Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Music: Its An Emotional Outlet. Why Is It So Powerful Today?

Find an Emotional Outlet- We have all been through a lot in the past couple of years and have even more reason to need to take the time to find an emotional outlet and coping mechanism.  Music helped so many keep it together in the beginning of 2020 and continues to help us keep it together and express ourselves in a healthy and ever-present way.  Taking Music Lessons (especially singing) helps you to find an emotional outlet and make it the best it can be.                                                                           Another extra benefit to music! 

Understanding and appreciating art is so helpful when it comes to processing the hard stuff in the world.  Music is a safe place to let out emotions.  An outlet for times you feel powerless and it can be invaluable in your emotional survival.  Art can be such a powerful tool for children to express themselves.    Jennifer Nettles,Sugarland

Music is such a wonderful outlet for our emotions and plays a role in how we deal with the ebbs and flow of life.  We all have tough times and need a way to help us get through it.  We may have a favorite angry song we listen to and it helps us through it.  Or we are so excited about something that we listen to our favorite 'up' song or have to sing it to the world.  Another current theme, we look to express ourselves and how sad we are that we cannot be with others.   

Music is a comfortable way to express our emotions whether it is a song we listen to, play or sing, or write ourselves.  What better way is there to express yourself than through music and singing?  It is an emotional outlet which can replace spoken words that may be so hard to express. 

When a teenager is having a rough time in school and with friends, there is no better place to turn to than music.  It is a safe place to turn and sing tor play through the pain, indecision, frustration, or love of something.   Sometimes we are overwhelmed with emotions and music can help us to figure it all out.

Studies show that being involved in music reduces risky behavior and increase the involvement in volunteer activities. http://teenink.com/opinion/all/article/18053/The-Music-in-Children/. Knowing how to help yourself can help you to assist others.  Having the outlet to express yourself helps you to process the emotions that you are going through.  This is a true for everyone of all ages.  

Singing can also be a release of tension which often builds with the academic stresses in school.  It releases endorphins to make us feel better and then we can focus on all the things we need to get done with a much clearer head. 

I sing or listen to music based on my mood.  When I am happy, I sing a happy song, when I am angry, I have my favorite angry song, when I am sad, I sing or listen to a sad song.  When my son is angry, he plays his drum set or turns on his favorite CD and sings along.  It is human nature to find a way to connect to our emotions.  We need to soothe ourselves in times of trouble and celebrate when we are happy.  Music is a part of all of our celebrations (weddings, graduations, parties) and all of our times of troubles (funerals, ceremonies for tragedies). 

Music holds a special place in our hearts that can mend you and raise you up. Isn't it even more rewarding to make the music yourself by singing or playing an instrument?  The ability to create that music yourself is an irreplaceable and wonderful thing.  You can express yourself with your own song!  Embrace it and encourage it by improving your singing or learning to play an instrument.  Or sign your child up for music lessons now!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Singing lessons can help improve your communication skills. How?

 Increase Communication Skills through Singing Lessons.

Wow, what a whirlwind we have had over the past 19 months or so of needing to go virtual for so many things because of the pandemic.  We truly had to rely on using the computer to communicate our needs through email, text, zoom.  How has this impacted everyone's communication skills?  I know it has changed a lot, especially for our children.  These are wonderful advancements that allow us to communicate at a time that is convenient for us and the person you are interacting with can get back to you right away or at a time that works for them.  BUT, what does that do for real face to face interaction and communication?  If we always have our noses in our technology, we start to lose the ability to communicate by simply TALKING to someone.  Take a minute and look at the flip side.  How comfortable is the younger generation LOOKING at an adult when talking to them?  Do they speak to them with confidence?  Singing lessons can help facilitate this and many other aspects of communicating by bolstering confidence and giving them to tools to express themselves face to face.  Even singing lessons online can booster this skill as it is one on one interaction despite using an interface.  Singing lessons can help improve communication skills

Look them in the eye and tell them is something I frequently say in voice lessons with my students.  When you are expressing the emotions of a character sometimes it is easier to express yourself than when you are trying to communicate your own emotions.  Study of the lyrics enables the singer to see a new and different way to say something and how to show it in song.

Not only do you learn to communicate with more confidence in singing lessons, you also spend time exploring the vocabulary of the English language (among other languages).  What does the poetry really mean?  What are the lyrics really saying?  Is it symbolism? Or it may be a different way of saying the same thing.  Exploration of the written word helps to expand someone's vocabulary.  Knowing how to analyze lyrics helps you to also express yourself better.  How can YOU say something differently to express yourself?

