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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Repertoire assignments: spring

Hi folks,

Following are your repertoire assignments for the spring semester. Please listen to them ASAP and let me know if something doesn't appeal to you! I'm always happy to find other options for you, but I will not be near my library after Friday of this week.

Please get the music to your piece(s) over break: preferably buy the book so you have a collection you are building. You should own the music you sing, rather than simply a bunch of photocopies, which are illegal anyway. Send a PDF to Dr. Steele so that he is ready to go that first week as well.

Remember also to get me your schedules NO LATER THAN January 3, as I will be at a workshop right up until the night before classes.

As always, I am only an email or text or phone call away. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I am happy to help!

Happy break, take care of yourselves, and enjoy some well-earned relaxation.

-Dr. Kris

Eric: How willing my paternal love (Handel) or Gia il sole dal Gange (from your Italian aria book)
Mallory: Au bord de l'eau (Fauré)
Peyton: Amarilli, mia bella or Pur dicesti, o bocca bella (from your Italian aria book)
Camilla: Lasciatemi morire (from your Italian aria book)
Jenn: Tu lo sai (from your Italian aria book)
Beau: another Schubert of your choice; Handel aria
Addie: Star vicino or O cessate di piagarmi (from your Italian aria book)
Briana: Das Veilchen (Mozart song)
Michael: another Quilter of your choice; another Schubert if you wish
Alyse: Vittoria, mio core (from your Italian aria book); I can cook, too
Kristin: Mi tradi from Mozart's Don Giovanni
Madison: Deh vieni, non tardar from Figaro (Mozart)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Jury sheets available

Dear students,

Congratulations on your juries! I have your comment sheet available, and would prefer to discuss them rather than just emailing them to you. This prevents any possible confusion, and often generates useful discussion.

If you'd like to meet in the next week, send me an email. I'm also happy to do this over a phone call.

In the meantime, enjoy some well-deserved rest!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Spring registration

Hi folks,

All overrides have been entered for spring voice lessons. You should be able to register, but if you have trouble, please email me.

Meanwhile, please send me your schedule NO LATER THAN January 2. I will be out of town from January 3-8, and will need to set the spring schedule before I leave.


Voice Studio Listening


Remember to post your listening to your Google doc no later than 9am on jury day. Most have you have already done it; just be sure you've posted it. I will not email to remind you or ask if you've done it after the fact. If it's not posted in time, you won't get credit. Just a friendly reminder!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Opera viewing

Hi folks,

We'll view the opera DVD on Thursday at 3:30 in Hulsey Recital Hall. Enjoy the day off!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Opera and Chamber Schedule

Hi folks,

I hope you had a fantastic break, and had the chance to relax after your performances! Here is the plan for the next week (or two):

Tuesday, November 29
2-3:30 Chamber Singers, come to my office to reclaim your costume. Everything will be clean and you'll have to reassemble and label your hanger. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes per person.

3:30-4:30 Principals, dancers, and extra chorus members, come to my office to reclaim your costume. Everything will be clean and you'll have to reassemble and label your hanger. Caleb, you can just come at 3:15 on Thursday rather than making a special trip.

Everyone, during this time you will be asked to sign up for a time to load or unload the truck either here or at the church for Sunday's performance. Since we have over 30 people in the show, this amounts to about 8 people per load-in/out.

Thursday, December 1
2:45-3:15 Chamber Singers and extra chorus, we'll revisit the music in the choir room. Principals, please plan to be there to sing cues. Review your lists of names and fruit! :-)

3:30-4:30 Principals, we'll sing through the show to refresh it. Please look at it before then!

Friday, December 2
1:30-2:30 Load the set, props, and costumes into the rental truck. Meet in front of the band room, Hulsey 210.

If anyone is available to drive to the church (even one carload of you!), we could unload TODAY rather than doing it the day of the performance. Not required, but think about it if it works for you. Round trip, with unloading, it should be just over an hour.

Sunday, December 3
Performance at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran, 4887 Valleydale Rd., Birmingham
Starting at 11:30, the church will be available for us to unload and set up. I will not be there until 12:30 due to my own church job, but Corey will be there to help. Anyone who signs up to unload should plan to be there between 11:30-1. It should only take about 15 minutes. BTW, there is a kitchen and a place to eat, so if you need to grab lunch on your way, you can eat it there.

