In the fifth episode of our This Is A Voice podcast Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher share the stories behind the stories. We reveal the facts, the myths and the secrets behind our first two books – Singing and the Actor, and Successful Singing Auditions.
What I made Gillyanne do that helped her finish the first draft of Singing and the Actor and why the book was groundbreaking at the time (and that may not be what you think)
Why I created the FOAL process for Successful Singing Auditions, and how that helps actors and singers find the best songs for their singing auditions
What do we recommend when you write your first book (we’ve written 10 of our own so far plus many chapters of other books, so we know it works)
And what it’s like to be on the receiving end of THOSE reviews!
Below is the transcript of the whole episode – you can listen on your favourite podcast platform including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher and many others. Or jump to our dedicated This Is A Voice Podcast website on https://thisisavoice.buzzsprout.com/
This Is A Voice podcast episode 5 – The Stories Behind The Stories
This is a voice a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher
Hello and welcome to This Is A Voice podcast episode five, the stories behind the stories. So what’s the topic today?
Well can I just say that my hands are in prayer mode because one of the joys of living in the countryside are noises is off and the noise off for most of the morning which is held up our recording has been a buzz saw.
Yes, we have a river running through the garden and just across the river is a veritable forest and the Environment Agency are out today cutting some of the forest down and today they chose to be right outside our door.
So if you hear sawing, it’s because that’s what’s happening. Oh, by the way, you might also hear chickens as well.
They are on a tea break right now.
Long may their tea break continue.
Okay, so we thought it would be interesting to talk about our books. And in fact, we’re going to talk about the first two of our books, and a little bit about the process of writing, what that’s like, and how we came to write the books. So the first two
the first two are: Singing and the Actor. And if you’re looking on YouTube, we actually have the books here
That’s the old first edition
The original silver cover with the lady in the golden top hat,
who is not to me, by the way,
people did think it was you didn’t they?
I was I was very flattered
there are similarities. Gillyanne’s not a dancer.
So that’s the second edition there. Yeah.
The second edition is the black cover. That’s Jane. Jane Horrocks. Doing that’s Cabaret,
whereas this one is A Chorus Line And as Jeremy said, I don’t dance so it definitely wouldn’t be me. So show us Successful Singing Auditions?
Successful Singing Auditions. Oh, by the way, Singing and the Actor first edition was 2000. And then second edition was 2004. And Successful Singing Auditions came between the two. And this is the one which is the sort of ivory white cover with three coloured photographs of somebody with a clipboard, holding, doing basically doing an audition in front of the curtain. And this one came out in 2002. So we had two years between each one. So we’re going to talk about those books, why we wrote them what the stories are behind them, what happened, what a… all the reception that they got, as well, which was really interesting. As in the Chinese version of interesting, which is it was an interesting time. So let’s start with yours then. Singing and the Actor.
Yeah, I actually I’d like to talk about how it came about because I think I wrote my first book when I was 44 so it sort of came out of the blue. And I think this is useful for any of you to know who are perhaps aspiring writers, you’ve got something to say. I’ll be honest and say I’ve never even thought of writing a book. But someone that I was working with was an editor for A&C Black. She was worked in the music department, Ana Sanderson, who’s since become a lifelong friend, actually.
And Ana was having singing lessons with me and one particular day we were working on Sondheim’s “I Remember” when I was talking about the process of how you put words together with the music in singing, because Ana’s musical background had been, I think, on the bassoon and the violin and keyboard as well. And she’d done a pretty much a mainstream classical training and had done a degree at Cambridge University. And I was explaining that the way the text is lifted off the page for an actor who sings is very different from the way that singer sings. And as a result of that, and it could have even been six months later or a year later, a book had been submitted to A&C Black by somebody else. I don’t know who it was, as, you know, a sort of a pitch. And Ana had been asked to look at it, you know a bit about singing. And apparently she said, Hmm, why don’t you ask someone to write a book who actually knows about the voice? Which was very kind of her and that was when they approached me. So that’s how it came about.
Do you know I actually didn’t know that story.
You didn’t know that story. And that was very nice. And we were both very lucky. In fact, because we had Ana as our editor for both books, and she was fabulous
She was great.