When looking at lyrics to a song, we often see repetition of words.  How do we express those words differently when we sing them to give them extra meaning or truly express what the character is trying to say?

There are so many elements of singing that impact our overall ability to communicate-  not only can you learn how to express songs with agility and ease, but can improve your ability to really connect with others and share your thoughts at a new and profound level.

What do you think about how singing lessons facilitates communication in other aspects of life?  Stay tuned for the extra benefit of singing lessons- An Emotional Outlet!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Why Should I Learn to Sing in Italian? Or in Another Language at All?

 I very often am asked the question, "Why should I learn to sing in a different language like Italian?"  As Americans, we think everybody speaks English and we listen to most of our music in English, so why should we bother to learn to sing in another language?

Backtrack a minute- what were the first languages of the world?  Latin, Italian, French, German, Hebrew, there are so many.  Therefore a large bulk of music written to date has been in a different language.  I am not speaking of pop music and musical theater, but many other styles of music that seem to be tossed aside.  Why SHOULDN'T you learn to sing in a different language?  Why should you rule it out simply because it is not your first language?  Singing is a form of communication in addition to being a think of beauty.  If we want to be able to communicate our song, we should learn to sing in more than one language.

Why Should You Sing in Italian or Latin?  A short list:

- Italian/Latin have PURE vowels that make it easier to sing than English once you are familiar with the language.  This can carry over to our singing in English since it enhances the resonance and overtones.

-  Because we do not generally speak it, we do not inflect our accent upon it.  (Southern, Mid-western, or Northeastern).

The beauty of the music itself!  There is a variety of beautiful songs for all ability levels available to study

- Studying music in another language broadens your horizons and exposes you to music you may not even know exists.

-  It increases your historical knowledge of music how we got to the music of today
   Most Italian art songs use the following:
     - Sequence
     - Verse and Chorus
     - Embellishing (adding notes to) a basic melody

- Creating artistic licence through embellishing a melody.
*Think about it -When was the last time you heard the National Anthem sung without added notes or     looked at sheet music for a pop song that is written differently from how you hear the artist perform it? This concept did not develop in the 21st century, but is centuries old.  When songs were performed as entertainment in parlors for guests, singers added notes and embellishments to the melody as personal artistry.

- Learning a little bit about other cultures helps us to appreciate differences and understand our own.

- When you then go and sing English, your singing of English is improved because of your mastery of pure vowels which CARRY the sound.  This is not to say we do not stylistically need to alter vowels, but it helps you to find your true sound first.

What if people don't understand the language or what I am saying?

Few people in your audience would actually claim to know word for word what you are saying. However, if you have researched the meaning of the words, you are able to sing the piece in a way that communicates the MEANING of the song.  Most recitals also provide a translation or opera's have subtitles.

Why not give it a try and see not only if you like it, but what it can do for your singing voice?  It is great to explore singing in many languages.  Some may be more comfortable for you then others, but expose you to so much beautiful music!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Build Confidence in Yourself and Your Abilities through Singing Lessons


Build Confidence (In Yourself and Your Abilities) with Singing!

Do you love to sing, but are you afraid to sing in front of others?  Scared to share your voice?  Do you have a shy child who likes to sing and can carry a tune, but afraid to sing out in chorus or audition for that solo?  Yes, you want to make your singing (or a child's) better by taking singing lessons, but how will that help you to be more comfortable in front of others or more confident in yourself?

By taking singing lessons, you are spending time with yourself and working on a part of you.  It's similar to when you spend that time at the gym.  You are working on the overall person that you are and fine tuning a part of YOU!  The endorphins created when you workout make you feel better about yourself, control stress, and affect how you interact with others.

When you take singing lessons, you are also focusing on your body and what it can do for you as a musician.  You not only improve your singing voice, but your confidence level in singing and yourself.   The concentrated time spent with yourself and improving your instrument creates those same endorphins.  This makes you feel good about you and enhances the music that you make.

Singing lessons involve time spent on posture and poise.  This increases your confidence level.  Read more about it: http://www.healthyandconfidentsingingvoice.blogspot.com/2013/05/posture-and-poise.html

When you have more confidence in your skills, you perform a song differently.  Look them in the eye and communicate what you (or your character) have to say! Being someone else for a little while in a play or opera often makes it easier.  Being comfortable enough with yourself to let the inhibitions go and try to sing the song and be the character from Guys and Dolls or convey the meaning of Danny Boy in a performance can unleash a different part of a person.  Once you can do that, it affects YOU in everyday life.

