Taking The Mystery (and Fear) Out of Reading Music: A Workshop For Professional Vocalists & Teachers with Michael Smolens and Laura Cirolia

3 Sundays, August 6, 13, 20, 2 - 4 pm (in-person)

Taking The Mystery (and Fear) Out of Reading Music: A Workshop For Professional Vocalists & Teachers with Michael Smolens and Laura Cirolia
Age Adult
Event Type Workshop
Department Vocal Musicianship
Day Sun
Instructor Michael Smolens, Laura Cirolia
Status inperson event

There are so many benefits to being able to read music: customizing your warm-up routine, transposing a song to a better key, reading down a song that hasn’t been recorded, notating an original song, providing music to other vocalists and instrumentalists to streamline a rehearsal or recording session, as well as developing new materials for vocal students, to name just a few. There are also the deep rewards of greater self-confidence and the ability to communicate quickly and easily with instrumentalists and producers.

So why aren’t there more professional vocalists (especially in the non-classical world) fluent in reading music? There must be something about the way reading music is taught that makes vocalists feel that their musicality is being overlooked, or worse, diminished. . .

This workshop is guaranteed to take the mystery and fear out of reading music. How? By addressing rhythm, pitch, and lyrics separately, and by breaking the process down into manageable chunks, we will be honoring our natural ability to learn best when we take on only one complex challenge at a time. Since the most daunting area of reading music is most often rhythm, the majority of the time will be spent learning to get comfortable with common rhythmic figures.

We’ll also use fast and gentle meditation processes that enhance neuro-cognition and release hidden (or not-so-hidden) resistance to learning something new, or learning something that has painful associations attached to it. Fear of learning can create avoidance and distraction along with the loss of cognitive functions, such as diminished hearing, sight, or memory. The workshop will help untangle the fight/flight/freeze responses that often accompany the learning process.

The workshop is geared toward vocalists who: 1) have absolutely no experience reading music, 2) have little experience and want a new freedom around reading music, and 3) music teachers and music directors who are often called on to teach this skill. The workshop is specifically designed for vocalists who have performed professionally to create an environment of shared experience.

Requirements — to have performed professionally a minimum of four times; willingness to practice with a class member between Sessions 1 & 2 and 2 & 3.

Michael Smolens has been teaching privately and in universities for five decades as well as coaching other freelance teachers since 2000. His teaching is informed by physical re-training principles, linguistic-conceptual models, time management techniques, Orff Schulwerk, and Buddhism; and specializes in breaking down technical and conceptual skill (his book on the art of practicing is due out in the Spring of next year). Michael performs as both a vocalist & instrumentalist and has accompanied many jazz, gospel, and pop vocalists, including: Karen Blixt, Paula Bradman, Pollyanna Bush, Masha Campagne, Lisa Cohen, Roberta Donnay, Rocio Guitard, Omega Rae, Rhiannon, Claudia Schmidt, Katy Stephan; and Kenneth Arrington, Bryan Dyer, Raz Kennedy, Christopher Nicholas, Stephen Saxon, John Thomas, and David Worm. His vocal ensembles have included members who collaborate with Bobby McFerrin.

Laura Cirolia is a Somatic Energy Psychologist with over 18 years of experience working with professional musicians, artists, therapists, and corporate leaders. She has been trained in the PEAT, TAT, and EFT processes and specializes in ACES (Adverse Childhood and Adult Experiences). Ms. Cirolia has led workshops both locally and internationally, teaching her own method, Reset Medi-Scripts — a groundbreaking series of meditations that builds physical and emotional stability, confidence, and greater ease with learning.

Testimonials from Michael’s other CJC workshops:

The Art of Practicing

“Yesterday, my piano trio class finished with our end of quarter performance. And I noticed a big difference in how I approached my performance this time around, thanks to the practice tips I learned from your class. I focused more on the ‘weak welds’ in both my melodies and solos, and was able to use limited practice time more efficiently and produce more satisfying results. By making some mindset shifts, like practicing with mindfulness and self-compassion, I was able to relax, lean into the music, and enjoy it more. Thank YOU so much for teaching this workshop!”
— Marge A. (Jazzschool pianist)

Play The Piano Like A Drummer

“Michael’s system for breaking down vamps and starting to improvise on them is ingenious. It also applies to other areas of jazz with repeated patterns, such as Brazilian music. His helpful observations about each student’s set-up and posture already helped ease pressure on my ankle when peddling. Michael very generously offered a free coaching lesson between classes to help solidify the concepts. This class should be offered regularly by CJC!”
— Mike T. (Jazzschool pianist)

Creating Your Own Solo

“I want to thank you for working with all of us in this workshop. Your insight and method for developing a meaningful solo have inspired me to dig more into this subject . . .”
— Jeff B. (Jazzschool student/saxophonist)

Creating Compelling Intros

“I found Michael’s workshop to be filled with incredible amounts of knowledge that greatly expanded my own musical understanding. He clearly came well-prepared with an audio engineer, quality sound and multiple video POVs, written sheet music to follow along, and over 40 different examples of introductions by well-known artists and his own intros that he played…”
— Niko E. (pianist/composer)

“Thanks so much, Michael. Great class! I learned so much.”
— Socorro D.C. (pro arranger/composer)

Holiday Arranging

“His workshop on Holiday arranging was incredibly useful and he helped jump start my first large scale arrangement of a spiritual. Michael’s comments were very detailed and he spent extra time helping me between the two workshop meetings. Above and beyond! Thank you!”
— Frances F. (Jazzschool recorder player)

Testimonials from Laura’s artist clients:

“Laura’s work allows me to witness my subconscious mental chatter that creates painful anxiety and hyper-watchfulness. It allows me shift into a more peaceful positive state and to be more creative and expressive with my music, and in my life and relationships.”
— Paul C. (professional musician)

“I have made a lot of money off my voice, and yet listening to it day in and day out on headphones, I always could sense a hint of brokenness that maybe others couldn’t hear. After one particular session with Laura, I noticed that underlying tone was not there at all and I am not asking what’s wrong with me anymore. I feel like I am going to deal with everything differently because I am coming from a different place.”
— Lora C. (professional vocalist/songwriter/voiceover artist/actor)

“I have had the pleasure of working with Laura for over ten years now and have had so many minor miracles. I healed a frozen shoulder in a single session after working unsuccessfully on it for months with other practitioners! It’s really quite astonishing what her unique work is capable of supporting.”
— Jo C. (dance facilitator/visual artist)