Friday, December 27, 2013

Do You Have Some Down Time in Between the Holidays? What Can You Do to Make 2014 a Successful Singing Year?

The holidays are in full swing and maybe you have a little time off from school or work before the New Year.  What can you do to line up 2014 to be YOUR most successful singing year?

1. Establish Goals- Do you want to audition for the next play, solo in a concert, a scholarship for college?
*  Map out a timeline of what needs to get done to achieve that goal.

2. Figure out WHEN you really are going to practice!
* Write it in your calendar now!

3.  Stay Healthy and Take Care of Yourself!

*  Drink lots of water, eat well, sleep at least 8 hours a night, steer clear of those who are sick around you, take a few minutes for yourself everyday.
*  If you have some time off, now is a good time to establish a routine before life gears up again.  Try a  schedule a few days before the end of your break that you think will work once school begins again.   Can  you can stick with it for a few days?  Do you need to tweak it a little bit?

Whether you believe in make New Year's Resolutions or not, now is a time to take a few moment and reflect on what you want 2014 to be like for you!  Take control of the reins and make successful singing one of them!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Happy Holidays and Enjoy the Music of the Season! Stay Healthy and Happy!

Happy Holidays to All!  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or just enjoy Santa Claus, 'tis the season of joy and happiness!  I hope you take the time to enjoy all the wonders of the season.

Take a moment and forget about the stresses of shopping, decorating, cooking, party going, and think about your favorite moments of this holiday season......What are they?

Mine are definitely the music of the season from the concerts I sing in, attend, or hear on the radio, followed by baking cookies with the kids, and seeing the Christmas tree lit up at night.   There are so many warm moments with family and friends that remind us of how lucky we are to have them and all of the comforts they bring us.

I am promising myself this year to take a moment every day to enjoy the wonders of the season.  Just to observe them from the back seat or sing my favorite Christmas song or play some carols on the piano because I feel like it.  It helps to enjoy the season and keep happiness around us.  What can you do to keep the holiday spirit?

Share the beauty of the season from your perspective with another today.  Share a gift that was given to you as a person.  Whether it be through music, baking, making a craft for someone, or just sharing a hug, give to someone else.  You will receive warmth back for your kindness and feel good because of it.  In the spirit of the season of these holidays, we remember and celebrate many things.  Most of all, make it love, friendship, and peace.

Happy Holidays to All and Best Wishes for a Happy, Healthy 2014!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Auditions- You Got It! Now What Do You Do to Make Sure You are Re-Cast or Re-Hired in the Future?

Success, you scream inside!  You made it and aced that audition!  Now what?  How do you conduct yourself?  What should you know and what should you do to make sure that you are reconsidered for the future?  No matter if you are in the high school musical, an opera in graduate school, a show on Broadway, or at a major opera house, these things can help you make sure you make a positive impression on the directors and make a positive contribution to the production!

1.  Be a TEAM player.  Know the production or show is more than just you and your part!  How do you fit into the whole?  You are a part of the success, but not the whole.

2.  Do your homework!  Mark your score or libretto and know your part inside and out before the first rehearsal if the music is provided to you before then.

3. Research the historical setting, source of the music, and character you are playing if applicable.  What is stylistically appropriate?

4.  Rehearsal is give and take.  Give your all and the coach, director, and choreographer give back to you!  It is an exchange of artistic talents.

5.  Be professional and courteous at all times.  Save any negative thoughts for another time or place, they will get you nowhere.

6.  Listen, be open to, and follow direction.  It is good to express opinion, but wait until after trying it how you are directed.

7.  Learn those directions and know it for the next rehearsal.  Prepare, prepare!

8.  Stay focused and stay healthy!  Take care of yourself through the rehearsal schedule.  Get lots of sleep, drink water, wash your hands, stay away from those who are ill.  A HEALTHY singer is a happy performer!

9.  Stay in tune with other art forms and what is going on in the industry and arts world.  This helps you to have realistic expectations and grounds you to understand the artistic world.  Doesn't hurt that it helps you have good conversation!

10.  Have fun!  Remember the reason you auditioned in the first place, you love to sing!

Reference Sources:  and Missing the Grade by J. Brittingham

Friday, December 6, 2013

Preparation for the audition, but now what do you do once you get there?

Prepare, prepare for the audition, and now you are at the audition site.  What can you expect? What do you do?  Be prepared for ANYTHING!  All auditions are different, but some staples apply to all.  'Roll with the punches' and be courteous to all involved with the process.  Here are some specific things you can do:

1. Warm-up your voice before you go to the audition.
 *Take time to warm-up at home or if you have a long drive, on the drive to the audition site.

