As a musicals vocal and performance coach I work with performers known as the “Triple Threat” – the singer/dancer/actor. There are always musicals that require the triple threat artists, able to work to a high level in all three disciplines. But even these performers usually favor one aspect of their abilities, the one they find the most “natural”. And that’s what I focus on.
I like to find out what my clients do that is so easy they don’t even think about it, and help them transfer those innate skills into their other work areas. In the case of the triple threat, there is usually one mode of communication that is deeper, more unconscious than the others. So I will switch my coaching language to fit that mode.
If your first language is dance, I might describe the vocal techniques you have to learn in terms of physicality or movement, energy or muscle use. If your main language is acting, I might choose a route to vocal improvement via characterisation, emotion, keyword description or even use a plot device as a jumping off point. And if you are a singer first and foremost, I might talk about acting in terms of phrase shape, colour or rhythm.
Once you discover what your own main language is, you can actually use it to understand what other people want from you, what they actually mean. Translating what a director has asked for into your own “language” helps you to understand the instructions on a much deeper level. And that will produce a much more authentic performance. You’re happy because you successfully understood the director’s instructions, and the director’s happy because you did what he asked you to do, and you knew what he was talking about. And if the director thinks you understand him and where he’s coming from (and assuming you can actually do what he wants), he’s much more likely to hire you.
There is a danger with the triple threat performer that they can become overloaded with classes or instructions, simply because all three disciplines require focus, practice and attention. Once you know what your main strength is, not only will you ease up on yourself in that area, you’ll be able to apply the skills and strengths of that area in the other, more challenging areas. My early training was exclusively as a musician, and music is my first language. But I’ve been able to transfer my musical disciplines and skills into understanding and working with actors and dancers, and I now work with a wide variety of theatre performers and recording artists.
It’s human nature to dismiss something that we’re REALLY good at, precisely BECAUSE we’re naturally good at it. It’s the thing that, when you see other people who can’t do it, mystifies you. “But it’s so simple” you say, “Anyone can do it”. But anyone can’t – you have a special resonance that makes that thing feel incredibly easy to do. The more you do that is second nature to you, the more you “resonate” with your own talents, gifts and physicality. And when you “resonate” well, people are naturally attracted to you. How cool is that?
When you realise that people really want you to do the thing you do best, and that you will get paid for it, life can be a lot more fun. My belief is that we are here to do what we do well. And applying what we do well to other areas of our life can make the difference between a hard life and a happy life.
So what’s your main strength?