On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

Auditions are the bane of any performer’s existence. Whether you’re an aspiring actress in LA going to massive television/film cattle calls or one like me going to local theatre auditions here in Portland, there are always more actors auditioning than available roles. Auditions can make a performer anywhere from a little nervous to terrified, depending on…well…too many factors to list here.

I’m auditioning for my first musical in 20 years on Saturday. This means I have to sing. Not in voice lessons, not for myself, but in front of the director and his team. I have loved to sing since I could speak…yet after a couple weeks of rehearsing and singing as much as possible in front of other people, my nervous level was still close to the terrified end of the scale. Which really doesn’t make any logical sense. It’s not like some organized crime godmother told me if I didn’t audition, she’d have “the girls” toss my partner or cat off the end of a big cliff to land on a field of huge 5 foot sharpened knitting needles.

All the same…this fear is real for many performers, in many shows, in many locales, all over the world. It’s not just me.

I even considered canceling the audition.

The chances of my NOT being cast are probably, I’m guessing, 100 times more than my chances of being cast. A statistician knowing how many people are auditioning, for how many roles, the experience and confidence level of each actor, their astrological charts, whether or not Mercury will be in retrograde, along with their chances of getting into an accident on the way to the theatre with the weather that day…all of this would be much more precise, I’m sure.

Yet we singers and actors keep doing auditions, because we are passionate about doing this work in the world.

A dear friend, who has directed over 20 plays, reminds me auditions aren’t about any one particular actor…rather about the mix and right fit of different actors working together. At least that’s certainly how it should be for a great show!

My amazing voice teacher, Linda Brice, knows well that fear starts in the mind, yet impacts the body dramatically, and with tension in the body, we can’t sing well. Linda has taught me not only great vocal technique, but how to breathe, visualize, and release the tension in my body for a good chunk of time before an audition or performance. The audition or performance isn’t about me; it’s about how I want the people in the room with me to feel.

Their experience will be directly impacted by the experience I’m having myself.

Josh Pais, founder of www.committedimpulse.com recently wrote:

Emotions, at their core, are simply energy. Your body is made out of atoms – and emotions are energetic fluctuations. These fluctuations are not good or bad – they are just shifts in vibrational frequencies.

Further, these fluctuations are CREATIVE FUEL!

We gotta Ride these fluctuations – not Hide them!

If we disconnect from our body (the source of creativity), where do we end up – in our head – next thing we know we’re listening to abusive shit.

In the moment of creation, understanding or analyzing what you are feeling will not serve you.

In the moment of creation, your job is to create from the badass charge that is in your body.

As we train to stay in our bodies – we learn to give the audience what they want. YOU.
Your truth in THIS moment.

Thanks for that, Josh Pais!

My only goal for Saturday is to give a solid audition – one I’ve honed enough to feel confident in, knowing I’ve done my best.

Will you tell me to ‘Break a Leg’ on the blog? It’s true – ‘Good Luck’ to actors means ‘Bad Luck,’ so only tell me to Break a Leg! And then maybe you can help me figure out where that tradition came from in the first place!

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.) Laura

Lake Music

Lake Music

Sadly, community music stores aren’t common anymore. My extensive research (comprised of exactly one Google search using the words “community+music+stores+us”) brought up precisely 11 hits from Portland, OR, South Hadley, MA, The Dalles, OR, Brentwood, East Bay area,  South FL, Rivervale, UT, several locations in WI,  and Santa Fe, NM before going straight to Amazon Music.

I feel fortunate to have such a store in my neighborhood. Lake Music, on Boones Ferry Road, is just over a mile from  my house and home studio. I’d been a customer for piano books before I walked in, probably over a year ago, to see if I could post some marketing materials there for my vocal training practice. Since they have music teachers as independent contractors there at the store, I was told that probably wasn’t a great idea…and that a voice teacher might be leaving. 

I thought, “What the heck?” And e-mailed the store owner with my vocal training information, just in case.

Months later, I heard from Tim that they needed a new voice teacher, and was I still interested?

I was.

I’ve been teaching at Lake Music, along with private students in my home studio and via Zoom, since early August of last year, and am so grateful I stopped into the store that day!

Lake Music was founded by Tim’s father, Sid Smither, in 1970, and has taught and inspired thousands of students.  As time has gone by, 2nd generation students are learning the value of music education at Lake Music.  As the website https://www.lakemusicoregon.com/ says: “We are so happy to have been and still be a part of bringing the love and passion of music to Lake Oswego for close to 50 years.”

Along with vocal training, I’m teaching piano students at Lake Music as well. I know Mrs. Hamre, my piano teacher from second grade through my senior year of high school, would be proud.