I think in terms of the editorial process, it really, really helps to have someone who understands where you’re coming from.
And we say how important having an editor is. A really good editor and things that Ana because she already had a musical background, and she was having singing lessons as well, she understood enough about the process, she understood enough about what we were talking about, to be able to guide us in what we were saying in both books in fact, but not to interfere too much with the whole writing process. It was a very, is a very fine hand she had it was really good.
And actually I will say hats off to A&C Black at the time, because my main editor was somebody else in the drama department. And she was the one that commissioned the work initially, but when it came to going through the editorial process, she very sensibly handed it over to Ana to do most of the work because she said I know nothing about music. And this is about singing and singing is about music. And that’s how it came about. So yeah, a big thank you to our friend Ana, for putting up with us in various editions and various other books that we wrote. And we eventually wrote
the Singing Express series with her. Yeah, I want to get back to writing the actual writing of the book, which was interesting. We were living in my flat, which was a one bedroom flat on a council estate, which was basically like a set of The Bill. If you’ve seen The Bill. It was it could have been a quite a scary place
A typical kind of inner London you know, high rise.
Yeah. And so there wasn’t really anywhere for Gillyanne to sit and write. So what did I do?
We set up in the kitchen, we had a large kitchen. So we set up a workstation. It was pretty much my first computer by the way. I didn’t even start Learn the computer how to work on a computer til my 40s. So there I was in this little workstation in the corner of the Kitchen
And I basically locked you in the kitchen and said, You’re not coming out until the books written.
I’d typically had that writer’s block. You know, I’d started I’d written down ideas. I submitted a synopsis, which they loved by the way, they said it was pretty much the best synopsis they’d ever received. And then I was stuck. You know, I was totally on the pot. I could not get writing. So tell them what you did.
Oh, I looked her in the kitchen. I said, you know, fine, you know, I will do everything that’s required to run the house, to run the business. But you are staying in that kitchen and you are not coming out until that book is finished.
Thou shalt sit in the kitchen and write is that was the edict.
So this was 1999 when you actually started writing that book.
Yeah, I’d done a little bit. It was about two and a half years from start fresh.
I think, you know, writer’s block is real, because you have the idea, you have the concept. And then you’re sitting down with that, you know, blank piece of paper or that the blank Word document. And suddenly everything dries up. And I think in the end, what we talked about was just write what you do.
I think also, it’s the, it’s the business of because you.. there’s often a lot of thoughts going around in your head and trying to get them down on paper is, paper is a clarification process. But it’s also very complex, because you have a lot of thoughts that have emotions and images and all sorts of things and you have to get it down into the written word. And that makes it quite a challenge to get something clear enough. Always when we write books, our aim is to get something clear enough that you can read the words and do the exercise, that so we try to make it as unambiguous as possible. And that’s part of the challenge and I think just sitting and writing, even if you’re writing Rubbish is good because often in the rubbish, they’ll be something that will come out
Something that will come out. Yeah. And I will say I remember when when the book first came out that one of my students who I trained at the East 15 acting school, said, Oh, I love the book because it’s in the first person. And I just feel like you’re talking to me. And it was, I didn’t actually know that it was a big decision, that it was a brave decision to write in the first person.To me, it seemed really obvious, this is what I do. And then, you know, I had people contacting me saying, Oh, that was very brave that you did that
And apparently, that was really unusual it wasn’t normally done to write a study book like that in the first person.
Yeah. And retrospectively as a researcher, of course, you don’t do that. Or if you do you kind of declare why you’re doing it in a certain part of the research. So it isn’t just about I. Anyway, um, yeah, I think one of the reasons why the book was successful was because I did have a process, I started to work with actors pretty much by accident. In the 1980s, people who taught singing to actors nearly always came from a classical singing background, which I did. And often what happened in those days was that if you were working on singing with an actor, and you came from that background, all of those classical exercises and that classical music approach would turn an actor off, because an actor is inspired by text and by physicality.
And thought process, Yeah.
