing over my ID as Dave patiently pointed out.  This helped me learn to imbue - To give value to something just by how you handle it.  

The way you hold the box it has to have a specialness. You have to hold it like it is something precious. I was so crap at that at first.

We do a simple exercise at EK where i ask Kids to pick up something from around the room and walk up to another kid standing in the circle and say “from me to you” The object of the exercise is to imbue a piece of fluff or a rag with incredible fragility and importance. 

Imbue. its one of my favorite words.. 

 

For more information on Patch 

www.patchtheatre.org.au

 

 

 

Home ground advantage

Story goes Larry David the creator of the sublime Seinfeld and Curb your Enthusiasm was once a stand up comic. He would walk out infront of an audience and if he didn't feel the warmth from the crowd he would just say “Naa.” and walk off!  No explanation . Nothing.  I often say in our little concerts to the audience “This is a 2 way street”. My brother played in the AFL and he told me that “you would not believe the difference a home crowd makes.” I always found that astonishing in something like football. Elite athletes play better when people are cheering for them. I think its really really important that when parents see the shows they take an active role in the other 50 percent- the whooping and yelling and the laughing. It makes a massive difference. You see the kids rise to the occasion when the wind is behind their sails.

Face front and the clutch

““Face front. Face the front. Cheat it out. We need to see your face. We got your back for most of that you have to face the audience. You don't need to look at him. I know it sounds weird but you don’t need to look at him when you speak to him.” Then theres “ I didn't hear any of that . Don't forget that there’s an audience if we don't hear that word the joke won’t make sense.. Say it into the microphone. Yes good but say it clearly into the microphone. Yes but face the front.  If this was on TV that would be perfect. Perfect.! But we are in a theatre so it’s got to be a lot bigger. Think of it as sharing the conversation with the person at the back of the room. GO! Face front, speak clearly, share it with the room, Into the microphone. Keep up the pace. It’s got to be quick or you’ll loose them.” 

I drive my car I every day. I get to a place and don't remember the journey. But remember learning to drive?. Speed limit. Lights. Parking. Indicate, no one in your blind spot. Starting on a hill. clutch. Oh my, the clutch!  I fired my first driving instructor for lack of patience. My foot shook on the accelerator for a year after I got my license. It takes time. They are doing their best. You have to be patient.

Becoming more observant

Becoming more observant.

 

When do we really teach people to be more observant of things in everyday life. There is a great corporate team building exercise where they ask everyone to close their eyes and describe parts of the office. what colour is the carpet? What kind of lights are there.? That kind of thing. A lot of great actors biographies suggest to aspiring actors to learn to be more observant. I remember Michael Caine in his autobiography talking about how his favourite passtime was to just sit somewhere and observe people.  Have you heard of those great experiments that would have a group of students in a room in the middle of a lecture or something and a cleaner would come in and potter about and then leave. A pretend cop would come in later and tell the room that there was a robbery and ask the room to describe the cleaner. People would argue vehemently. 

“No he was tall! He was old!. No He was Young!”

 

We observe things so differently and often so inaccurately and

Quite often the smallest observation can be very powerful

 

Top 15 excuses for not doing your homework

 

 

15    I lost it fighting a kid who said you're not the best teacher in the world

 

14        I’m batman 

 

13    A kid borrowed it to copy it and didn't give it back  

 

 

12    We find didn't have any toilet paper and dad had a runny bottom  

 

 

 

11    I Posted it to you didn't you get it? Australia post these days.

 

 

10    oh it must have fallen out of my bag! What a shame. 

 

 

 

9    My dad forgot to do it for me.  

 

 

 

8    the wind blew it our of my hands. I chased it for hours.  That’s why I'm late too.  

 

 

7    I didn't want you to have to mark it. You work hard enough.  

 

 

6    You said “ do Questions 1 - 10” you didn't say bring it in! 

 

 

5    The cleaning lady threw it away. It was good too.

 

4    I got soap in my eyes and was blinded for the rest of the night.

 

 

3    I gave it to the emergency teacher. I hope she gave it to you 

 

2.     A: I use a solar powered calculator

    B: So What?