I love the staff at Lake Music, my fellow teacher colleagues and the store dog, Mary Ann’s dachshund, Kutya. (That’s likely not the proper Hungarian spelling – we pronounce his name “Coocha.”) Kutya is adorable and trails into the music room with Mary Ann when she’s teaching violin students.  I’m working with younger students there I wouldn’t otherwise have met, and have been blown away by the students’ progress, and the joy I experience teaching them.

Here’s just one story, about one student, I met through Lake Music. “H” is 20 years old, and up until his first voice lesson with me, had never sung. Apparently, he’s an accomplished guitar player, and his guitar teacher recommended he explore voice lessons.

Immediately at H’s first lesson, I recognized the inner singer in him that had been waiting to come out and play. He became so impassioned about singing and music, he considered quitting college all together to become a professional musician. His passion, enthusiasm and dedication to his voice are awe-inspiring. Much to – I’m sure – his parents’ relief, H returned to college to study computer science, business and to minor in music! He signed up for the men’s chorus and private voice lessons at the university as well! At our last lesson together, I asked H, “Whatever you do in the future, keep singing!” He assured me he would and gave me a hug. (Sniffle.)

Having the opportunity to nurture and help develop a love of singing, and another person’s voice, like this is humbling, thrilling, and an honor I do not take lightly.

Do you have an inner singer that wants to come out and play? Give me a call! And, if you’re in the Portland, Oregon area, drop by Lake Music, will ya? You’ll find a great variety of printed music, instruments, teachers for all instruments, instrument rental and repair, and a group of fantastic people to help you fuel your love and passion for music.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Working with Laura has been a huge blessing in my life. I have wanted to learn to sing for years now but always believed I didn’t have a good singing voice. After a couple lessons with Laura I heard sounds coming out of my mouth I couldn’t believe I was making! My skills and my confidence have improved. I’ve performed hip-hop live twice now and voice lessons have helped me with public speaking too. Highly recommended! -Lennon R.

Every time I have a lesson with Laura, I come out having learned something new about my voice, and my breathing. I try to use these techniques on a daily basis for acting, singing, and general speech. I recommend Laura to anyone hoping to improve their voice. -Noah G. (13 yrs.)

To Your Voice and Your Personal Music,


Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. Business vs. Calling

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. Business vs. Calling

Business vs. Calling

Have you ever thought about the difference between having an entrepreneurial business versus a professional practice or calling in which you’re self-employed? That there even could be a difference?  Or a focus on money vs. helping people?

I have, because this topic surfaced not long ago in a Transformational Voice® Apprenticeship seminar.

I was an employee in American corporate culture for many years.

Some was good, some not so good.

Here’s an example of good when I worked in the workers’ compensation claims industry. Fellow claims adjusters often asked me for help writing their IME (Independent Medical Evaluation) letters. I reached out to my supervisor, because so many people were asking me for help with their writing. She asked if I’d ever thought about teaching a writing class. I hadn’t. She connected me with the training & development manager and I developed a writing class that helped people become better writers. I rehearsed and rehearsed before first teaching the class but was still shaking in my pumps that first class. Soon, it became second nature and one of my favorite things to do. Eventually I became the first Disabling Claims Unit Mentor.

Here’s an example of not so good. I worked for a different insurance company where we all shook in our shoes every time the manager in Sacramento called or visited. She was a bully/Devil Wears Prada type manager (must have been dealing with a lot of fear) being all nice on the outside while micro-managing us down to the hairs on our toes. Don’t tell anyone, but we had one of those noise buttons in the office – it was the voice of the Wicked Witch of the West.  When you pressed the button down, you heard that evil cackle, then I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!

It helped relieve tension in the office.

Eventually, everyone I worked with in that office quit, except for one young woman who was promoted to a supervisory position and moved to Phoenix, so she wasn’t in the office anymore either.

I resigned from my last corporate job, a great one with an excellent manager, to follow my heart, and my calling. And I left a very good salary behind.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself since graduating from college, it’s that I’m not afraid of taking a risk. And that I will always be provided for if I follow my heart and listen closely to my inner promptings.

Money is just a tool. A great tool. It can be used for great good, or no good at all. Greed and the desire for power; that’s something different. Money is neutral.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. -Jimi Hendrix

It’s all about the mindset. When fear comes calling – you’re afraid you won’t have enough money, make enough money, or lose what money you have – that fear moves you away from your true nature, which is to be in service to the God-given talents you were given to help others in this world.

You can have a calling, be self-employed in that profession, and be financially successful as an entrepreneur. Perhaps you know you haven’t reached your income potential yet and can do better so you can do more good in the world. It’s all in the mindset.

