Tuneful Tuesday Week 11: “Watch Duet” memorization dance party

In two days I leave to teach a Yoga For Singers courses and perform with the Redwoods Opera Workshop. It is such a blessing to learn from and be inspired by an amazing faculty and to work with such talented singers each summer. Unfortunately, the program always begins just a few days after my voice studio has its end of the year recital performance, so my own personal practice and memorization time is always severely limited…… that’s why this crazy dance party is absolutely necessary. 

I actually learned this technique from a yogi who was working on perfecting her dristi “focus” in balance postures. She would perform the poses while her friends ran around trying to distract her. The point is, if she could maintain her focus through that, she could handle anything. I started taking this idea into my own vocal practice when attempting to memorize quickly. I would stare at myself in the mirror acting as ridiculous as possible and constantly trying to distract myself. If I can keep the words in my head while dancing around the room, then those words are going to be seriously locked in there. It sounds nuts, but it works! It gets me out of “thinking” mode and into muscle memory mode, which is where the real memorization happens. Plus, it’s fun to dance around like no one is watching…. well, except you are watching. Ah well. Enjoy my ridiculousness and try it yourself. It’s fun! 

A big thank you to this video of the Watch Duet I found on YouTube to sing along with. In the middle the Rosalinda makes a few sounds which are interesting…… but that way you could hear how the two parts of the duet go together.

Tuneful Tuesday Week 10: I Can Sing A Song

This Sunday my vocal studio has their annual recital. 25 of my students, of various ages, styles, and levels, will take the stage to share their progress and their love of music with the community. As their instructor, I am both excited and nervous for them. Performing is such an intense experience. When you’re successful, it can lift you up and make you realize you have a strength and courage that you never thought possible. However, if you’re performance is not as successful as you’d like, it can break you down, make you feel inadequate, and make it difficult to keep the drive to move forward. This week, I am doing everything in my power to prepare my students both technically and emotionally so that they’ll enjoy the process and continue to love singing. In honor of their performance, here’s a silly song I wrote to help my youngest students remember the meanings of various musical terms. Can you figure them all out?

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Tuneful Tuesday Week 8: A Little Bit In Love

This piece is so adorable. I always find myself humming it for no apparent reason…. maybe it’s because the piece starts out with a hum. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to get this song out of my head. To that end, I hope the catchy tune doesn’t get caught in yours. If it does, you can blame me. Or maybe you should blame the fact that you’re a little bit in love. 😉

A Little Bit In Love

Tuneful Tuesday Week 7: Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man

Showboat was one of the first musical theatre productions I ever saw… which is ironic since it was one of the first musical theatre shows ever to be produced. “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is one of those pieces which gets under your skin and sticks with you for a lifetime. I have loved it ever since that first hearing; and I will likely love it for the rest of my life. 

Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man

The Technology Generation

Recently, I have read a lot of criticism of children growing up in the midst of the technological revolution. Burying their faces in their phones, e-readers, and iPads, this generation has always had a wealth of information at their fingertips. While many say that growing up with technology impedes creativity, imagination, focus, memory, mindfulness, and the like, I disagree. If used correctly, this coming generation has so many doors opened to them. They have the tools to record albums, direct movies, take photographs, write novels, and research to their heart’s content. They have unlimited resources available in the palm of their hands. In my voice studio and the opera camps I run each year, I still see unbelievable imaginations, unwavering courage, and mindfulness. Each child has their own personality and unique approach to life. While I have had to ask several students to put their phones down, once they do, they shine as performers, singers, and human beings. 

Just today, one of my new piano students was frustrated, worried, and becoming flustered on a specific fingering. Suddenly, she closed her eyes, crossed her legs on the piano bench, and uttered a hum to herself. Opening her eyes, she played the line seemlessly. It was beautiful to see this young girl able to harness her focus, soothe her mind, and find success. Her face lit up with joy at her own ability to be fully present in her music-making. Rather than being flighty, giving up, or letting frustration get the better of her, she persevered and changed her mind-body relationship for the better. We then used her phone’s recording device to track her progress and provide her with instant feedback. The beaming smile she offered me after hearing herself play was the bright spot of my day.

Technology is here to stay. Children today have never known life without Internet or instant messaging. But, if we can teach them how to use these devices creatively, efficiently, and as an extension of their own mental abilities, we won’t be raising a generation of technology zombies, but instead a group of well-informed, well-rounded, and successful children. The choice is ours.  

 #detoxyobody challenge day 30: utkatasana/chair pose. Take a seat and stay for awhile. Life is so much better when lived in color. 

Why I Write

This morning I checked my emails as always–deleting the spam, flagging messages I’ll need to respond to, making sure no students had emailed me–and I came across a gem of an email from a fellow classical singer who had just stumbled upon an article I wrote for Classical Singer Magazine 4 years ago entitled Why I Sing
This article, written at a time when I had no job prospects, no performances, and no auditions on the horizon, was a reality check for me. I asked myself the question of “why do I sing?” but what I really meant was “why should I keep singing” …and the explosion of words poured straight out of my soul in a matter of minutes. I felt like a little Jiminy Cricket was on my shoulder whispering the words to me. Now that I am more settled into my voice, my many careers, and my life, these words still live in a place of honor at my voice studio for those days when I need a change of perspective and a little reminder of exactly why I spend hours each day practicing, why I drive 8 hours a week for voice lessons, why I use all of my vacation time to perform in music festivals, and why I sing.
Last night, I was having a similar crossroads moment with my writing. After a 12 hour day of work, the last thing I wanted to do was write yet another blog post. I made a resolution to write more frequently, but my excitement was waning and, frankly, I just wanted to sleep. I wondered if anyone even read or cared about what I wrote. Was it even worth my time and mental capacity to formulate yet another post and try to make it interesting and worth reading? But, I did it. I wrote another post. Maybe it wasn’t my best, most introspective post ever, but I kept my resolution.
Then this morning an email brought me these words from a complete stranger:
“…I was purging some of the older back issues of magazines that I might not need any longer. You will hopefully be happy to know that your contribution to the December 2010 issue of Classical Singer was the only thing that I kept- I recycled the rest…I really want to thank you for sharing what you wrote for the singer community and thank you for being so honest and for writing with such positivity! It has helped me to remember why I sing (after a lot of rejection in general), and I cannot thank you enough for reinstilling in me the joy of singing and the knowledge that I really do use it as you said in your article- ‘When I get depressed, happy, tired, exhausted, excited, silly or any extreme of emotion, I turn to music to bring me back to homeostasis. Music keeps me centered. Music keeps me grounded. Music clears my mind and gives me a vacation, albeit a brief one, from real life.'”
Her kind words came just when I needed them the most: when I was questioning the worth of my writing. While my readership may be small, if I even help one person change their thoughts and see life differently, then the time and energy was well spent. This is why I write. This is why I will keep writing.

Thank you to all of my readers for inspiring me daily! Keep reading, keep sharing, and keep growing this beautiful community of musicians, athletes, and life-livers.

#bestrongin2015 yoga challenge: headstand. What does the world look like from upside down? Sometimes you just have to change your perspective to see the worth of your life and your work…

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