Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why Should I Take Individual Voice Lessons in the Fall?

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 America's Got Talent, Nashville, The Voice, American Idol, 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 www.susanandersbrizick.com).  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!
Contact Susan Anders Brizick at susananders@aol.com if you are interested in starting voice lessons.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer Singing Activity That Will Help Your Singing Lessons in the Fall

What can you do now that will help your voice lessons in the fall?  There are many things including, just sing!

1.  Sing along with the radio or your favorite Broadway musical.  Sing to yourself or sing to others.

2.  Practice the song (s) you were last assigned in lessons.  Review the notes, rhythms, lyrics.  Look at your notes for the technique you are to be working on.

3.  Research and listen to new music or a genre which you have never sung before.  Look at repertoire that you have always wanted to sing.  Bring it to your teacher to see if they think it would be good for your voice.  Bring ideas to collaborate with your teacher. 

4.  Listen to music of different genres and eras to see what you like.  Explore your musical horizons  while you have a little extra time.  Remember that French song your teacher wanted you to sing? How about Italian or jazz?  You never know what might suit your fancy when you are not in the throws of a hectic schedule.  Bring those ideas or likes to your teacher in the fall.

5. Watch or listen to a new concert or new Broadway musical (or two).  Go to the theater or watch it via Netflix or YouTube.  Enjoy music and all of its styles with a little downtime.

6.  Go practice again to refresh your most recent songs (or learn the new one given to you at your last lesson) so you can go in fresh and ready to move ahead at your first fall lesson!

Enjoy the last month of summer!!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer Solstice! Find your inner motivation to sing through nature.

In the throws of the beauty of summer take some time, whenever you can find it, to use nature to motivate you and your singing.  The beauty of the sunrise over the lake, the sunset over the beach, a shade filled hike through the mountains or a walk on the beach, use nature to refuel you.  Composers and lyricists write so much music about the beauty of nature.  They are inspired by it, how can it inspire you as a performer? 

It often brings us back to reality or a sane sense of being when we spend time with nature.  Drink in the beauty of the sunshine or the bird in the tree, the rolling of the ocean waves.  You may find yourself humming a song of long ago as you allow yourself to enjoy and relax.  Whether it be "Son of a Sailor"or "Oh Shenendoah", music can be situational, relaxing, and inspiring.  Maybe that is a song you should return to in your practice or an image you could use as you perform a work in progress. 

Don't dismiss the value of enjoying nature and reveling in the relaxing atmosphere of vacation.  It can motivate and rejuvenate our inner soul.  Being outside in nature and enjoying relaxation of a vacation can inspire our inner artist.  Let it inspire you!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Preparing for that Summer Performance

With the joys of summer come many opportunities to perform in a variety of programs.  Whether it is a summer musical theater program or summer recital, how can you assure that your performance is the best it can be? 

1. Dedicate the time to learning the repertoire well in advance.  Learn the music as soon as possible.  Solidify all of the notes, rhythms and lyrics right after you receive the materials.  Work on dynamics and vocal quality so you can add interpretation, movement, and stage direction more easily at rehearsals or lessons.

2. Do your homework.  Know what you are supposed to work on and work on it at home so that time spent at the program or lesson can be spent building on those skills.  Review what you work on in rehearsal or lesson and take the next step as directed by your teacher or director.

3. Analyze the lyrics of your song.  What do the words mean?  What do they mean to you?  Can you relate to them or do you need to paraphrase it for yourself to better convey the message you are singing?

4. Research your song, role, and musical.  Where does your song come in the musical?  What is going on with the character?  Watch a video of the song by a few different people on YouTube for reference or watch the musical.  Find the context of the song and use what you watch and listen to as a way to help solidify your interpretation.

5. Practice in between sessions.  Add a little exercise, sleep, water and fresh air.

6. Build on those new skills. Repeat!

The time spent outside of a summer program and lessons is valuable to your overall experience.  Embrace it and enjoy!!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer Singing and Exercise/Yoga

Summer is in full tilt and so is singing fueled by outdoor activity.  I don't know about you, but when it's beautiful outside, I like to get in some good walking, hiking, biking, and sometimes yoga (beach of course is the best).  It has been a great stretch of weather to do this, so game on!

