voice

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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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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The Search

This month I am closing my West Coast Vocal Studio and heading to the East Coast. As I prepared to do this,  I wanted to assist my students in the process of selecting a new teacher. I hope the letter below is helpful to some of you!

Hello Dear Singers and Families,

Well it is that time! As we begin to prepare our move and I close my west coast studio, it is now time to refer you to other teachers.

I am copying all of you on this list of teachers, and recommending one for each of you to try first. I have taken into account the following aspects of both you and the teachers I am recommending, including :
1. Personality
2. Skill level
3. Strengths and weaknesses
4. I encourage you to give the teacher I chose for you a try first, and if you are not comfortable, try another.

It is fine to “date” multiple teachers for a few lessons while you determine your new path, but not to be “engaged” to more than one- that is not acceptable private teacher behavior.
1. Be up front that you are shopping for a new teacher, tell them I recommended you if I did, and try them a few times.
2. When you have settled on the teacher you think is the best fit for you, then tell them you have decided.
3. This “dating process” is a two way street. If the teacher feels they cannot help you or your personalities do not fit, they can say “no thanks” as well. Do not take this personally, as it is part of the matching up process! You want your teacher to be at their best, and you want to be at your best, and if your personalities and skills don’t mesh, learning may be a struggle. [···]

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