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Monday, November 18, 2013

Let me critique you! (Video)

Because there is nothing more fun rewarding than judging you critiquing singers' technique and song performances, I am now offering online video critiques!*


Who I Am 

In case you missed it, I'm a singer, performer, voice teacher, encouraging mentor person who wants to help you achieve your singing goals!!

How It Works

1. You film yourself singing a song, upload it to YouTube, and let me know what you want to work on.

2. I send you a video back in 1-3 biz days, addressing your technique, song performance, interpretation -- whatever you want! In said video, I will most likely be wearing a funny hat.**

 3. We end feeling great about ourselves, and the life-affirming power of music.

 *I would never judge you! I am really nice. I swear! I'm also honest. But nice!
 **Okay, I probably won't be wearing a funny hat.

***UPDATE: I've streamlined the video critique process and all you have to do is visit my website and fill out the form here.***

Cool Package Deal Thing

Students who are currently taking my online belting course Belt Your Face Off! get a discount! New people of the world interested in enrolling Belt Your Face Off! and getting a video critique get a sweet package deal. Wooooo!

If you're confused about this, that's okay -- just fill out the form below and all will become clear! (I'll email you!)

Friday, November 15, 2013

I think I just met an alien

I'm a woman. I've always been a woman. I have no way of knowing what my life would be like if I weren't a woman. All I can do is witness themes and patterns that emerge from my day-to-day existence.

And here is one of them:

SO many men suck. Like, SO many. And maybe -- just maybe -- they're especially awful to women like me -- meaning, badasses who speak and ambulate and go about their lives freely.

When I say "men," I don't mean all men. In fact, I'm thinking of a certain type of grown-up-baby-boy: the people who have manipulated their way to "power" and "success" -- or, at least, the trappings of such titles (expensive cars, trophy girlfriends, etc.) -- but are really just trying to fill the vast void that exists inside of them.

I have money and power -- but I still hate myself!

(You know the type.)

Allow me to tell you about an experience I just had while working on my laptop at Starbucks.

Two men sat at a table across from me and proceeded to yell about how amazing they were at everything on earth. Namely, their achievements in the field of BUSINESS! Business, business, business.

Men and business!

One wore trousers with small anchors on them and had a shirt collar that was way too large for his neck. It reminded me of an alien you might see in Men in Black that's been strapped into a badly proportioned disguise. The other guy had on one of those wide, colorful ties from the 90s.

The business-speak was out of control:

"I can rake in $10,000 a month if the client signs on!"

"It's not my problem -- it's their problem!"

"You've seen my numbers. You've seen my numbers! I'm killing it out there!"

Even through my headphones, I could hear them SCREAMING about themselves, and my stomach started to churn. Had they no regard for others? Weren't they aware that they sounded ridiculous? Didn't they care that others had work to do?

Frustrated, I took out my headphones, fully prepared to go over and say something about the volume of their voices. But, as I did, I noticed that they'd switched topics, and were now talking about their respective fitness regimens.

"I need to get back into the gym," said Wide Colorful Tie. "Ever since my shoulder injury, it's been so hard to lift."

Bingo.

My fiancé just opened a gym, only ten minutes away! No need to confront these ridiculous individuals -- instead, I can simply walk over and make nice, and maybe connect with them over this shared point of interest.

Business cards in hand (I always have some in my purse) I put on my most winning smile. I was even wearing my new Zooey Deschanel glasses, so of course I was extra endearing.

"Excuse me. I couldn't help but overhear -- and pardon my eavesdropping -- that you were looking to get back into working out? My fiancé just opened a gym and I think it could be right up your alley!" I placed the business cards on the table in front of them, and turned to Wide Colorful Tie. "He specializes in individual coaching," I said, "which could be especially helpful after your shoulder injury."

Anchor Pants Alien Head sneered.

Uh-oh.

"What is this?" he sputtered, not looking at me.

"It's a business card," I said. "For a gym." (My asshole-antennae were prickling. Abort! Abort!) "Sorry for the intrusion."

