What type of clinician would you like SNATS to provide in Spring 2018?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dr. Kris Voice Studio: assignments

Following are repertoire assignments for the spring. If you would like to make a request, please email me. Bring one piece to your first lesson of the spring semester, and be sure your pianist has a copy before that lesson. Lesson times will be assigned once I have everyone's schedule: please send that to me ASAP. I currently have only one schedule: please send me yours no later than January 8.We begin lessons on January 11.

Michael: Danza, danza (Durante); Che fiero costume (Legrenzi); Now sleeps the crimson petal (Quilter). Pick one and learn it for the first week of class. We'll choose French and German later!

Kristin: Se come voi (Puccini) and/or O mio babbino caro (learn "Se come voi" first). Pick one and learn it for the first week of class. We'll add more later.

Nole: bring two of your new RVW pieces to the first lesson, memorized. Plan to sing at least three pieces in the first Performance Class at the end of the first week of class. You should own the music to everything you are singing on your recital: make that a priority if you haven't already done so.

Rae: Happiness, Élégie (Massenet), An den Mond (Schubert), Che faro senza Euridice (Gluck), pick one Handel aria. Pick one and learn it for the first week of class. Purchase a mezzo-soprano aria book, preferably "Arias for Mezzo-Soprano" edited by Larsen.

Mallory: Learn "Sento nel core" by Scarlatti, found in 28 Italian Songs and Arias (Schirmer, distributed by Hal Leonard). The best volume for you is Medium Voice: purchase it by January if possible. I believe it's in the library if you cannot buy the music right now.

Madison: Learn "In uomini, in soldati" from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. Don't worry about the Italian right now, but be rock solid musically so we can plug in the text. Buy one soprano aria book of your choice if you can: this one can be found in Arias for Soprano, volume one, edited by Larsen. The library has it, I believe.

Alyse: bring one musical theatre piece of your choice learned and ready to work for your first lesson. Please be sure that you own one of the Italian Songs and Arias books by January: please let me know if you need a recommendation on an edition.

Addie: bring one musical theatre piece of your choice learned and ready to work for your first lesson. Please be sure that you own one of the Italian Songs and Arias books by January: please let me know if you need a recommendation on an edition.

Nicole: bring one musical theatre piece of your choice learned and ready to work for your first lesson. Please be sure that you own one of the Italian Songs and Arias books by January: please let me know if you need a recommendation on an edition.

Ashley: bring one musical theatre piece of your choice learned and ready to work for your first lesson. Please be sure that you own one of the Italian Songs and Arias books by January: please let me know if you need a recommendation on an edition.

Briana: Selve amiche by Caldara (found in Italian Arias of the Baroque and Classical Eras, high voice: I believe the library has it). "Non lo diro col labbro" from Tolomeo by Handel (found in Handel 45 Arias, vol. 2, high voice). Purcell's "Nymphs and Shepherds," found in Purcell 40 songs, volume 1 (International edition, though there are other editions, too). 

Beau: Choose one or two more from Winterreise, and perhaps start one of the Ravel if you feel up to it. This can also wait till later in the semester. Look at "Ho capito" from Mozart's Don Giovanni. Have one of these ready to work in your first lesson, but don't worry about the text; we'll plug that in together.

Selina: Greensleeves, also known as "What child is this," which can be found in Singer's Library of Song, medium voice. "Se nel ben sempre incostante" by Stradella, which can be found in Standard Vocal Literature (mezzo-soprano), edited by Walters (Hal Leonard, publisher). Let me know if you need a copy, which I can send as a PDF for you to print, or I can leave it on my door.

Hunter: Let's talk. I'm not sure yet if I'll have room in the studio for you in the spring, because we have a few incoming music majors who have not yet been assigned studios, and they get first priority. I'll fit you in if I can, though, so let's keep the lines of communication open! I'm thrilled you'll be in Opera Workshop, so that we can continue your development.

As always, if you have problems, questions, or don't like the music I've assigned, just let me know. I'm happy to find other pieces if you're not thrilled with what I've given you. Do not wait until the last minute, though: everyone is still expected to have something prepared for the first lesson.