You can work for a company wherein you feel you’re making a positive difference in the world. It’s all in the mindset.

Now, will you play with me for a bit? Imagine you unexpectedly receive a check for two million dollars in the mail tomorrow.

What would you do with it?

I would honestly love to give more to charities I believe in; for example: Organizations that help bring clean drinking water to people who don’t have it and help educate and train girls in areas of the world where women don’t have rights; Shelters that help homeless animals find loving homes; Non-profit theatre companies that bring affordable theatre to our local communities. Offer more free vocal training than I already am to people who need it. Invest more. I’d like a better computer, a trip to Niagara Falls (a girlfriend in Canada just moved there), a red winter coat, and hand-made pottery from a local artisan.

Gosh, that’s just off the top of my head. What if I wanted to partner with a colleague and start a theatre production company and provide super affordable vocal training, bring in dance teachers, volunteer with some awesome charity to bring free music classes to kids who don’t have them…

The possibilities for doing good and being of service are limitless once you allow your mind to run free. As big as I can dream, two million dollars could go quickly, and I don’t mean on a shopping spree in Manhattan.

How big can you dream if you put on your healthiest (you successful while being in service to others) mindset? Let us know on the blog!

This vocal practice helps people in so many areas of their lives. Bless you for doing this work. -Dr. Scott A, DC

To Your Voice,


Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is calling. Theatre Feels Like Home

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is calling. Theatre Feels Like Home

I’m trying to come back down to Earth right now. I’m writing this post at 2:00 am after wrapping closing night of my first staged reading. What a crazy and gratifying week this has been!

I’m writing this post for those of you who love theatre and know there’s an actor in you waiting to come out. Or maybe you’re already acting and don’t know what a staged reading is. I didn’t, when I auditioned for this wild ride.

A staged reading means you have only a few rehearsals before getting up on stage with your scripts still in hand. A full production, a play, typically means about three months of your life with an initial read-through and introduction to your fellow cast members, several nights of rehearsal each week, different acts, slowly moving rehearsals to the stage once the set is built, and then around three weeks of performances for a live audience. (Although of course on Broadway and the like, performances can go for a year, or years.)

I hadn’t been in a show since December of 2015, three long years. You can find my interview with the director, Benjamin, of that show here: http://laurahandke.com/simply-authentic-your-soul-voice-is-calling-pursue-what-you-love-and-love-what-you-pursue-an-interview-with-ben-tissell/

Over the last 18 months or so, I’d auditioned probably five times, and wasn’t once cast. The acting bug was biting me so hard, I auditioned for roles I wasn’t a good fit for and auditioned poorly. There was one good audition in the batch, for a short film, I felt good about. Ultimately, though, the role went to someone else.

So, even though I had no idea what a staged reading was, when I read the audition notice on-line, via a Facebook theatre group, I sent the director my acting resume and headshot. I knew the topics of the readings were abuse, addiction and mental illness – some pretty heavy duty, emotional stuff – and that proceeds would benefit Reimagining Recovery, a peer-support organization designed to help victims of abuse, addiction, and mental illness before the breakdown point where hospitalization is needed.

I was asked to come in and read a monolog. I chose a monolog I’d worked on before, from Marvin’s Room. It’s a great piece, allowing the actress to display a range of emotions from laughter to tears in 15 ½ short lines.

The director said he’d want me for at least the third block. This was an ambitious project, to say the least. Three weeks of staged readings with three different full-length plays and three different casts. Notices and updates about the casting process were sporadic at first, and I got the feeling the director had bitten off more than he could chew. That feeling was correct, as the director – oddly enough, also named Benjamin – shared later himself.

Yet, what an amazing process it turned out to be.

Sometimes you get the script before the audition. In this case, I didn’t get the script until after I’d been cast, still not sure of what role I was playing. I read through the script and initially thought, “What have I gotten myself into?” Two drag queen goats playing with the audience before the show, German accents, a bunch of stuff about healthy goat milk and meat (I don’t even like goat cheese,) puppets, marionettes, sexual abuse, murderous mafia-type guys, a pedophile Irish priest, a drunk, and a lot of profanity. Seriously, the “f” word left and right, and I am not a big swearer.

Still, I found myself in tears after I’d read through the entire script. Abuse can be passed down in a family from generation to generation. But it doesn’t have to be.

I was cast as Linda Kunt, the drunk. Ahem.

I’d never played “drunk” on stage before, not to even mention her last name. (At least it was spelled with a K, right?!)