So I can tell you that when I gave my very first lesson at the East 15 acting school, there were 20 you know, actors. Can I say shit? Shit-scared actors in the room. They didn’t want to sing. Most of them didn’t want to be there. And I had taken Cole Porter’s In the Still of the Night because I thought this was a nice light song that I would be able to do with them and It had an F in it. I’m talking about f5 here. Well, two thirds of the people couldn’t sing it. Up went those hands. This is too high. This is too high. We must understand that I trained as a soprano. The idea that we couldn’t sing an F was really weird to me. It later became one of my catchphrases at the college. Everybody has an F. You haven’t heard that one. Right?
I haven’t heard that, no.
So one of the things that I think forced me to develop a process as a teacher was, first of all working with people, many people who couldn’t sing. You know, you learn how to teach by teaching people who can’t do it. My generation of people who went for singing lessons by and large, if you went for singing lessons, you kind of could already do it. You could sing on pitch. A lot of my people couldn’t at that college. And you had a Voice. People could hear that you had a voice. Well, it was it’s very different when you work with people who don’t already have those skills
I think the interesting thing about working with actors is they do have skill with them a lot of skills that are to do with characterization and text and wording and, and emotion and voice. And this is the really interesting bit is where the spoken voice work overlaps with the singing voice work and where it doesn’t. So where did you go? I mean, what happened to you to to actually start to understand that?
Well, I very sensibly started going into the voice lessons. I was very lucky that while I was at East 15 Andrew Wade, who later went on to be head of head of voice at the RSC was teaching voice. And we had a very kind of open dialogue between the teachers at that college at the time. It was quite a wacky college. They did some really interesting things in the 1980s. And Andrew said, Well, look, shouldn’t we be talking to each other? Because we’re both working with the voice. It’s one voice and I thought, yeah, he’s right. You know, it is one voice and what is the point of my doing these scales? So we literally sat in on each other’s classes. And we began to share ideas because Andrew having trained at Rose Bruford college, as a voice teacher had a process. And that was when I realised that us classical singers who learned in the master-apprentice model, we didn’t really have a process. We just learned what our teachers had taught us. And that’s what we passed on. And I’m so grateful that I had that time. It was a very fruitful time for me. And I tell you what, as well as working with people who can’t do it, teaching you to be a great teacher, working in groups forces you to create structure. And it was really that that enabled me to write a book and to purpose the information in the book towards the things that an actor needs to do, the songs that they need to sing. So that it, it wasn’t a book just about you sing these scales and you do these routines and your voice will magically develop
I mean, it was groundbreaking at the time. And it’s an interesting thing, doing stuff that that people tell you is groundbreaking, because at the time you do it, and you go, Well, obviously, this is what I’m going to do. And although there are references to other people, and there are references to other other styles, and other other genres, if you like, this is basically your information. And this is your process. And this is how you do it. And it’s so obvious to to us when we write something that this is how it works, and other people come along and go well. That’s extraordinary.
I think it’s fair to say I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I don’t think anybody had written a book about singing, singing for that particular community in that way at that time. And I still kind of stand by the, the learning process that’s in the book. I just want to say a little bit about the Estill voice qualities that he described towards the end of the book. Anyone who’s read editions one and editions two will know that there were quite significant changes between them
What was it, about a quarter of the book you changed between one and two
More than I was meant to
when you do a second edition, you’re supposed to just sort of delicately update it slightly, and Gillyanne went “No, no let’s let’s do some rewrites.”
Thank you, Ana, that was well over the call of duty. In the UK in the 1990s, singing training was very dominated by classical values. And as I said earlier, that typically turned actors off singing. One of the things that was useful about our Estill background from the early 1990s, up until the end of the 90s, was the idea that there were different voice qualities that people could make. And it was, I used those in the book because I saw them as a way of legitimising sounds that actors will want to make. And as a classical singer I’d been trained to avoid
Well, the classical singing is very much about voice beautiful. Even when you are in extreme emotions, it’s still about, you know, the sound of your voice is actually very important. Whereas in theatre training, the sound of the emotion is more important. And that’s quite an odd thing to say.
Yeah. And so for example, in acting through song, you need to use a narrative tone of voice. And we found that the idea of a speech quality or a speech like quality was very useful, even though now we would always teach that on the basis of well, this is mechanism one, this is a chest mechanism, the way you deliver the words is much more speech like and I think it was very helpful at that time.