1pm CALL for everyone. DO NOT BE LATE! We need to run a few things in this very different space, with a different set, and with piano.

3pm performance

3:45 reception (Lovely, huh? All this, and they feed you, too!)

Immediately following the reception, we will re-load the truck, and the last sign-up group will unload it back at school. We'll make one stop on the way to unload props and costumes at another church. I expect we'll be done with all of this by 5pm.

Next week, I should have the videos and photos to share with you. We'll have a viewing party in the recital hall, time TBA. The photos will be available for purchase; the performance video is not, as it's a show under copyright.

Thanks, all! The church is VERY excited to have you come, and I'm so looking forward to it as well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Comp tickets for AMAHL

Hi folks,

You are on track to have a GREAT show. I know some of you might think I'm overly picky, but this is how you bring your work to next level. Stay focused, keep at it, and you'll truly shine!

Each of you is entitled to one free ticket to the show of your choice. Contact the box office, give them your name, and claim it for the night of your choice.

Meanwhile, take a selfie tonight or tomorrow night of your complete costume so that we can reconstruct them for the church performance on Sunday, December 4. They will be cleaned between Friday and then, and they often just look like rags unless we remind ourselves what they looked like all put together.

Thanks for all of your work!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thoughts on energy

Hi folks,

Beau journaled on energy in his weekly assignment, and it was so helpful I thought I'd share it with you. He gave his permission for you to consider his wise words. Thanks, Beau!

Our discussions about having energy going before phrases begin have echoed with me throughout opera rehearsals. It goes without saying, but one can’t just go from 0 to 100 when they start singing. Preparation is involved; mentally as well as physically. Running the opera has thoroughly reminded me of this fact. I’ve taken note of the process of finding my ‘center’ of mental and physical preparedness and maintaining it throughout the performance. Physically, I must integrate what my body needs to do to produce the best possible sound at any given point. Mentally, I must focus all of my energies and keep them going for the duration, so that they are there when I call upon them. I had forgotten how easy it can be to let this fall by the wayside when participating in a full production. Not only firing up this energy, but keeping it checked in for the duration, has allowed me to find new levels in my performance that I didn’t know I had. I’ve also noticed myself becoming better as a performer as I learn to more and more effectively harness and channel this energy.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Interesting post on perfection

Hi folks,

Here is an interesting post from Carol Kirkpatrick that I thought would be timely for many of you. Enjoy.

By Carol Kirkpatrick on November 11, 2016

“Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” 
— Arnold H. Glasow

When I looked up the word “perfect” I noticed that most of the denotation for this word deals in religious ideals, which are different for each religion and human striving in ones behavior toward that religious goal, which is often unrealistic. There is nothing wrong with that, but it says nothing about there being “a” way for all of us to do anything perfectly. That includes performing perfectly in anything you do in life. Your idea of perfect is going to be different from mine, etc. The pursuit of perfection often puts road blocks up when working on vocal technique and putting that into a piece of music. It often creates tremendous fear of failure. So here is what I would like to suggest you might replace that particular word with.

When that particular word rises its’ ugly head, tell yourself to, “TAKE A BEAT”. That means stop everything you are doing, including thinking. Let all that stuff just fall away. Then decide what you are going to do and how you are going to do it whether it is vocal technique or working on languages in a piece. Or it could even be, understanding the context that this particular part in the music belongs to, to help you move the story forward. Perfection can also come into play when you are “trying” to create a plan of action or do business. All this does is keep you stuck in the past. You don’t take into account if this idea works for you or not. If it doesn’t, move on until you find a concept that makes sense to you.
When we “try” to be perfect, we tend to get stuck looking back at what we didn’t accomplish or do and often try to change it while we are doing it. We analyze and compare it to what someone else has done and do that to death without ever considering how to leave it behind and move only ourselves forward. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the past, even if it was 2 minutes ago. “TAKE A BEAT”, decide what you want to do, and how you want to do it, and do it without analyzing as you are doing it. You can observe, but don’t try to correct it in that moment. When you are done with a phrase, then you can look, hear, feel what you observed during that past moment, make adjustments, and then do this easy process all over again.  STOP – TAKE A BEAT – DO (as you mentally step back and observe) – STOP- ANALYZE – RESET – TAKE A BEAT – DO!

