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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Technology and Rehearsals

Danger, danger Will Robinson...
Technology, in the form of laptops, blackberries, and iphones have taken over the minds of rehearsing singers everywhere. Gone are the days when singers and coaches would sit in a theatre and FOCUS on what was going on onstage.  Nowadays, everyone is sitting in the theatre commenting on FB, or texting a friend who's at a restaurant in Albany, or checking email from another singer who's "bored" in another rehearsal in Tel Aviv.
It is ruining not only the training process, but absolutely ruining a young singer's chance of watching and learning from colleagues strengths and weaknesses.
Now it's not everyone who is doing this, but it's seems as if it's ALMOST everyone.  Certainly a few are still watching and learning, and I've noticed they are also the ones who seem to know their music the best!
Crazy times call for crazy solutions.
I'll be implementing a "non laptop/cellphone in rehearsal" policy starting in the fall of 2009 at McGill.  I think it'll be the only way to take back the rehearsal process and get everyone to focus on the task at hand: CREATING.  
Creation is a tricky thing, very touch and go - particularly when a production moves into a theatre.  Lots of things change and everyone, no matter how big or small the role, needs to be focused on ONLY the show.
If any young ones are reading this, take the following seriously: I learned more WATCHING and LISTENING to others (right, wrong, and otherwise) than actually doing it myself.  I'll never forget observing rehearsals at DMMO while Nova Thomas and Lauren Flanigan sang through act three of Boheme, or watching Dimitri H's first Germont at L.O.C. and him dealing with Ms. Anderson's demands, or listening to the sitz of Partenope with David Daniels, Lisa Saffer, David Walker, and others with the incredible Harry Bickett in the pit at Glimmerglass, or seeing the final floor run of The Mother of Us All at Glimmerglass and finally GETTING THE PIECE, as directed by Chris Alden.
Rehearsals are times to focus and learn and think and BE.  Save the fabulous new status update for afterwards.  It'll keep!


  1. I don't know how I managed to miss three posts in a row, but I'm all caught up now!

    The irony of this situation is that I'm at work at McGill reading your blog, when I should be focusing on my weekly tasks.

    Overlooking this fact, and the consequential hypocrisies, I must say that I learned more from you watching you direct during Lurcretia last year than I did while I was busy stage managing Thesee.

    I think the anti-cell-and-laptop rule is a good one!

    Good luck! Keep those posts coming!


  2. Here-here Patrick! It frustrates me so much to see young singers texting in a rehearsal when their colleagues are doing incredible work (or making huge mistakes) that they could learn from. And yes, it's the ones who have the most to learn who somehow seem the least interested in paying attention to the process.

    Amen to the anti-communication device rule.

    Hope all is well.


  3. Bravo, Patrick, that was very well said!
    I hope you're well and enjoying the conducting/directing madness. I wish I were there to see and hear your finished products!


  4. I don't have a smart phone or a laptop (I know, I live under a rock) but often find myself wishing I had them in rehearsal. Not because I would rather be texting (which I can do on my regular phone) or emailing, but because the pressure to keep on top of everything in my life - the day job, the family obligations, the scheduling of my voice students, etc. - is SO great, that I feel like I'm shirking some responsibility by simply watching the rehearsal process.

    A shame, really.