2. Be flexible!  Whatever they say goes, just follow directions with a smile!

3. Get to the audition a little early, but be prepared to wait.
 * It is essential to be on time, so give yourself a little extra time to get there.  You may end up waiting, but show that you are responsible.
 * Warm-up a little more in the bathroom and start your song (it is very likely this is the only place there is to warm-up.  If you are blessed with a warm-up room, use it wisely and don't over-practice!)
 * Don't talk to much while you wait- why waste your valuable singing voice?

4.  Enter the audition room with a smile and acknowledge the judges and accompanist.
 *If you are using on the house accompanist, take a moment to speak with them about any specifics in your selection.  If it is an audition with only one selection to be sung, still acknowledge the  accompanist.
 * Say hello to the judges and announce who you are.  Also clearly state what you will be singing clearly (unless there is only one selection to be sung).

5.  Be prepared for any reaction or no reaction from the judges.
 * Wait for them to tell you they are ready, but do not let the reaction affect you ('This is my least favorite aria'-  it is very unprofessional, but it happens.)  Smile and continue on!

6.  Find your focus in the room before you sing.
 * Mentally prepare yourself to be in character or emotion of what you are about to sing.
 * Find a focus point in the room slightly above or to one side of judges heads (just not their faces!)

7.  Give it your best shot!  Break a Leg!
 * Sing your selection how you know it best.  Do not depend on the accompanist to guide you , but do not ignore what they are doing either!  Go with your gut!

8. Wait for judges to dismiss you.  Thank the judges and gracefully leave.
 * No matter what happens, don't let them see that you are upset or unhappy with how you did.  Save it for  outside of the room.  They want to know that you are a joy to work with not a drama queen/king!

All in all, conduct yourself in a professional and respectful manner.  Deal with the pitfalls afterwards.  Wait for the results.  If you are not happy with them or want to know more, make a polite phone call or email inquiry to find out how you might be able to improve your audition to better your chances next time.  Most judges/directors will give you feedback that you can learn from to increase your chances of success!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Auditions- What else do you need to know besides your part?

Auditions are such a large part of our world as musicians.  How do you know you are auditioning for the right things and that you will be successful at your next audition?

First of all, do your homework.  Make sure you know the demands of the role for which you are auditioning. Is it a soprano role but you are an alto? If so, it may not be the best fit.  To maximize your chances, make sure you are auditioning for the appropriate role.

What are the requirements of the opera house, theater, or school.  Is it a paid or volunteer job?  What is the length of the rehearsal run and run of the show?  Can you commit to those times and does it fit into your world?

On the flip side, if it is a college audition, can you minor in music as well or only major?  Do they have a Voice Major and a Musical Theater Major?  Plan your audition material appropriately.

Secondly, know how your audition material fits into the whole.  What is the role that you are auditioning for?  Are you the sweet soprano who falls in love with the mischievous villain?   Are you the joker of the cast?  Research your role and how it should be played.  Apply it to your audition material.

Know the history behind the opera or musical you are auditioning for.  What era was it written in so what is stylistically appropriate?

Thirdly,  prepare the audition selection with that knowledge and apply it to how you sing all of those correct pitches and rhythms.  Communicate the song.  Show the emotion of the song or act out the scene a little bit to show that you don't just stand still and sing in German and have no clue what you are saying.  Singing is a means of communication no matter what language you are singing in.

Lastly, be prepared for anything and be courteous and polite to all of those at the audition:  those who check in the singers to audition, the judges, and fellow auditioners.  A little kindness goes a long way!

Stay tuned next week for what to do when you actually GET to the audition site!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Auditions, Auditions, Auditions Abound! What can you do to prepare?

Auditions, Auditions, Auditions Abound!

Ah,’ tis the season of auditions all around!  It seems at every corner I turn, there is another student asking for help with an audition.  Some are right around the corner and some a few months away.  How do you prepare?  What do you need to do to really make an impact at that audition?  Although the type and format of auditions can vary greatly, there are a few things that you can always do to prepare for any audition.

1. Find out all of the information that you can about the audition as soon as possible.    Auditions vary greatly for different things, so don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions.

-    Do you need to prepare a certain song for each role you are auditioning for?
-    Do you need to prepare 32 measures of a song of your choice?
-    Do you need to have more than one selection prepared (one English, one Italian, one musical theater song)
-    Is there a sight-singing, monologue or dance component to the audition?

       2. Once you know the requirements for the audition, take them to your teacher and        PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!

-   Learn all the notes and rhythms so you can sing it backwards and forwards
-   Research the text and look at it separate from the music.  Analyze the poem so you know what you are saying or research the opera or musical theater production so you know the character and what is happening with them when the song is sung
-   Add inflection and acting to the song.  Communicate with the audience.