Whatever has brought you where you are today can be the same thing which prevents you from further improvements. To improve is to change. Take on the discomfort of doing something new, and then afterwards you can evaluate it. There’s no harm from that, but the benefits can be life changing. I dare you!  

Saturday, November 5, 2016

AMAHL schedule: final stretch

Following is the schedule as we make the final push to opening night. Review your blocking and music daily: we do not have time to re-teach, correct, or re-block anything. Stay in character at all times and do not talk backstage. Be early enough so that we are ready to begin at the time you are called.

Wednesday, November 16
Final dress rehearsal 7pm (confirmed) Last chance to lock things in! Invest real performance energy right out of the gate so you know what it feels like.

Come early enough to get into costume and makeup: dressing rooms open at 5pm. Group warm up at 6:30, so be at least mostly ready for curtain by then. Make your own arrangements for dinner. No food in the dressing rooms.

Performance order: November 17 cast first, November 18 cast second.

Thursday and Friday, November 17-18
November 17 cast: Carter, Kristin, Joel, Corey
November 18 cast: Caleb, Ashley, Jeremy, Ben
7:30pm performances; 6:30pm call for group warm-up. You'll have a little more time after warm-ups tonight and Friday. Dressing rooms open at 5:30. Everyone stays after the final performance to strike costumes and props, clean dressing rooms, erase orchestra scores, etc. Tell your families now that you may not leave to celebrate until we are done! If you're efficient and everyone helps equally, we should be done by 9:30pm.

Sunday, December 4
3pm performance: details to follow.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rehearsal this Friday, 11/4

Hi folks,

I've confirmed with Jane and Tim that we can start an hour earlier, at 2:30 tomorrow. That should get you out of there no later than 5:30. The schedule is as follows:

2:30-3:30 Principals (Pages, join us at 3) we'll start with the quartet
3:30-4:30 Chorus (Amahls will join us at 4)
4:30-5:30 Principals: finish opening scene with Ashley/Caleb and work forward

Friendly reminder: we don't have time to remind you of blocking, character choices, and what to do with your props. Review your blocking so that you're plugged into the rehearsal right away. Thanks!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Being prepared

AMAHL Principals,

To follow up on our little chat yesterday, here are some thoughts:

-If you can't speak the text in or out of rhythm, without tripping, you don't really know it.

-If you can't sing it perfectly (notes and rhythms absolutely correct) while looking at it, you really don't know it.

-If you only get it right sporadically, you don't know it. It MUST be automatic before you can make music, make art, make drama.

After the play and the choir concert, refocus your efforts if necessary. Take this weekend, if you need, to tend to these things. Drill it daily if you must.

I finished yesterday's talk with the thought, "Keep the drama on the stage." Steven Pressfield says it quite well in his book, The War of Art:

The working artist will not tolerate trouble in her life because she knows trouble prevents her from doing her work. The working artist banishes from her world all sources of trouble. She harnesses the urge for trouble and transforms it in her work.

Once you get the grunt work done, then we can truly bask in the joy of making art. But not before.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

AMAHL schedule: check often for updates

Thursday, October 27
3:30-4:10 closing scene pp. 57-end
4:15-5 All (we'll let everyone but Mothers go early) pp. 47-52

Friday, October 28
Principals only: 3:30-6pm

Tuesday, November 1 From now on, we are IN SIROTE! Enter through the scene shop, on the Alys loading dock behind the building. Ask someone if you don't know how to get there.
2-3:15 Chorus scenes (Amahls and dancers, come when you can)
3:30-5 All called

Thursday, November 3
2-3:15 Chorus scenes (Amahls and dancers, come when you can)
3:30-4:30 run all scenes with Amahls
4:30-5 Kings procession

Friday, November 4
Principals: 3:30-6pm
CHORUS, please join us from 3:30-5

Starting now, we may call rehearsals on Friday afternoons, 3:30-6. Keep this time free.

