Sunday, August 23, 2015

Voice Lesson Schedule

Hi Folks,

Following is the schedule for voice lessons. While I hope it will not change, it might due to coordination with our pianists. Be sure to check the schedule again several times before next week to see if it remains the same for the semester. IF YOU DO NOT SEE YOUR NAME BELOW OR IF THIS TIME CONFLICTS WITH SOMETHING YOU HAVE ALREADY SCHEDULED, LET ME KNOW IMMEDIATELY VIA TEXT: 205-306-6093.

If you'd like a pianist for your first lesson, please contact Dr. Chris Steele or Carolyn Violi to ask if they can join us for the second half of your lesson. The only one that is required to do so during the first lesson is Nole: for everyone else, this is optional, but you're welcome to do so if you have repertoire you'd like to work right away.

FYI: half-hour lessons (1 credit) will be 25 minutes, though we'll often go for the full 30 minutes; one-hour lessons (2 credit) will be 50 minutes. Please plan accordingly, and be a few minutes early. You can stretch in the hall, or (if no one is having a lesson) come in and stretch in my office. Please knock before entering. Thanks.

Looking forward to beginning/resuming our work! I will see you at your lesson AND at our Friday class at 12:20 in my studio (I may be able to schedule another space: check here to be certain). If you have any questions about anything at all, please feel free to text, call, stop by, or email me. I am here to help!

10:30-11 Nicole
11-11:30 Ashley
11:30-12 Addie
3:30-4:20 Dana

10-10:50 Alyssa
11-11:30 Alyse R.
1-1:30 Hunter
3:30-4 Selina

9:30-10 Kristin D.
10:10-11 Nole
11:10-12 Rae

11-11:50 Beau
2-2:50 Madison
3-3:50 Michael

11-11:50 Briana

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dr. Kris Voice Studio UPDATE!

Hi again folks,

It turns out there will NOT be a studio meeting on Wednesday, August 26: that will be a required Convocation for everyone, but you will all stay in Hulsey Recital Hall for the entire time. Since the first time I will see everyone will be Friday the 28th (my studio, 12:20), I would like to attempt to assign your regular lesson time by the first day of class. This means that I need everyone's schedule BEFORE the first day of class. Please send it to me no later than Thursday, August 20. That will give me time to assemble the house of cards that a voice schedule truly becomes! Right now, I only have schedules for Rae, Nole, and Michael. Everyone else, please email me at ASAP.

Thanks, and you soon!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dr. Kris Voice Studio

Hi folks,

I hope you're enjoying the last few weeks of summer. Here's the plan for the first week of school:

Give me your schedule ASAP, preferably by the first day of class. You may email it to me or put it on my door (Hulsey 249). I don't need to know what classes you have when: I only need to know when you're free. Keep it simple.

Sign up for a lesson time during the first week of class. This may or may not end up being your regular time: it's just to get us going. Stay tuned here to learn of your regular lesson time: it may change if we have a scheduling conflict. If you have pieces you'd like to work on in your first lesson, bring them. If you don't, please don't worry about it: we'll choose them together. If you have a recital coming up and/or music ready to work, please arrange for Dr. Steele to join us at your lesson that first week. If the time you chose doesn't work for him, this might mean choosing a different time. Please be flexible, and be sure he has your music ahead of time. Depending on your regular lesson time, you may have a different pianist for the rest of the semester.

Come to the studio meeting on Wednesday at 12:20. Everyone meets first in Hulsey Recital Hall; you will then be directed to your teachers' studios. Again, my studio is room 249. At that time, we'll finalize schedules and have a brief studio meeting.

Come to our first studio class on Friday at 12:20. Again, we'll meet in my studio. No need to bring anything, unless I specify to do so during our Wednesday meeting. I predict we'll spend most of the time laying out expectations for the semester.

If you have any questions, contact me. There is no such thing as a stupid question! Feel free to email me at if you are unsure about anything at all.

See you soon!

Dr. Kris

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Church positions available at Cathedral of St. Paul

Dear students,

There are a few positions open at St. Paul's Cathedral (2120 3rd Avenue N): alto, tenor, and bass. Rehearsals are Wednesday evenings: $42/call, 2 calls per week.  Must be around for Christmas Eve and Day and Easter/Holy Week.  The director is flexible on almost any date provided singers make 75% or more calls per month. 