I began to walk away.

"Oh, I've heard of this," said Wide Colorful Tie, which was certainly a lie, since the gym just opened last month, but okay: Business Men need to be in the know.

"Great!" I said. So I talked a bit more about it: where it was located, the types of membership, that sort of thing.

"What's so great about it?" interjected Anchor Pants Alien Head. He looked at his friend. "She comes over here and tells us it's great."

That's when the fire began to rage.

She.

It's a classic way to dismiss somebody: talk about me in the third person, and I'm not even there. Was sexism a factor? Again, I've only ever been a woman, so I can't tell -- and maybe gender has nothing to do with it. But maybe it does, though. I can't help but wonder whether this would have gone differently if it were my male fiancé, standing there talking to them instead of me, an articulate woman in glasses.

I turned and took a long look at Anchor Pants Alien Head. His face was sunken, his eyes were ringed with dark circles, and his gaze remained transfixed on the Starbucks table -- because making eye contact would relinquish too much power (or maybe this is just how aliens need to interact, lest I catch a peek at his reptilian slit pupils).

"Well..." I delivered the quick, two-sentence pitch: the gym has expert training, safe strength-based programming in a small studio setting.

"I already have a gym membership," Anchor Pants Alien Head said, waving the business card out to one side like it had been smeared with smallpox. "And I bought my girlfriend a year membership to La Maison, 50 bucks a month."

Girlfriend. I was dangerously close to up-chucking. Instead, I leaned in -- Zooey Deschanel glasses catching the recessed lighting -- and plucked the card back from his hand.

"Well then! You won't be needing that, sir!" I'd never grinned so wide. "Clearly, you're in phenomenal shape."

"She took the card away from me!" Anchor Pants Alien Head said. "She took it!"

"Because I don't want you to have it," I replied.

His eyes tilted up, until we made contact. I steeled myself and kept smiling.

WWWSDIMIB: What Would Will Smith Do In Men In Black?

As I looked at him, I realized that this was no reptile alien. I was staring into a cold, empty room.

"Bye! Have a great day!"

I returned to my seat. And as I put my headphones back in my ears, I thought: did I just learn a lesson?

Maybe.

The lesson could be: don't put yourself out there, because people will just be jerks! It doesn't ever make sense to go out on a limb! People will only disappoint you!

But instead, I choose to interpret it as the following --

People who live life in such a closed off way are sad. Ladies reading this -- or, anyone, for that matter -- please don't ever let anybody intimidate you. The Anchor Pants Alien Head types are everywhere. But you know that fire you feel inside when something like this happens? Don't let it fizzle! Let it fuel you to be your assertive, wonderful, unapologetic self.

If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

Okay, fine. Maybe I'd punch him. Lightly.

But strong enough to show I mean business.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What to wear at your next audition

I'm a video-making machine! Check out my latest YouTube video on how to style yourself for your next audition! WARNING: contains PG-13 material!*

 

*Sort of.**
**Not really.***
***But sort of.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Who are you and what have you done with The Mindy Project?

I don't relish being a critic (what's the famous adage? "No statue has ever been erected to a critic"?) but occasionally I'll offer my two cents when I think something is whack and needs addressing. Not in a mean way, just in a this-is-my-opinion, take-it-or-leave-it way. I don't purport to have infallible beliefs or sensibilities; but I do think -- when it comes to storytelling -- I have a rather finely tuned bullsh*t detector.

So I'm gonna be a critic for a quick sec.

Enter The Mindy Project, a television program currently in its second season on Fox.

If you're unfamiliar with The Mindy Project, it began as a delightfully whimsical show starring the lovely and talented Mindy Kaling (of The Office and bestselling-memoir fame) that was more or less about one woman's search for love and self-actualization in New York City. Tongue firmly planted in cheek, the show ushered us alongside the eponymous heroine (a shallow but well-meaning gynecologist in a somewhat zany Ob/Gyn practice) as she endured failed dates, baby deliveries, fashion faux-pas, and more.

