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Guest Blogger: Bob Marks - Page

Guest Blogger: Bob Marks Bob Marks maintains a busy vocal studio in New York City, working with performers of all ages and levels of experience. He also teaches performance workshops throughout the US and Europe. He was a pianist with the original Broadway production of Annie, and spent two seasons as the Associate Conductor of the St. Louis Muny Opera. For several years, he was the host and musical director of the acclaimed Youngstars performances of professional children in New York City. His well-known clients have included cast members of almost every current musical on Broadway, and stars such as Ariana Grande, Lea Michele, Natalie Portman, Laura Bell Bundy, Constantine Maroules, Britney Spears, Ashley Tisdale, Debbie Gibson, and Sarah Jessica Parker. He holds a degree in speech pathology, and has taught at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, the Professional Development Program for the New York Singing Teachers’ Association, and at Nashville's Belmont University as a special guest artist. As a vocal coach, his clientele ranges from beginners to Broadway cast members, as well as singers of cabaret and pop music. He is an expert in helping performers present themselves to their best advantage in auditions and onstage. www.BobMarks.com

Elizabeth Gerbi, Assistant Professor of Music Theater at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is well known across the Northeast as a singing teacher, voice coach, choral conductor, and music director/pianist (150+ productions). As a singer-actor, she has appeared in regional productions ranging from Annie Get Your Gun to I Pagliacci to The Kenny Rogers Christmas Tour. Recent projects include musical directing The Chris Betz Show at Rose’s Turn and The Sage Theatre in NYC, Side Show and Tommy at Westchester Broadway Theatre, The Sound of Music at the Wagon Wheel Theatre of Warsaw, Indiana, conducting Dreamgirls and Seussical at Debaun Auditorium in Hoboken, NJ, adapting Starmites 2000 with Broadway composer Barry Keating, and accompanying master classes for Broadway veterans Ken Jennings, Lindsay Mendez, and Lisa Howard. She is also a former consultant for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Music Library, and currently serves as a both New York State School Music Association Solo Adjudicator and a respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. She attended Ithaca College (Bachelor’s of Music in Voice Performance and Music Education) is a Level-III graduate in Somatic Voicework: The LoVetri Method™, and completed a Master’s in Music Education from Boston University. www.facebook.com/elizabethgerbisinger



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BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Examine Song Lyrics
January 31, 2017

Have you ever heard the expression, 'nice house, nobody home?' Often, we use that phrase as a way to describe singers who make pretty sounds, but fail to capture our imagination on the stage. To be a singer in the theater, it's a very rare performer who can communicate to an audience and make them feel something; however, it is the most essential quality a performer can possess to work in this business.

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Finding Music That Suits You
January 3, 2017

Just as you would build a wardrobe, with varied outfits for different occasions and temperatures, your music repertoire book needs to feature a diverse selection of pieces to show you can handle different sorts of singing demands. Not every song can (or should be) a show-stopper, full of dramatic heft and long, sustained high notes at the top of your range. Sometimes, it's more important to demonstrate naturalness and vulnerability, or show that you understand the needs of a very specific musical style. It's valuable to have many different kinds of songs in your "toolbox" to exhibit the full scope of your strengths. 

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Know Genres and Subgenres 
October 31, 2016

When you first start digging into the vast array of musical theatre styles and genres out there, it can be pretty overwhelming. However, don't let this trepidation stop you from jumping in with both feet. You will be amazed with the help of all the great Broadway documentaries and archived recordings available on the Internet how easy it can be to immerse yourself in these classic scores, and immerse you must. Broadway music is traditionally very self-referential, and directors expect working actors to understand basic tropes like the Act I "what do I want" ballad or the eleven o'clock gospel number. Trust me, you don't want to be the only chorus member in Urinetown to miss that  "Snuff that Girl" is an affectionate tribute to "Cool" in West Side Story.

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Examine the Lyrics
October 4, 2016

Have you ever heard the expression, "nice house, nobody home?" Often, we use that phrase as a way to describe singers who make pretty sounds, but who fail to capture our imagination on the stage. To be a singer in the theater, it's a very rare performer who can reach out to the auditors or the audience and make them feel something; however, it is the most essential quality a performer can embody if they want to work in this business.

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Building Your Book of Audition Songs
August 23, 2016

Even when an audition provides specific music to be prepared, you might be asked to 'bring your book.' Every performer requires a collection of songs that are ready to be sung at a moment's notice. In our industry, your 'book' is a physical binder that holds all of these songs, and is also the term for this repertoire of pieces that you have mastered and can perform with little or no preparation.

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Care and Feeding of Your Vocal Instrument
July 29, 2016

The same principles that lead to sound vocal hygiene also promote a clear mind, better energy, and enhanced overall quality of life. Proper care of your voice doesn't require you to live much differently than you would for a normal, healthy lifestyle, with a balanced and holistic approach.