Happy Holidays, and enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Another reason to have good sleep habits



My students know that I harp on the importance of sleep, and with good reason. There is so much research coming to the fore lately regarding the impact of sleep habits on all of our bodily functions. Some of this research is happening at UAB. This article notes that lack of sleep can impact our weight, which in turn impacts everything else.

Use this holiday break to get into good sleep habits. Many of us feel the need to "catch up" this time of year. Try to get into a healthy pattern that you can maintain throughout the next semester! Your body (and your mind) will thank you.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Jury comments available

Jury comments are available. I'm happy to meet with anyone who wants to see them, but time is limited. Please email me to set up a time if you wish to meet before break. We can also use that time to choose music for the spring. Otherwise, we can do this via email, or I can just assign music without your input. It's totally up to you; I'm happy either way...but I want you to be happy with the repertoire, as well.

Opera Workshop: Spring 2016

Hi folks, 

A student met with me today and wanted me to know that she is interested in being part of our fall production, but won't be able to be in Opera Workshop in the spring. I really appreciated knowing that. As I mentioned, the scenes program is a great chance for me to get to know you, get a sense of what everyone's strengths are, and for you to gain some stage skills before jumping into a full show. That is not to say that anyone must be part of Opera Workshop before auditioning for a production. It also doesn't mean I pre-cast anything. It does, however, help to know who can do what and who is interested and capable before choosing a show. It would be silly for me to choose an opera without knowing if we had the voices or personalities to cast it.

I thought it might bear saying, so that no one feels left out. If you'd like to discuss schedules, your preferences for a show next year, or anything else, feel free to stop by or email me. The door is always open.

Repertoire assignments

Following are repertoire assignments for the spring. If you would like to make a request, please email me. Bring one piece to your first lesson of the spring semester, and be sure your pianist has a copy before that lesson. Lesson times will be assigned once I have everyone's schedule: please send that to me ASAP. I currently have only one schedule: please send me yours no later than January 8.We begin lessons on January 11.


Michael: Danza, danza (Durante); Che fiero costume (Legrenzi); Now sleeps the crimson petal (Quilter). Pick one and learn it for the first week of class. We'll choose French and German later!


Kristin: Se come voi (Puccini) and/or O mio babbino caro (learn "Se come voi" first). Pick one and learn it for the first week of class. We'll add more later.

Nole: bring two of your new RVW pieces to the first lesson, memorized. Plan to sing at least three pieces in the first Performance Class at the end of the first week of class. You should own the music to everything you are singing on your recital: make that a priority if you haven't already done so.

Rae: Happiness, Élégie (Massenet), An den Mond (Schubert), Che faro senza Euridice (Gluck), pick one Handel aria. Pick one and learn it for the first week of class. Purchase a mezzo-soprano aria book, preferably "Arias for Mezzo-Soprano" edited by Larsen.

Mallory: Learn "Sento nel core" by Scarlatti, found in 28 Italian Songs and Arias (Schirmer, distributed by Hal Leonard). The best volume for you is Medium Voice: purchase it by January if possible. I believe it's in the library if you cannot buy the music right now.

Madison: Learn "In uomini, in soldati" from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. Don't worry about the Italian right now, but be rock solid musically so we can plug in the text. Buy one soprano aria book of your choice if you can: this one can be found in Arias for Soprano, volume one, edited by Larsen. The library has it, I believe.

Alyse: bring one musical theatre piece of your choice learned and ready to work for your first lesson. Please be sure that you own one of the Italian Songs and Arias books by January: please let me know if you need a recommendation on an edition.

Addie: bring one musical theatre piece of your choice learned and ready to work for your first lesson. Please be sure that you own one of the Italian Songs and Arias books by January: please let me know if you need a recommendation on an edition.

Nicole: bring one musical theatre piece of your choice learned and ready to work for your first lesson. Please be sure that you own one of the Italian Songs and Arias books by January: please let me know if you need a recommendation on an edition.