They were like templates
Very much like templates. And I will say that I wouldn’t teach those sounds in that way now, simply because one develops a book, you know, that was written 20 years ago, is obviously in a sense, archival and your practice must develop.
Can I bring Madonna in at this moment?
If you like? I have no idea what’s about to happen.
It’s the whole idea that when you write a book, it is essentially a snapshot of exactly where you are at that point. And I’m thinking of Madonna, Madonna recorded Like a Virgin when she was 26. I think she is now 61. It’s quite likely that she still sings like a virgin, but she won’t sing it in the same way that she sang it when she was 26. And quite how she works that into her show. I’m not sure. But it’s always been a really popular song. So it’s the idea that you have written a book in 2000, which is 20 years ago now. And it’s still a really popular book it is still on curricula.
It’s because of the process. And I think the process enables people to work in groups.
And I suppose what I’m saying is that you wouldn’t write that book now like that. And you wouldn’t include some of the information that you did
know. And one of the reasons why I wouldn’t include some of the information about how the voice works is because people know it now. It’s there. It’s available, you know, it’s gone into the psyche. I think as well that I wouldn’t teach some of the soundscapes that an actor might explore in the same way I would do it in a much more intuitive way. I think probably I’d approach as well from spoken voice and then links between spoken and Song voice. You know, I really liked. Can I give a little shout out for Joan Melton’s book With One Voice where she again, she’s working about an actor who needs to speak and sing and how do you move between the two? Which is something that we’re very interested in. And also I think,
Can I just say we’ll put a link to Joan’s book if I can find one, we’ll put it in the show notes.
Yeah. And also, I think, helping an actor to find their musicality, which is something I used to do a lot in classes, but I didn’t write about it in that book. And I think it’s a really important part of the learning process.
Can I digress for a moment on exactly that. Because this whole business of are you an actor? Are you a singer? Are you an actor/singer? Are you a singer/actor, which, in fact, we talked about in the other book, this whole thing about the language, your skill set, and what you are most comfortable communicating in, I think, is what’s important here, because there are some actors who are superb at communicating in spoken word, and yet terrified of singing. And partly that’s ability partly it’s technique. And partly it’s a medium that they don’t feel comfortable in. Whereas there are some actors who are completely comfortable in the singing mode, and therefore can sell a song can live within the singing genre, if you like. And it’s very, it’s one of the things that I do in my coaching sessions is to help people get comfortable communicating in something that might not be their primary mode. That’s it. Yeah.
So what happened next Jeremy?
We got married, we got married. We got married at the same year. This is 2000. The book came out. Singing and the Actor first edition came out in 2000. We got married in 2000. We moved house in 2000. We did a lot in 2000.
We did. It was a millennium millennial year
It was a millennium baby, the book. Yeah.
Do you want me to start you off? So you know, not content with having locked me in the kitchen, and done all the cooking and the cleaning and all of those things and the support to say nothing of having put me through the torture of reading my text aloud and saying that doesn’t work. Yes. Which actually was a big favour.
Yes. I love doing that.
Not content with that. Jeremy decided that when A&C Black approached me for a follow-up book
Yes, they wanted a follow up book. That’s right, A&C Black wanted to follow up because Singing and the Actor was so successful. And so we decided that Well, actually, it was about auditioning, wasn’t it?
Yes. And you decided Jeremy said you can’t write that book without me.
There is no way that you can write a book on auditioning without me because at that point, I’ve done eight and a half thousand auditions in the West End.
Yeah. And you were right.
And I was
You were absolutely right.
I love those words. Go on, say them again.
No, once is enough.
so tell us tell us about the key things.
Successful Singing Auditions was sort of more my book than yours, but we did write it together. Because I’ve had so much experience of working auditions, understanding them, coaching for them being in the West End and seeing what worked and what didn’t, and also seeing how actors dealt with what they were doing. So that’s
It’s been a long time. I’ve just opened the book so he can see the chapters.
