Master Class with Marilyn Maye
The class provides a way for you to perform for an audience of supportive participants who are also singers and, like you, want to learn new methods of presenting their talent. You will discover new ways of performing that you have never tried or realized before and the class will lead you toward the improvement of your overall performance. The lighter side of the session is that you'll have a great deal of FUN!
As a participant in a Marilyn Maye Master Class, you will sharpen YOUR unique way of delivering the story of the song, realize new ways of phrasing and connecting with the audience (The Listener). So come learn, sing AND enjoy.
GREGORY TOROIAN providing accompaniment
As an auditor, you will enjoy seeing and hearing singers from various walks of life, of various ages and experiences in the performance/singing world. The positive critiques and information shared by Ms. Maye will inspire you whether you are a singer or an appreciative observer. You’ll hear songs from Broadway, the American Songbook and special material of the participating singer’s choice. It’s an afternoon chock full of valuable behind-the-scenes performance advice, a lot of entertainment and wonderful fun all in a supportive and intimate environment. As an auditor, you can come and go as you please.
Master Class Testimonials
Working with Marilyn was transformative. Not only is she the most fun to work with, she has more to teach than most, and knows how to get the best results. Her clear explanations, teamed with her brilliant demonstrations make for galvanizing sessions. What I am learning from her is invaluable!
- Maud Hixson, singer
Marilyn Maye’s master class is transforming -for everyone in attendance. Whether singing is your vocation or your avocation, whether you’ve graduated from Julliard or P.S. 26 , whether you’ve sung your song a million times since you won that talent show when you were six years old, or just finished polishing it last week, Marilyn will make you better. Just ask any one of her 12 students per class (it’s always sold out) and another dozen or so who audit. She dives in at the first minute, even before the first student opens his mouthâ€”making suggestions about the stance, the hands, the posture, the tilt of the head. When you sing, she explains that it’s all about the story, the conversation you’re having with the audience. She’ll suggest a subtle reworking of that phrase you’ve heard over and over, maybe soften it a bit, or linger on the second syllable to emphasize the point, or take a breath here rather than there. With each detail she makes the story better. And you, the story teller, get better and better. Even after 5 hours we linger, hoping to extend the magic of the day just a little bit longer. Because we all know that we have just had a unique experience with a unique artist -Marilyn Maye, the brilliant performer is an equally brilliant teacher. And we are so lucky that she generously shares her experience and talent with us.
- Marci Kraft, singer
I had the privilege of taking class with Ms. Marilyn Maye this past year and had the time of my life learning more about this craft. She is just as charming and gracious offstage as she is onstage. She communicates her perception of what you need as a performer almost instantly-and you can feel the difference in your work just moments after her analysis and advice. Brava to Ms. Maye for her willingness to pass on what she’s learned over the years in a loving and giving way and she does it all with great encouragement, wit and support.
- Gary Crawford, singer
Working with Marilyn Maye is a singer’s dream. Her ability to convey her deeply felt musical instincts in the most loving and supportive environment provided me with an experience I will carry with me always. After a single session with her I felt an exciting sense of inspiration and encouragement, as well as an increased confidence in my phrasing and a fresh perspective on my musical arrangements. And, so importantly, her musical demands come wrapped in a nourishing warmth that makes the experience not only educational, but fun. I can’t wait to sing with her again!
- Debbie Damp, singer
A MASTER CLASS with MARILYN MAYE: A MASTER with CLASSby Rob Lester
The piano introduction isn’t even over yet, but she instantly, supportively, frankly is telling the serious-looking student who is about to sing what needs to be adjusted and addressed. It’s about audience’s instantaneous first impressions, she explains: "The audience is already making its mind up about you." She encourages a different look in the eyes, perhaps leaning forward to better connect to the audience, adding energy in the arms —"Give us a little elbow" — and she gets to the vocal aspects in short order, too.
Marilyn Maye, in serious teacher mode, still radiates the qualities of Marilyn Maye the celebrated entertainer: full of joie de vivre, precise, down to earth, charming, multi-tasking with maternal magnetism. “You don’t have to be anything else except what you are.” She’s not running a factory, churning out an assembly line of dozens of Marilyn Maye clones; she looks for strengths and unique qualities she can encourage and bring out.
After decades of singing the great songs and entertaining all kinds of audiences, she does have strong feelings about what works for listeners and pulling them into a song. “It’s the story, kids. Lyrics, lyrics, lyrics! You’re singing and telling a story.” In reviews, and in singer-to-singer conversations, watching the savvy Maye work a nightclub crowd has been compared to sitting in on a master class. (Rex Reed was one who did so recently, in The New York Observer), so it isn’t so surprising that she makes the leap and can literally share and articulate her methods of success in a classroom setting. “It’s not necessarily that I’m ‘right,’ but these are my beliefs,” and she is soon backing them with example after example of why and how they are practical and practically foolproof. She cuts to the chase to eliminate distracting, perhaps long-entrenched bad habits. For example, “I move around too much,” one fellow acknowledges. Without missing a beat, her advice is, “Well, stop that!” she advises with her ready laugh and then they set to work.