    A: It was cloudy   

 

1.     What homework?  

Scripts Big Group

1. Teacher: whoever answers my next question, can go home.

One boy throws paper at the teacher.

Teacher: who just threw that?!

Boy: Me! and I get to go home now. So long suckers.

 

 

2. The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. 

At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. 

The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray,

 “Take only one. God is watching.”

Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. 

One child whispered to another, “Take all you want. 

God is watching the apples.”

 

 

3. Two boys were arguing when the teacher entered the room. 

The teacher says, "Why are you arguing?"

One boy answers, "We found a ten dollor bill and decided to give it to whoever tells the biggest lie."

"You should be ashamed of yourselves," said the teacher, "When I was your age I didn't even know what a lie was."

The boys gave the ten dollars to the teacher.

 

 

 

4. ”Dad, I don't want to go to school today." said the boy.

"Why not, son?"

"Well, one of the chickens on the school farm died last week and we had chicken soup for lunch the next day. Then three days ago one of the pigs died and we had roast pork the next day."

"But why don't you want to go today?"

"Because our English teacher died yesterday!”

 

 

 

5. Teacher: If a lion is chasing you, what would you do?

Christy: I'd climb a tree.

Teacher: if the lion climbs a tree?

Christy: I will jump in the lake and swim.

Teacher: if the lion also jumps in the water and swims after you?

Christy: Teacher, are you on my side or on the lion's?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.The teacher is droning away in the classroom when he notices a student sleeping way up in the back row. 

The teacher shouts to the sleeping student's neighbor, "Hey wake that student up!"

 

The neighbor yells back, "You put him to sleep, you wake him up!”

 

A student went to class late, so the teacher asked him, "Why are you late?"

He told her, "I was dreaming of a Manchester United football match."

But that did not make any sense for the teacher so she ask, "Still why are you late?"

He answered, "Because there was extra time.”

 

 

 

 

 

7.Teacher: “If I give you two rabbits and two rabbits and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got?”

Boy: “Seven!”

Teacher: “No, listen carefully again. 

If I give you two rabbits and two rabbits and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got?”

Boy: “Seven!”

Teacher: “Let’s try this another way. 

If I give you two apples and two apples and another two apples, how many apples have you got?”

Boy: “Six.”

Teacher: “Good. 

Now if I give you two rabbits and two rabbits and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got?”

Boy: “Seven!”

Teacher: “How on earth do you work out that three lots of two rabbits is seven?”

Boy: “I’ve already got one rabbit at home now!”

 

 

 

8. Little Johnny's first grade class was playing "Name That Animal." 

The teacher held up a picture of a cat and asked, "What animal is this?"

"A cat!" said Suzy.

"Good job. 

Now, what's this animal?"

"A dog!" said Ricky.

"Good. Now what animal is this?" she asked, holding up a picture of a deer.

The class fell silent. 

After a couple of minutes, the teacher said, "It's what your mom calls your dad."

"I know!" called out Little Johnny. 

"A moron!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Teacher: Did your father herp you with your homework?

Student: Nope

Teacher: Hmm are you sure your father didt help you with your homework

Student: Nope , he did it all by himself

 

 

10. Peter: What’s the difference between a teacher and a train?

Ted: What?

Peter: A teacher says, “Spit out that gum!” and a train says, “Chew! Chew!”

 

 

11.  Two fathers chat outside school in the morning;

"Bill, have you solved your son’s math problems?"

"Yes, man, I did. Why?"

"Can you quickly give them to me, so I can copy them…?"

 

12Teacher: Tell me a sentence that starts with an "I". 

Student: I is the....

Teacher: Stop! Never put 'is' after an "I". Always put 'am' after an "I".

Student: OK. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.

 

 

 

13A professor was giving a big test one day to his students. 

He handed out all of the tests and went back to his desk to wait.

Once the test was over the students all handed the tests back in. 

The professor noticed that one of the students had attached a $100 bill to his test with a note saying "A dollar per point."

The next class the professor handed the graded tests back out. 

This student got back his test, his test grade, and $64 change. 

 

 

 

14Did anyone ever notice that "STUDYING" is a mixture of STUDY and DYING?