We were writing that sort of 2001 into 2002 was first published in 2002. I love this book, and I really feel that it didn’t get the audience quite that it needed. It did all sorts of things for this one. So
Oh, can I I love these just looking at you know, we’ve got conscious learning we’ve got
Yes these are chapter titles Conscious Learning, Making Decisions, Making Cuts, Memorising and The Audition Countdown. I particularly want to talk about memorising, I read it again just before we, we did this podcast and my goodness, it’s a good chapter. There are so many things in the memorising chapter that I went, well I still do that I still use those techniques and actually it’s really well written. So they’re very clear what the what the processes are to help people memorise and you memorise in different ways.
From my memory now, part of our process was that we wrote to musical directors and casting agents. And we said, what is it that you’re looking for? Because I think this happens with all kinds of auditions but especially for actors who are going through the audition process. It can be very distressing, you know, what is it that they’re looking for, you know, you maybe you get nine recalls for a particular musical. I’ve certainly had clients do that with new musicals and then suddenly You’re kind of not in the running anymore. And you’ve done the nine auditions. Because you know that the overall casting company came over from the US and decided they didn’t like the people on the, you know, on the page currently.
Yeah, I talk a lot more about the recall the whole sort of multiple recall system in the new book. Why Do I Need A Vocal Coach. Just about what the agents, casting agents and the casting directors and the musical directors pretty much all said, was that what they’re looking for is you. They’re looking for I mean, yes, they want you to be able to sing the songs. And yes, they need you to be able to sing in tune. What they’re most looking for is how do you bring that character to life? How do you bring that song to life? What is it about you that you bring into that song that’s actually going to show and so when people do auditions, they’re very much looking for what standard are you? Are you comfortable on stage in general? Are you comfortable singing? Are you comfortable presenting that song? Are you comfortable doing that character? Have you made some good decisions?
I think a lot of inexperienced actors and musical theatre singers, they’re very much concerned with, oh, there’s an industry sound…
The “industry sound”
Particularly if it’s a long running show, which obviously we don’t even have at the moment during the sort of the period of the pandemic, but and then feeling that they’ve got to sort of do something and make some kind of fit into it. In fact, that isn’t really what the casting people want.
It’s not the case that first of all, there isn’t an industry sound, there are about 500 different industry sounds because this industry, the musical theatre industry, more than I think any other music area, absorbs influences really, really fast and then writes shows that contain more than one influence. That’s the other thing is that it’s very rare for a show to actually sound all the music all the songs sound in a similar style, very often the writing will throw all sorts of different styles into the same musical often the same character. So you’re often having to sing in more than one style.
Another chapter that I thought was really important and I don’t know how often it’s been covered in in other books, which is about the casting
Casting your voice
You know, are you being cast on your dramatic and physical capabilities, because you’re often cast on the look, aren’t you?
Look and energy, yes
In theatre. Remember we’re talking mostly about theatre here. And then what if your singing voice and your singing capabilities don’t fit that casting?
Oh, I love I had a website. I think it’s still up there, about auditioning. Where my opening line is. You look like Mary Poppins, but you sound like Madame Thenadier, you have a problem! Which I think is a lovely line. For this book, I created a quiz that is like one of those Cosmopolitan quizzes, called the FOAL process which is Falling Off A Log.
I think this this was one of the best chapters in the book and this is your brainchild wasn’t it?
Very much. It was one of those because I quite liked doing quizzes at the time and I thought how could we do a quiz – sort of quiz – that was actually reveals something to yourself about your own tastes, your own strengths, the things that you do so easily, it’s like falling off a log that other people go Wow, that’s amazing. I wish I could do that. To which your answer is normally, why, can’t you? Which tells you that it’s a falling off a log area. So I wrote this and created this FOAL process, the falling off a log process, and it’s very interesting, I linked it to begin with, with your favourite your favourite flavours of comedy, because I think that’s very revealing what it is that you really enjoy and there are
What makes you laugh
What makes you laugh, what tickles your fancy. There are so many different types of comedy and once you start to identify what type of comedy or types of comedy you really like, and particularly what you don’t like, because that’s just as important what you really hate. I am not a great slapstick fan unless it’s done really, really well. But I love wordplay. So there’s all sorts of things in there and then we went on to if my own… By the way, I had a supplementary question which I put in after this book was written, which is if you were cast in a non speaking role in a commercial what would you be cast as.