Tuesday, November 8
2-3:15 Chorus scenes (Amahls and dancers, come when you can)
3:30-5 Principals work anything that needs attention

Thursday, November 10
2-3:15 Chorus scenes (Amahls and dancers, come when you can)
3:30-5 Principals: come early to get into costume, we'll run everything
5-5:15 photo shoot with UAB reporter

Friday, November 11
Principals: 3:30-6pm
CHORUS, please join us from 3:30-4:30

Sunday, November 13
2-4 ALL CALLED. Dry tech (no singing: this is for lighting. No white or patterned shirts, please.)
7-10 (TBC) ALL CALLED: orchestra rehearsal

Monday, November 14
5-8pm CONFIRMED piano dress. Come early enough to get into costume and makeup: dressing rooms open at 3:30pm. Make your own arrangements for dinner. No food in the dressing rooms.

Tuesday, November 15
7-10pm (TBC) orchestra dress. Come early enough to get into costume and makeup: dressing rooms open at 5pm. Make your own arrangements for dinner. No food in the dressing rooms.

Wednesday, November 16
Final dress rehearsal 7pm (time TBC)

Thursday and Friday, November 17-18
November 17 cast: Carter, Kristin, Joel, Corey
November 18 cast: Caleb, Ashley, Jeremy, Ben
7:30pm performances; 6:30pm call for group warm-up. Dressing rooms open at 5:30. Everyone stays after the final performance to strike costumes and props, clean dressing rooms, erase orchestra scores, etc. Tell your families now that you may not leave to celebrate until we are done! If you're efficient and everyone helps equally, we should be done by 9:30pm.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

AMAHL schedule

From now on, if you sing even a note on any pages named below, plan to be at rehearsal. Thanks.

3:30-4:00 remaining sing-through with second cast (Jeremy, you'd better be there!)
4:05-4:30 opening scene: Mothers and Amahls
4:30-5 Kings and Pages (first entrance)

Stress relief

Folks, I'm getting the impression that this is a stressful, busy time of the semester for many of you. I'd like to help. In studies as recent as 2013, meditating for 10-20 minutes per day has been proven to reduce stress, relieve sleep problems, and even improve your ability to recall information (hello, improved test grades!).

Tomorrow, after Voice Performance Class in Hulsey Recital Hall, I'll lead a quick, 15-20 minute meditation session. If you need to grab lunch, do that right after class and we'll start at 1:25 or so.

This is a tool you can use on your own once you get the hang of it. It's also an introduction for the Koru meditation class I'd like to offer next semester (not for credit). The class will be four 75-minute sessions, or once a week for four weeks. The cost of that class will be the cost of the book, which is about $12. If you can find the book online for a lower price, that's fine with me. This is a chance to "test drive" the experience.

If you'd like a mini-vacation for your mind, I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

AMAHL schedule and reminders


This week's schedule will remain the same.

Thursday, September 29
3:30-4:30 Mothers, Amahls, and Kings: pp. 56-62, 48-49
4:30-5 Kings pp. 38-40, p. 47

A friendly reminder: come prepared to rehearsals with your notes and rhythms learned. We cannot waste time banging notes and fixing rhythms. That's your job to do before you ever come into the room, and that's why I post the schedule ahead of time.

Another friendly reminder: when you review the music we've already worked on, be sure you are integrating the things we've fixed, the changes we've made, and any breath marks or diction things we addressed. We can't re-learn it every time you come.

Blocking begins soon, so we need to be able to move on from this part of the process and get the show on its feet.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Folks, a few of you have asked about my expectations for AMAHL rehearsals. These are outlined quite clearly in the syllabus. If it helps to have them reiterated here, they are included below.

  • It is expected that you know your music when you come into to rehearsals. Rehearsals are not the time to teach notes: that is your job, outside of class. This means correct notes and correct rhythms from the very first time you sing your part in class. A right note at the wrong time is a wrong note. If rhythm is your weak link, start by speaking the text in rhythm, then adding pitches, under tempo at first. DO NOT RUSH the process: unlearning mistakes is much harder and time-consuming that simply learning things slowly and correctly in the first place. 
  • It is expected that any mistakes we correct in rehearsal stay corrected. Retention is a large part of your grade. Making sure that you integrate any corrections, breath marks, diction directions, at the like is part of this. Your practice time outside of class is meant to be spent doing this.
  • It is expected that you have a pencil at all times so you can mark any directions in your score. Otherwise, you won't remember them when you leave class! As I was always told as a student: a singer without a pencil is a singer without a job.
  • It is expected that you arrive on time, ready to work, with a great attitude. This has not been a problem in any way this semester, but it never hurts to have this as a reminder of basic professionalism. Being supportive of each other is vital. Not talking while others are working is crucial. Talk during breaks, and never talk while the director or conductor is working with anyone, whether it's you or someone else.
We only rehearse twice a week, which is a very light rehearsal schedule. That means the responsibility is on you to do the work outside of class. Most shows rehearse 5-6 nights per week: I am respecting your many commitments by not insisting upon more time.