Season one was (in my opinion) beyond amazing. Laugh-out-loud funny. The characters were believable but unique: flawed, but always sympathetic. The dialogue was witty, but never at the expense of a character's arc. Mindy herself was insanely charming. I, like many other ladies I've spoken with, could picture myself in her shoes.

The cast, on the whole, was fantastic. After I forced my close friends and family to watch season one using my Hulu Plus login, all of them commented on how markedly outstanding the acting was -- particularly the performances by Chris Messina (as the sensitive but repressed Danny Castellano, M.D.), and Mark Duplass (as the self-righteous but hot Brendan Deslaurier) -- both movie actors who chose to do small screen in this case because Mindy Kaling is so talented and her writing is so fantastic (hell yes I scoured YouTube for interviews in which they said exactly that).

Bottom line: watching season one was like taking a class in awesome TV. Sure there were some problems (there were some cast changes, some of the plotting was out of order) but this is par for the course with a new show, right? At its core -- when all was said and done -- the show never compromised its standards of excellence for the sake of a cheap joke, and it always remained faithful to its characters.

Enter The Mindy Project, season two.

What happened? No, really though. What. Happened.

To me, the show is unrecognizable. The season two premiere was funny, yes, and gestured toward last year's greatness. But then...it plummeted. If you happen to watch Mindy and feel like reading on for the sake of indulging me, here is a bullet point list of all the stuff that is driving me insane:

  • The show has become a revolving door for new characters. James Franco! That guy from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia! That guy from Mad Men (who is super weird on Mad Men but, okay fine, is actually really cute on Mindy)! Sure, in season one, Mindy went on a lot of dates, and there were a lot of guest stars, but not to this extent. I can't keep track of any of these people! Who are they? What are they doing? Where are they from? Another planet, that's where. Where everyone watches bad TV, and no guest-star contracts can last longer than two episodes.
  • Similarly, what's with the new doctor guy? I don't even remember his name because I blocked it out. His main character trait is "Says 'Bro' A Lot." He's not compelling, not that great an actor (sorry), and, to me, is like a watered-down version of Barney from How I Met Your Mother
  • Due to the above two points, the characters about whom I actually care are being woefully short-changed. It's like they're not even on the show anymore. Chris Messina makes the most of his paltry material (one scene, tops, each episode) and Mark Duplass isn't even on the show anymore. Ike Barinholtz, as male nurse Morgan Tukkers (also a star cast member throughout season one) is equally elusive. What happened? Writer's room ADHD? These are people we've grown to care about, and it feels super cheap to abandon their storylines in the service of stunt casting.
  • So many season one characters have been cut completely! Where are Mindy's friends? Where's her brother? The younger girl who lives in her building? Where is anyone or anything that gave Mindy a backstory? LITERALLY WHAT HAPPENED THOUGH?
  • Everything that made season one interesting and spelled "character development" for Mindy has been swept under the rug or straight-up discarded. Her engagement to Pastor Casey, as well as her mounting affection for Danny, were so well plotted and compelling to watch. Then, poof! It was all gone in the span of a couple episodes. Why? Why hit the reset button? Pastor Casey was a great character, but his demise (he decides to become a DJ, and then he and Mindy break up) was so far fetched and difficult to watch. Where are the season two arcs? Just as Mindy and Casey's relationship's development took a third of a season to play out, so should their breakup! Life takes time! Give it the dramatization it deserves! And Mindy's tension with Danny? It's as if none of their heart-pounding moments of connection ever happened in the first place. 
  • Fart jokes? Fart jokes. 
  • Dr. Jeremy Reed is totally different and totally annoying. He's unrecognizable! In season one he was the handsome, charismatic, cool, calm and collected member of the practice who hated confrontation and cared about little else than buttering up his patients and maintaining an untarnished reputation. This season? He's nagging, controlling, and antagonistic -- keeping everyone in line! -- and reminding the new, bro-y doctor that he needs to act more serious! Like, what? Also, they made him fat? Which I guess is a "character trait?" Except it's not and it's terrible and weird.
  • The "rivalry plot" has, at this point, played out ten million times and I'm sick of it. In season one, the Deslaurier brothers (holistic midwives who practice upstairs) served as hilarious rivals to the ob/gyn practice. Sure, the stakes were low, and they were basically innocuous, but it was a very realistic and compelling antagonism that spawned all kinds of interesting scenarios and plot developments. This season? See: revolving door casting. James Franco, the Always Sunny guy, the bro-y doc: they're all rivals who appear out of nowhere and shake things up! Except they don't do anything, and then they either leave the show or fade into the monotonous landscape of this strange, unfocused, and flailing show.
Wow. Kind of harsh, I know. 