and when we work with groups of actors, because you know, we often do Successful Singing Audition workshops, we’ll ask the the actors to do this for each other. Yes, how would How would you cast so and so
why this is so revealing is that it gives a real snapshot of you and your energy and your look and what people see in you without you open in your mouth. And that says that is absolute typecasting to the way that you look. Type casting has got a very bad press. But it’s actually really useful because it tells you where your, if you like, your central area is in terms of energy casting, the sort of things that people will see you in when you walk in the room, and you work outwards from there.
But I think the FOAL process is more than that, because you’re asking the individual to express in other terms, so they’re not thinking about their their singing capabilities, or even their acting capabilities. But you’re asking them to express their likes, their dislikes, the things that attract them, you know, to do with their own kind of psychology and their energy. And, you know, actors are always worrying about finding the right song, the first song that will get the audition. Well, of course, there are millions of songs out there.
We’ll talk about that in a minute!
But if you do, if you do the FOAL process, then you begin to see the songs that are going to fit you and that was why we wrote that chapter.
It’s interesting because it actually also fits with our understanding of voice, which is when you when you’re talking about being in business not to do with the show business, but to be in business in general, you’re always told that you should work outside your comfort zone, you should push your comfort zone, stretch your comfort zone, you should basically not to be in your comfort zone because then then you wouldn’t do anything. And we think it’s the opposite in both in casting and in voice, which is most of your work should be in your comfort zone. Because that’s the stuff that you can do inside out backwards, fall out of bed and do it.
Well. What I’d say about casting is that you know, the rehearsal process is the place where you stretch yourself and where you go out of your comfort zone. But in terms of you know, if you’re going for a first audition or first meeting, generally what you want to do is something within your comfort zone that allows you to shine.
I want to give an example of when it doesn’t work. I went to see a comedy in the West End, a very famous comedy with a very, very famous leading lady who was cast in a comedy role and she was a very, very famous dramatic leading lady. She had the comedy timing of a lump of wood. And it was awful, because she didn’t understand how comedy worked. And therefore every time she came on stage, the feel the energy of the comedy just died because she couldn’t match what was going on. And for me, that’s she was so far outside of comfort
That was miscasting.
That was miscasting. Absolutely
And we see this happening in other situations, dont we? Oh, erm
We tend to digress so much. We can’t remember what we’re saying
yeah. Is there anything that you would change about that book now, Jeremy?
Yes. Well, yes and no, I mean, I’m going to go back to Madonna again, in a way that is such a good snapshot of where I was and where we were in 2002. And there’s actually in a way very little about the book that I’d change. I think certainly the second half of it is really, really strong. The thing that I might change, certainly, I’d want to update the references, the song reference and the show references, because musicals have moved on so much since 2002, it’s 18 years! The second thing I might change is we had a thing where we said, categorise the musical and we had the Verismo musical the, you know, we had
our own little categories, yes,
Various different types of musical. And again, I would probably change updates that I might even take that chapter out completely and do a much more extended chapter on how you take a song and work it for different auditions. And the reason I’m saying I’m not sure I would change it is because a lot of what I wanted to put into that has actually gone into the new book into Why Do I Need A Vocal Coach because that is real practical stories of lessons and what happens in lessons and how we morph songs for different processes. So a lot of what I would do, I see that the new book as really a sort of follow-on from Successful Singing Auditions, and I would say get both. Because Successful Singing Auditions was a real how-to book from start to finish. And then Why Do I Need A Vocal Coach is, if you like more refined. I’m doing stuff that is much more specific. It’s much more tailored, it’s much more contemporary. Does that answer your question?
It does answer my question? Yes. Yeah. What about the writing process itself?
Let’s talk about that. By the way, it’s so funny that I should only realise this is so funny that I should pick Like a Virgin because we were both virgin book writers. When we wrote this these books.
I did wonder what you’re going to say then.
Singing and the Actor was your first book
It was my first book
And it was pretty much the first thing that you’d written in an extended way.