It is also worth noting that in the real world, it is expected that professionals arrive at the first opera rehearsal with music not only learned perfectly, but also memorized. Realize that this is a very forgiving process in an academic environment. If you are falling short of my very easy expectations here, you will never perform for long. Meet or exceed my expectations, and you'll have a shot.

The grading scale from the syllabus is below. I look forward to your fabulous work!

Class participation          50% (Music / blocking learned completely, correctly, and on time)
Performance             40% (Retention of what we polished and addressed in rehearsal)
Reflections                       10% (Critical observations of your performance and/or others’)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

AMAHL rehearsals

Tuesday, September 20
2-3:15 We will be playing theatre games during Chamber Singers. Attendance is not required, but if you can and would like to come, it might help relax some of the folks who seemed nervous!
3:30-4:30 Mother and Amahls: pp. 14-19
4:30-5 Kaspar: revisit aria pp. 25-26

Thursday, September 22
3:30-4:30 Mothers and Amahls: pp. 61-63, p. 27
4:30-5 Kings and Pages: pp. 52-53

Tuesday, September 27
3:30-4:30 Amahls pp. 48, 53-55
4:30-5 Mothers and Kings: start Quartet pp. 28-33

Thursday, September 29
3:30-4:30 Mothers, Amahls, and Kings: pp. 56-62, 48-49
4:30-5 Kings pp. 38-40, p. 47

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tiny Changes #20: support yourself

This may seem contradictory, considering how many times we've told you to reach out if you need help. I'm not saying that you shouldn't avail yourself of the doctor if you're sick, the counseling center if you need help with managing stress, or your teacher if you're having trouble in class. Do those things when you need: they are there for a reason.

I'm referring to the constant cheerleading some of us seem to need to simply do our work.

How many of you go from practice room to practice room, asking someone to listen to your work (and listening to theirs, thereby postponing work for BOTH of you), so that you can feel good enough to continue? How many of you seek counsel from each other, often repeatedly, regarding something to which you already know the answer? Often, this is an avoidance technique, when what you really need to do is just get to work.

Steven Pressfield, in my favorite book (The War of Art) puts it this way:

Seeking support from friends and family is like having people gathered around your deathbed. It's nice, but when the ship sails, all they can do is stand on the dock and wave goodbye.

Any support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like Monopoly money; it's not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do our work. In fact, the more energy we spend stoking up on support from colleagues and loved ones, the weaker we become and the less capable of handling our business.

Get to work. Don't talk about it, plan it, or fantasize with others. Leave the neuroticism at the door, and get practicing.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tiny Changes #19: don't apologize

Too often, I hear the words "I'm sorry" in response to taking a chance in the voice studio. I liken this to apologizing in the chemistry lab when an experiment yields something interesting.

The studio is your lab: so is the practice room. There is no reason to apologize when you're experimenting. The whole point is to experiment. And when you get it right, keep at it until you can replicate the results at will.

The other thing about apologizing is that it wastes mental energy as well as valuable time. The energy you spend feeling embarrassed or apologetic, the energy I spend trying to get you to feel better so we can work, then finally getting back on task is wasted. There's no need to be wasteful in this manner.

So stop saying you're sorry when you make an unexpected sound: there is no reason to apologize! Unless you're unprepared...in which case, no amount of apologizing will help you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tiny Changes #18: pick a hero

We all have heros. They can be great motivators.

For Joseph Schooling, it was Michael Phelps. He met him in 2008 when he was 13, and just beat him in Rio. You can read about the entire story here.

Who is your hero? Is it a soprano with an international career? A music teacher from your high school whom you revere? An athlete who overcame incredible odds? Choose one.

Now learn about them. How did they get where they are? What did they do in the practice room, in school, what auditions did they win, etc.? Learn from their successes and failures, and realize that you can learn similarly, too.