(Remember that quiet girl who had a hard time talking at the party because she was too shy?  Once a student has sung a song in a performance, the quiet, reserved person may start to come out of her shell, be confident enough to look a person in the eye in a conversation, or speak up in class!).

Have you ever had this experience or know of someone who has? I would love to hear about it!

Does a more confident singer and person communicate more effectively? Let me know your thoughts and tune in next week for how singing can help communication skills.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Can Singing Lessons Improve our Academic Skills? How?


Studies show that students who study voice or a musical instrument, perform better academically.  In musical study, we learn problem solving, perseverance, and are continually using multiple intelligences at the same time.   Artistic creations cause us to try to figure out how to sing or play that phrase with good support or more musically, answer questions such as  ' How would the character in the musical Guys and Dolls react in the situation?'  or 'How can I help the orchestra perform this piece successfully- what is my role and how can I play my part accurate?' Students are consistently being challenged to solve problems such as these.  This helps to develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career (All Catholic Orchestra Program). www.teacherweb.com/PA?AOP/HSArts

In solving problems in music, one learns perseverance and also develops musical intelligence, a separate trait in the 'theory of multiple intelligences' (both to be expanded up in future blogs).  Music study increases the academic (and musical) functions of the brain!

A few specific examples:

Many of the concepts of music and making music are based on math:  time signature, beat, and rhythm are just a few examples.  By learning how to organize the beat into measures and the rhythm within beats, we are teaching valuable mathematical skills.

Most of the instructions given in music are in Italian.  Piano (soft), mezzo-forte (medium loud), Allegro  (quickly).  Understanding their meaning increases our language awareness.  We start to look at the roots of words to find their meaning.  Since our language is devised from Latin as it Italian, students learn roots of words and prefixes which help their vocabulary and may even help in their success in language study.

In voice lessons we also analyze the words of the song thus working literary skills.  What is the poet really saying with these lyrics from the 16th century?  Put it in your own words.  How does the character feel at this part of the song when you say 'I love you although I can no longer be with you'.  How do you translate this line to English from Italian?  Singing lessons go one step further to not only interpret the written word just like you would in English class, but addresses other languages, and how do we communicate those words while we sing?

In voice lessons, we also learn to organize time and dedication to a craft.  Organizing time to practice and attention to detail in what and how we practice carries over into academic organization and improved study habits. 

We study music for the music itself and the joy it brings us, but the academic benefits of musical study are astounding.  Why not encourage lifelong study?  What else can singing lessons do for us?

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Singing Lessons Help Increase Concentration and Focus- where is your focus?

I don't know about you, but through the pandemic my ability to focus and that of many students has been challenged!  Fine tune that ability to focus and increase the quality and length of time you can concentrate (both quality and length of time) by taking Singing Lessons!

How does studying music help that?  Musical study requires the ability to focus on details for periods of time.  How do you sing that phrase with a long, smooth line?  What is that rhythm?  From reading music on the page to creating the music with our bodies,  music making involves concentration and focus.  Do you or your child have difficulty focusing on academic tasks?  Singing lessons may help.

Your body is your whole instrument so it requires a lot of focus and concentration to sing.  You work on getting your body physically in sync with your brain thus really concentrate.  It is not easy to make beautiful music, phrasing, and sing the right words at the same time, so your concentration skills are challenged! 

What is my body really doing?  Not only does your brain need to interpret the notes and words it sees, but it needs to multi-task and tell your body what to do.  It sends a message to your vocal cords to vibrate at a certain speed to create that specific note.  It also sends a note to inhale, fill our lungs with air, and control the exhale.  We are not consciously aware of all of the messages, but learn to help our body control the messages more clearly.  We can think, 'breathe slowly and deeply on the inhale and control the exhale so I can sing the whole phrase' or 'I want to sing this phrase in one breath, let me see how I can stretch my breath to accomplish that.'

These are complex thoughts when put together in a long strand in a sequence.  This helps us increase our focus, concentration, and multi-functioning brain capacity! 

We musblock out other influences and concentrate on the task at hand.  No one else can do it for them as they cannot hide in a big class.  The singing teacher helps each student to process the information on the page.  Those notes are small and what do they mean?  Their brains must interpret the notes and tell their bodies what to do.  Repetition of the process to play or sing the phrase as it is written is necessary.  Repeat, repeat, and the body and brain remember it.  Repeat and add another command such as 'make these 4 measures one phrase and sing it in one breath' and one must really focus.  Concentration to do these things carries over to other parts of your life!