 

 

15Teacher: "Now class, whatever I ask, I want you to all answer at once. 

How much is six plus four?"

Class: "At once!”

 

 

16Teacher: “Johnny, what is the outside of a tree called?”

Johnny: “I don’t know.”

Teacher: “Bark, Johnny, bark.”

Johnny: “Bow, wow, wow!”

 

 

Scripts Middle group

 

ABC

 

A: How did you go in your end of year exams 

B: I got an A, B and a C

A: Well done!!!

B: Thanks. 

A: And what other letters do you think you will learn next year

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur

Teacher : Imagine you were in a world of dinosaurs. and they dinosaur was going to eat you. What would you do?

 

Kid : Err.. stop imagining?

 

 

 

 

Element of surprise

 

Teacher: Right. get out your physics books everyone. Ok Jenny can you give me an example of an element? 11311

 

Jenny:  RAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!

 

Teacher: ahhhhhhhh! what. was. that? 

 

Jenny. “That” was the element of surprise.

 

 

 

Mean but fair

 

Mum: Hi how was your first day how would you describe your teacher.

Kid: She’s mean and cruel …but fair 

Mum: Meanand cruel but fair? what do you mean by that?

Kid: SHe’s mean and cruelto everyone.

 

 

Abstract noun

 

Teacher: AN abstract noun is something you can think of but you cant touch. Can you give me an example of an abstract noun.

 

Kid: Dads car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

scare his parents

 

Dad:  Can I see your report card?

Kid: No. My mate borrowed it.

Dad: Your mate borrowed your report card? why did he do that?

Kid: He wanted to scare his parents

 

 

 

Prayers

 

Teacher : Do you say your prayers before dinner?

Kid: No I don’t have to.

Teacher and why not?

Kid: My mum’s a good cook

 

 

 

 

 

Life after death

Kid: Excuse me miss, Is there life after death?

Teacher: Hmm well err…. Why do you ask 

Kid: I need the extra time to finish all ofthe homework you gave us.

 

 

AMEN

 

Teacher: never use “A” before a plural. For example you don't say “a cows.”

Pupil: but why does the preacher say Amen!

 

 

 

READ

teacher: what does your history book tell you about the civil war

Kid: It didn't tell me anything. I had to read the dam thing!

 

 

 

 

God

Teacher: What are you drawing Nelly?

Nelly: Im drawing a picture of god?

Teacher: Oh dear Nelly. NO one knows what god looks like..

Nelly: well, they will in a minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom: What did you do at school today?

Mark: We did a guessing game.

Mom: But I thought you were having a math exam.

Mark: That’s right! A guessing game

 

 

Teacher: “You know you can’t sleep in my class.”

Boy: “I know. But maybe if you were just a little quieter, I could.”

 

 

Teacher: What do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?

Student: A teacher?

 

 

 

Teacher: Tell me a sentence that starts with an "I". 

Student: I is the....

Teacher: Stop! Never put 'is' after an "I". Always put 'am' after an "I".

Student: OK. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.

 

 

Teacher: “You know you can’t sleep in my class.”

Boy: “I know. But maybe if you were just a little quieter, I could.”

 

Found this on Glenferrie primary school's newsletter Awesome!

Why we should sing

Vanessa Ilicic, HealthLogix Reporter

Whether in the shower, car or a choir, it seems there are good health reasons to sing – regardless of skill.
In fact, singing can positively impact the vocalist physically and emotionally, according to research. And, the range of benefits can increase if it’s performed in a group.
So, let’s take a closer look at the reasons for breaking into song ...

Physical benefits

Those who’ve ever doubted the physical demands of singing need only observe a professional on stage. The sweaty brow of an opera star, for example, may not be due to hot lights or stage nerves, but rather the act of singing itself. “Singing is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the bloodstream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting,” says Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the University of London’s Institute of Education.

Research suggests it’s the physical activities involved in singing, namely breathing exercises and voice control, which are responsible for the physical health benefits.
“These activities can positively affect breathing capacity, muscle tension and posture, and reduce respiratory symptoms,” according to a literature review published and funded by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (Vic Health), Australia, in 2011.