    3. Work on the audition selections with your teacher numerous times. 

                         - Getting suggestions and corrections from your teacher will help you 
                             perfect it
                         - Work on diction, accuracy, and delivery of the audition selection

      4. Sing the audition material for your family, significant other, or members of 
       your studio.

                          - Singing in front of others will help you be more comfortable
                          - You can learn to control your nerves and your voices’ response to if 
                           you do get nervous
  - Getting feedback from multiple sources will help you to know if you are   really communicating the meaning of the piece
       5. Practice and prepare in the shoes and hairstyle that you will use for the 

                            -Shoes affect your posture and in turn how you are breathing
                            -Hair should be worn so that it does not fall in your face while singing, 
                            a distraction to both you and the audition panel

By doing all of these things you are arming yourself with the best thing you can going into an audition: CONFIDENCE in your product and yourself!  If you perform with confidence, you give the audition your best shot! You also minimize the chances of feeling like your nerves got the best of you.  With confidence and preparation you increase your chances of success! Break a leg in that next audition and stay tuned for more tips on acing that next audition!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

There are so many ways to practice, but can you practice singing with your mouth shut?

Can you successfully practice singing with your mouth shut?  ABSOLUTELY, many singers say.  All singers sometimes need to practice without actually singing due to illness, travel, being in a confined space when they really need to practice, preparing for a performance with a napping toddler in the house.  But according to Dean Southern in Practicing With Your Mouth Shut, we should make it a part of our regular practicing!  I agree with him 100%!!! There is no better way to really get the music in our systems then to think through it, research it, speak it, act it out, and live it!  Do not underestimate the power and efficiency of "mental practice"!

"The length of time that one can spend singing varies greatly from person to person and is dependent on a myriad of factors," Dean Southern states.  Every BODY and VOICE is different.  Throughout history, many great professional singers state that they spend just as much if not more time mentally practicing than physically practicing singing. Mary Garden, Debussy's Melisandre of the 19th century said she "sings it over mentally time and time again, studying harmony, phrasing, and breath so that I know it inside and out when the time comes to sing it."  Another great dramatic soprano of today, Christine Brewer, balances her practice between singing and study of the score and translation.

It makes complete sense to spend just as much time with the text of a song or role as one spends with the melody and rhythm.  When you really KNOW what you are saying, the phrasing falls in to place easier and you are truly communicating the song.  You absolutely need to spend time vocalizing and knowing how to sing the phrases with proper technique, but you also can accomplish so much by score and text study!

Gyorgy Sandor, a great piano pedagogue, states in practice we can "go through the motion mentally and the sequence becomes automatic: there are no wrong notes, no fear of a section, and we (sing) play with feeling".

Dean Southern further expands that when mentally practicing, we use our conscious mind to do 5 important things: Align our Body, Breathe, Relax the Jaw, Control the Tongue, and Work on Our Stage Presence.  Nothing can physically get in our way as we are not producing sound, but focusing our minds and bodies and imagining the sound, phrases, pitches, everything happening!  If you hear it correctly in your head when mentally practicing, then when you DO sing it, it will be well-rehearsed and beautiful.

Mental practice is "intelligent, effective, and efficient practice" which is a true bonus and compliment but not a substitute for physical practice.  Add some mental practice to your weekly practice sessions and see the difference!  Happy Singing!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How to Make Practice Less Frustrating - Use the 5 Whys Technique.

Make Practice Less Frustrating with the 5 Whys Technique.

A few days ago, I was writing articles on the best ways to practice and came across this wonderful technique.  While it is applicable specifically to musical study and practice, it also shows us how using the Why Technique can help in our business and work world as well.  Please click and view this link before continuing:

So, the 5 Why’s give us many avenues to explore to make our practice less frustrating!  Identifying WHY the problem occurs and working from there to solve it.  It is like a science experiment and exciting to figure it out.   “When you are practicing, there is something you are doing (or not doing) that produces the undesirable result you are getting”.  Don’t just do it again, figure out how to fix it!

Here is an example of how it goes in a practice session:

-Sing through your piece and isolate a tough spot. Why did the phrase not sound the way we wanted it to? Take a moment to think about it and trouble shoot to find the solution. 

-Are you unsure of the right note to sing? Review the pitch and try it again. Did it not fix the problem?  Why?

-If you now know the right note, do you know when to come in?  Review that and sing it again. Still not right?  Why?

-If you know the note and when to come in, are you sure of the rhythm of the whole phrase?  Check it, clap it, and do it again. Is it still not right?  Why?

-Are you taking a good breath before the phrase? Check your breath. Sing it again. Is it slightly better?  Hopefully, yes, but still not how you want it?  Again ask Why?

-How is your posture?  It that affecting your sound?  Find your good singing posture and sing it again. Was it vastly improved?  I hope the answer is yes!