This is a great opportunity to develop your musicianship skills and to sing regularly! If interested, please contact Bruce Ludwick at

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


There will NOT be an Opera Workshop or fall production in Fall 2015. But fear not...we have many exciting performing and workshop opportunities planned, which won't be part of an extra credit hour. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Notes from Dr. Darnell's Convocation on Voice Health

"Taking Care of Your Speaking Voice"

Notes by Jeanie Darnell

Musicians, performers and teachers, maintain busy schedules.  It is important to take care of one's body, health, and speaking voice for lecturing and communicating.  The National Association of Schools of Music has now made it a requirement that music faculty, staff and students learn how to keep vocal wellness.

Conserving your voice means that you use your voice wisely, avoiding abusive behaviors and misuse.

A hoarse or raspy voice indicates that there is a problem with your voice.  Healthy voices are clear and resonant.

What is vocal abuse and misuse?

1) Shouting, screaming, and extended loud talking:

This doesn't only happen when you are arguing or yelling at sports' events, but when you are talking over noise when you are traveling (in car, bus, airplane--motor, air conditioner, outside noises), when you are in restaurants and crowded rooms such as parties, or speaking over background music and TV in everyday places.

Be conscious of the noise around you to preserve your speaking voice.  Do not push the voice.

Talking too loud and too long can leave you vocally fatigued for days.

Be aware of your posture when traveling, so to use good breath support when speaking.  Drink plenty of water too because heaters, air conditioners, and recirculated air dehydrate you.

Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages when flying, and drink more water the day before, during and after you have flown.

2) Excessive throat clearing and coughing:

If you have clumpy mucous, you may be dehydrated, or you may be suffering from allergies or an upper respiratory infection.  Acid reflux also causes excessive mucous in the throat.

Try to determine the reason.  Drink plenty of water (about half your body weight per day, and sip throughout the day and evening).  Your pee should be a pale color.

If you have allergies, inhalant or food, seek treatment.  Allergies are sometimes seasonal, but often chronic.  Post nasal drip is irritating to the vocal track.  If the allergies are inhalant, it helps to irrigate your sinuses with saline for that purpose, in morning and at night.  

If the vocal track lining is inflamed and you speak, you are more susceptible to injury (just as if you had a blister on your foot, and decided to walk 10 miles).

Tight, tense, and sore throat sensations indicate a problem--do not ignore!  If you have an infection, seek medical treatment: it may require antibiotics to heal.

If you have a common cold, push fluids, eat well, rest, and sleep with a humidifier.  Using a decongestant such as Afrin or Sudafed for a few days may help (best to check with your doctor).  Zinc supplements help you to heal faster (Ziocam).

Expectorants/Tussins are good for thinning mucous, but they require more hydration.

Clearing the throat and coughing slaps the vocal folds together abruptly.  It often takes three weeks or longer to recover from the symptoms of bronchitis or a severe respiratory illness.  Take care and use the voice as little as possible when sick.  You are more susceptible to hemorrhages and developing nodules when you use inflamed vocal folds.  Warm honey and water is soothing to an inflamed vocal track (half and half).  Lint from tissues can inflame it.

Laryngitis will usually subside after a day or two with complete vocal rest. If you persist with whispering, it will take weeks.

You must seek medical treatment for chronic acid reflux (GERD or LPRD).  It's very damaging.  (The sphincters at the top of the esophagus and at the junction of the stomach allow acidic digestive fluids from stomach into esophagus and or throat.) Reflux results in hoarseness, chronic coughing, frequent throat clearing, pain in throat, problems swallowing, post nasal drip, referred ear pain, and bitter taste in mouth.  (Lump in throat.)

3) Speaking at an inappropriate pitch level:

People sometimes alter their voices to sound culturally acceptable.  Everyone has a vocal range to their speaking voice that is healthy.  It is generally around a P4 above the lowest note you can sing without strain.  It is usually where you say "um hum".

Speak in phrases--breathe between!

Vocal fry (think of car battery sound) occurs when you are pressing the vocal folds together by talking too low and without proper breath support.  Make sure you are NOT grinding on your voice, as it will develop nodules from this misuse.

4) Speaking without proper support:

You must breathe and release air through your vocal folds to phonate.

Maintaining good posture helps.  (Speaking on your back for extended periods is difficult.).

Being conscious of taking good breaths is important.  Avoid speaking too quickly or too loudly.  Speaker phones are sometimes helpful.

5) Smoking:

Smoking causes the fluid of the epithelium (vocal fold lining) to gather and causes irregular vocal fold vibration, resulting in a hoarse, raspy sound.  Smoking also causes lung cancer.

Avoid smoking.  

6) Excessive use of medications, and alcohol:

Avoid recreational drugs altogether. Inhaled drugs are especially damaging to the voice.