Now become your own hero. Someone may well be nipping at your heels, and you don't even know it yet. Let that motivate your work.

Voice Health References

Thanks for your interest in Dr. Gaskill's presentation today in Convocation. Below are the reference materials he promised. If you have any questions, feel free to post here or email me, and I can put you in touch with him. 

Vocal Health References & Resources

Dr. Chris Gaskill

Vocal Myth Articles from Journal of Singing:

Michael, D. (2011). Dispelling Vocal Myths. Part 2:" Sing It off the Chords!". Journal of Singing, 67(4), 417.

Michael, D. (2012). Dispelling Vocal Myths. Part 3:“Sing OVER Your Cold!”. Journal of Singing, 68(4), 419-425.

Michael, D. (2012). Dispelling Vocal Myths. Part 4:“Talk Higher!”. Journal of Singing, 69(2), 167-172.

Various Vocal Hygiene References:

Akhtar, S., Wood, G., Rubin, J. S., O'Flynn, P. E., & Ratcliffe, P. (1999). Effect of caffeine on the vocal folds: a pilot study. Journal of laryngology and otology, 113(4), 341-345.

Cazden, J. (2015). Vocalists’ Guide to Throat Lozenges. http://www.joannacazden.com/a-vocalists-guide-to-throat-lozenges/

Erickson-Levendoski, E., & Sivasankar, M. (2011). Investigating the effects of caffeine on phonation. Journal of Voice, 25(5), e215-e219.

Heinz Valtin (2002). ‘Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.’ Really? Is there scientific evidence for “8 x 8?  Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 283, R993–R1004.

Knickerbocker, K. (2015).  6 Vocal Myths: Practical Therapy Applications. The ASHA Leader Blog. http://blog.asha.org/2015/01/22/six-vocal-myths-practical-therapy-applications/

Wüthrich, B., Schmid, A., Walther, B., & Sieber, R. (2005). Milk consumption does not lead to mucus production or occurrence of asthma. Journal of the American college of nutrition, 24(sup6), 547S-555S.

Voice Science Website:

My Article (along with an MD and Voice Teacher) About Steroids:

Gaskill, C. S., Williams, M. B., & McHugh, R. K. (2015). Singers and steroids: A multi-disciplinary discussion. SIG 3 Perspectives on Voice and Voice Disorders, 25(1), 16-24.

My Articles about Vocal Dose in Singers:

Gaskill, C.S., Cowgill, J.G., &  Many, S.G. (2013). “Comparing the Vocal Dose of University Students from Vocal Performance, Music Education and Musical Theater.” Journal of Singing. 70(1), 11-19.

Gaskill, C.S., Cowgill, J. G. & Tinter, S.R. (2013). “Vocal Dosimetry: A Graduate Level Vocal Pedagogy Course Experience.” Journal of Singing. 69(5), 543-555.

How to Check for Vocal Fold Swelling (text and training video):

Straw Phonation videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FStqHThEY9M (Tom Burke—speech pathologist who works with elite musical theater performers in NYC)

Resources from the NCVS (National Center for Voice and Speech):

Warm-ups for singers:

List of common medications and potential voice/speech side-effects:

Basic Vocal Hygiene Tips (page with four bookmark-sized lists to reproduce)

More detailed Vocal Hygiene guidelines:

“The World Within Your Voice”: Video about how the human voice works:

Monday, September 5, 2016

Upcoming AMAHL rehearsals

Thursday, September 8
3:30-3:50 character work: all principals called
3:50-4:10 Melchior: "Oh, woman..."
4:10-5 Kaspars: "This is my box"

Tuesday, September 13
3:30-5 Mothers and Amahl, pp. 2-11

Thursday, September 15
3:30-4:10 Amahls and Kings pp. 23-24
4:15-5 Kings pp. 12-14

Friday, September 2, 2016

AMAHL class list

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Cast List

The Mother: Kristin Deneen, Ashley Cannova

Amahl: Caleb Flores, Carter Burton

King Kaspar: Corey Griffin, Ben Lundy

King Melchior: Beau Boudreaux

King Balthazar: Maurice Nix

The Page: Joel Burks, Jeremy Richardson

Thank you to all who auditioned. You will notice that three roles are double cast. Those assigned to those roles will each sing one performance, and will sing chorus in the other performance. These dates will be assigned at a later date.