And singers needn’t be professional to benefit.
For instance, the activity can help older, non-professional singers better control their breathing during other exercise, and reduce symptoms in those with their breathing during other exercise, and reduce symptoms in those with general bodily aches and pains, based on the review by Victoria University.

Psychological benefits

Interestingly, some of the physical changes that occur when singing can have psychological benefits.
Consider, for example, hormonal changes. The Vic Health review states that singing can lead to reduced levels of a hormone associated with emotional stress, plus increases in others associated with positive or relaxing experiences or feelings of wellbeing.
So powerful are singing’s potential psychological benefits that it’s sometimes used therapeutically.
“Singing combined with other therapeutic techniques has been shown to assist the recovery process of various psychological and physiological health problems across different age groups”, from infants with cystic fibrosis to people with dementia, for example, according to the review.
Among the cited benefits are greater comfort and improved mood, in particular, reduced anxiety, depression and anger, and increased joy, calmness and inner peace.
And it seems that list can grow if singing with others.
For example, the review points to a body of research that shows group singing can lead to a sense of accomplishment, increased self-confidence, empowerment and interpersonal skills, reduced feelings of social isolation and expanded social networks.
Although being a good singer can add to listeners’ pleasure, it mightn’t be necessary to reap the health rewards. According to a study published in Psychology of Music back in 2005, group singing “can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality”.
Despite the many potential health benefits of singing alone or with others, remember it’s not a cure-all.
Then again, if it’s appropriate in your context, there’s probably little harm in bringing your favourite song to life the next time you feel so inclined. 

Can you teach a tone deaf person to sing in tune?

Look its a long hard road. I think the first thing you have to ascertain is “Is this person tone deaf?” can the student hear that they are singing out of tune? If the student has no idea they are off then thats the first thing to be done is to help the student hear that they are off. They may never get there.  If the student says “ yeh I’m way off” then there is hope. start with one note and patiently correct the student until they get there. If they can hear they are off then they’ll get there. Then slowly move a semitone and back, then a tone and so on. Sing with the student to reinforce the melody when you can and drop out. Let them sing alone for a bit then jump back in when the trainer wheels fall off and they wobble. 

Kids and the science of singing

How could you pitch it. Have you ever seen that brilliant you can make with a couple of balloons and an old plastic drink bottle. If you get a chance check it out. its a brilliant way to show how it all works. I have been singing and teaching for 20 years and i learned something from that little experiment.  I’d have kids make that model. I don't know if you have ever seen a video the vocal folds working via laryngoscopy. Pretty fascinating and pretty weird. I can just hear a bunch of kids shouting “gross” They would enjoy it though. the last thing I would get them interested in is the possibility of breaking glass with the voice. Can it really be done. There is so much science right there and huge potential for comedy. I’ll give you a hint, you have to sing a note at the exact frequency the glass vibrates at when you flick it with something or if you wet your finger and rub it around the rim. I think it could be a pretty good incursion. an extraordinary incursion…..

Why don't we teach humour in school?

Why don't we teach humour in schools? In some ways I think humour is one of the most important commodities around. If you make the receptionist laugh you’re much more likely to talk to his or her boss.  The best advertising campaigns i can think of all were really funny. Humour stays with you . You remember funny things for a long time. I know I’m constantly trying to preserve my funniest memories because i don't want to loose them. Don't you just hate it when you come up against some one who just has no sense of humour?  I don't remember a single lesson in school, even drama that talked about the awesome power of humour. 

Sketch comedy

No one seems to be writing anymore. Especially sketch comedy. I remember the days of Monty Python. Brillant timeless scripts.  Or Comic strip presents with the likes of Ben Elton and Rick Mayall, or Little Britain.  Genuinely funny stuff. One of my goals over the next few years is to get kids to write. I think in years to come anyone who can generate content will prosper. Anyone who can make something that doesn't already exist on the net will have something of value. 