If so, you successfully used the 5 Why Technique to solve a problem in practicing your repertoire.  This is a much better way to work something out in your practice time than just repeating the same mistakes or getting frustrated.  This technique can be used in many aspects of your life.  Try it out the next time you practice and share the results with your teacher!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What is the best way to practice? How do you make the most of your practice time?

How Do I Know I Am Making the Most of  My Practice Time?  

There are so many ways to practice, what is the best way to make sure you are prepared for your lessons and progressing at a good pace?  Here are the top 6 things you can do to maximize your practice time.

1. Practice in a clearly defined practice space.

*   Set up a place to practice and do not leave it.  Once you have started practicing, do not answer your phone, text, talk to anyone.  It is your private singing and practice time; stay on task.

2. Practice what your teacher gives you.

* Voice teachers craft warm-ups (vocalise) for a reason. Start practice with the warm-ups from your previous lessons as well as a few favorites you know warm up your voice well.  THEN move on to your repertoire.

3. Practice songs focusing on what your teacher recommended in your lesson in addition to learning new pitches.

* In your lesson, pinpoint 2 or 3 things you should work on during the week in practice.  Put it into your own words.  i.e. Breath Control (use your laughing muscles) and Breathe only where you have breath marks!  You can do this with your teacher in every lesson.

4. Pay active attention to your voice in the moment. 

* Make a note of it in both your warm-ups and repertoire.  Write down questions for your teacher to take to your next lesson.

5. Ask yourself WHY if things are not going the way you want them to in practice. 

* Target the tough areas.  (See details for this process next week!)

6. Sing a "Cool Down" for your voice.

* Sing a song that is well set in your voice.  This way you 'warm-down' and know if your practice of the day follows good technique for your vocal development.  It is always fun to end your practice time by just singing something you love!

Remember:  The more active your brain is when practicing, the more you will get out of your practice time and the quicker you will obtain your singing goals!  

Tune in next week for how to have a more successful practice session and target trouble spots in practicing using the "Why" Technique.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Practicing for Singing Involves 3 Main Components: Warm Ups, Text Study, and Repertoire

There are 3 main things that one should work on in each practice session:

1. Warm Ups
2. Text Study
3. Repertoire

(In my studio, we also practice prepared sight singing to help my young students learn how to truly read the music on their own.  After years of study, this may be dropped, but it is essential to learning to teach oneself the notes and rhythms of                                                                        repertoire). 

Warm ups should be thoughtful and productive

Start with a few basic stretches and relaxation exercises. Then practice the warm ups given to you in your last lesson.  They were selected by your teacher to work on technical things.  If one is tough, it is the one that needs to be worked on the most.  Switch them up a little bit so each session is a little different.
“The aim of vocal exercises is to warm up the voice and free the sound of tension so that the rest of your practice is productive.”  MichelleLatour, Classical Singer September 2013.

Study the text of your repertoire SEPARATE from the music

Speak the poem of your song so that you understand what it is saying.  Work on pronunciation if it is in a different language.  Research the poem, time period of the composition.  Speak it in the rhythm of the repertoire.  This makes it easier to put together with the music.  We often skip this step, but it is so important!

Work on the Music
Star t with something familiar so that you know your technique is strong.  (Sing a song that you have been working on first).  Isolate a particular aspect of the song to work on that day.  Maybe you know it well enough to “act it out”.

After you have song something familiar, move on to newer repertoire.  Break it down one part at a time.  Work on the rhythm first.  Then add the pitches on a nonsense syllable.  Finally move on to sing the words and melody together. 

If you approach practice as an experiment, you explore how and why you sing it the best way!  How do you further plan out your practice sessions?  Look next week for specific tips to fine tune it!

Ideas are self generated and in concurrence with Michelle Latour.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Practice makes Perfect and Practice Makes Permanent- How to get in that Practice Time!

How do you find time to practice in the full swing of things?  There are exams to study for, homework to do, other activities, sleep and work or school classes.  Scheduling practice time is essential to quality practice.

-MAKE the time!  Schedule it into your planner.  Put it in your mental and physical to do lists!

-WRITE IT DOWN EVERYDAY. Make it a priority that you will enjoy.

- Make PRACTICE a BREAK from other things.

        ** If you know you want to study for your math test for 2 hours, schedule a 1 hour study session. PRACTICE as a BREAK and then go back to your homework.

        ** Do your English homework and then PRACTICE before going to soccer.

        ** PRACTICE while you are waiting for mom to take you to an activity

        ** Mentally PRACTICE on the long bus ride or before you go to sleep
        (this helps with MEMORIZING music)

Figure out how it works best into your schedule and your lifestyle.  Does it relax you and serve as a wind down to the day? Does it get your brain working better and spawn good studying?  This will tell you when it will be the most productive for you.  Once you figure that out, schedule it at the SAME TIME and SAME LOCATION.  Using practice sessions in this way help you to manage your time.

