Tuesday, September 30, 2014

12 Tiny Changes #6: Take a break

That's right: take a break. To be precise, take a ten minute break in the middle of an hour of practice. Here's how:


You can place a book underneath your head if needed, or lay flat on the floor. I tend to have several think books on hand, because some days I need two or three and some days I need only one. Bending your knees, though, is really helpful as it takes the pressure off the low back.

Resting for a few minutes in the middle of practicing makes your hour of work MORE productive. It's not wasting time...it's improving your USE of time.

More on this later!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Schedule change for opera

Folks, I re-thought the schedule for tomorrow, thanks to John. Please check the schedule! This especially affects John, Nole, and Shane. My mistake...do the best you can. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Excellent journal

Let's hear it for Beau: best journal of the week!



My voice was not at its most confident for this lesson. I’ve made a conscious effort (during choir as well) to make lip-trill vocalises sound more “melismatic” (sliding between pitches and making them more legato, rather than making them sound isolated). I’ve also focused on breathing out rather than up, which has helped a good bit; I’ve noticed it helps to produce a more consistent tone. Keeping all of the tones on the same level vocally has presented a bit of a challenge, but I feel that I have improved with that. I did have a bit of a difficulty with tone consistency, but that’s getting better; I’m working on not making such a dramatic shift from bright to dark tone as I go down the scale. It sounds silly, but I feel that my tendency to sing mezzo-piano and call it ‘forte’ may be a confidence thing. Stomach contraction is improving slowly but surely (especially with the ‘tee teh tah’ exercise. Good tone production is like a good golf swing; a lot of different things to think about at once (though I cannot take a good golf swing to save my life). On the positive side, ‘yawning’ into the ‘I love’ exercise is coming a lot more naturally, and I’ve noticed in choir that my problems with rocking and not bending my knees have are almost nonexistent.

Helpful Apps for Choice Week

There are a ton of Apps you can get for your phone that help you make better choices. I like My Fitness Pal for many reasons. You can track your calorie intake, it remembers the things you eat often, and you can search for calorie information on homemade or restaurant foods. (For example, did you know that the mozzarella sticks appetizer at Applebee's is 930 calories?! Made me choose something else, that's for sure. Yikes.) It also calculates how many calories you burn during various activities: I burned 38 calories during my 10 minute walk around the quad yesterday.

I'm just figuring it out, my the new iOS has a Health App, too. Nike has a running app, and Tactio has a very comprehensive looking app. There are tons of them, and they're a great way for tech nerds like me to stay honest.

Give it a try!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Twelve Tiny Changes #5

This week, you have a choice.



Actually, every week, every day, every moment you have a choice. And that's the point here.

This week, choose to do one thing better each day. It doesn't matter what it is, and there are lots of options. Here are some possibilities:

If you normally drink 3 sodas a day, drink 2.
If you normally start your day with a latte at Starbucks, go for nonfat instead of full fat milk.
If you're about to buy a Pumpkin latte, get a small instead of a large.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Walk around the quad for 10 minutes instead of chilling in the hall. It's beautiful outside!
If you're ordering pizza, get thin crust instead of deep dish.
If you sleep only 6 hours per night, sleep 7.
If you're drinking more carbonated or caffeinated drinks than water, substitute one more water.

You get the idea. Go to it!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Journaling example

Folks, part of your lesson grade each week is assessment of your work in the studio. Some of you have been asked to summarize your lesson; others have been asked to journal on what's happening in the practice room.

