Preparing for the Win, Part 1

In March, Anthony Frederickson won the Overture Award for Musical Theater. It was the first time in Overture history that a freshman won in the Theater category. The Overture Awards Competition is a program that recognizes, encourages and rewards excellence in the arts among Greater Cincinnati students in grades 9-12 and is the area’s largest solo arts competition. Along with a $4000 scholarship, Anthony was recognized as being among the top talent in the region.

In this multi-part series, Anthony’s voice instructor, CMA co-owner and founder Paul McCready outlines the steps that were taken to prepare Anthony for a winning performance.

When to start preparing:

“In the summer of 2016, I already knew that I wanted Anthony to compete in The Overture Awards for 2017.  While his voice was far from mature, it was in an interesting and good place and his ability to perform was solid based on prior performances.”

Anthony had recently played the role of Colin in The Secret Garden at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

“Anthony’s work in the Voice and Acting Departments was also going well. In any competitive voice/acting project, the song and/or monologue choices are the most important and hardest part in the initial phases of this preparation. A teacher must know early in the process what their student can do and will be able to do for the next six to nine months. This can be tricky with voices that are in transition from childhood to early adulthood.”

That’s right…many competition winners will choose their pieces and begin to prepare six to nine months before the competition. Is it the only thing they are practicing? No, but it needs to be a part of each lesson and practice session at home.

Choosing the right piece:

“It is imperative that the choices be age appropriate and easily understood and appreciated by judges who will be hearing that student for the first time.  In the case of the Overture Awards, that student will potentially be judged by three separate panels of judges that are seeing the student for the first time in each case over a 3 month period of time.  The music and acting monologues must be high quality with regard to composition and with regard to the songs.

I knew that Anthony could sing “Here I Come” from the musical 13 by Jason Robert Brown.  This song would not be a good selection for one-time auditions where students do not know the accompanist, but perfect for competitions that the student will have ample time to rehearse with their accompanist.

In the next part of this series Paul will illustrate the importance of choosing the right accompanist, developing technique,  and workshopping the performance before the big day.