Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guest Instructor - Seth Rudetsky

Seth Rudetsky, Broadway commentator, radio host, and amazing musician joined us for a Master class with the students the night before his "Deconstructing Broadway" performance in Missoula. You can hear Seth on the Broadway Channel (77) on Sirius radio if you get a chance, or check out his website HERE. If you tune in, however, please be very prepared...you will laugh your socks off. I have spent a few mornings pouring over his video blog where he deconstructs (a.k.a. he questions, muses, praises the performances) musical performances. It's much fun.

Often in a master class, the guest instructor works with a select group of students. In Seth's class, every student got to work with him, and they were so appreciative. What was especially nice to see was the way in which Seth interacted with the students. We have students from all vocal ability and performance levels, but Seth treated them all equally, relaying info in his rapid-fire comments, and at times questioning or cajoling them about the pieces they chose to perform and/or the manner in which they performed them. It was very educational and informative with multiple laughs through in as the night progressed.


Here, Seth praises Skye's voice, but points out that when she sings she has a tendency to roll her shoulders in and needs to stand up straighter. She definitely incorporated this advice in the last two weeks (I could see it, Skye!)



Riley's performance critique centered around emulating the character, who in this song has pretty much lost her marbles and is trying to explain her perspective.



Seth is an amazing musician. He received his education at Oberlin College and has played for multiple Broadway shows. His ability to manipulate a keyboard, change keys at whim, and improvise is IMPRESSIVE. All the students were really stunned when Seth would say, "I think you need to sing this two steps lower" and then immediately transpose it as he began accompanying them. Wow.

Jadi was up next, singing, "Not for the Life of Me" from "Thoroughly Modern Millie". Seth talked about using a "belt" voice (a.k.a. chest voice, as opposed to "head" voice), which is a current trend in musical theater.


Seth coached her on movement, saying that movement while singing is fine, but it has to be directed and expressive without being forced.

Michael receives some individual pointers...


Seth helps Blake center on where in the audience he should sing. A lot of the students struggled with where to put their faces when performing their songs. Many of them centered on the first row of the balcony. Seth (as well as several other guest artists) encouraged them to lower their faces and sing, perhaps, to someone around the 15th row. Seth points out Blake's new imaginary friend in the audience and direct him to sing to that person.



It's great to watch Seth play each student's music while watching them for clues to adjust the music accordingly.

Jim and Nancy Caron were in the audience tonight. Nancy teaches vocal performance at Next Step Prep, and Jim is the founder of this whole program. They are such encouraging people. At one point I could see them both independently mouthing the lyrics to one of the student's songs. They didn't even realize they were doing it. Talk about birds of a feather?!


Sarai sings next and gets a little laugh from Seth.


Caleigh sang "Candle on the Water" from Pete's Dragon.




Rylee sings from "Little Shop of Horrors".


Students really pay attention during master classes, as much of what is said to one student is applicable to them as well. They often take notes to later discuss with their teachers and voice instructors.

Cooper is up next, after a quick musical consult with Seth...


Elinor singing, "Matchmaker, Matchmaker". Elinor had an impressive night, I must say. Not only did she make it through her performance nerves, but Seth changed key on her THREE TIMES and she didn't miss a beat. She kept right up with him. Way to go!


Maddy was up next...


Micaela was up next, singing "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and guess what...tonight was her SIXTEENTH birthday. How cool is THAT?!


Jacque was up next singing, "But Not For Me".


Clayton was up next...


Nicky sings next...


Arielle vamped it up for her number.


Em sings next...

Ana sings, "I'm Not Afraid" from "Songs for a New World" (written by Jason Robert Brown)...

Annie was up next...

Sarah sings a John Legend song...

Sierra sings "Many a New Day" from "Oklahoma!"

Mikaila sings, "Good Morning Baltimore" from "Hairspray"...

Eric sings "I Want to Be a Producer" from "The Producers"...

Nyna sings "Feed the Birds" from "Mary Poppins"...

Seth, we cannot thank you enough for coming to Missoula to teach our students. As I've said in previous blog posts, we are appreciative that you and the other guest instructors choose to come to Next Step out of their busy schedules. We also appreciate your performance (new blog post to come on that) Friday night as a benefit for the scholarship fund. What a generous gift to us. You are an extraordinary teacher and our students benefited so much from your time with us. We enjoyed having you and hope you come back again!

Oh....and BRAVA!!!

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