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Your Performance Goals in the Context of Your Lifestyle
July 15, 2016

As one of the pianists for the original Broadway production of Annie, many of my voice teacher colleagues were horrified at the thought of little girls being asked to belt out songs such as 'Tomorrow' and 'Hard Knock Life.' And yet, many of these teachers refused to accept those young girls as students! At that time, many voice teachers would not agree to teach students who had unchanged, prepubescent voices. They were under the impression that voice lessons could permanently damage a child's voice, which remained a widely accepted belief for many years. 

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Healthy Vocal Production at any Age
June 17, 2016

As one of the pianists for the original Broadway production of Annie, many of my voice teacher colleagues were horrified at the thought of little girls being asked to belt out songs such as "Tomorrow" and "Hard Knock Life." And yet, many of these teachers refused to accept those young girls as students! At that time, many voice teachers would not agree to teach students who had unchanged, prepubescent voices. They were under the impression that voice lessons could permanently damage a child's voice, which remained a widely accepted belief for many years. 

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - The Importance of Posture in Your Singing
May 20, 2016

If you have ever attended a classical voice recital, you probably saw an elegantly dressed performer situated near the crook of a grand piano for the duration of the performance.  Traditionally, recitalists remain standing with "noble" posture throughout their program, and only gesture with their hands and body for extreme emphasis. 

BWW Blog: NYC Vocal Coach Bob Marks - Understand the Basics of Voice Registration
May 10, 2016

If you want to see a group of voice teachers and voice scientists turn from a generally gregarious and collegial group into an angry mob, ask them to strictly define vocal registers, or the "gears" of the voice that are responsible for different types of sounds.  

BWW Blog: NYC Vocal Coach Bob Marks - Common Misconceptions about Singing
April 13, 2016

When you consider how many hundreds of small muscular contractions are involved, the fact that most people can instinctively use their breathing muscles, vocal folds, and filters for speaking is pretty remarkable. This is in large part thanks to our brain, which takes care of a lot of bodily functions so we don't need to be consciously aware of them. Unfortunately, our voices' ability to run on autopilot may leave us thinking that our voice is operated by some sort of magical element, leaving us unaware of harmful habits. Because most people never get a chance to see how their voice operates in an MRI or through a stroboscopy, it is very easy for us to accept misinformation about how the voice works. This is understandable - if you'd never seen under the hood of a car, you'd probably have difficulty picturing how that works, too!

BWW Blog: NYC Vocal Coach Bob Marks - Understand the Basics of How Your Voice Works
March 28, 2016

There are some conflicting opinions among singing teachers about how much you really need to know about the biological mechanics of making sound.  Although it is true that you don't need to be an expert mechanic to drive a car, you are a more independent and a much safer driver if you know basics of car maintenance, like how to check oil and tire pressure, before you set off on a marathon road trip.  Also, knowing what a car should feel like when you are driving safely in gear will alert you to much bigger problems earlier on, and save a lot on new transmissions!  This is a case where I think a little vetted information goes a long way in preventing injury and expediting progress.

BWW Blog: NYC Vocal Coach Bob Marks - Create Realistic Goals
March 15, 2016

A lot of people seem to believe that the ability to sing well is somehow inborn, and that singers fall into two camps: those with talent, who practically come out of the womb singing beautifully, and those who are tone-deaf (suffering from the medical condition dysmelodia), and shouldn't bother trying to sing. The reality is that those are two dramatic extremes which affect only a small handful of people; the other 99 percent of us fall somewhere in the middle.

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - What to Expect at Your First Singing Lesson
February 29, 2016

Although every teacher is slightly different, any good teacher structures the first lesson around the needs of their clients. This is a time for me to get to know you better, and start getting a sense of what sort of short and long-term goals you might have. It's very helpful if in the days before an initial session, you come up with a short mental (or written) list of concrete things you want to accomplish; don't worry, these will change over time, but in the beginning they offer a good launching point.

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Find the Right Teaching Professionals to Meet Your Goals
February 16, 2016

In order to grow as a singer, you need to know what you know, and know what you don't know. But the main thing you have to deal with is what you don't know you don't know; to get you through it, the guidance of an experienced professional is invaluable. 

BWW Blog: Bob Marks - Differences Between Singing 'Coaches' and Singing 'Teachers'
February 9, 2016

Noted vocal coach Bob Marks specializes in helping singers showcase their talents to their best possible advantage. He is in the process of writing a new book (with Elizabeth Gerbi) about auditioning for musical theatre. Until the book is published, BroadwayWorld.com is pleased to offer weekly bits of audition advice. Please feel free to submit any specific questions you'd like to have answered in these blogs.