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First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: singer-songwriter (Page 2 of 2)


X Factor Milan. A Factor of Life. Not Just a Coincidence.

By: Christine Typadis and Cristina Vaira

Cristina Vaira, a fifth semester student majoring in songwriting and originally from Milan Italy received a call from X Factor Milan asking her to participate in the audition of a TV show in Milan, Italy. X Factor is an Italian television music competition to find new singing talent; the winner receives a 300,000 recording contract with Sony Music.

Cristina received an email from a representative of the Magnolia Production, a tv company that produces a TV program called X Factor.  She states, “The team said they found a couple of videos of mine in YouTube where she was singing her original songs. Because he liked my performance, he asked if I was interested in doing the audition for X Factor 2012.” She completed an initial audition and then wanted her to take a second one. They shot several videos of her singing and took some interviews as well. The tv shows production company called to say they were very impressed by her performances and that they wanted her back for the next phase of TV, where she’d be asked to audition in front of four judges and an audience.

Cristina had mixed emotions about the incredible news.  She was excited about this opportunity, but sad in the same moment because she knew that her parents wouldn’t have a way to afford an unscheduled trip back to Italy. Feeling a bit discouraged, a friend told Cristina she should ask Berklee for help. Brilliant! Cristina then contacted the Office of International Programs with her proposal. To her surprise what she thought was a phone call turned into an opportunity, something she couldn’t see materialize in that one phone call. Within days, her flights were booked and she was off to Milan for unexpected but fruitful journey.

Bright and excited about the opportunity, she was thrilled at her chance for the X-factor audition. Then, all factors from the moment leaving Boston to arriving in Milan went wrong. Flights were canceled; sickness; tired from 18 hours of travel; overbooking and lost baggage. Eventually she made it – one day later. Each factor affected the next course of events.

Cristina remarks that they asked her to sing “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow.  The song is challenging — starting very low and rising in the chorus.  “After I did the sound-check, I asked to the engineer to raise the volume for the beginning, but he said that the rules of the show doesn’t allow to change to level of the mic! Cristina states. “I couldn’t believe that he said that, but in that moment I didn’t say anything to him and that was a huge mistake for me because he really compromised my performance later,” continues Vaira. “I’ve learnt that a good sound-check can make the difference in a performance and that I shouldn’t be condescending with people just to not bother them if I don’t get the sound that can increase the value of my performance!”

Cristina explains, “For those who are performers, in my opinion, if you’re looking to check out television, the main point I’d like to emphasize is that TV rules can be highly dramatic and exaggerated. You need to know a lot about television, whether that is X Factor, American Idol, shows like this.  If you don’t know this show and how they act and what they are looking for, it’s pretty hard to enter this area.  You can be a victim in this environment if you don’t know the rules.  This is what I learned about this type of competition.” Cristina adds, “I saw Miss Italy be in this audition and she was the first performer of the day. I was the only one who came from another continent and while I was there I could barely stay awake and they call me to perform at 10 pm — after 12 hours I waited in the same room without any possibilities to go out!! After me there was just 2 people and we were 50!”

What Cristina realized that maybe this call wasn’t her debut or hit song, but this opportunity made her grow as a musician and helped her to learn about herself. Even if the competition did not go her way. Cristina states, “Maybe my destiny was not to go in the show, but probably to finish Berklee.  That, so far, is the most concrete thing that is leading me to build a career in the music field.”  Cristina goes on to say” “…when I put together the factors that I experienced, I came up with a few things to pass on to my fellow travelling musicians. Make the call back and go for it. When someone or something finds you, find the courage to believe in that.”

Take the good with the bad. Check

Book a day earlier. Check

Good sound check. Check

Be prepared. Check

Rest. Check

Expect the worst, do your best. Check




Brandi Carlile at the Berklee Performance Center

Earlier this month, well over a thousand people packed into the Berklee Performance Center, many for the first time at the venue, to see a rare, solo performance by the chart-topping singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile. The sold-out show can partially be attributed to the singer’s fame with her popular songs, such as “The Story,” but also for her notoriety as an incredible performer. And the huge applause Carlile received after listing each and every Boston venue she’s played in the last decade (House of Blues, Orpheum, Paradise, etc) only reinforced the already-overwhelming anticipation for her performance.