As far as her own habits, keeping her audiences satisfied through her skill and palpable joy of performing is an old habit, going back decades. She’s been doing it virtually non-stop. Stopping the show with one tour de force number at a Carnegie Hall salute to Stephen Sondheim was just the latest triumph racked up by Marilyn Maye who has been wowing crowds in New York City between engagements in other cities and picking up NYC’s cabaret awards, the latest being the Mabel Mercer Award and Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She’s bringing back her latest show, Her Own Kind of Broadway, to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Room on December 5, 6 and 7 and is making time for another master class on December 11. A member of a previous session is the first to call to secure a place in the next. Many become disciples. They range from shy newcomers with long-held dreams to those with years of professional experience.
This reporter, a fly on the wall in one of her October classes (along with numerous non-singing auditors), has attended many of her shows as a cabaret reviewer and interviewed her at length for a feature on TalkinBroadway.com when she made her triumphant return to the New York City nightclub scenes several years ago, around the time her age was the same number as her appearances on Johnny Carson’s show (76). She remains a force of nature in performance and it’s apparently in her nature to be a dynamic teacher, too --- bounding on stage to help and demonstrate and will them to succeed. As all those in attendance drink in her suggestions -- and there’s no needed nightclub two-drink minimum for that --- some scribble notes, others nod as if to say, "Note to self: Remember this." It might be about how the slight turn of the head can make a world of difference. Later, the attention shifts to feet as one keeps shifting his: "Now, plant your feet on the stage like you own it." From head to toe, Marilyn Maye meticulously inspects, instructs, and constructively critiques her pupils in a marathon session of five hours during which she neither takes a break nor shows a sign of losing focus, energy, or patience.
She explains, she demonstrates, she cajoles, and extols their strengths which they don’t always seem to realize they have. “Do you know how good you are?” she flatly asks a talented returnee who seems slightly startled, shyly smiling at the deserved compliment. But she also reminds her to now relax into her talent and to sing that old Johnny Mercer lyric “as if the words just occurred to you” instead of what was written decades ago and maybe memorized a day ago. These are tricks of the trade, but they can’t look like tricks. “The audience knows when you’re being phony.” And, on the subject of “looking,” she frequently reminds the students to look at the audience more. She tells them to treat the crowd as if they are one individual. “You’re singing to one person.” Eye contact brings emotional contact. “But I can’t see faces when I’m on stage under those bright lights,” admits one struggler. “Of course not,” Marilyn replies, matter-of-factly, “Pretend! If you can’t really see them because of the light, pretend.” And she looks her student in the eye, pointedly, when she tells her to look us in the eye. “Pretend!” She smiles. “They’re out there!” And back to the second chorus, and things are looking up — and so is the singer. When there’s a deer-in-the-headlights blank gaze, Maye’s there to remind and reinforce. “Look at us, look at us, that’s it!” And so it goes — as each participant does two songs and then gets to repeat one in the second round. Along the way, depending on what comes up and what the singers have stated on their application forms as concerns. One wants to get deeper into a lyric and “be less superficial,” another’s goal is to be more natural with gestures, one wants more audience connection. When there’s time between stepping up to the mic and stepping under the microscope, she invites more queries. “Let’s not waste time---who has a question?”
When something doesn’t ring true or sounds like it’s taken a page from a recording they’ve been listening to too much, she helps them to put in more of who they are. And, as a role model, she’s the real deal - the only thing fake is her false eyelashes, which she instructs the ladies to purchase. “I wear two pair,” she states, “because I have tiny eyes.” ... But, oh, they don’t miss a thing. She nods, she prods, she praises, she pontificates, she placates, she puts them through their paces. She promises results and delivers them in “before and after” comparison studies, some of which she performs herself. She is not just a teacher who sits and talks as the students sing or doing a how-to by singing a line here and a few notes there. At some point, she sings a full song, making it a line-by-line guided tour of her craft and all the decisions and possibilities that are relevant to each of many, many moments. In her no-nonsense Marilyn Maye way, she draws back the curtain to show the reason behind and impact of a multitude of choices. A gesture, a pause or a smile can color or underscore a word in a lyric — how the dramatic raising of her arms or an oh-so-subtle raising of an eyebrow can raise a moment to new heights. And there isn’t just one right way for each moment — she shows a few options, explaining the advantage of each, then shows what would have been misguided, weaker options for some of those moments. As a perk, and part of the program, each student has attended one of her nightclub shows. So, they all have that valuable reference point. The experience stimulates questions and understanding, but also respect bordering on awe. It does not appear to be intimidating, though, as they are dealing with a teacher now, too, whose sleeves are not sequined but rolled up, ready for work.
“Your whole body has to be alert as you sing.” She grins. “And don’t forget to breathe.”