Alabama Theater Birmingham early 1980s
Your Chances for College Theater Scholarships
One of my best friends is a senior in high school this year. She wants to go to Syracuse for a degree in music but isn’t quite sure about being able to fund her education. As a Texan who is coming from a middle class, white family, her qualms are not only justified but substantiated by past horror stories. Students who worked so hard in high school to get into prestigious colleges and universities that then aren’t able to pay the steep tuition prices for the brilliant schools that offered them admission is not an uncommon tale. Especially when pursuing a degree in the arts, scholarship opportunities are rare, and actually getting the money is even rarer.

So to answer the big question: What are my chances of getting a college theater scholarship? The answer is, quite simply, pretty frikin’ low. The chance of even getting a scholarship is pretty low, so I've compiled a list of some tips to boosting your chances of getting someone else to pay for part of your exorbitant tab.

TIP #1: Apply to as many scholarships as possible.
Just like you should apply to as many jobs or internships as you can within the appropriate window, you should apply to as many scholarships as possible. Make sure you are also applying to a range of scholarships, a few for large amounts of money and a few smaller ones. A lot of students will only apply to the ultra-competitive scholarships and won’t get any of them—making all that effort worth very little. The less well-known scholarships usually give you better chances of receiving them but the sum will probably be significantly less money. Play the game right, take your chances, but have a large back up net in case the big bucks don’t come in.

TIP #2: Do your research aka Google search till your fingers fall off.
There are plenty of scholarships that exist but are not on the big scholarship list websites. Those websites (like and other name brand lists) are good launching pads, and it’s a good idea to apply for less popular scholarships on those sites and look past the first couple pages of a Google search. Scholarships that are specific to theater will be harder to find but have less applicants, so do your research for the best results.

TIP #3: Stay passionate and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It’s easy to give up early and fast. Find something that is more fun to do than write an essay or send in a proposal… basically anything is more fun than writing an essay, I promise. Regardless, there is little else that is as important as writing an essay during your senior year. It is infinitely more difficult to get money off this dismal tab once you’ve actually started college or university. Most scholarships are geared towards high school seniors, so that six month period before they’re all due is your prime time. If you want to be a theater major, remember why, and get through those awful essays. It will be worth it.

Putting in the effort to apply to school is one thing. You feel the relief of an acceptance, and it’s hard to motivate yourself, having already finished tens of essays, to write more when it isn’t absolutely necessary. Remember that the reward will feel just as worth it, and even if your future isn’t contingent on this money it will make your future much easier. Now is the time to help your future self to stay out of debt as much as you can! So go ahead, research, plan, and stay passionate!

Photo Credit: Bahman Farzad

Water colors acuarela pintura paint
Can Blind People Create Art?
‘What is art?’ is a question often asked. The concept of art in itself is so artistically and beautifully abstract that instead of having a clear definition, it begs for questions and infinite answers. In truth, every individual possesses a different understanding of what art is composed of, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll just say art is a unique personal expression manifested in a physical form (i.e. a painting, sculpture). In a way, it would be accurate to say that art is a reflection of human observation and reaction- but what if you couldn’t observe everything that everyone else is observing? Many would gasp if they were told that blind individuals can create art, I mean, truthfully it’s a struggle to even attempt drawing a straight line while seeing it. Nevertheless, art is a force that surpasses obstacles, teaching us that when one of the senses is down, another steps up to the plate.

People say that when one loses one of the five senses, the four remaining become a thousand times more acute. Well, that’s how art for blind people works; because their sight is gone, these people rely solely on touch in order to paint and create masterpieces. Think of how the sightless visualize others, they touch their face don’t they? Although they can’t picture exactly how the object or person looks, they can use their touch to develop a sense of dimension and of shapes to create an outline of the bone structure and overall appearance. You’d be surprised at how similar certain aspects of drawings are between people with and without sight.

So, the answer is yes. The blind can in fact create art. However there are certain aspects to consider before you consider this to be magic- it is magic, don’t get me wrong, the unmeasurable hope, beauty, and empowerment that these artists and their art stand for is magical, but the fact that they can paint and sculpt is very believable. The bottom line is that most blind individuals aren’t born blind, which means that at some point they have been able to witness the world as it is, even if their sight was limited (this just means they focused more on lighting, shadowing and forms). With even just a slight sense of knowledge, the sightless can encounter a starting point for their creations. Furthermore, the vast advancements in technology the world has witnessed allow for the blind to experience and very accurately visualize paintings and symbols with the use of 3D. By getting their inspiration and guidelines from other artwork, these artists are able to mold their expressions into a physical form more smoothly and easily. Also, these fellas could totally attend an art class and absorb the audio; being blind doesn’t impair them from learning. Next time you’re in the mood for some art-seeing check out some pieces by professional blind artists, you’d be surprised at how vivid their pictures are.

Photo Credit: LoggaWiggler

Fender Dual 8 Professional Lap Steel Guitar.jpg Fender Dual 8 Professional Lap Steel Guitar ca.1952
Pedal Steel Guitar Lessons: What You Need to Know First
The pedal steel guitar originated from the steel guitar. Essentially this was the same set up as the aforementioned instrument except it did not include pedals that allowed for change in greater variation in key. This more rudimentary instrument came about some time in the late 19th century and was largely used in Hawaii. This instrument became more popular in the United States in the 20’s and 30’s. Since that time, the pedal steel guitar and its development as an instrument with the addition of pedals has helped in the progression of more modern country music and western swing and later jazz and blues.

