[Perform-talk] Physical aspects of performing?

Masha Sten-Clanton morningglow at verizon.net
Sun May 17 02:40:40 UTC 2015

Thank you so much, Julie! I read an article about you in the MONITOR and 
so know you are an accomplished performer. I hope I can correspond more 
with you, and I will write to you off-list!


On 5/16/2015 9:20 PM, Julie McGinnity via Perform-talk wrote:
> Hi Masha,
> This sounds really exciting!  I am going to write a bit about what
> I've learned over the years about gesturing, movement, and physical
> appearance as a blind singer.  I have been performing since I was
> about 11 years old in musicals, operas, in choirs, and as a soloist
> both at my church and as a part of my degree programs.  I got an
> undergraduate degree in vocal performance and am now working on my
> masters in the same.  None of this is to brag...  But so that you
> understand that I have been pondering and living with this topic for a
> long time.  I have heard lots of bad advice, have worked with teachers
> who have no idea how to get a blind person moving on stage, and have
> been through periods of time during which I was tricked into believing
> different things about my capabilities in terms of moving on stage.
> 1. You have the same expectations as the other singers.
> This means that even if you don't move as much as they do, you need to
> look comfortable in your own skin, mean the movements you choose to
> do, and internalize the music.  If you are graded on physical
> appearance and movement, then find what works for you and what looks
> natural on you.  No less will be (or should be) expected of you
> because you are blind.  If you choose to get a good repor going with
> the band, then that is a great place to start.  And that leads me to:
> 2. You are your own unique person; do not try to be anything else.
> I once had a coach who would try to get me to make certain facial
> expressions.  She would attempt to force me into schooling my face
> into certain configurations so that it looked "normal."  Now let me
> tell you that I do not have an abnormal looking face, but my
> expressions are rather unique.  Most tell mme that this is good
> because I have a noticeable smile and very expressive faces.  :)  My
> point is that you should love being the unique person you are.  Feel
> natural in your own skin.  If the music moves you, and your face shows
> that, then it will come through to the audience.
> So here are some things you can do to work on learning what feels
> natural and how to work those things in your performances.  Since we
> cannot simply watch videos of other performers or look in the mirror,
> we need to feel these things from the inside.  What kinds of gestures
> and expressions do you use in your everyday life?  Begin to focus on
> those things.  You can also get some honest friends (Be sure they are
> honest).  They can tell you what their perception of you is from a
> visual perspective.  Remember to take all opinions with a grain of
> salt.  Never ever do a gesture that feels uncomfortable or forced.
> That is the best way to look awkward.
> If you have any other questions feel free to email me off list.  I am
> still learning about these things, but the more we discuss this the
> more we can learn from each other.
> On 5/16/15, Rob Kaiser via Perform-talk <perform-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> I, when I'm singing in a choir, I make sure that the person next to me makes
>> sure I'm facing the conductor.
>> Rob Kaiser
>> email;
>> rcubfank at sbcglobal.net
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Marissa Tejeda via Perform-talk
>> Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2015 4:31 PM
>> To: Performing Arts Division list
>> Cc: Marissa Tejeda
>> Subject: Re: [Perform-talk] Physical aspects of performing?
>> Hi,
>> I go to the California School for the Blind.  When I sing in Glee
>> Club, and on stage, as I did on Wednesday and Thursday in a
>> Spring concert, I stand straight with my hands at my sides.  I
>> face the audience and sing.  Occationally, I may sway slightly,
>> if I'm feeling the music.
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Masha Sten-Clanton via Perform-talk
>> <perform-talk at nfbnet.org
>> To: Performing Arts Division list <perform-talk at nfbnet.org
>> Date sent: Sat, 16 May 2015 18:54:17 -0400
>> Subject: [Perform-talk] Physical aspects of performing?
>> Here in New England there's a weekly show, Community Auditions,
>> which is
>> a televised singing competition.  The contestants are usually
>> accompanied
>> by a band while they sing.  After each performance, three judges
>> give the
>> contestant feedback, along with a rating from 1 to 10.
>> Since I'd like to audition for the show, I've been paying
>> particular
>> attention to the judges' comments.  A lot of them have to do with
>> how the
>> contestants come across visually.  Besides their vocal technique,
>> contestants are praised or criticized on their enthusiasm, how
>> they
>> move, and how they interact with the band.
>> As a totally blind person, I was constantly warned to be careful
>> of
>> untoward movements.  I'd like to know from blind singers: How did
>> you
>> learn to look, and feel, comfortable with your body onstage? How
>> do you
>> stand in a position that looks natural? What do you do with your
>> hands
>> (if you're not playing an instrument)? How do you build movement
>> into
>> your performance? (In high school I wwas criticized for not
>> incorporating hand gestures into a song.) And how do you interact
>> with a
>> band while performing? (I'm presuming that the only way would be
>> to
>> rehearse with them, and establish rapport, beforehand, so that
>> hopefully
>> that rapport will be apparent to the audience.)
>> I think there was a panel at the national convention about this
>> topic
>> last year, but I was unable to attend the convention.  Is there a
>> recording of it somewhere?
>> Any advice would be greatly appreciated -- I'd really like to try
>> out
>> for this show!
>> Thanks,
>> Masha
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