Mark Janas teaches a program for the vocal students at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. It's a special class of students who do community outreach to both elementary schools, to teach them about opera; and to senior centers, singing a special cabaret show.
This entails showing them how to approach singing the American Songbook, which can be tricky and sometimes difficult for operatic singers. Many simply cannot make that transition. But when they can -- when they can "bring it down," so to speak, and sing conversationally, they then have that reserve of training to draw on when they need it. And this can be spectacular!
With Andy Gale as an acting/performing coach, these students are getting the best of the best. And my purpose there was to sing my own songs and, as Mark would put it, show them, in real life terms, how powerful music can be in the lives of those who hear it, when its sung as if life itself depended on it, which mine absolutely does.
I'm honored to be able to do this kind of outreach. I don't come from an operatic background, so a part of me always feels inadequate. Most of these singers can, technically, sing rings around me.
But, somehow, whatever I bring to the party, it seems to be enough. Mark gave me over an hour to work with them and all of us were drenched in tears by the time it was over.
Now, they'll work on their own shows. I'm excited to see what develops.