Antihistamines can over-dry the vocal folds.  You may have to use milder ones, and drink more water.  Ask your doctor for advice.  Our bodies react differently to them.

Avoid excessive use of blood thinners such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can cause hemorrhages.

Alcohol and caffeine are drying to the vocal folds.  Drink in moderation.

7) Unhealthy environmental conditions:

Avoid exposure to chemical fumes, dust, mold, and smoke.  Dry climates may require that you drink more water.

Avoid polluted environments if possible.

Playing music in smokey bars is difficult for your body.

8) Whispering:

Don 't whisper.  It presses the vocal folds and causes unnecessary friction.  It's better to speak out gently, or write notes!

9) Eating too much salt, or drinking too much caffeine:

Salt is drying.  It causes vocal folds to swell.  Peanuts, pop corn, potato chips should be avoided before lecturing.

Drinking too much caffeine dehydrates you.  

Small amounts of salt and caffeine are OK.

Take care of your body.  Hydrate!

1) Rest-- your voice will perform better if you are getting 8 hours of rest each night.  If you are tired, your energy level will drop.

2) Eat sensibly--a balanced diet so you have all if your nutrient needs met.  Plenty of fruits, veggies and some protein to sustain you.

3) Exercise regularly--this strengthens your immunity, bones, muscles and cardio vascular health.

4) When in cold environments, cover yourself.  Breathe through your nose.  Wear a scarf around your neck, and or a hat.

5) Pace yourself!  Do more talking earlier in the day when you are fresh!

6) Use amplification when possible to preserve your voice.

Abusive singing activities:  singing too high, too low, too loud or too long.

Belting by screaming out lower voice.

Warm-up for 5-10 minutes: use lip trills, humming, buzzing, vocalises in the middle easy range.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Spring repertoire assignments

Happy new year, folks! Following are your repertoire assignments for the spring semester. I've chosen repertoire with an eye to planning your recitals or half recitals, even though for some of you that might be years away. As always, if you don't like something, please say so and Dr. Yang Temko will help you find something else. Have one song prepared well enough for you to work for your first lesson with her. 

I've left copies of some music on my door to get you started: everything else is in my office or in the library, which you can copy as needed. Please remember to sign out any music you borrow, and return it promptly. This is your opportunity to exercise your research skills: get to know the library, online sources, etc. Look on this blog for links to helpful music sites and translation sites.

I'll miss you, but will be in and out of town and only an email away. Sabbatical dosn't mean I've completely disappeared. Have a wonderful semester and know that I love y'all madly!

Purcell's "Fairest Isle," "Tu lo sai" (in your Italian book) or "Sento nel core" (a copy for you is on my door), Handel's "Verdi prati," Dowland's "Now, O now" or "Behold a wonder here" (on my door), Schubert's "Liebhaber in allen Gestalten."


Anything else from Quatre Chansons de Jeunesse, Handel's "Tornami," Strauss: "Kling!", "Breit über mein Haupt," Doll Song from Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Rodrigo: last two songs from Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios.


Any of the remaining Songs of Travel, finish off "Avant de quitter," Fauré's "Au bord de l'eau" and "Automne," Brahms's "Sonntag," "Wie Melodien" and/or "Dein blaues Auge." If you plan to do NATS, check online for their repertoire requirements and prepare your choices accordingly. Feel free to use a few we've done this past semester.


"Gia il sole dal Gange" "Pieta Signore" "Danza, danza" or "Che fiero costume" (all in your Italian book: choose two), "An Schwager Kronos" (two copies are on my door for you).


Lotti's "Pur dicesti" (on my door for you) and "Intorno all'idol mio," Handel's "Va godendo" or "Non lo diro col labbro," Schubert's "Lachen und Weinen," Duke's "Little Elegy" or "I can't be talkin' of love."


Dowland's "If my complaints" (by request!), Debussy's "Nuits d'étoiles" and "Mandoline" (if time), Bellini's "Dolente immagine" "Labbandono" "Vaga luna" or "Per pieta" (pick two or more), Mozart's "Vedrai carino" from DON GIOVANNI.


Purcell's "If music be the food of love" (copy on my door for you), Paisiello's "Nel cor piu non mi sento," Schumann's "Widmung" (copy on my door), Handel's "O sleep, why dost thou leave me," Bononcini's "Non posso disperar."


No new rep, as we've designed your recital: start with anything we haven't done yet. By mid-January, you'll want to choose NATS rep and start running groups (or at least 2-3 songs) per lesson.