Do I feel better? Honestly? No! Because I really love the show! And I love Mindy Kaling! I believe in her! I believe in The Mindy Project! I want it to succeed!

Sadly, what began as a believable show full of believable characters has turned into a farce. Because season two is so unrecognizable, I choose to believe, in my bruised and searching heart, that this is the work of some misguided "executive" or something, grappling for better ratings -- snatching the reins and forcing Mindy to make horrible creative decisions. Because I cannot believe Mindy herself would let this happen. I simply cannot!

Come back, Mindy! Come back!

Your (wounded, but still hopeful) fan,
Felicia



Friday, November 8, 2013

How to perform a solo song in concert

Hello! I'm excited to release my latest YouTube video: How To Perform a Solo Song In Concert! Unlike many of my videos, this one doesn't address vocal technique, but rather attempts to deconstruct the art of preparing for, approaching, and executing a solo song in the context of a concert, recital, or talent show. Because, believe it or not, performing in a concert requires a skill set that's in some ways very distinct from performing a role in a musical.

It's a vast subject that can't possibly be covered in one video, but there are definitely some strategies and approaches that will help you to deliver your best solo performance. Check it out below! (And don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!) (And to belt your face off!)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'll be playing Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady!"


After a brief hiatus from the stage, I'll be returning to my musical theater roots to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT on January 25, 2014!

The show unites Yale alumni -- undergrads and graduates of the Yale School of Drama alike -- for two semi-staged readings of the beloved musical. The twist is that it will be performed as a radio play, with live sound effects by real Foley artists happening live onstage. Rehearsal is a one-week whirlwind in the week leading up to the show, so it's going to be a bit of an adventure! Both the matinee and evening performances will be recorded for airplay on NPR.

Do you want to come see it? Tickets just went on sale, and I've been told they sell out quickly for this type of performance (last year the same production group put on Kiss Me Kate). If you're interested, please click here or call (800) 745-3000!

In case you're curious, this project is perfectly emblematic of the type of performing I'm hoping to pursue at this point in my career: interesting, enriching projects that will take me outside my comfort zone (Cockney accent! soprano singing! Yale alumni!). I'm not back to pounding the pavement, audition-wise, but I'm certainly open to doing really cool theater stuff.

Okay! That is all.

More info coming soon!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The best advice I will ever give you

Today, on my train ride to New York City, two interesting things happened.

In case you didn't know, I commute to NYC from outside Philly every once in a while for various wheelings and dealings because I'm gangsta and/or trying to support myself. The train ride is about an hour and fifteen minutes from scenic Trenton, where my fiancé drops me off in our car before riding off into the industrial mist.

Usually while riding the train I pull out my laptop and clack away at my latest writing project, or I just play Snood. But today felt like a special day. For starters, I was wearing my glasses. Believe it or not, this is a rare event (even though in my online belting course I'm wearing my glasses 90% of my time (whatever, my allergies were acting up)) -- because, the thing is, when I wear my glasses I feel extremely vulnerable. What if I get punched in the face and they break? What if a thief runs by and snatches them away from me? What then! Blindness, that's what.

Anyway, I was wearing my glasses, and I didn't feel like doing any work. So instead I started doing something strange. It's called EFT Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping. And here is what it is.

