instrument

Why should I exercise and eat a healthy diet?

Health matters.  As a singer, the body IS the instrument. If the muscles are weak, if energy is low, then the voice doesn’t have a chance.

Increasingly, I have found myself telling my students that taking the time to exercise is as important as practice time. In fact, I’ve told them that if they only have 10 minutes a day, they should spend that time working out rather than practicing.

Photoxpress_14457724Take time for cardio.  Work the abs. Even more, work the BACK strength.  Especially in singing, the abs should be strong, but if the back muscles are weak, the abs collapse from lack of resistance.  Strong leg muscles support the torso, creating a balanced body.  A balanced body frees up the abdominal muscles to support the breath.  Strong intercostal and oblique rib muscles, created through twisting exercises, allow for increased control of the descent of the diaphragm.

I have heard many excuses (including from myself): [···]

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Here are some fun ideas to use as ice breakers or to brush up on rhythm skills in group lessons and workshops. I’ve even used them to kick off my teacher workshops, and they inspired very enthusiastic participation from all!

The Rhythm Ring

1)  Prior to class, set out a group of rhythm instruments in the middle of a circle of chairs or rug area where the students will be sitting. As they enter, explain that you will be passing the instruments out to those who are waiting patiently when class begins. (This will help with chaos control!)

2)  Ask the students to think of a rhythmic pattern in 4/4 time, and to be prepared to play it repeatedly, once they have been asked to join in the rhythm ring.  [···]

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(Improvisation Journals, Preparing the Soil & Planting Seeds)

“How do I get really good at improvisation?” a student will ask me from time to time.

Most successful artists practice their craft daily. Think about any artist you may know. If you go into their studios, you will likely find evidence of the artistic process in many different stages of  creativity. With a creator of fine paintings, you might find a pile of rough sketches, pencil drawings and canvases with texture and shading patches; four or five versions of a still life of flowers and fruit, varying in color value, styles and techniques; and a landscape in water color sitting on an easel ready for finishing touches. The studio walls are decorated with finished works done by the artist, as well as pieces created by his contemporaries and influences which provide an inspiring work setting.

Journals are used by writers to keep the creative juices flowing, and to record their ideas.

Next spring, my students will be encouraged in their daily musical creativity with new improvisation journals! These journals will be specially created by the students themselves. There will be lots of space for jotting down melodic ideas, lyrics, doodles and drawings. Every other page will be manuscript paper, my intentions being that a great deal of the journaling will be done in a musical language (i.e. traditional notation, chord progressions, lead line, short hand notation, etc.).

We will have a journal making day in early spring when the students will put their books together and personalize their covers with pictures, pretty scrap booking paper, and collage. Manuscript paper can be downloaded from the internet and printed out from your computer. You might have access to a binding machine, or take the journals to an office supply store and have them spiral bound. You may also choose to use a simple audio software program (here is a free one you can download: audacity.sourceforge.net/) to do regular recordings of the students’ ideas. CD pouches are available also at an office supply store, and can be adhered to the inside covers of the journals.

Our journals will be divided into four sections, labeled “Planting Seeds“, “Budding Ideas“, ” Blossoms“,  and “Bouquets” to set apart the various stages of the creative process involved in improvisation and composition.   [···]

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