voice

SingAnd there I stood! A shy, male, British teenager!

Everything was conspiring against me. Especially my music teacher. Right then as he commanded me to “sing”, I was thinking unspeakable thoughts of hatred towards him.

Why did I need to sing in the school choir? After all I was an instrumentalist. I’d managed to survive all these years of mumbling at the back during class singing so why did everything need to get so ugly?

And there I stood! The whole choir of immature boys and girls just waiting to poke fun at me. Why couldn’t I just run around the corridors naked? Surely that would be less embarrassing?

But he made me do it! Oh how I seethed with anger at the time. But when I look back now, he probably gave me one of the greatest gifts to my musicianship!

So why sing?

Reason 1: Helps You Express Yourself Better
When you can’t articulate into words what you mean to another musician, singing simply fills in the gaps. The more frequently you sing to express musical ideas, the more relaxed and “normal” this method becomes. I love to promote a safe environment in my studio where everyone feels relaxed enough to communicate through singing their musical intentions without  [···]

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Number 5, red

To help me recover from a car accident, my doctor sent me to Katie, a physical therapist. I was surprised to discover parallels between physical therapy and teaching music. I shared five of them a month ago. Find the first five teaching tips here: 5 Teaching Tips

Below are 5 More Teaching Tips Inspired by Physical Therapy.

6. Warm Up First: Cold muscles are less pliable and more prone to injury. It’s best to get the circulation going, blood and oxygen to body parts that will soon work hard. Spend a few minutes on a treadmill or bike; walk; even climb stairs.     Treadmill

Fingers, wrists and vocal cords can also be strained without warming up. Voice students can begin low-to-mid-range and gradually move higher or lower. Piano (or other instrument) students stretch fingers, play scales and arpeggios, and loosen tight shoulders. Correct posture helps.

Make it a habit. Warm up. [···]

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I care what you DO want.

Why do we spend so much time worrying about what we don’t want in life (& singing)?  I learned SO much from my three days with Shirlee Emmons at an Arizona NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) workshop in 2007  that it is still influencing my thoughts of how I approach life and teaching.  Her book Power Performance for Singers, co-written with sports psychologist Alma Thomas, focuses on how to think so that we perform better.  Unfortunately, we lost Shirlee in 2010, but her thoughts and words are still a daily inspiration to many throughout the singing community.

One of the biggest thoughts I learned from Shirlee that I try to focus on, in singing, teaching & life in general, is that “We don’t care what we don’t want.”  Basically, let’s not focus on what went wrong, let’s focus on what went right and how to repeat it.  To that end, I ask questions of both myself and my students: What happened?  What worked?  What could you do to make it better?  Where did the sound go?  How did it feel?  How did it sound?  What were you thinking about? [···]

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