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Boston’s Songwriters Club (Clube dos Compositores de Boston)

Antes do meu primeiro semestre em Boston eu imaginava que a escola consistiria principalmente de estudantes de Jazz e Heavy Metal. Tendo como referência artistas como Dream Theater e Kurt Rosenwinkel eu pensava que músicos como Paula Cole e John Mayer eram a exceção.

A verdade é que o instrumento mais estudado na faculdade é a voz. E em sua grande maioria estes estudantes também tocam violão e piano os utilizando como acompanhamento para suas canções de autoria própria. Nos EUA descrevemos estes artistas como “Singer-Songwriters”  o que se traduz como Cantores – Compositores.

Escrever sobre Singer-Songwriters é algo especialmente interessante para mim pois participei de várias bandas de Pop e Rock eu rapidamente me envolvi em vários projetos com estes artistas na Berklee. Eu trabalhei como músico de estúdio e ao vivo para compositores dos EUA, Alemanha, Itália e até mesmo brasileiros.

A vantagem de lidar com este tipo de artista na Berklee é que eles são, em sua maioria, músicos com um bom balanço entre educação musical e talento de auto-didata. Diferente do típico cantor-compositor fora da escola, estes músicos tem a oportunidade de extrair valiosas informações das aulas da faculdade conseguindo deixar suas composições ainda mais maduras e inovadoras.

Existem muitas oportunidades para estes músicos apresentarem. Sozinhos ou com suas bandas estes artistas estão sempre organizando eventos em que eles e seus companheiros participam. Eu já conheci diversas casas de shows e bares em Boston devido a estes eventos. Lugares como o All Asia, o Middle East e o Club Bohemia em Cambridge ou o Precinct em Sommervile.

Um eventos particularmente famoso realizados pelos Cantores e Compositores de Boston são é o Monkey Rock no All Asia. A Berklee possui diversos shows realizados com o intuito de expor a música destes estudantes. O selo da Berklee, a Heavy Rotation Records assina artistas do gênero uma vez por ano e grava suas músicas escolhidas nos estúdios da faculdade para depois lançar um álbum contendo todas as musicas escolhidas. Abaixo está uma fotos do Monkey Rock e links para alguns dos artistas com quem eu ja trabalhei. Confiram a vontade!

Songs for Songs Concert: Putting Guitars in the Hands of Ugandan Youth

March 27, 2010 7pm, Entry by Donation ($10 suggested) Lily Pad 1353 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA Natalie Sara, Robert Gillies, Hannah Christianson, Allison Preisinger *Collecting Guitar Donations Before and After Event!

Allison Preisinger, a work study for the last year and a half here at PULSE, is putting together a benefit performance of Berklee songwriters to raise money for guitars and music equipment to send to Pader, Uganda.

Natalie Weaver a Songwriting Major at Berklee recently visited Pader to work with youth effected by the ongoing war, but was limited by the lack of sufficient equipment. With only a single guitar, Natalie focused on teaching a group of students lyric and melody writing. The hope is that they can continue expanding their music education with the help of donated music gear.

An entertaining, fun and thought provoking mix of singer-songwriter, pop and folk styles will make the night a special one. Hannah Christianson, Robert Gillies, Natalie Sara , and Allison Preisinger, all Berklee singer-songwriters, will be performing their original music.

Allison is organizing and performing at this benefit in order to do her part to spread music and expression to those where it may not come as easily. You can show your support in coming out and enjoying a wonderful evening of music provided by four Berklee students!

Entry is by donation ($10 suggested) and there will be a raffle with great items to win! It is sure to be a great way to spend your Saturday evening!

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