EFT Tapping is a kind of acupressure that can be self-administered in order to alleviate stress and re-program your body to stop freaking out about certain stuff. It can be done through simple tapping, using a couple of your fingers on certain pre-determined locations along your body's meridian points. They are, in order: the "karate chop" part of your hand, the inner part of your eyebrow, the outer part of your eye, under your eye, on your mustache, on your chin, on the tip of your collarbone, the top of your ribcage, and the top of your head.

And you have to think certain stuff while you do it. There's a whole strategy and technique involved -- but, basically, while tapping, you focus on something that stresses you out -- whether that's a traumatizing image, or an event, or a physical pain or ache that's currently manifesting in your body -- and then you essentially reset your amygdala and nervous system to flush out any anxiety or negativity associated with that bad thing.

And -- here is the cool part -- it works! On a superficial level -- stress headaches, gone! poof! -- and on a deep-seeded, fear and belief-system sort of way (afraid of public speaking? not anymore! gone! poof!) it's kind of magical!

Yeah, it's slightly more complicated than that -- but emphasis on the word slightly. In general, anybody can learn it, and fast. In other words, it's kind of is the best thing ever invented. (Please check out this website and read this book if you're interested in learning how to do it. Honestly, I don't get any kickbacks from this; I just think EFT is the bomb digs.)

Back to the story. So I'm on NJ Transit, tapping myself. I'm really into it, too. I'm Italian; I get passionate about everything. Luckily, I have my own seat by the window, which was easy to claim because Trenton is the train's origin station, and every time I step on it's always wide open.

I'm so relaxed from the tapping that I decide to take off my glasses at the first stop (Hamilton), at which point some more commuters get on. Princeton Junction rolls by, too, and I'm still tapping way, in a delirious, stress-free fog, because I can't see more than one foot in front of me. I'm tapping, tapping, tapping, working on some stubborn shoulder tension that probably has to do with the commute itself. Maybe it has to do with my childhood! Who even knows!

I feel so good when I tap!

Meanwhile, I have a vague awareness of shapes and colors as what I'm assuming are people traipse by, searching for seats. Maybe I'm even swaying back and forth a little, like Stevie Wonder at the keyboard. It's just so damn relaxing.

Then, I realize something. The train is PACKED.

Like, standing room only.

But there is one empty seat.

Just one.

And it's next to me.

The moral of the story: when riding on a train, tap yourself and gently sway. You will never have to worry about anyone sitting next to you, ever again.

--FLR


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Like a wine's flavor after being uncorked, my self-promotion gets bolder

If you happen to follow me on any of my social media channels, this week you've witnessed me going buckwild promoting a project I've just released into the internet-o-sphere called Belt Your Face Off!. And since I've surrendered all humility/restraint/self-awareness elsewhere, why not continue the tradition here? In the spirit of commerce, and America! And singing.

(Please forgive me. I know not what I do.) (Only kidding, I absolutely know what I do.) (But a girl's gotta eat!) ("Or she'll end up on the street!" says Nicole Kidman, in Moulin Rouge.)

HERE I GO. Belt Your Face Off! is a complete online singing course designed to teach you how to belt, which is the crazy kind of singing that Elphabas everywhere do in Wicked (to perform said "Songs of Death" like "Defying Gravity" and "Wizard and I," etc.). I've been a longtime practitioner of belting (specifically in my green girl days, as well as when I played other roles in college), and have taught belting to a bunch o' fun voice students -- so I decided to record everything I know into a mega-informative belting course that will make you laugh, cry, and SING TO THE HEAVENS! That's right! 25 lectures! Almost 4 hours of video content! So much info on belting, you won't know what to do with yourself! YOU WILL PROBABLY EXPLODE!

That being said, I've also published a how-to starter-guide-e-book thing (also titled Belt Your Face Off!), designed to get your feet wet, which you can download to your Kindle or Kindle App. Get it here for a mere 99 cents!