Kristin has given me permission to share her journal, since I thought it was very thorough and included many astute observations. It was also long enough to be worthwhile. Here it is:

- during the tongue exercises I am nodding my head as the notes go as well as releasing much more air than I need to so that by the end i seem to be running out of air and almost pushing too hard by the end of the phrase
- i need to watch myself in the mirror more because I can see the neck tensing when doing most warm-ups
- the hand on my neck during the lip trill took away some of the tensing and also kept my posture up a bit more so the whole exercise looked easier for me
- lifting my eyebrows in the zu-i exercise makes it look a bit more strained and like I’m trying and stretching much more than I should be for the high notes
- the breathing seems to stay pretty supported as long as i keep my hand there so that i stay aware of retaining the breath
- after using the sighs the sound focused a bit more and I seemed to not look so strained as i try for the high notes. my face also starts to relax a bit more and now look so tensed
- I’m still struggling with letting go and letting the pitches ring and be looser
-palpating by tapping on my neck seems to help me let and the entire phrase changed and become much more evenly vibrant
- the higher i went i still had a tendency to add  some h’s in between the pitch’s during the “i love to sing” exercise
(Not on video, but notes from my music for “Il mio bel foco”)
- I need to work on singing through the l’s and m’s more on the quella fiamma parts
- watch the double consonants on mac-cende and other words
- work on the pronunciation of “piace tanto all’alma mia” and make sure all the l’s are present and the tan is correct
- watch for the 16th notes where I hadn’t been 100% on some of the pitches
- 14x through “no vo-le-er giam-mai po-tra” making sure to get the rhythm right
- 14x through the “se-stin-gue-ra” with all the 16th notes

For those of you who are not journaling, you are only hurting yourself. For those who are doing a lot less than Kristin, it's time to step it up! She has set the bar.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Twelve Tiny Changes #4: HYDRATE

Most of us don't drink enough water. For singers, this can be debilitating, since the vocal folds are mucus membranes and must be hydrated to function optimally. If you're like me, you get annoyed running to the restroom all day, so it's easy to "overlook" drinking enough water.

Luckily, there's an app for that. Here's what I use:

Water Minder (free app for iPhone) calculates the amount of water you should drink based on your weight. It beeps at you periodically to remind you to tank up. Give it a try this week!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tiny Change #3 addendum: NAPS



OK, so you're having trouble getting your 8 hours of sleep. While I still encourage you to do it however you can, here's a way to supplement your sleep if needed:

NAPPING.

I know, that seems so...kindergarten. I assure you, it's not. Here are a few articles to give you some guidance on the best way to make naps work for you:

The Boston Globe (short intro)
Seven  Rules for Napping (who knew there were rules?)
This site is really cool, with lots of information. Some of it has been debunked, but if it works for you, use it!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Can't sleep?

Sleep is our Twelve Tiny Changes topic for the week. If you're having trouble falling or staying asleep, here are some tips to break that cycle.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why sleep is so important

This article may blow your mind. If being short ONE HOUR of sleep affects a sixth grader like this, imagine what being sleep deprived on a regular basis does to you?

Eight hours a night, people. That's a tiny change that's worth making!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Twelve Tiny Changes #3

The third in our series of tiny changes:

Get 8 hours of sleep a night.


OK, at least 7. But aim for 8.



There are tons of reasons for getting enough shuteye, which I've included in links to several sources here, including improvement in memory. Having a sharp memory is kind of important when you're learning voice lesson repertoire, an opera role, or the material for that biology exam. It also reduces the likelihood of various diseases.

More on this later this week. But for now, just try to get your eight hours of sleep, every night!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Twelve Tiny Changes: Change #2



Walk 20 minutes today. Walk 20 minutes every day!

Don't feel like you have 20 spare minutes? Yes, you do.

Give up 20 minutes of Facebook and go walk. You can even call your Mom while you walk. Put in your earbuds and give her a call while you log your 20 minutes.

Students, I know it's a million degrees outside. It's nasty. It's humid. It's September, and it should be illegal to be this hot.

But guess what? Your student fees pay for a world-class rec center with a rubberized track upstairs. In air-conditioned bliss. And you don't have to worry about car exhaust, crossing the street, or collapsing in heat stroke. You can walk inside.

Here's why you should walk: it makes you happier! And who doesn't want to be happy? Your mama wants you to be happy. Go walk.

And still eat your breakfast every day.

Repertoire assignments

Hi folks, Following are your repertoire assignments. As always, I welcome requests! Remember, I reserve veto rights, but knowing what inte...