Scheduling practice time gives you the MOTIVATION to do it.  Set GOALS and a plan of action for each practice session to maximize your practice time.  Now that you have time blocked out to practice, find out how to make the MOST of that PRACTICE time in next week's blog and  in "Practice Makes Perfect" by Michelle Latour in Classical Singer September 2013.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In the Height of FALL, how do you take care of your singing voice and yourself?

Allergies (UGH!), Stress (How am I going to find time to study?), and Lack of Sleep start to catch up with us this time of year.  Fall activities are in full swing right now and you are feeling the pressures of all of the aspects of life.  The leaves are falling making your allergies act up.  We have less daylight hours, so we want to start to hibernate and be less active. We are stressed about tests and getting things done.  What are the most important things that you can do right now to take care of YOURSELF and YOUR SINGING VOICE?

10 Top Things to Take Care of Yourself and Your Singing Voice 
1.       Good Hygiene- Wash your hands and don't touch your face

2.       Drink 8-10 glasses of water (or non-caffeinated beverage) a day

3.      SLEEP  at least 8 hours every night!

4.       Exercise 3-5 times a week to keep up your immune system 

5.       Reduce Medicines - Use nasal saline spray first, medicines last

6.       Sing Well - good posture, breath support, and sing in correct range       

7.       Speak Well Support your speech as if you are singing, minimize talking, don’t
          yell over loud noise!

8.       Practice Everything in Moderation (Singing and Speaking and Activity Level)

9.       Pay attention to your body signals.  If it doesn't feel good, don't do it!  

10.   Find time for a little relaxation and de-stressing time!

     Your body knows what it is saying.  If you take care of it and listen to it, you can make it through the allergies and stress and not get sick thus preserving your wonderful singing voice!  Keep singing! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Glee and A Capella Phenomenon

Are you a GLEEK?  Can you not wait for the show to return?  Do you like singing with many other voices? Why is the a capella/live singing and dancing such a phenomenon?  It is of course fun to follow the drama of the high school life I admit, but how about the music?  Are you very interested in this style of singing?  Why not? What a great way to share music with the world.  Here are a few other reasons why:

1.  It looks like such fun!  Singing and dancing with friends!

2.  The music making is fabulous and fun!

3. Creating music with your own instrument, your voice is a GREAT feeling.

4. You can let the power of the MUSIC transport you away from any of the bad stuff in life.

5.  The camaraderie of friendships built while making music are very strong!

A cappella groups/ GLEE modeled groups are becoming quite a trend in high schools and colleges.  College a capella groups have existed for many years and for those who participate, quite memorable.  Performing for your own school, travelling to other schools to perform, finding new ways to make new sounds with your voice.  Harmonizing perfectly in tune with other people.  It is all good stuff and creates lasting friendships and memories.

There are a few precautions from the voice teacher side:

- It is not a simple process.   (The show makes it look like it is that easy, but those actors and actresses do practice and work hard to be able to do all of those songs).

- It DOES take time, work, and practice to get a great product.

- It takes dedication to practicing by yourself and with others.

-LISTEN to your body and what it is telling you.  Pay attention to it's signals.  Does it feel good to be the percussion part or does it hurt your voice?  Does it feel good to sing that low or should you be doing a higher part?

- MOST groups of this style do NOT have a band backing them up like in the television show.  Most of the time, it is the other musicians imitating instruments with their voices, hence the term a cappella (voices alone without instrumental accompaniment)

Is it a good thing to sing in such a group?  ABSOLUTELY!  Just have fun, create music, and listen to your body! So glad that many of our youth are continuing to foster this style of singing group.  If you love it in high school, find a place to do it in your college years too.  Happy Singing!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Benefits of Individual Support in Voice Lessons

Why are singing lessons so influential to our singing? Obviously we are working on technique to improve in a one on one situation, but it can be so much more.  By focusing on yourself, your instrument, we tap into so many other things that make your singing beautiful and unique.  

We study an instrument to fulfill a passion and to perfect a craft. We love music and want to share that love with others. A singing teacher gives you the tools to get there, achieve your goals, and instill the drive to get you there. Together a student and voice teacher find the path to where each student is meant to be as a singer, but the student must follow through on the task. The nuts and bolts of a solid technique are provided and much repertoire is studied. Working within a studio gives a student individual support and interaction with others who are focused on fine tuning their own singing voice. 