Someone learning to read notes must learn to interpret what they are singing as they go, just like when reading aloud as a young child,  .  Remember the days that we spent following the words on the page with our fingers to help us to keep our place when we read?  Were you ever asked if you understood what you just read?   Learning to read can be a challenging task. Learning to read music facilitates reading words as it uses symbols that need to be interpreted just like words do.  Eventually reading and reading music gets easier and you DO understand it the first time.  The process of the eyes following notes (words) left to right gets easier with repetition and processing.

What great qualities to learn to help us to create beautiful music and accomplish so many other things in our lives!!  Get involved in singing lessons at the beginning of the school year and watch how concentration skills in music and your other studies grows!

What are your thoughts about how musical study increases concentration and focus?  What other skills are enhanced by learning to sing?

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Why Take Voice Lessons In An Independent Voice Studio? The real reasons!

 Why should you take voice lessons in an Independent Voice Studio?  What does it do for you? Can’t everyone sing? 

Almost anyone who can speak 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.  Through solid technique you can find the capabilities of your singing voice, not merely imitating those that you hear on recordings.

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 
We don't always hear ourselves as others hear us.  Think about when you hear yourself speaking on your voicemail greeting.  It sounds different, right?  The same is true with our singing voice.  

In an independent voice studio, the student gets guidance on their own individual voice, not the overall sound of the choir. This individualized attention helps develop the voice in a unique and powerful way.  Together teacher and singer explore a variety of styles of music based on what the teacher hears in the potential of the voice, students' interests and how the voice starts developing.  You gain confidence in your own sound.  Also, there is so much music out there than many of us have never heard!  There are also many styles of music which we particularly like which may or may not be suited to our voice type and range.  Exploring your voice from a solo standpoint can help you find your potential and uncover beautiful things!

Voice lessons can be taught both in person and online!  What are the benefits to each?  (See blogs on Online lessons vs. In Person Lessons).  Many teachers, such as myself, are now incorporating both options into their studios.  Turn around the skills you build in voice lessons and use them in your choral experiences!!

What about the fun of the choral experience, singing with others?

Add to your choral singing with voice lessons and keep having fun in choir!  Other opportunities arise too which give you more confidence and enhanced singing skills.  In an independent voice studio, the singer 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!

Sunday, October 3, 2021

 "Why should I sing an Art Song?  I want to sing something more complex or that's not the music I am interested in singing." This is the question I often get asked when assigning art songs to my voice students.  There are so many reasons:

We learn from any vocal repertoire that we sing!  Art songs give us a chance to work with words as poetry.  Art songs (classical songs) were most often poems before they were set to music.  The words inspired the composers to set them in a song.  

We learn to pay attention to the words and their meaning as the composer interpreted.  To look at how the melody interacts with the piano accompaniment to create a desired effect.  To really communicate our interpretation of that meaning.  

What Singing Art Songs Does For Us:

- Teaches us the power of words and how they function in creating images

- Teaches us to notice details.  (Nuances between the melody and accompaniment to create images)

- Exposes us to poems by many of history's greatest poets from all nationalities

    ** A great exercise is having students sing songs with the same text by a variety of composers and in a variety of eras!!

- It adds to our working vocabulary in various languages (Italian, French, German).  Our vocabulary in the specific language we are singing grows quickly as we study more and more art songs.

- Stretches our imagination and how to analyze a poem.   How do WE interpret the poem?  (A direct correlation to English classes in school)

- It is history and song that leads to so many of the contemporary music of today.  (We didn't just get to where we are in music by magic!)

- It teaches us to communicate a story.  Words are not always straight forward and need to be interpreted and then communicated.

It often  teaches a simplified melodic line or recurring theme.  Often melodic lines are simplistic in nature in beginning art songs and folk songs.  Repeated words lend to repeated melodic ideas. These are the backbones of most music regardless of genre.

Art songs (classical songs) are an essential to vocal study and learning to communicate the meaning of any style of music.  Embrace the beauty of text and song to help you share meaningful music!  

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Why Take Voice Lessons? The In Person Option Analyzed (but don't forget online too....)

Voice Lessons are such an important element of improving singing technique and building confidence to sing in front of others.  In the previous article, I analyzed why online lessons may be a good option.  Here are a few benefits of the IN PERSON option!  Please read both and decide which option works best for YOU or YOUR CHILD.  

In Person Benefits:

Being IN PERSON, you really get one on one attention in live time.  Your voice is analyzed exactly as it is heard by another individual.  That opinion and expertise is invaluable!  We do not hear ourselves as others hear us!

Some people are just DONE with the online concept because they have to spend so much time on their computers for work or school.  Zooming meetings and other online concepts are here to stay but this may be a place you can get the 'humanness' of singing back!