The instrument looks sort of like the top half of a guitar laid on a table although the pedal steel guitar is not closely related to a guitar. Older pedal steel guitars had six strings, the more modern ones generally have ten but some have up to 14 strings. The tuning pegs are located at the end, each peg controls one string. Small rollers sit near the nut, helping to prevent strings from getting stuck if they are being raised or lowered. The strings sit much higher on the neck of a pedal steel guitar and its frets are painted on for intonation purposes for the musician but not utilized like a guitar’s frets. A bridge sits at the end of the neck on the right side of the instrument, helping to lift the strings off the neck. Another row of individual rollers also sits near the bridge, which roll according to the pedals and levers you’re pushing with your feet and/or knees. At the right end of the instrument, there is a pick-up that makes sound come out of the amp.

The right foot pedal is typically used to regulate the volume of the pedal steel guitar. The left foot usually utilizes one or more pedals that control key. Similarly, the knee levers can be positioned under the pedal steel guitar so that by moving your knee to the left, right, or up you can change the note or key that is played. The advantage, and in some cases disadvantage, of using the pedals and levers over the slider is that these pedals only affect one string at a time where as the slider, if perpendicular to the length of the string, changes the vibration length of all of the strings touched at once.

While your feet and or knees are pressing on pedals or levers, one hand will hold a solid metal slider. Most commonly this slider is a few inches long and made of steel but some artists will use bottles or combs for more rugged effects. Because the strings are so high on what is usually the fret board, the length of the instrument’s string vibrations are shortened or lengthened by the metal bar curtailing vibration to the left side of the slider. The hand that is not holding the slider will usually be plucking. Because of the rigidity of the strings, most musicians use a thumb pick and two to three finger picks to pluck the strings as either individual notes or chords that go along with what the slider is playing. These notes all vibrate creating noise down the string, reverberating to the pick-up so that this music plays out through its amp.

Ultimately, learning the pedal steel guitar can be a challenge. Getting used to the unique movements that are inherent to playing, can be difficult and discouraging. Regardless, this instrument is not only rare and particular, it provides a rewarding experience that is incomparable. For some beginner video lessons, visit this website.

Photo Credit: Drew Coffman original posted on Flickr

Man learning or playing Banjo
The Quickest Way to Learn Banjo Chords
The banjo is not a very old instrument, relatively speaking. The general design was laid down in colonial America by Africans, and it was modeled on other traditional African instruments. It usually has four or five strings, with one string being reserved as the 'drone' string. Banjos usually bring to mind country music and bluegrass, but it has been gaining some popularity in other musical genres. This is a good time for people who want to learn banjo chords and techniques, because a lot of information that was once fairly pricy is now available for much less or for free on the internet.

In addition to finding banjo teachers here on LRNGO, a quick search in a major search engine will turn up hundreds of sites designed to help you teach yourself to play the banjo in some way. In order to learn banjo chords, you will first need to learn how to read the notation that people use to write down chords. This can seem complicated, but there is a great guide on how to learn to do this on the Banjo Ben website. This is a completely free website with tons of information on banjos, especially for beginners. This site also offers advice on how to buy your first banjo, how to tune it, hold it, and how to use fingerpicks. There are also many resources to help you learn banjo songs, such as 'Cripple Creek' and 'Rocky Top.'

Other sites require a membership or fees for their instruction. Banjo Teacher is such a site. This site offers dozens of products for people who want to learn banjo songs, chords, and technique. There is a special package for beginning players that includes a book, audio CDs, and a DVD. This package contains very detailed instructions for everything a beginner will need to know.

There are also many other deals for more advanced players, such as guides and techniques to build up your playing speed or accuracy. Particularly useful are the song books with accompanying CDs and DVDs. There many of these books with hundreds of songs. They include detailed instructions on how to play the songs, as well as audio CDs with the songs on them. Some of these packages include a DVD that shows exactly what the hands are doing as the song is played.

A great free resource for people who want to learn banjo is YouTube. People love to upload videos of themselves playing music, and the banjo players are no exception. You can find videos of people playing almost anything you can imagine, and it can really broaden your musical horizons to do a bit of video exploring. There are even people out there who offer banjo lessons completely for free.

Learning a musical instrument is usually a difficult process, but the rewards can be great. If you want to learn banjo chords, songs, and technique, the internet is a great place to go but don't neglect your local music shops. There are usually people there who can help out new players. There is only one simple rule for aspiring musicians – practice!

Photo Credit: Alan Levine

Filming movie with aspiring actress and sunset
How to be an Actress – The Path to Stardom
The path to stardom is much sought after as aspiring actresses hope to become celebrities someday. While this may be a bit ambitious, if they apply themselves in learning how to be an actress, the chance for stardom could be theirs.

Acting school is a good place to start. Many instructors are celebrities themselves, with much experience to impart. There are various places that teach the performing arts. Many high schools have classes that instruct in how to be an actress, and then progress on to college and university programs. Many of the celebrities that we know and love today were once students in these acting classes. In fact, it is generally the case that stars are not accidentally formed, but deliberately created.

While many envy the lifestyle of celebrities, most do not fully comprehend the amount of work and diligence that was invested in earning that status. To learn how to be an actress, one must be willing to get in touch with their emotions in order to be able to pull off a convincing performance. You must learn to be comfortable in front of a crowd, or a camera. You must be able to have your work picked apart, and critiqued repeatedly.

The celebrities that are known for their skill and talent, as opposed to their looks or sex appeal, are usually also known for their discipline, diligence and ability to work hard, and then harder, to achieve memorable performances.

The often unheard of forces behind the success of many celebrities are their acting coaches and instructors. Those serious about learning how to act should find themselves an acting coach that can work with them, perfecting their skills and preparing them for future opportunities.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Kos-Read

Popular User Posts