Through this type of work, you become very in tune with your whole body and soul.  You are working with your body as your instrument.  The unique connection between the muscle memory you learn and sound of what you can do with the instrument given to you is phenomenal.  Through this exploration of the connection of body and voice, you also connect to your mind.  You build your skills and confidence in them.  This changes you as an individual as you gain more poise and pride in yourself.  What a great way to not only improve your singing voice, but build the confidence to sing or do anything you set your mind to!  Singing lessons can be so much more than singing alone.

Up next, why is singing (and music) so important to the development of our tweens and teens?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WHY and WHEN should I take singing lessons? Fall is a great time to start!

Think about it.  Why do you sing?  Why does your daughter, brother, sister, mom sing?  It is something they enjoy and often something they simply have a desire and love to do (and do better)? This is why we take singing lessons.

What better time to start a journey towards singing better than when school kicks off into full gear? Students are back in the swing of things and establish new goals for the year.  Auditions are coming up for the fall musical or they want to prepare ahead for those auditions in the winter.  Juniors and Seniors realize they want to major in MUSIC in college- time to start preparing and get serious about audition literature.
Adults, the lazy days of summer are done and you may find new time to yourself to foster a love of singing while the kids are in school or are new to the business world and craving some fresh education.  The network shows such as Smash, Nashville, The Voice, American Idol, and Glee are about to begin which give many the ‘bug’ to sing.  Why not try it out?

Why should you take voice lessons in a private voice studio?  Can’t everyone sing? 

Almost anyone can learn to sing, but most people don’t use their voices to their full potential. Voice lessons teach singers how to control their breath and find vocal resonance to create a fuller, healthier, and more beautiful sound. Lessons also teach general musical skills and build more confident singers.  
The average singing student needs weekly guidance to establish a solid technique. 

Should I take voice lessons with a teacher or can I really learn to sing from an online program or DVD? 

Every voice and every person is different and responds differently to technique. Learning to sing demands a personal touch and ears and eyes outside of oneself. With the guidance of a live teacher, you will get direct response to what is actually heard and seen by others, not just what you hear inside your head. A live teacher can also help you explore to find what repertoire and vocal range actually suits your voice best.   In a voice studio, you get one on one teaching in addition to camaraderie with other students through masterclasses and recitals.

What we hear while we’re singing just isn’t true, so we are always dependent on someone we trust to take the role of our ‘outside ears’. Renee Fleming 
In a private voice studio, the student not only gets access to a voice teacher and vocal coach, but to the camaraderie of belonging to a group of people who enjoy singing.  Most voice studios provide opportunities to perform musical repertoire one or two times a year.  Some also give the opportunity to work on the repertoire in front of and with others in the studio (please see more information on my studio at  With more opportunities to share music with others, a student has a higher drive to perfect the craft of singing, builds a higher confidence level in their singing and themselves, and the better music we create!  Start singing lessons somewhere today and  become the best singer you can be!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What do YOU like the most about singing lessons? A Q and A with students!

There are always on-going questions in a singing teacher's mind about his or her students.  Mine are: What is your favorite part of taking singing lessons?  and How had taking singing lessons changed your goals for singing or how you think about singing?   I thought I would poll a random number of my students (various ages and ability levels) to find out the answers!

What is your favorite part of taking singing lessons?  

-My favorite part of singing lessons is working on songs, and making break throughs with my technique.

-Improving in general

-Learning new songs (from musicals) that I do not know

-Extending my vocal range

 How has taking singing lessons changed your goals for singing or how you think about singing?

-I’m now more aware of using support in singing and keeping vowels open

-I feel more confident going into an audition because I always feel prepared

-**Singing isn’t something you are super-focused on when performing, it is more of a state of mind that lets the music carry you!

-Lessons have showed me that learning to sing is an activity that requires learning many different pieces of technique and then putting them all together once you have committed them to (muscle) memory. 

Just as each singing voice is it's own unique instrument, the value of voice lesson to each singer is distinct and wonderful!  What you may already know well, may be brand new to someone else.  Singing lessons enhance your voice, mind, and body.  What do you like the most about singing lessons or teaching?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What is the BEST thing about performing in a recital?

There are many opportunities to sing and share your gift with others when taking voice lessons.  You audition for various things:  roles in the musical, solos in a concert, an opportunity to sing in a more select chorus. However, one of the MOST valuable experiences though is performing in the Voice Studio Recital!  Why?

-You are sharing your vocal gift with your family and friends and with others who are working on their voices the same way that you are.

- It is generally a smaller venue than a school concert, musical, or public show! It helps you to work out those butterflies in your stomach. The more you perform, the more comfortable you become with singing in front of others and communicating your song!

-You get to know other students in your studio!  What is better than having like-minded friends?

-You are exposed to more music; the music that others are singing.  You may find a style of music you never knew you liked before OR a particular song you would like to sing.