What does this have to do with singing?  When you workout regularly, you boost your lung capacity, energy level, tone your body and your mind. All of these can directly apply to your singing practice and performance!  Here are some extra benefits:

- Practice after cardiovascular activity (especially running or walking).  Your body is already breathing the way you need to in order to sustain long phrases with slow and low breaths!  

- Exercise gives you energy. You have more energy to schedule your practice time, practice, and perform. 

- Build endurance in exercise and singing.  Endurance in performances is key. You can sing longer and more beautifully because you are in tune with your body.

-Muscle use. You are in better shape and are more tone, so of course all of that practicing in the mirror isn't so bad (ha, ha!).  Seriously though, watch yourself as you practice and see how you are using your muscles. 

- A sharp mind.  Try a little yoga as well to continue to slow your breath and connect your breath to your brain.  A Zen state of being really helps you to focus. Your mind is sharp so you have an easier time remembering all of that technique, lyrics, and stage directions. 

Whatever your exercise passion (or what you find you like with trial and error), see how it affects your practice and performance.  In summer we are full of outdoor activity, so give it a try! A singer's body is their instrument, so treat it well and take care of it!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer Singing and Motivation

Summer Singing and Motivation

Summer is upon us for sure and I hope you are finding fun in your singing and motivation to sing!  Creating a schedule of how and when you are going to practice is hopefully going well.  Often times though we find ourselves in a place where it is tough to actively practice.  Maybe you are on vacation without a piano, maybe you are at the pool or beach nearby and get the urge to sing but are inhibited by other people being there. 

What can you do to stay on track or feed that urge to sing when you cannot physically do so?  Plug in to your technology.  That's right, I said it!  Use your phone which is becoming an extension of your hand.  Google or YouTube search the song (s) that you have been working on.  Listen to a couple renditions of that song to get inspiration on how to sing it better, add interpretation or work on memorizing the lyrics.  See how others have used their individual talents and techniques to make the song their own.  Make mental notes or put them in your Notes on your phone.  Then use them the next time you actively practice.

How does listening to that song at the beach or on a hike on a trail change your interpretation and feelings?  It may change it drastically or just enhance the experience.  Allow yourself to go on that musical journey. 

Also, search your favorite genre of singing for more repertoire ideas.  Get inspiration from all of the songs that are literally at your fingertips.  You never know what beautiful song will capture your attention.  Look up that next song that comes up as a suggestion on Pandora or YouTube.  Be careful to make sure that they are appropriate for your voicing, but sing along a little bit and then take the idea to your teacher.  At the very least you can broaden your horizons to the variety of music that is out there (or has been for a while that you just didn't know about).

Stay tuned for more inspirational thoughts on singing in the summer. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

More Summer Singing Ideas

How has creating a summer singing schedule worked for you?  I know we get de-railed by the nice weather sometimes but keep in mind there is always a rainy day on the horizon to get back on track.  And have patience with yourself to find order in the (fun) chaos of summer. 

Find that time to practice (especially after that morning run, swim, or yoga).  Your body will be primed for singing and you will already be breathing well due to the physical exercise or alignment.  You may be able to practice more efficiently.  Enjoy singing and then put a goal to your practice.  Once you have achieved that goal or move on to another song with another goal.  You may be learning the notes in one song nd working on interpretation on another while prepping a role for that summer musical theater camp.  Once you have achieved your practice goals, move on to another part of that day. You may find by putting concrete parameters, you are more productive OR that you just plain want to keep practicing that day because you can. 

Find a balance of enjoying the music and the creative side of singing OR use the goal oriented process to help you make the most of your practice time.  Noodle around with something new just because you can.  Once you get yourself to your practice space, the possibilities are endless!  Stay tuned for more ideas of how to bring singing and music into your summer!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Summer and Singing

Ah summer is on its way and I am looking forward to a relaxing, but song filled summer!  What better time to get working on new goals for singing and enjoying music than one filled with the motivation of nature and a little unstructured time.  If you are anything like me, a little organization going in to the chaos of summer can help you feel like you accomplished something while getting in some relaxation as well.

Whether you are signed up for a summer singing program or just plan to cruise and relax, take a moment to map out when you might be able to squeeze in some practice time or even research new repertoire.  Do you have a day of the week that is more productive than others?  Want to establish a workout routine for the summer months? Work in a singing one at the same time!  Try approaching summer as being a fun but productive time and try something like this!  It may vary a bit (like when you are on vacation or participating in a week long camp), but overall you will feel good about getting somewhere with your singing.

If you know you are most productive earlier in the week and in the morning, yet also want to add workouts to your summer plan,  plan your practice time accordingly.  You can workout on alternating days and rotate that with practicing in the morning.  In other words, workout Monday and Wednesday and practice Tuesday and Thursday.  Then get on with having fun during the rest of the day (or working:-).  Toss in a little extra practice time when we have a rainy day and pool or beach time is limited.  You have worked in some time to work on your craft during a slower time of the year so that you don't lose the progress you made during the school year and can continue to move forward with your singing skills and repertoire. 

Hope you find this helpful and happy singing!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Yoga and Singing Musical Theater

Yoga relaxes us and allows us to breathe better.  Better breaths improve the quality of our voice.  Being more relaxed allow us to move easier.  This is exactly what we need to do when we sing (communicate) a musical theater song or show.  If you are more comfortable and relaxed in your own skin, you can more easily become the character or communicate the meaning of a song.  Think about it! 

When you have studied a song and know the notes, rhythms, nuances, and words of the song, you want to take it one step further when you perform it.  You want to communicate the meaning.  If your body remembers the best breathing and posture (enhanced by good yoga practice), it can more easily move and act out the song. 

Even if you are singing a musical theater selection in a recital or audition situation, you still want to be able to communicate the meaning of and 'sell' your song.  This includes moving in a smaller venue than on a large stage, but nonetheless using your body. 

If you are in tune with your body and mind first (yes a little yoga even before warming-up), you may find it is much easier to get into character and share your story through song. 

How does yoga help you in your musical theater singing?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Yoga and singing

As spring is literally sprung upon me with all of the preparations for recitals, concerts, summer programming, baseball seasons, and pre-prep for the 2017-2018 school year, I find myself in need of regrouping and taking time to focus my mind and body to get everything done in a relatively calm manner.  I am reminded of how much my yoga practice has helped me with this in the past and how it helps my singing and my students.  Yoga and singing are a wonderful combination.

 Yoga calms your breath and nerves, opens up the body to breathe better, elongates your spine for better posture and therefore breath support.  It helps your brain to focus and reminds you that with careful planning and relaxing you can get it all done.

In Make Your Unstable Life Work for You, Claudia Friedlander describes the science of how the balance of yoga can really help your singing!  I was fascinated with how she described what I use often in my studio.  I highly recommend what she has to say!  Let me try to explain it with a few references to her words (in italics):

Stand up and find your balance on one foot, bringing your other foot up to your calf or above your knee, and raise your hands above your head (tree pose).  Feel how you find balance and how your leg, hip, ankle adjust to keep the balance.  It is a series of continuous, incremental adjustments.  Find a sustained phrase from your repertoire that is challenging and sing it while in this pose.  You may find that this passage is now much easier to sing.  WHY?  Finding this balance has put your neuromuscular system on high alert making all motor activity that you engage in benefit.  It cannot lock up like your knees might or stop and start as the breath might because everything is going in to you keeping your balance.  This makes total sense.

As Friedlander states, Singing, like balancing, is a continuous activity.  The more you think about locking up a part of your body to balance, the more possible it is for you to fall over.  The more you think about holding pitches rather than continuing the breath through them, the more difficult they are to sustain.

Instead, find activities that promote stability through continuous movement such as tree pose, walking the phrase, or pretending to throw a baseball with a slow follow through.

Balance and stabilization can:

- Enhance body awareness (improve your mind/body connection to your voice)
- Promotes good posture (free larynx, improve resonance, coordinate better breathing)
- Make you more comfortable and graceful moving on stage
- Stabilize your joints so that you can safely exercise and maximize your stamina (cardio and strength training)
- Teaches your neuromuscular system to create stability through continuous movement that impacts all of your physical activities

Experiment and find some basic yoga poses which help to center YOU for singing practice, performance, and to get it all done!  My favorites are Warrior I, Warrior II, Reverse Warrior, Child's Pose,  and Tree Pose.  Give them a try before you practice and see how it affects your singing.  Pause and try one or two when you feel overwhelmed with all that life brings to your plate.  How does it help you?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Summer Singing Programs and Summer Voice Lessons

Why should you continue voice lessons or participate in a singing program over the summer months?  Many of us focus on our craft only during the school year and want to take a break from everything over the summer.  Why is this counterintuitive?  Think about all of the hard work you have put in over the year.  How much has your singing voice grown?  How much confidence have you gained in yourself and your singing? 

Taking a pause of 3-4 months after all of that hard work can cause you to take a few steps backward or forget some of what you learned.  Think about it, that's why schools always give summer reading and summer math work, why not summer singing work?  When you train to run a 5K or a marathon, when you stop running for a few months, you lose some of your physical stamina.  Singing lessons are both physical and mental training.

A few lessons spread out throughout the summer months may keep you in check and motivated, but a Summer Singing Program may do wonders for your singing voice.  Why?

- You are continuing to build upon your current skills in your slightly more relaxed schedule (no pressures of regular school day and homework and as a working adult often work demands lesson a little in the summer months).

-If the summer program includes individual voice lessons, you continue your focus on improving YOUR singing voice.

- You often have more time to dedicate to practice (if you discipline yourself to do so).

- Summer programs are often more intense therefore learning more in a shorter time span.

-Many summer programs add working not only singing, but add acting and dancing to the "Triple Threat" of what is needed for Musical Theater.

Do your research for what type of summer vocal study you think will be best for you. Do you need to work on your singing skills?  Do you need to develop more confidence?  Do you need to add songs to your audition book?  Will a focus on these things benefit you more than being in the chorus of a larger summer production? Can you take voice lessons and do a summer production as well to maximize your learning while not worrying about your math and science studies?  Concentrating on your needs and developing your weaker areas in the summer months may be the key for you attaining your school year singing goals. 

Find out more about summer voice study in your area.  Join my Summer Musical Theater Series at www.susanandersbrizick.com and register today

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Perform! (Part 5 of 5)

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 5 of 5)

Approach the Hurdle and Perform

Are you still avoiding practicing or not putting yourself in any performance situation? Start small and sing for your teacher without criticism.  Sing for your mom or your dad or daughter.  Sing next for another student in your voice studio.   Sing a in a masterclass for your voice studio.  Sing in an "Informal Recital" or Studio Masterclass. Take baby steps.  Find someone you trust to help you and walk you through the different ways one can work through performance anxiety and your singing.

A few words from those who have been there and overcome:

To find my niches, I had to overcome my inner critic. Because of the way I was reared, I had low self-esteem and always thought of myself as not good enough. I was afraid of making mistakes. Slowly I learned that playing without mistakes is not the goal. The goal is to be in joy. As Stephanie Judy said in her book, "Your own music is the child of your heart, and you are entitled to love it, not because it's good, but because it's a part of you."  http://PerformConfidently.com

In conclusion, complete preparation of the repertoire is the first step.  The better a person ‘knows their stuff’ and truly can communicate the story of the song or become the character in the song, the less nerves will play a role.  The perfectionism of being a musician and the detailed study we endure are what enable us to create beautiful music.  Do not allow it to get inside your head and stop your creative inner being!  Take a moment and think about why you sing.  The music is a part of you.  With the help of your voice teacher, connections to your body and mind (through yoga, meditation, visualization or other means) help you achieve your goals to sing and share the music of your soul.

How have you survived your journey with performance anxiety? Please let me know how this series was helpful or email me with questions.  Sign up to receive my blog for more informational topics about all things related to singing!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Improvise! (Part 4 of 5)

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 4 of 5)


Take a moment and think outside the box.  If there are no wrong notes, how can you be nervous about what you are singing?  Improvising a melody or complete song with words is something most of us did when we were kids.  There is no right or wrong, therefore it is freeing for the voice.  The voice should feel less stressed and you are free to be more creative.  You can enjoy the process of singing more and turn off the voices of right and wrong inside your head (Ann Baltz).  Just enjoy a made-up or well-known melody.

How do you get there?  A step towards improvisation is using Attitude or Feeling cards to pick a few feelings you would express in a song.  For example: fear, love, anger.  Sing a song from your repertoire expressing those feelings at certain points in the music.  Note how it changes the character of the piece and what happens inside of you.  Think more about the emotion than your technique. 

Next, improvise songs using non-sense words.  “Turn off the critical voice and just be in the moment”.  E.Denham   

It is a challenge to improvise at first, but give it a try.  There can be no failure and you can become inspired.  Think of it this way- life is an improvisation.  Try to step out of your box and reach new heights as musicians and human beings. 


Now go back to practicing your repertoire using feeling cards or add emotion tags into your music.  How does it change your song?  How does it change your musical performance anxiety?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! (Part 3 of 5)

Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 3 of 5)

Approach Mind Over Matter Then Approach the Physical Hurdle 

Listen to the accompaniment and look at your music and imagine yourself singing it perfectly in your mind. Think through the whole piece. When you practice and rehearse music in your imagination without actually singing, you establish neural pathways (brain functions) required to firmly embed something in your mind. This helps with wear and tear on your vocal folds if you are intense rehearsals or if you are sick. You can choose to do it perfectly in your imagination and it gives you a sense of ease and relaxation.   

Imagine performing your piece without actually singing.  Use the power of imagination to solve technical, vocal, and artistic problems. The right side of your brain controls the images and the left side of the brain utilizes the instruction. Try to let the images take over. Visualization just like the calm of yoga can take you a lot further. 

Now, actually sing it.  Did it make a difference?  It should.  Why?

It is a scientific fact that your nervous system cannot tell the difference between real and imagined events.  If you feel anxious about a section of your song and you imagine the sound you want to hear while the accompaniment is playing a few times and then sing it, the tension drops and the sound is more free and relaxed.  "A pathway opens to discover talents you already posses." says Matthew Stansfield.

Students of "The Think Method" learn that the ability to grow lies within themselves and their own imagination if they take the time to use it creatively," states David Aks.  What a wonderful thought that we have the power to control our success if we use our brains and route ourselves in solid, founded technique!  With guidance from a voice teacher, you can overcome these troubles.

This is not a substitute for physical practice because you must build muscles and muscle memory to build solid technique, but if you have solid technique and you still have trouble, try visualization.   We may be standing in our own way by thinking too much (especially about our nerves!).

Comments from http://www.classicalsinger.com/magazine/article.php?id=2287

How can you "think" your way out of musical performance anxiety? 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Musical Performance Anxiety: How to Overcome it!            (Part 2 of 5)

The Mental Game.  Add yoga and focus.

You are sure that you know this piece backwards and forwards.  You know what it means and are communicating as you sing. 

Are you still constantly hearing the negative voices in your head?  What are they saying?  Are you striving for it to be completely perfect and not allowing yourself to continue even if there is only a minor flaw? 

Although we as musicians strive for perfectionism, there is a point where you need to let yourself just sing and let nature take its course.  Try to shut off the voices in your head:  the recurring negative thoughts that you have in your head as you sing.  You know, all the things that a teacher told you about a specific spot, your brother asking you to stop singing, it’s enough already. 

Try a few yoga poses to calm you brain and body.  Downward Dog and a few Sun Salutations will help you connect to your breath.  Next do a few Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 poses to bring you empowerment and strength.  End with Tree to center you and lengthen the spine.




Sing your song again. Verbalize what the voices are saying if you cannot tune them out.   Try a little more yoga and allow yourself the freedom to just sing it!  Tap into the power of your body and mind and enjoy your music.  Tune in next week for more ways to conquer that musical performance anxiety.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Musical Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome it! Accomplish that Goal.  (Part 1 of 5)
The Foundation

Performance Anxiety:  It is a high emotion this time of year as many of us prepare for performances in schools for musical theater productions and auditions.  Maybe you have never been the lead role before or are nervous about that duet you have.  Maybe you have an audition coming up for a solo in the spring concert or a voice competition.  You or your student is very nervous about the upcoming performance.  Memory lapses are happening, technique is suffering, music and the enjoyment of it stops.  How do you deal with this? How can you control it and turn anxiety into performance excitement?

Try to identify what is the problem. 

What happens to you physically, emotionally, and mentally?  Take the time to recognize when performance anxiety really hits you. What happens to your body? What is your brain saying to you?  Then talk it through with your voice teacher.

PhysicalDo you get butterflies or actually feel like you are going to faint? Take a deep breath and relax. Work backwards a little bit first.  When does it happen? Only at the actual performance or even when you are just thinking about a lesson?  Are you nervous about not knowing all of the notes and words or is it more than that?

Emotionally:  How do you feel emotionally?  Are you scared?  Are you excited with a little anxiety?   Get a feeling on what your emotions really are.

Mentally: Are you psyching yourself out even though you are prepared?  Do you fear what you can do is not good enough? Think about how you can improve your mental state and empower yourself with positive thought.

In preparation, learn the piece thoroughly.  Know the notes, rhythms, words, meaning of the text.  Just learn it without the concept of performing it.  If you get worked up for the first couple of days, walk away and come back.  Identify what frustrated you and get help from your teacher.  The second week if you get worked up, force yourself to ‘get back on the horse’ and keep going.  Your teacher can help you with this.  Have patience with yourself.

Once you know the nuts and bolts of the piece, put yourself into the character of the song.  Paint the picture of the scene you are describing in your head or imagine you are truly telling your love of your commitment.  Connect to the meaning of the piece and put yourself in the scene you create.  Try to forget that anyone else is out there listening.  You are that person. The more you connect with the text, the more your body and your mind may just remember what to do and you create beautiful music.

If it is not working, explore yoga poses and breathing.  Visit a blog on yoga. What are your ideas on performance anxiety and would you like to work on this?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Recitals are on the Horizon: What do you do to prepare and stay healthy?

It is spring and time for preparing for recitals and end of year performances!  What do you do to prepare and to stay healthy?


Make your selections early. 

If you are preparing an entire program, I know that is already done. If you are singing on a studio voice recital program, perhaps not.  Pick those songs NOW!  What music did you enjoy working on the most? Was there a song that you just loved?  One that you really like the message of the text?  Your teacher will have recommendations and put in their two cents, but take some time to think about it as the singer. 

Practice, practice, practice.

Work daily if possible on all of the things your teacher assigns for that (or those pieces).  Breathing, phrasing, re-working vowels, expression, interpretation of the text, dynamics.  Take notes in your lesson so you remember what to fine tune each week.

Memorize ASAP.

Take time to analyze the text and really get to know what the poet is saying.  Write it out like a paragraph and look at it separate from the music.  Look at how the composer set the text to understand what he wants you to do with the text.  This is important with foreign languages and English!  It will help you with the overall delivery of your song and make it easier to memorize it.

Practice memorized.

If you are memorized in your practice, you can start to add even more emotion and play with how you will truly perform your songs.

Perform for others.

Especially if performing creates anxiety for you, perform your memorized music for others in you life with whom you are comfortable (your mom, sister, roommate, best friend).  Get their feedback.  It will help you develop confidence and know how the audience hears and sees your performance. 

Know what you want to do and how you want to do it!!

Stay Healthy!!

I know this is easier said than done, but go the extra mile to do all the things you know you should to stay healthy so you can sing when healthy!

Wash your hands, drink lots of water, get adequate sleep, exercise, take time out for yourself to relieve stress, stay away from others who are sick when at all possible, minimize talking unless necessary.  If you are starting to feel sick, amp up the vitamin c, water, and sleep!

If you are well-prepared, you can battle potential illness better and come out on top if you do end up with a slight illness for a few days because you already know your stuff and can mentally practice.
Keep up the good work and discipline!  Enjoy that performance and happy singing!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Resolution:   Remember why singing is good for you! 'Sing and be glad in it!'

Part 8:

Resolution:   Remember why singing is good for you!

There are so many benefits to singing, including sharing your love of music with others. Think about the bonds you have made with other musicians and instructors through music.  It is a form of communication which bonds humanity.  Singing, whether it be in a choir or opera or a solo at a recital, communicates and shares a beautiful thing: a part of the composer and lyricists intent and a part of your soul.  Share your love with others in any way you can.  Keep singing and doing what you can to make an even more beautiful noise.  Remember how it feels and that you always have your instrument with you.  Sing and be happy!

Contact Susan Anders Brizick for more information about singing lessons and reaching your singing goals!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Resolution:  Warm Up Singing Voice Before Rehearsals and Stay Motivated.

Part 7:

Resolution:  Warm Up Before Rehearsals and stay motivated.

Why is this important, you might ask?  Warming up is so essential to the health of your singing voice.  Everyone’s voice is different and needs different levels and amounts of warming up to perform well.  Think about athletes a minute.  Do all of them have the same routine of warming up before they go and play a game or a match?  No, they all may have similarities, but do different individual things to get themselves ready to go.  For example, one singer may only need 10 minutes to warm up and be ready to sing a full 2 hour rehearsal.  Another may need 15-20 minutes and start with a few yoga poses prior to that to make sure her body is in good alignment and her nerves are in check.  You never know how much time a director or teacher will give to warm ups or not.  If you know your voice is ready to go, you are in safe and productive territory.  Take the time to figure out what works best for you for warm up exercises both vocally and physically.  What did you do vocally in some of your best lessons or before a rehearsal?  What warm-ups do you like? What yoga postures help you get centered and focused?  You will feel good about what singing you are about to share.  Arm yourself with taking care of the muscles of your instrument to be the best singer you can be.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Resolution: Sleep More: Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. How does it impact singing?

Part 6

Resolution: Sleep More: Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night.

Haha! many of you say.  It is so important to make time for sleep.  It is when your body rejuvenates.  It is when you solidify that memory of the lyrics you worked on or breaths that you mastered in your lesson.  It helps you remember the good endorphins released from singing and exercising.  Try to add more sleep to your schedule.  How do you find that extra time? Go back to resolution one of having more efficient practice time and mapping out your practice.  Map out your studies or your time at work on a project.  Plan it out and resist the urge to spend time on social media aside from your allotted downtime. 

Go to bed a half hour earlier each night for a week until you are getting 8 hours of sleep or close to it.  Trust me, you will feel better, be more focused, and sing better.  I know we can’t always do it, but try to make a habit of going to bed and waking up around the same time everyday and close to 8 hours.  Your body gets used to it because it functions well with it.   If you have an off night or a hectic week, try squeezing in a nap.  Notice how much better your brain and your body function!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Resolution: Eat Better and fuel your instrument, making a better singing voice!

Part 5

Resolution: Eat Better and fuel your instrument, making a better singing voice!

How can what I eat impact my singing voice?  In so many ways!  Think about the old adage, ‘you are what you eat’.  Well, you are your instrument, so truer words could not be spoken. 

Give it a try: Up the number of fruits and vegetables that you eat.  Healthy, lean proteins give you long lasting energy.  Think about the food fueling your voice! 

As performers and musicians, we are subject to late night performances and hunger afterwards or running from rehearsal to rehearsal.  Find some healthy but quick things to snack on or fill that hunger void.  A small bag of nuts and fruit, a bowl of cereal with protein, or when you have more time, a salad with grilled chicken.  Watch eating acidic foods and dairy before singing (think pizza, tomato  sauce or yogurt).  If you think ahead, you can stay fueled and stay healthy to fuel your awesome singing voice!

Try eating a small, well-balanced meal before rehearsal or a lesson and adding a stash of healthy snacks to your rehearsal bag.  Add a large bottle of water and you are well on your way!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Resolution: Drink More Water to Help My Singing Voice

Part 4

Resolution: Drink More Water

A constant complaint, but I don’t like the taste of water!  Think about how valuable it is to your body and find a way to flavor it if you need to (add a little fruit or cucumber to the water) !

Water is essential to our being (we are composed of a lot of water and need to replenish it).  The more water you have in your system, the better and longer you can sing.  It enables the voice to bounce back and have energy.  Breathing in and out with long phrases can be drying to the vocal cords.  Water replenishes this act.  If you are starting to fight a cold or virus, an increase in water can help flush it out of your system faster.  You will have more energy with more hydration.  Yes, you will initially have to run to the bathroom a little more often at first, but challenge yourself.  Drink 64 oz or more of water a day and see how it improves your energy and the quality of your singing voice!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Resolution: Incorporate  Exercise and Yoga to take care of my singing voice.

Part 3

Resolution: Incorporate  Exercise and Yoga to take care of my singing voice.

What does exercise and yoga do for the singing voice?  Ah, the list is endless. 

Cardio enhances your breath capacity and breath support.  Try running or going on the elliptical machine and then practice.  Notice how you breathe more deeply and efficiently for singing.

Just about any type of exercise releases endorphins which make you feel better as a person and increases your brain synapse responses, making you think better.  Go for a walk and then put together a plan as to how to tackle that next role.  Your brain will function better.

Yoga and Pilates:  yes, they are exercise and put you in tune with your body and what it does, good habits and bad habits with posture.  It lets you know what muscles are underworked and overworked.  It helps you to strengthen your core and powerhouse of singing.  Think, where does your breath support come from?  Your abs and ribs play a large role.  They also relax you and enable you to focus.   The more in touch you are with your individual body, the better singer you become.

Challenge yourself and add exercise in one way or more 4-5x a week.  How does that impact your voice?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Resolution: Take care of my instrument, my body.

Part 2

Resolution: Take care of my instrument, my body.

You are your instrument, so take care of it!  A trumpet player carefully swabs out his instrument after playing and tucks it away safely in its case until it is played again.  We cannot put our instrument in a bubble, but we can monitor what we do and take steps towards better care!  What are some basic steps?

1) Get extra sleep going into a run of a show

2) Workout to ramp up your energy level and focus on tasks

3) Stay hydrated with lots of water

4) Fuel yourself with good, healthy food

5) Take an extra 10 minutes and warm up before you get to rehearsal

6) Find your favorite short activity to unwind and recharge

All at once, these may seem daunting.  Start with one a week or every couple of days and see what habits stick.  They all benefit YOU as a singer and as a human being.  You are worth it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Resolution: Sing often and practice more often and more efficiently

Part I

Resolution: Sing often and practice more often and more efficiently.

Firstly, sing whenever you feel moved to sing.  Sing with the radio, in the shower, while you are folding laundry.  It releases endorphins and lifts your mood. 

Once you are singing casually, make sure you schedule time for serious singing.  Write down when you are going to practice and plan it into your daily routine (or at least a few times a week).  Use it as a break from studying for a test, waiting for a ride or as some down time instead of breaking out your phone. 

Plan WHAT you are going to practice:  start with warm-ups and write down what songs you are going to work on and select one area of focus.  Are you learning the pitches to a new song?  Start there.  Do you have another song you already know, but need to look at the lyrics and work on how you are communicating the poets words?  On a third song, maybe you need to work on your dynamics.  End with one of your favorite songs, just sing it and enjoy! 

Plan out your time on each piece in either a practice time or two or what you want to accomplish each week.  This will help you get the most out of your practice time and make you feel not only successful at your resolution goals, but feel happy because you are singing!  Tune in next week for implementing taking care of your instrument (your body) and how that impacts your singing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New Year's Resolutions for Singing and How to Make Yours Become a Reality

Tis the time of New Year’s resolutions and although I am a few weeks behind, starting one of mine:  Return to blogging more often to help my students and voice students all over take better care of themselves, and sing better, and be educated about singing and its benefits!  Everyone sets New Year’s Resolutions and we all need reminders or encouragement to continue them.  I hope that one of YOURS is to Sing More and Take Better Care of Your Voice and Yourself!  Here is the beginning of a series on how to do those things!  Stay tuned for tips on achieving the following resolutions:

1)      Sing often and practice more often and more efficiently.
2)      Take care of my instrument, my body.
3)      Incorporate  Exercise and Yoga
4)      Drink More Water
5)      Eat Better and fuel your instrument
6)      Sleep More
7)      Warm Up Before Rehearsals and stay motivated.

8)      Remember why singing is good for you!

Get ready to set your sights on a great 2017 full of growth in your singing and self!  Tune in next week for details on singing resolutions!