Um, yes, it was, as a matter of fact, I always used to keep notes and I would make class notes and sometimes practice notes for my students. And again that, you know, that became some of the material that I put into the book. But I hadn’t done an extended piece of writing since I was an undergraduate.
My last piece of extended work before 2002 was as a my post grad.
Yeah. So how did we learn to write? Um,
we just did it
Apparently, it turns out we’re quite good at it. Again, I think having a good editor really, really helps. I do think it’s important even in a work of nonfiction, that you allow yourself to, if it’s not a research book, you allow yourself to find your own voice within the book
very much. I think we both did that. I think also we had a very strong structure to begin with. And then it was how do we put all the instructions that we have in our head, how do we put them down? How do we actually describe what it is that we were talking about, because in both books, there was never going to be any audio. So it has to be all written word. And in fact, the same thing happened with This Is A Voice with Wellcome Trust in 2016. We were told that it was 99 exercises for voice training, but we would never have a video or a CD or mp3s or any sound files at all. So it all had to be spoken, er written word.
I tell you what, there is nothing like having to write it down to clarify your thoughts. It is, you know, it’s a phenomenal process. And I think maybe reflecting on that the fact that we have had to write about our practice has made us, you know, has brought us to, it’s made us really level up With with our own teaching, in person teaching
When you know that something is going to be published, you have to decide that you’re going to stand behind it. And when you know that you can stand behind something, it does not matter what people say, you still know that what you wrote is good.
Ah ha, ha you’re going to reviews.
Which brings us beautifully to Reviews
You know, we’re living in a very different cultural environment now, aren’t we? Because, you know, we have Facebook and we have YouTube. And, you know, people get a lot of feedback. And people are maybe much more used to it. But you know, when you write your first book, you feel quite vulnerable.
Oh, it’s like a child.
And if you get a bad review, um, it can be really devastating
De-va-sta-ting. And we have had we have had some corkers.
We’ve had good reviews and we’ve had bad reviews. There’s one review still up on Amazon for Singing and the Actor saying the book is dangerous because it talks about belting On the other hand, there are some fantastic reviews of the book up there.
You have a thing about about types of reviews. And I really thought this was lovely, I wish we’d known this in 2000 AND in 2002
I know. I mean, I had one review that that really, really shocked me and I won’t go into details. But when I reported it to my editor, she said, Now there are reviews and there are character assassinations. Ignore this one, because it’s the second. And now reflecting, there are reviews that really kind of, you know, someone’s actually read the book, and they’re able to put it into a context and reflect on it and say something sensible about it, including a critique. And if I do a review of a book, I will normally make some critique at some point. To be honest, if I hate the book, I won’t review it.
I’ve only ever done that once
I know you did it once
Yeah, it was a commission I was asked to review a book by magazine. And I had a real problem with it because it was so well, I’m going to use the word arrogant. And yet, there was still some good stuff in and I still said so.
And you look for the good stuff. So yes, there’s a reflective review. There’s character assassination and sometimes, look out for this, those of you who are publishing, sometimes people use the review for personal promotion as in Oh, I could really I could do this a lot better. I’m, you know, we all do this, don’t we?
Yes, we all do this far better than is written in this book.
Well then write your own book, sunshine
Yep, where’s yours?
So that brings me to the final question, which is, why write a book?
I can tell you that it’s not for the money.
No nonfiction books, you do not write for the money.
No, absolutely not
I think it’s because it has to be said
There’s something that you have to Put out there, even though it’s a work of nonfiction, it is a creative act,
Everything. I think that we’ve published 18 webinars, every one of those webinars I’ve said let’s do it because… and we always have a because. And the because is this information needs to get out in some way, because sometimes we counteracting some total bullshit that’s out there. And sometimes it’s because oh, I understand this, I understand how it works. And I’d just like to share it with people.
So if someone does approach you and suggest that you write a book, make sure that it’s something you really, really want to share with the world. I can tell you that I’ve been approached more than once to turn my PhD into a book and I’m going to be quite honest and say in my experience, people who turn their PhDs into books generally produce something that is rather deadly. There are only a very few exceptions that I’ve seen. I’m writing a foreword for one right now, actually, I didn’t want to do that because I thought, well, I’m going to be bored doing it. And that means the reader is going to be bored reading it. And I don’t want to do that. I would rather get the core information about my own doctoral research out there in a different form, which we do in our teaching.