Finally, here are two video excerpts from the course. The first is the short promo vid designed for the general public, and the second is the introduction to the actual course itself, where I tell you a bit more about what's in store. Please watch them if you're curious! Or don't watch them! You can literally do whatever you want!

Love and singing, Felicia





Monday, November 4, 2013

Learn How to Belt: A Complete Online Belting Course

Calling all singers! The time has come to learn how to belt!

How to belt in an easy to follow online course
This baby knows what's up
Belting, or belt singing, is one of the coolest types of singing there is. It's that chesty, powerhouse sound that's practiced by pop divas, rock idols, and Broadway stars. It's the kind of singing I had to do a lot when I performed as Elphaba in Wicked. But a great deal of mystery still surrounds belting. Is healthy belting attainable? Is learning to belt even possible? Are only a select few destined to belt?

The truth is, belting can definitely be taught! And in a healthy, sustainable manner that won't fry your voice. Very few are born with the ability to magically belt without training; instead, singers like me learn very specific belting techniques, warmups, exercises, and "tricks" designed specifically for this kind of singing. All you need is the right instructor (ahem!) and an online singing course designed specifically for belting (ahem, ahem!).

This, my friends, is the strategy behind my singing course, whimsically titled Belt Your Face Off! A Singer's Complete Guide To Belting (which is accompanied by a starter e-book guide that you can download to Kindle).

Without further ado, here's a quick promo video!



To summarize: Belt Your Face Off! is an A-to-Z lesson series that provides singers with all the tools they need to belt, including 25 video and written lectures, 30+ warmups, and over 3.5 hours of online singing instruction. Both men and women are encouraged to take it, and all singing levels are welcome.

The other cool thing is that, as my student, you get to chill with me on the class server, as I check in daily to answer any specific questions that come up on your singing journey. So it's going to be a fun process for both of us!

What else??
  • Access to the course is for life, so you don't have to worry about rushing through it. 
  • The site hosting my course offers a free smartphone/tablet app, so you can take me with you on the go and we can belt our faces off literally anywhere! Especially small confined spaces!
  • You can also check out my $0.99 e-book starter guide here if you want to read more about belting and get some helpful initial instruction in book form. It's only available for Kindle at the moment, but any smartphone or device can download the Kindle app, where you can then locate my book.
I sincerely hope all y'all singers, aspiring belters, and cool dudes will take this course with me! It's going to be a blast. And you're going to learn how to belt your face off.

Love,
Felicia


Saturday, November 2, 2013

BookWorks featured UG on its website!

Yesterday, Ron Callari BookWorks wrote a lovely article on self-publishing success stories and creative marketing. Among the books featured was my li'l green bundle o' joy, Unnaturally Green!

Thought it would be cool to mention here since it was all of you who were so irreplaceable throughout the entire writing, publishing, and marketing process. You each deserve your own feature article, too!

Greenly, FLR

Friday, November 1, 2013

Learn how to belt in my complete online singing course!

I have exciting news!

We're just a few days away from the release of my complete online singing course, Belt Your Face Off! A Singer's Complete Guide to Belting, dropping on the internet this Monday, November 4 at noon EST!

The course features yours truly talking/teaching/singing/making merry on a bunch o' videos, as I guide you through singing techniques that are integral to belt-singing (think Elphaba in WICKED The Musical) and teach you how to belt! Belting -- the act of singing in a chesty register at a higher range of notes -- might seem mysterious and weird, but it's actually very teachable and attainable! You don't have to be born with a belting "gift." There are very clear strategies, techniques and "tricks" that I've honed over the years and that I want to share with all of you.

Belt Your Face Off features 24 videos, 3.5 hours of content, and over 30 warmups and exercises. All levels are welcome. And we get to interact on the class server through regular Q and A!

The total package costs $99 per student -- but I'll be offering a special discount code via Facebook and this here blog for people who are either (A) willing to share the link to my course via their profile, (B) willing to retweet my upcoming announcement on Twitter.

**Update! The course is now LIVE! Check it out!*