- Preparation to perform in a recital is valuable.  You work on really fine tuning a song from the pitches and rhythms to the nuances of phrases to communicating the meaning of the song to the audience.  You PERFECT the piece (s) to share with others.

- Now, you also have a song that you can use for an audition and be very comfortable because you have already performed it!

- You get to share your love of music, a part of your heart. 

Performing in a recital is not always the end goal as many students (especially adults) want to work on improving their voice for themselves and they purely enjoy singing and the process.  Everyone is at a different place with their singing and comfort level.  Once a student obtains a certain level of confidence and skill, performing in a recital a great experience and one I encourage you all to try.  I also offer an' informal recital' in which students perform for one another with no family or friends present.  It is a great first step to performing in a Studio Recital!

Let me know your thoughts on singing in a recital!  Happy Singing!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why is it Valuable to Participate in a Masterclass?

Often times I get the questions, "What is a Masterclass? and Why should I sing there?".  There are many types of Masterclasses and many reasons to participate.  In a masterclass atmosphere, you get the opportunity to sing for others in front of others knowing that you may not be performing a finished product. You get to work on the selection  with others being present and learn from what that teacher or presenter has to offer other singers.

There are 2 main  types of masterclasses- 1) The studio members with the studio teacher only 2) Performers with the studio teacher and another guest presenter or teacher.

The idea of a masterclass with just your teacher is that you work on your music with them in front of others. It is a performance opportunity in a low stress atmosphere.  The teacher is able to interact with you and get others input of the performance at the same time.  You get to hear what a teacher says to another student.  It may be something you have heard before that may impact you differently or said in a new way.

A masterclass with an additional presenter or specialist of a related area is to offer new but related information to you and your performance.  A different voice teacher may say similar things, but just differently enough that it makes a larger impact.  An acting teacher adds a new dimension to your performance.

Often times masterclasses have a theme as well.  I recently hosted masterclasses with an acting coach where we focused on how acting out a musical theater piece (and allowing movement) impacted the performance and voice quality.  I also had a brief yoga session at the beginning of the masterclass to show how opening up the body with yoga impacts the singing voice.

Here are some responses of a Q & A with students of a recent Masterclass on Movement and Acting in Singing:

1.  What is the most valuable thing you learned in the recent masterclass on movement and acting while singing?
-  How you interpret the music & how incorporate hand motions to the music
 - I learned to relax and use my whole body more than just my top half
- Opportunity to perform in a low stress, educational environment and know I was only going to improve
- How to open my ribs and use the air really in my lungs 

2.  What was your favorite part of the masterclass?
 - Performing the song & getting feedback
 - Yoga (multiple responses)
  - Vocal warm-ups and Yoga which opened body better for singing

3.  What do you think you will carry away from the masterclass and use in your singing?  
 - The tips on hand motions & how to incorporate them and acting
-  I will carry away more confidence in my movements and allow myself to flow more and be more natural looking
- To use more acting in my singing
- How to see the person that you are singing about in a song and simulate that in a performance

4.  What would you like to see addressed in future masterclasses?
- More time for individual instruction
- More group instruction/time on yoga and acting in general
- How to use the space around you while singing

As you can see, each student takes something different away from a masterclass.  This depends on where they are in their journey of singing.  Each masterclass can be tailored to certain teaching concepts, enhancing the learning process even more!  In this particular masterclass we were working on really acting out the piece you are singing and how that enhances the performance!  This masterclass was effective in explaining to students that yoga is very valuable to singing and that movement while singing is natural and improves your performance!

What are your thoughts on the benefits of a masterclass?  What do you want out of participating or want your students to gain from the experience?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The MOST IMPORTANT Reason to Take Singing Lessons? IT'S FUN!

Over the last few weeks, I have spouted out a lot of good reasons to take singing lessons.  Which one is the most important?  To me it is that singing lessons are FUN!  Why do we usually start music lessons?  Because we enjoy music!  We like to sing, to play the piano, to dance, to create.  It is fun to do and we want to learn how to do it better!  First and foremost, it is to MAKE MUSIC and HAVE FUN DOING IT!

Of course there are many 'extra-musical' benefits to taking singing (and other instrumental) lessons.  These are the BONUS reasons we should make time for music in our lives or our children's lives.  Music is a fun outlet and an escape which provides emotional release while it helps develop many academic and life skills. Many CEO's, presidents, and other leaders of the world studies music at one time and state it helped to create their work ethic.

Keep singing and making music if you already do and make time for it if you have ever considered it in the past!