 

I’m starting with comedy. Im thinking a Saturday night live sort of a feel. When I was living in London a few years ago  I did a thing called News Review upstairs of the canal cafe. We met for a few hours a day and rehearsed scripts that independent writers had contributed. It was always based  around something that had happened in the news. We prided ourselves on “shockingly bad taste” that’s what someone said about it in a review. We would perform from Thursday though to Sunday and the content was constantly changing. I remember I always just barely knew my words. There was a constant terror that I was going to forget what would come next. The audience were so on your side and everything was so hit and miss. It was exhilarating. And brilliant training for an actor.

 

Scripts were sent in. If the writers script made it into the show they were paid for the script (beer money)  and often the actors would contribute  scripts as well. We would spend the day workshopping the ideas in the scripts. It was usually a synergy of ideas that made the script work. It was never one person’s thing. We always built on each others ideas. That happens a lot at EK. I bring in a really simple joke. The human cannon ball got fired….from his job… Then we would flesh out the characters. A boss and a human cannon ball. Then the human cannon ball  gets a personality. She rolls everywhere she goes. When she arrives she rolls forward. When she leaves she rolls backwards. The reason she is fired from her job develops. Eating too much and is too heavy for the gun. All of these contributions from different kids. The skit develops a life. There is a something now where there was just an idea before. 

 

So Im kicking around an idea for a comedy club for teens. I would have loved something like this when i was a kid. Kids are encouraged to bring in ideas and together we can flesh them out. It could an idea about politicians taking helicopter rides to parties for example. Obviously Im going to have to be careful with keeping the content suitable. Every few weeks or so we can have a little soiree with parents and friends etc.  It would just be so great to see a seed like that grow. It would be so great to empower teens to  do that sort of thing. Watch this space :)

This is for the singers and the teachers....

i believe whole heartedly that there is so much opportunity around at the moment. I look around me and see people with incredible life experience, incredible talent  and no where to go. I'm reminded of a documentary I saw about Russian pianists that could never leave the country. They couldn't make enough out of performing In Russia and they couldn't  leave, so they taught and then their best students couldn't make enough money performing, so they taught, and so on and so on. The best talent taught.  Their students had no where to go so they taught and their protégés were absolute freaks. It was like a little pressure cooker. Eventually the Berlin Wall came down and later communism fell and there was an explosion of Eastern European and Russian talent that infiltrated the Western world. And it shook the Opera world. Suddenly Covent Garden could employ world class singers for next to nix. All over the place wages fell. That’s the Readers digest version

 I was talking to a singer today who sang at Covent Garden who told me about  that very thing. He noticed that the work was disappearing for singers in London and all over Europe due to an explosion of singers from Russia, East Germany, Hungary etc. I digress. I personally over the arc of my tiny career can see so many amazingly talented people wasted. I think there is opportunity in harnessing the talent of those people who have achieved incredible things. There are people all around us who have incredible amounts of knowledge and experience and are just wasted. I think teaching should be built in to every profession. Every footballer should teach . every singer should teach. every what ever should teach to refine their skills and to pass it on to the next generation. 

getting over the fear hurdle

Last night I was in a restaurant and a local guest came up to our table and showed my daughter a magic trick. It was really some random person. Honestly who does that? Which one of us would think “ I know. Im just going  to walk up to that table of strangers, interrupt their conversation and show them a really crappy trick. It really was a bad trick.

 Then I showed my daughter an equally bad  magic trick and dared her to go back up to the man and do the trick for him. My daughter loved the trick  I could see that she really wanted to show the man  but fear was holding her back.  I am terrified of magic. I've had to do it a few time in shows and what not. I always think “no one’s going to believe this. Of course it’s a latex bottle that squashes down. I could understand why my daughter was scared to do the trick. After much cajoling she did it. She went back up to him and showed him the coin trick. Of course he pretended to be bewildered. Afterwards I could see the relief on her face. She said “wo. that was scary”

 

Scary yes but exhilarating too. I think those little  moments can be really big in life. Getting over that fear barrier can be a really big step. I remember being about 8 years old and there was a taking turns singing game in class.  It was my turn. the class sang to me and it was my turn to sing solo. I was paralysed with fear. I couldn't sing and I missed my go. I kicked myself all week. We played the same game in class  a week later and when it was my turn I summoned the courage from somewhere and sang. It really was a pivotal moment for me. Possibly life changing. What a relief. You couldn't shut me up after that