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.


Repertoire assignments

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