If you missed any of the wonderful reasons your child or you should take singing lessons, click the itemized links below to read more about a topic:

Here is a list of skill sets that advance with voice study:

Add a little music to YOUR life!  Please let me know your thoughts and comments and how you can have fun learning to make music!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Singing Lessons Teach Us the Value of Perseverance and Follow Through

Perseverance and Follow Through to the End of a Project is another valuable lesson learned through taking singing lessons.

Perseverance is a valuable trait in life experiences.  By continuing to work on perfecting a song, a role for a musical, coming in at the right place in the orchestra performance, regular practice to achieve a goal, a student learns the value and rewards of working hard.  'In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.' PA High School Arts.  Following through all of the details of a project is essential to being a valuable employee in the work force.  Knowing this and being able to do it helps an individual stand heads and tails above their other co-workers and be more desirable to hire.

Learning that despite any obstacles, follow through to the end of the job is essential for musical performances.  Likewise, it is very valuable and expected of a good employee or boss in the professional world.  Things in life are not always easy and it is so important to learn by persevering, we can achieve our goals.

The art of persevering through a project involves multiple intelligences which are also fostered in the musical mind.  The theory of 'multiple intelligences' labels music as one of the separate minds, and being exposed to music strengthens all other learning forms.  The multiple intelligences are:  logical-mathematical, spatial, linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, MUSICAL, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential.  Musical study is not only one of the intelligences, its study enhances almost ALL of the other intelligence thus creating a well-rounded brain.  The well-rounded brain can handle many more pressures, stresses and accomplish multiple things thus being a very SUCCESSFUL individual.  The melding of all of the intelligences early on in life sets one up to be a predominating source in the workplace as an adult.

Music as it's own 'intelligence' enhances the other 7 intelligences as were addressed in earlier blogs:
- Mathematical, Spatial and Linguistic Intelligence, in Singing Lessons Improve Academic Skills
- Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, in Singing Lessons Help the Connection Between Mind and Body and Posture and Poise in Singing Lessons
- Interpersonal Intelligence (relationships with others) in Singing Teaches the Value of Dedication, Perfectionism and Constructive Criticism
- Intrapersonal Intelligence (how you know yourself) in Singing as an Emotional Outlet
- Naturalistic Intelligence (relationship between you and nature) A questioned intelligence, but there are SO many songs composed about the beauty of nature or imitating nature, there is no doubt it is there and is a part of us!

The art of perseverance as well as all of these other benefits of taking music lessons help us to develop a well-rounded, unique individual.  Enhance you or your child's life with music today!

Stay Tuned Next week:  Last But Not Least- The final reason to take lessons:  TAKING SINGING LESSONS IS FUN!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Singing Lessons- Dedication and Perfectionism While Receiving Constructive Criticism

Singing Lessons Teach the Value of Dedication, Perfectionism and Receiving Constructive Criticism

When learning to create music (both playing an instrument and singing), we learn the art of critiquing something, breaking it down to isolate what needs to be perfected and building it back up to make the 'perfect' phrase or performance of a piece.  This attention to detail is a very valuable trait not only in music but in our everyday life.  Attention to detail makes us good editors, scientists, engineers, doctors, in the workforce.  Being dedicated to the end product and perfectionism makes good lawyers, doctors, teachers, in the workplace.  These characteristics that can be taught through music as a youth carry through to create who we become as adults.

The ability to focus to perfect something is very valuable to create quality music.  It is also essential to create a quality product in the workforce as adults- a perfect presentation, website design, product design makes us a reliable and essential employee to a business or company.

In our youth and as adults we are subjected to the desire to have everything be perfect as well as to listen to others tell us HOW something would be better or 'perfect'.  Think about it, mom always wants the toys put away in the right bin to keep things orderly, the math teacher wants the math equation used to be just so, your boss believes 'X' should be added to the presentation to really sell the idea to a client.  What do all of these things have in common?  LISTENING to the advice or demands of another person is another lesson in life that we need to learn.  Whether as a child or adult, we listen to the constructive criticism of others.

In music, we learn how to listen to the constructive criticism and use it to create a better performance of the music. Learning to do this in music carries over to the business world and workforce.  We already know how to receive the criticism and apply it to what we are doing to make the product better.  By interpreting the information we are given, we show that we value to input of others and can use to improve the end result.  We already learn to work as a team through making music as a soloist or member of a musical group.

This too carries over to being a 'team player' who takes in the advice of fellow employees - more important qualities in a mature, working adult.  What a wonderful way to get your child (or you) started on some of the most important qualities in an adult- take music lessons to facilitate learning those lessons!

By receiving constructive criticism and learning the value of perfectionism, we follow through and persevere.  This is imperative to a beautiful final performance of a musical piece.  It is also true in everyday life.  Stay tuned for next week's blog - "Perseverance and Follow Through to the End- Another Benefit to Taking Music Lessons."