Ashley: bring one musical theatre piece of your choice learned and ready to work for your first lesson. Please be sure that you own one of the Italian Songs and Arias books by January: please let me know if you need a recommendation on an edition.

Briana: Selve amiche by Caldara (found in Italian Arias of the Baroque and Classical Eras, high voice: I believe the library has it). "Non lo diro col labbro" from Tolomeo by Handel (found in Handel 45 Arias, vol. 2, high voice). Purcell's "Nymphs and Shepherds," found in Purcell 40 songs, volume 1 (International edition, though there are other editions, too). 

Beau: Choose one or two more from Winterreise, and perhaps start one of the Ravel if you feel up to it. This can also wait till later in the semester. Look at "Ho capito" from Mozart's Don Giovanni. Have one of these ready to work in your first lesson, but don't worry about the text; we'll plug that in together.

Selina: Greensleeves, also known as "What child is this," which can be found in Singer's Library of Song, medium voice. "Se nel ben sempre incostante" by Stradella, which can be found in Standard Vocal Literature (mezzo-soprano), edited by Walters (Hal Leonard, publisher). Let me know if you need a copy, which I can send as a PDF for you to print, or I can leave it on my door.

Hunter: Let's talk. I'm not sure yet if I'll have room in the studio for you in the spring, because we have a few incoming music majors who have not yet been assigned studios, and they get first priority. I'll fit you in if I can, though, so let's keep the lines of communication open! I'm thrilled you'll be in Opera Workshop, so that we can continue your development.

As always, if you have problems, questions, or don't like the music I've assigned, just let me know. I'm happy to find other pieces if you're not thrilled with what I've given you. Do not wait until the last minute, though: everyone is still expected to have something prepared for the first lesson.

Happy Holidays, and enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation!




Monday, December 7, 2015

Upcoming juries

Hi folks,

Just a few reminders regarding juries, especially for those who are new this semester:

  • Bring five copies of your repertoire form to the jury. Be sure all composers are entered and that you have signed the bottom, including your average number of practice hours per week.
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early to your jury. This gives you time to relax, and for us to move along if we happen to be running early or if someone else is running late.
  • Someone will come to get you: please wait outside Hulsey until you are called.
  • Dress nicely: "Sunday best" is always a good rule.
  • Don't expect applause, and don't bow. Do expect us to be writing comments.
  • Enjoy every moment. This is another opportunity to perform. Relish it!
  • Know that we want you to succeed. We are your biggest cheerleaders.
Afterward, send me your spring schedule ASAP. Please also send any requests for lesson times or repertoire you might have. While I reserve "veto rights," I love when students take initiative. I'll post repertoire assignments here by next week, along with the schedule as soon as everyone has sent theirs to me. 

Bring something learned to your first lesson the week for January 11, ready to work. As always, be sure your pianist has the music in advance. S/he has the right to refuse to play for your first lesson if you have not done so!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Spring 2016 Opera Workshop

Hi folks,

A bit more information on Opera Workshop for the spring:

Class meets from TR 3:30-5:15, with a break in the middle of class. We'll only meet for the entire time during the first week or two, while we do some movement exercises, sing for each other, and assign music. After that, you'll only be called when your scene is being worked, which would mean only about 30-60 minutes total per week. We'll meet for the entire class period again as we near the performance date, which is April 14. After the performance, we'll only meet one more time to watch the performance video. It is a one-credit class.

This is a low-stress, low-commitment way to explore performing further, and gets you moving on stage. This really helps me get to know your work before choosing a show for next fall. It also gives you experience preparing a role, even if it's only a partial role.

If you have requests for music you'd like to learn, or shows that you particularly love, please let me know. I love it when students express preferences and take some initiative. Of course, the final decision will rest on my shoulders, as I balance the program and everyone's needs, but I like to honor requests when I can.

If you'd like to register, email me at khw@uab.edu with your B00 number and I'll give instructor permission.