There’s this weird mix of anxiety and anticipation when the cast comes together for the first time. You may not know each other, but you’re in this process together. You have to have each other’s backs. You rely on this person you don’t even know to show up on time and be there for you. It requires enormous trust and commitment, very quickly, in a way unique to the theatre experience.  

You get to know each other a little bit through rehearsals.Some wise-crack. Some share other theatre experiences. Some talk in small circles in the dressing room. Some are quiet. Yet all are focused on the show.

And…the audience…the audience. The audience is part of the show. When the audience is riveted, it feeds the actors. When the actors are on-point and present, we feed the audience.

This particular closing night was fuggin’ amazing, to borrow words from the script.

And, then, it’s all over. And it feels a little like the end of Christmas day when you’re a kid.

I’m grateful and blessed to have had this experience, and to have been in my home of the theatre again.

If you’re curious about acting, make your authentic voice happy and sign up for an acting class in the new year. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and find out what the process is all about. I may even start a waiting list and offer another Authentic Performance class in 2019! Feel free to share your curiosity and any questions about acting or the theatre you may have on the blog.

Until then, Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! And a blessed New Year to you and your loved ones.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)


Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. The Teacher Got an Apple

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. The Teacher Got an Apple

The Teacher Got an Apple

Dear Friend,

This voice teacher literally received an apple from a student today! I couldn’t be more pleased – yes, with the softball sized organic apple from Troutdale – but I mean with my student’s progress in his speaking voice!

If you want to segue from great vocal technique in your speaking voice to your singing voice, here’s the same assignment I gave my accomplished and generous student.

The only difference between speaking and singing? Singing is speech/vocalization sustained on the breath. Just pick one note you’re speaking and sustain it…suddenly, you’re singing!

If you need any support or have questions after watching this video, I’m here for you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VOfFUN6qYw&feature=youtu.be

To Your Voice and Your Personal Music,


Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)


Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. Giving Thanks for Speaking Up!

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. Giving Thanks for Speaking Up!

Giving Thanks for Speaking Up!

The holiday season is in full swing here in the States. The cars on the road, jammed parking lots at the grocery stores and customers piling their carts to the hilt prove it.

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, how did you spend your day? Let me know by commenting on the blog; I’d love to hear.

George and I initially thought we might be spending the day at a winery with friends. When that idea didn’t pan out, we decided to spend the day at home; just us and Lady Jane the cat. What a lovely Thanksgiving Day! We made a simple and delicious meal of chicken cordon bleu with bearnaise sauce (from a packet), Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice, and grilled asparagus.

And we decorated our home, simply, for Christmas.

We expressed our gratitude for all we have.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you…that will be enough.- Meister Eckhart

I have realized when gratitude is part of your daily practice, life flows more smoothly. One day a year for thanks-giving simply isn’t enough.

I’m grateful for my partner, George, our personality-plus cat, Lady Jane, and our newly holiday-decorated home. I’m grateful we have clean drinking water that comes out of several faucets in said home every day. Many people don’t have this luxury. Thank you to the grocery stores where I got the food for our dinner, and the farmers and suppliers who got this food to the stores. To the animals who gave their bodies for our meat. I’m grateful for my voice teacher, Linda Brice, and my apprentice colleagues who will soon (February!) be graduating as certified Transformational Voice® teachers.

That is truly just a start. Let me know on the blog what you’re thankful for. Again, I’d love to hear.

Here’s one more thing I’m extremely grateful for this year. The Speak Up! workshops I developed with my beloved colleague, Katie Ramseur. Together, we’ve taken Speak Up! to alternative schools like Columbia County Education Campus in St. Helens and women’s organizations like Dress for Success.

Katie is a Certified Hypnotist and I’m a Certified Transformational Voice® teacher. I initially interviewed her on this show, via TV Toastmasters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFEVW_31CUo Yet I know the higher powers brought us together for a reason.

We’ve received phenomenal feedback from our work together. When teenagers are able to voice themselves powerfully, in front of their peers, they develop more self-confidence – a really big deal at that age. I haven’t forgotten!

Speak Up! workshops help students:

-Control their breath and posture to reduce anxiety and increase confidence

-Be mindful and identify authentic gifts and strengths

-Feel more comfortable speaking up and being heard

Katie and I bring the curriculum, energy and expertise while the teachers can take a break or participate.

It’s magic!

Please keep Speak Up! in mind for schools or women’s organizations you know.

I’m grateful you’re taking the time from your full day to read what I’ve written.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

I would totally recommend this class to my friends. It helped me relax and gave me confidence to do public speaking. -Jimena J.

This class helped me speak up with confidence. I think it’s good for your mind and self-esteem to do these exercises. -Emilee J.

Come back soon! -Trinity T.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)