One on one singing in person may be less intimidating than jumping back into singing with the choir. You or your child may have gotten a little rusty over the pandemic and singing online for choir class or maybe your church or community choir (or you) took a break over the pandemic.  You want to work on your skills and confidence but have the face to face interaction with another human without technology involved.

You may be ready to venture off the computer to in person singing but still fear singing with multiple people in a group.  Singing lessons give you that opportunity with less of a germ pool.  Build your skills and confidence to get back to it.

Many people say there is just NOTHING like hearing singing and music LIVE!  If that's you, that's your option:-)

Voice Lessons, no matter how you slice it, are beneficial not only to your singing voice but for your soul!  You may want to give it a try but don't know which way will work best for you.  Stop and think about it and go with what feels most comfortable.  I enjoy teaching both online and in person as it presents the singer in a different way and gives a variety of things to work on in lessons.

Many studios (including myself) are offering both options or the best of both worlds.  You may choose or need to go back and forth! The option to primarily take IN PERSON lessons with the option to convert to ONLINE as needed can help you get into a regular lesson pattern regardless of daily life.

- Daily life patterns may change (travel for work, car broke down, to child playing a sport for one season which makes it difficult to make it to lesson on time, but can if online) 

- Public health situations  (COVID-19 exposure and quarantine or variants or you have a little cold but don't want to share it) 

- Weather (an ice storm which leaves roads impassable but with electricity, a lesson still possible)

If we have learned anything through the pandemic, it is that things can always change! Make the move and get started singing more and being happy today with voice lessons!!  Tune in next week for benefits of singing lessons in general!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Why Take Voice Lessons? How is best for YOU? Online or In Person or in a studio which offers both?


Why should you or your child take voice lessons?  It seems an age old question, but today is a brand new one!  You have a larger choice HOW to take voice lessons too!  With all of the time we have spent on computers and in online school, people need more one on one time. They need to reconnect to people.  They need to be interacting with someone on a truly individual basis to reconnect to what matters to them what moves them, what they feel, how they can express it.  

Individual time with a voice teacher is like nothing else!  It fuels our souls, our creativity, balances our well being, and gives us confidence.  In voice lessons, we work on YOU as an individual and on YOUR singing voice.   

In the age of the pandemic, we found we can get this one on one time and reconnecting through both ONLINE and IN PERSON voice lessons.  There are so many benefits to both ways and yes, you can do one or the other or BOTH.  (Many of us are continuing online and in person options to serve all needs)  So no matter which you prefer, you can explore both to GET THAT VOICE SINGING!


Many of us never thought to teach online, but through advancement in technology, we did it and it opened many doors. Here are some of the benefits of ONLINE teaching I have found (Tune in next week for IN PERSON benefits)

Location and Time:

You can have a lesson with a voice teacher even when you live across the country or go on a vacation for an extended time.  Car breaks down or there is a storm that leaves the road a mess, you can still have your lesson!  Going off to college but want to continue voice lessons with your studio teacher in your hometown, YOU' VE GOT IT!

If you found you didn't have time to take voice lessons before because of travel time to and from location in addition to the length of the lesson, this could be your answer!  Or your teacher and your schedule are difficult to coordinate (even if its for a 2 week period)- you don't need to cancel or quit, move it online (even if only temporary)

Truly face to face (even if through the screen) :

When on the computer, a teacher and student are truly face to face (no voice lessons cannot take place without a camera).  Voice teachers can see actions of the mouth, neck and posture issues very clearly. When singing in person during this pandemic many of us do still need to wear a mask.  This hides our face, mouth, etc so sometime difficult to address certain areas of technique.  Online we do not so we can see the singer more clearly.  We also generally see the singer in a close up view.  We can ask them to turn sideways, get a different view of posture.    


I have found that students are more apt to work harder in between lessons when learning online.  When they are more prepared for the music of the lesson, they are have a more successful lesson.  They have accompaniment tracks ready to go and have planned out what they want to work on.  Also because of the slight drawback of latency issues of working online, students work harder to combat it with more practice time. 

Latency issues have been vastly improved with various technological advancements and tools.  Voice lessons online have become very SUCCESSFUL and POPULAR.

Of course, singing in person is ultimately the best thing, but don't let this stop you from SINGING!!  Explore the option to have ONLINE voice lessons (or supplement ONLINE when you have schedule issues with your IN PERSON Voice Lessons)

Go explore singing lessons for YOU (visit www.susanandersbrizick.com for information on Voice Lessons in my studio) .  Tune in next week for benefits of IN PERSON Voice Lessons and singing in general!