Performance class etiquette

Dear students,

Today during performance class, I saw one person texting, one person with an iPad open (with type pad attached), and one person doing needlepoint...all while classmates were singing. I addressed each of these people individually, but that should not have been necessary. It is very obvious how rude and inappropriate those kinds of behaviors are in class, especially when someone is performing right in front of you.

I know you're stressed. I know everyone needs a safety release, and sometimes doing something else when you're supposed to be paying attention feels relaxing. I get it; I really do. We're all tired. I'm also quite certain that you are all wonderful people, and these actions were not a mark of bad character. You're good human beings. It was just a lapse of judgment.

It bears saying, however, that if you cannot pay attention to live music for 60-90 minutes per week, this is probably not the career and degree path for you. If it doesn't hold your attention for that long, it's never going to work out in the long term. The artistic life is too hard for it to be only sort of interesting for you. Beyond that, you are all students of your craft: either you are doing it, or you are learning by watching others. Not one of you is so good that you can pass up the opportunity to learn from every single person that performed today. How does the person performing breathe, emote, gesture, enunciate, phrase? How well is it working for him or her? You can learn so much from watching.

On a practical level, it's also worth mentioning that, as voice students, the bar is set higher for you than the average concert goer. Whether or not you pursue a career in music, it is you that must educate those who don't know better. Whether it's a well-meaning but clueless relative who doesn't know how to behave at a concert or whether it's someone who just thinks concerts are the equivalent to movies, it's up to you to let folks know that those are breathing human beings up there on stage sweating and working to entertain the audience. Those performers can see when an audience member is doing something other than listening, and it's distracting.

More to the point, if you were to do any of those things in rehearsal with a professional company, one of two things would likely occur: you'd be fired on the spot, or you'd never be re-hired. Better learn that now. Get into good habits now.

I know the inability to pay attention without distraction is a disease in our society. It seems to be everywhere. But that doesn't excuse music students for violating the golden rule. You all know better. 

In the spring semester, anyone in my studio caught using a phone, iPad, or doing anything distracting during class will receive an F for the week. It will be as if you did not attend class, because if you weren't mentally present, YOU DIDN'T.

In the meantime, I look forward to fabulous juries and a wonderfully supportive atmosphere in the spring semester.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Practice is not a piñata

Here is a great article about how PAUSING in the middle of your practice can be the key to
actually making progress in the practice room. He notes that learning occurs in the time between our practice attempts. While it's not clear if there is a "perfect pause length, five seconds seems like a good length to try. And who doesn't have five seconds? It's better than beating your head against the wall (metaphorically, of course).

Monday, November 30, 2015

Upcoming juries

It's easy to forget that juries are also an opportunity to perform. Of course, we don't bow or expect applause in juries, but other than those little details, they are performances. Just like this week's last Performance Class, there are things to consider beyond the piece you are singing. Here is a great article about it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Required concert during class Friday

Hi folks,

Here is the Google map of the Advent, located at 2016 6th Avenue N. Here is the web site for the church itself, if you'd like to know more. It's about 10 minutes door to door, including parking time. There are meters on the street, and a parking deck accessible via 5th Avenue N if there is nothing available on the street. I'd advise carpooling: it's just easier that way.

The space is gorgeous. Relax and enjoy the concert, the music, and the delightful way we use music to inaugurate the holiday season.

After the concert, I hope you all have a restful and joyous break. Enjoy time with family and friends, and know that in this season of thanksgiving, I am thankful to be able to teach each and every one of you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Quote of the week

Ellen Rissinger said this in her master class:

"NUANCE BEGINS WHEN YOU ARE HEARD."

Think about that for a while, folks.

Monday, November 16, 2015

End-of-semester reminders

Yes, it's that time. The second to last week of class. Thanksgiving week separates this week and next, so it's easy to forget how little class time remains.

This week is your last opportunity to brush up on repertoire! The last lesson of the semester is a memorized run-through of all rep for your jury. Plan accordingly.

Four hours total of listening (YouTube, CDs, DVDs, etc.), along with brief observations, needs to be posted on your Google doc before juries begin on December 9. If you've told me what you've listened to or watched but have not posted this on your document, you have not fulfilled the assignment.

Last but not least, take care of yourselves. Eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, and get plenty of rest. We're in the final stretch, so your health is of utmost importance!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Do you really want it?

Dear students,

Recently, I had the great joy of reconnecting with a former student whom I taught when she was in high school. Even then, she was auditioning for everything and anything, and was an accomplished dancer as well as singer and actor. She finished her BFA in Musical Theatre at Penn State a few years ago, then immediately moved to New York. She began performing on cruise ships, in regional theatre, summer stock, and even had a spot on Law & Order: SVU. At the ripe old age of 25, she is now on the national tour of A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. Here she is:


You might ask: why is Dr. Kris telling me about someone I never met? Well, I'll tell you.

Sarah's work ethic has made her life possible. She is from a tiny town (and I mean tiny: 10,000 people, 6,000 of which are university students). This did not limit her. She began voice lessons in high school, she took instrumental and dance lessons beginning in elementary school, and she performed in summer productions as a kid. True, some of you did not have these opportunities growing up. Sarah came from a loving family, and both of her fabulous parents are musicians who supported her dreams from the day she began dreaming them.

These advantages gave her a head start, to be sure. But my point is, even with all of the opportunities her parents had given her, she  confessed to me that she felt behind when she got to Penn State.

That's right. She felt like she had to catch up. She was up against people who had been immersed in her field of choice since forever. So what did she do?

She loaded 20 CDs of musical theatre shows onto her iPod each week, and listened to them every day while she was on the treadmill at the gym. She got the sound of as many professionals as possible into her ear, so she knew what people working in the business were doing. She created a sound model in her ears, which she could then draw from when she was preparing her own audition rep. [Just as a reality check, that's significantly more listening than I'm requiring you to do all semester, and she did it of her own free will.] She wanted this career, and was passionate about learning all she could.

She also did this while putting in gym time. She knew that her body was her instrument, and if she was going to get hired, she'd better look the part and have the physical stamina to carry it. She knew that if she only sounded great, there were people out there who not only sounded great but looked better...or who wouldn't get winded during dance rehearsal.

When she got to New York, she took every gig she could. She showed up prepared, went the extra mile when she was asked to choreograph this or that, and was nice to everyone. People remember when you are good colleague. They remember when you not only do everything you're asked to do, but also when you go above and beyond and are easy to work with on top of it.

This is all by way of saying, we all come to our work with deficits that need to be remediated. Our job is to work on them without dismissing them as unfixable. If you say you want something, prove it by your actions. Passion for what you want in your future can be the fuel to get the work done.

And last but not least, Sarah had a team of people cheering for her, encouraging her, and challenging her. These people were her teachers, her mentors, her friends, her family. Find that team in your own life, and lean on them. Ask for their help. Request that they ask more of you than you think you can give. Be hungry to learn more than you think you need to know. That's how you grow.

Sarah can be a role model for each and every one of you in some way. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

clarification re: Chuck Hudson

There is NO class this afternoon: it's all happening on Friday, as outlined below. This is different than appears on your syllabus. See you all there!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Extra credit attendance

Folks, for those of you who have missed going to some of the required events, you are welcome to use Thursday's concert at the AEIVA as a makeup concert. Free food at 5pm: concert is from 5:30-6:30. NOT required attendance, but if you go and would like credit, be sure I see you afterward.

Chuck Hudson classes Friday: reminders

Folks,

Remember that on Friday, we begin class 5 minutes early (12:15) in the dance studio. There will be two short breaks, so feel free to bring a sandwich or something to nibble on so you don't get fatigued (no smelly food, please: it is a relatively small space for that many people). Everyone is required to stay until 2:30 unless they have a class. Music majors, there is no choir that day. I need to hear from you if you have a class or a tour: do not assume I am psychic or have everyone's schedule memorized. If I do not hear from you ahead of time and you do not come or leave early, it will be an unexcused absence. Some of you have not been to any of the events beyond the Friday performance class time. Check your syllabus, lest you be surprised by your final semester grade. 

Here are a few notes from Chuck:

This is an extremely active and movement oriented series of master classes. Participants are directed to dress as they would for a movement class: i.e. t-shirts and sweats (gym clothes) with a sweatshirt or some other layer for warmth or to take off as well. Please wear SNEAKERS (no hard soled shoes, no high heels, no boots, no open toed shoes or sandals) and please no dress pants, jeans, skirts, etc. Please also have your hair attached back away from your face.

We'll move to the choir room at 2:30 for the master class portion. I have emailed each of you, but here are the directions from Chuck, just in case:

PREPARATION INFORMATION FOR SINGERS: 
o   Dress comfortably-rehearsal clothes or casual wear is fine; you do not need to be in "Audition Attire" and you do not need to be in the movement clothing from the group master class.
o   You must be memorized "off book" for this work.
o   Please bring 2 clean copies of the music: one for the accompanist and one for me—please do not bring a bound score or a copy with lots of your notes already on it.

o   If your piece is not in French or English, I will need a word-for-word translation written legibly on the line of music: not a translation on another page, and not the existing English translation of the piece which is not word specific.

It bears reminding that you should everything there is to know about your character that is given in the libretto. This includes your name and age, the plot of the opera from which it is taken, and what has happened immediately before your aria. Why are you singing it? To whom? What is your relationship to that person? You should also be able to translate your piece without looking at the score: know the text cold, as if it is your own language. This is how the work begins.

This class promises to be fantastic: Chuck is a wonderful clinician. Enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Study Away in Vienna



Dear UAB Students (or any student anywhere who wishes to transfer three credits for a Music Appreciation course): 

Please see this link for my Study Away trip this coming May in Austria. Most of our time will be spent in Vienna, with an optional side trip to Salzburg. You can get three credits (core area) for Music Appreciation, or just sign up for Study Away an go without taking the course. Either way, there will be many concerts, art museums, and lots of cake and coffee. Spread the word, as a larger group means a lower cost for everyone. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Hope to see you in Vienna!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Overrides for spring 2016

Hi folks,

I have entered all of the overrides for spring 2016, so you are now able to register. Let me know if you have any problems! (Madison, you are the one exception: I'll enter yours after your jury, since you're planning to jury up).

Thanks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Recital today during Convocation

Reverie Berger, mezzo-soprano
and 
Matthew Anderson, guitar

...today in HRH at 12:20 during Convocation!

It's a wonderful program of pieces for guitar and voice and arrangements of same that you'll rarely hear. Plus...it's required attendance for voice students.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Performance videos

Hi folks,

I'm enjoying seeing your videos from yesterday's performance class! Keep 'em coming...they're making my day. :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Let's not start a pattern...

Darling students,

This week, I had two students not show up for a lesson. One canceled 18 minutes before her lesson, which counts as a no-show (see the syllabus); one simply did not come to scheduled makeup lesson. These are times set aside weekly for one-on-one work with a teacher devoted to helping you improve, which does not happen anywhere else on campus.

Now, I now what I am writing doesn't apply to some or even most of you. But one occurrance is odd, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. I am writing this post to avoid this becoming a pattern, because it's close.

I encourage you all to review your syllabus.

What if you're not as prepared as you'd like, and you're worried about coming to your lesson? Well, that is for you to weigh. You can come, earn at least some points by being there and sucking it up, and learn at least a little something. You can come and speak through the text if the language is a problem. You can come and work with me to better plan how you spend your practice time. You can at least get some technique work done.

Everyone bombs a lesson once in a while. It won't kill your grade if it happens only once or even twice a semester. Sometimes the weeks fill up, tests accumulate, your roommate is driving you crazy, or someone in your family gets sick. Life happens; I get that. But if coming in unprepared or underprepared, being chronically late, or being unready to sing in performance class is becoming a habit, then it's a problem...for you, not me.

If coming to a lesson when you're unprepared is so painful for you that you refuse to endure the evil eye or even a mini-lecture about your grade, that's your call. Getting a zero for the week may hurt less than taking your licks and getting a 50. But I assure you, the only thing that suffers more than your ego if you don't come is your grade.

This is about more than grades, though. This is about responsibility, learning how to manage your time, and deciding if music is really what you want to do with your life. If your behavior is telling me that you don't really want to do this, believe me when I say that I'm doing you a favor by informing you sooner rather than later.

And know that I am saying all of this because I WANT you to succeed, and I'm trying to prevent you from failing. But only you can make that choice.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Opening for a makeup lesson

HI folks,

I have an opening for a makeup lesson tomorrow (Thursday) at 2. Any takers? Email or text me.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Are you practicing the right things?

This is a great article about practice, with important implications for your work in the practice room.

Are you practicing the things you already do well? If so, you're probably wasting your time.

Are you expecting practice to always be enjoyable? If so, you may be setting expectations that are unhelpful.

Are you planning carefully your practice sessions? If not, you may not be accomplishing what's needed.

Food for thought!

Performance videos

Folks, only one of you sent me a video of Friday's performance, and everyone who performed was required to do so. You know who you are.

I know who you are, too. GIT 'ER DONE!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Missing my students...

Darlings, though I'm away this week, you are in my thoughts. I hope you are practicing diligently!

Since time is short before the student recital on the 23rd, and since there are so many people who need to sing, please plan to sing this week and next, especially if you have not sung yet. I won't be there in person, but if you sing, record yourself just as you do in lessons and send the video to me as an attachment in a text or an email. Have your friends help: just about anyone can hold up your phone and record your performance in class. Because you'll learn so much by seeing what you do under pressure, I recommend you do this every time you sing in class! While I'm gone, though, it's not just a recommendation...it's a requirement.

Break a leg, dears. See you Monday.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Keith Wolfe master class this Thursday

Dear students, remember that this week's master class with Keith Wolfe is Thursday at 3:30. We have three singers slated to sing: Cindy Spellman, Nole Jones, and Lydia Knight. It should be fabulous, and he's looking forward to it as much as you are. Keith is bringing wonderful new energy and vision to Opera Birmingham and I'm sure you'll learn a great deal from him.

Friendly reminder: your attendance is required! If you have a class, email me before Thursday. Do not assume that I remember everyone's conflicts. Thanks.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Thought for the day

One student's "aha" moment came when she realized she didn't need to be perfect, just better than she'd been. So I offer you this:


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

More helpful journal quotes

Another student who shall remain nameless wrote a fantastic journal entry for this week. Two thought-provoking sections:

It’s interesting to try and slow down enough to just take a breath and feel ready before singing. I always feel like I’m on a time crunch to do things, study all the things I need to, attend meetings, and just do whatever needs to be done. So, when warming up and especially when my adrenaline begins to kick, it’s easy for me to just rush through warm ups and run throughs to just get them done. So I challenged myself to go painfully slowly through the song to ensure that there was no way to rush. This seemed to help me not only watch my breath control but also forced me to take a deep breath and relax a little bit. I noticed that as I took longer with the song and began to force myself to calm down, I stopped checking my phone for the time and thinking about the billion other things I had to do that day.

Excellent observation. Not only is practicing slowly useful from a musical perspective, it's also calming for the mind. It's also interesting to note that when we are mindfully absorbed in our work, there is no compulsion to distract oneself. And isn't that great? Shouldn't we all love our work that much?

I also will go ahead and admit that I didn’t do as much work as I feel I should have because of studying for other tests. I allowed myself to sing the song mindlessly while working on other things and I do think that began to have a bad effect on the piece because I allowed myself, not to mess up the notes or rhythms, but to not pay attention to what was coming out of my mouth and not letting it be the best. I did go back with later actual practice and focus, but it took a little extra effort to undo the habits I had formed even after a single day. For example, because I was trying to stay quieter and sing to myself, my jaw was locked back up again. Again, hopefully thing will all be undone and better before tomorrow. I just felt the need to include both the good and bad parts of practice because that way you have the full picture and not just the good.

I love that she included this. It is very useful to know what works and what doesn't during the days I don't see you. It's also particularly important that this singer realized that NOT practicing mindfully actually causes some backslide, and backslide means more work to get where you were. Now you know! This applies to everyone, not just her. Learn from her experience.

This singer also wrote another paragraph I'm not including, but that should give everyone an idea of what a real journal is in my view. A short paragraph of three or four sentences does not constitute a journal. Real reflection is required. Now you know what is expected!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Best journal quote...

...from a student who shall remain nameless:

"Oh yeah, and I need to make sure that I'm resting up before lessons, performances, etc. I remember not getting much sleep the night before last week's lesson, and I could see the effects of that in the video. Energy level was like 20% when it's usually at least in the mid-80s."

Yeah. Sleep is good, and the lack of it DOES indeed affect everything! Thanks for the insight, dear nameless student.

Thought for the day

Darling students,

I thought I'd share this with you, as it moved me. I hope it stirs something in you, too.

"You have the power in the present moment to change limiting beliefs and consciously plant the seeds for the future of your choosing. As you change your mind, you change your experience." 

- Serge Kahili King

Monday, September 14, 2015

On posture

This is a great article on alignment (the word I prefer to "posture"). Many of us are working on this: it's a lifelong pursuit! I encourage you all to PAUSE as this article suggests.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Performance class and other items

Folks, 

Friday 12:20 class is required for everyone, every week. Even if you think you have made arrangements to miss it (through Theatre, or whatever), you must email me during the week you are to miss. I am not going to keep a running list! This is your responsibility.

Each week, a sign-up sheet will be posted on Dr. Mosteller's door. If you are planning on singing, please sign up that week. This will determine performance order, and notifies our pianists of music to prepare.

Class will meet in the recital hall from now on. Be there every week, and be on time! BTW, "on time" means in your seat, focused and ready to begin at 12:20, not rushing in at 12:21. Offering to help move the piano and set the room also shows consideration and initiative, both of which are appreciated. How's that for a hint? ;-)

In other news, we have now begun the third week of class. If you have one-hour lessons and are still learning your first song, you're behind. If you're having trouble, ask for help rather than coming to lessons underprepared. There are only 14 weeks in the semester, and the last lesson is a run-through of all jury repertoire. You must have also sung it ALL in class by then, so do the math with regard to how long you can realistically spend on each piece.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Friday class

Hi folks,

Friday's performance class will take place in room 307, across the hall from the choir room. See you at 12:20! Nole is planning on singing at least two pieces; if anyone else is dying to sing, let me know. Otherwise, I have an activity to use the rest of the time,

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SD card

Someone left an SD card on my piano. I suspect whoever left it here will need it to journal on a lesson! Stop by to get it.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Successes vs. misses

This is another great article, and I plan to be more mindful about noting every student's successes in the studio. If I don't do it enough, feel free to ask: "Dr. Kris, what did I do right?"

Taking practice breaks

Dear students,

Here is a wonderful article about taking breaks during your practice sessions, and/or NOT practicing all in one shot. This is one of my favorite blogs...check it out.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pianists and your music

Hi folks,

Some of you have been great about getting your music to your pianist: some have not. Please tend to this ASAP. Remember that giving your pianist the music "before your lesson" means more than a day before your lesson...they have lives, too! Thanks for being considerate of your collaborators.

Friendly reminder: Carolyn Violi is in the Department of Theatre, and the departmental assistant can point you to her mailbox. Dr. Steele's office is in the Department of Music in the carpeted hallway. Both are in the UAB online directory if you need to contact them.

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!

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY
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 khw@uab.edu 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 khw@uab.edu 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 Ludwick@stpaulsbhm.org.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NO OPERA WORKSHOP this fall

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.

Simple practicing mistakes and how to fix them

When in doubt, re-read your "How to practice" sheet, given to you the first Friday class of the semester.  More tips from a pro (...