I think the format is really important because with a PhD, it has a particular target, it has a particular goal in mind. And when you then publish this as a textbook, or a novel or a book or whatever, the goal is different. And actually the target audience is different and unless you can rewrite it to get to that new target audience, it’s deadly
It needs a lot of morphing. So no offence to my fellow doctoral singing pedagogues. But I’m sure you found it quite a hard process making that switch between the thesis and the book and I decided I wasn’t going to do it.
It’s been interesting for us in the whole writing Career because right up to between Singing and the Actor, Successful Singing Auditions, the Singing Express series, This Is A Voice, all of those were commissions. So we were asked to write them. It wasn’t until I did How To Sing Legato was the first one and that was a beautiful example of I have been working on this genuinely for about seven years
It was born out of desperation
It was born out of desperation, because there is so much crap talked about legato and I just went, it’s so straightforward. Please can you do this. But is another another example of me sitting on the pot and not being able to get off it. That’s why eventually after seven years, we published it, and we published it ourselves. So in essence, I commissioned myself to do it.
And that does have its advantages, doesn’t it?
Yeah. That is perhaps a very neat segue into talking about our sponsors.
Yes, today. So the sponsor for today is CANU Publishing and CANU Publishing is the publishing arm of Vocal Process. CANU is spelled C.A.N.U. So it looks like can you but in fact is the Welsh word for to utter to speak, to sing to pronounce, to orate to give poetry. It’s a hugely varied word pronounced CANU.
I love it
And the book that obviously I’ve mentioned a few times, which is Why Do I Need A Vocal Coach which is the latest one. And as I said, I think it’s the follow up to Successful Singing Auditions
It’s a lovely book.
Yeah. So… By the way, if you’ve got any of the books that we’ve mentioned, please would you go and put reviews of them on YouTube? on YouTube on Amazon on any way you like
preferablynot a character assassination okay?
The thing is that we have… Thank you we already have enough character assassinations over the years. But if you can do us a reflective review, that would be brilliant.
Or tell us your experience of of the book and how you’ve been using it. We’d love to know.
So I think we’re done. We are on YouTube. Oh, by the way, this is a little shout out for the YouTube channel The YouTube channel has been fairly dormant for a couple of years. But I’ve just started uploading 2 new series. Somebody asked us for the videos that went with This Is A Voice. Now just to explain that when we wrote the book, and we were right, almost at the end of the final editing process, we’d all been told all along, that there would be no videos, no audio, no nothing. And they were so pleased with the manuscript, but they said…
This is the Wellcome Foundation
The Wellcome Foundation. We’re going to provide a budget for you to film some videos. And so we were brought in on… this is very bizarre, the Wellcome filmed the videos and we were brought in on our own book to be consultants, which is slightly weird.
Yeah, it was good. It was very good. We had two actors and we had a lot of fun
We did. And so the Wellcome have released two of the series which is one on spoken voice, and a series on beatboxing and somebody requested about three weeks ago that they couldn’t find them and did I have them and I thought actually yes I do
So they’re now on our YouTube channel
They are now being uploaded as we speak onto the YouTube channel I think can’t remember how many are up there already but I think they’re going up until I think it’s another couple to go up.
So if you’re keen to see a few of those exercises demonstrated go there. We will we will do a podcast where we talk about the other books won’t we? And that process but we wanted to start at the beginning yes with the stories behind the stories
Where it all started. So check out the YouTube channel which is VocalProcess check out Facebook which is VocalProcess check out Twitter, which is VocalProcess and sign up to our newsletter which is Vocalprocess.co.uk
Now, we haven’t used any AMAs for this podcast, but we love your AMAs. Can you tell them where they can submit them?
Please do please record your AMAs because we’d love to hear your voice actually asking us and so if you go on to https://speakpipe.com/Vocalprocess, and you can record questions for us and we will play them in the podcast. So that’s brilliant. We are done. I think, so we will see you next time.
Over and out.
This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher