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?