Everyone assigned a role must register for Opera Workshop: those singing chorus may register for either Opera Workshop or Chamber Singers. If you wish to sing chorus for Amahl only, register for opera Workshop and attend Chamber Singers once rehearsals for Amahl music begins (probably October). Dr. Kittredge can advise you regarding when these will begin.

Rehearsals are Tuesday/Thursday from 3:30-5, though not everyone will be needed all the time. Specific schedules will be posted on this blog: check it often, especially on the day of rehearsal. Everyone, please attend rehearsal this coming week. Greg, please stay registered for the course and see me when you have a chance.

BLOCK OFF THIS TIME IN YOUR SCHEDULE NOW. If you have regular work or class conflicts, let me know now...and please don't ask for anything extra beyond that. We already have a very limited rehearsal schedule. Thanks for your understanding!

Everyone with a named role, with the exception of the Page, must purchase a score. They are available here:

Or here, which has one- or two-day shipping (and and students, I believe you get Amazon Prime for free, which gives you two-day shipping): 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Performance Class Friday

We will meet all together in the recital hall this Friday (and every Friday) at 12:20. Those who are prepared to sing, you know the drill. The rest of you, relax and have fun!

AMAHL audition sign-up sheet posted

HI folks,

The sign-up sheet for AMAHL auditions is posted on my door. If you'd like to audition, please sign up for a time and bring your sheet music for our pianist, Miss Jane. Right now, there are many open slots.

Of course, you're always welcome to just come and wait for an opening, if you don't mind waiting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RE-REVISED studio voice schedule

Hi Folks,

Yes, there are already revisions, due to pianist availability. Please scroll down and re-read all instructions in the original post below. Here is the new schedule:

Camilla 11:15-11:45
Jenn 11:45-12:15
Addie 1:15-1:45
Alyse 1:45-2:15
Peyton 2:30-3
Briana 3:30-4:20

Beau 12:20-1:10

Michael 9-9:50
Kristin 11:15-11:45

Madison 1-1:50

Mallory 10:45-11:15
Eric 11:15-12:05

AMAHL auditions

Auditions for our fall opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, will be September 1 from 3:30-5:15 in Hulsey room 308. Bring any song in English, preferably memorized, and be prepared to sing it with our pianist. Bring the sheet music to your piece! If you'd like to sing one of the arias from the show, though it is not required, I have the music for Kaspar, Melchior, and the Mother.

On Tuesday, August 30 (same place, same time), you are welcome to sing your piece for feedback and coaching. This is a great chance to have a "dry run" of your piece and to get comfortable before auditions.

If you would rather not audition but would like to be in the chorus, please contact me or Dr. Kittredge. Rehearsals for the chorus will take place during Chamber Singers time.

Performances are November 17-18 in Sirote Theatre, Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. You can read more about the show here, and watch the original TV broadcast here.

20 Tiny Changes #17: be grateful

Studies show that it isn't happy people that are grateful: it's that grateful people that are happy.

Each day, preferably right before you go to sleep, make a list of things that make you feel grateful. I keep a small journal next to my bed and write one page before going to sleep. That page fits about 6-10 items, and they vary. But every night, I find there is something that makes me count my blessings.

On a rough day, you might be able to only name two things. You might even only be able to say you're thankful for a bed and for making it through the day. But those are good things, regardless. I know that every day, I'm grateful for my husband, and that's no small thing.

Give it a try and see if you notice a shift in your attitude over time.

Studio Voice Schedule

Hi Folks,

Following is the schedule for your voice lessons this semester. Let me know IMMEDIATELY if I have inadvertently scheduled your lesson during a time you are not available. If I somehow left you off, let me know. I had everyone's schedules on time (thank you, dear ones), and I did my best to honor requests whenever possible.

Note that everyone enrolled in voice must attend Performance Class every Friday 12:20-1:10. We usually meet in the recital hall, but please stay tuned re: where we'll meet the first week. If you are on tour on Fridays, I need an email from you no later than Thursday of that week notifying me that you'll be on tour. 

A few of you have not yet registered (Eric, Beau). No worries, as you have time to register. Please be sure you've registered before your first lesson, or I cannot teach you.

Lastly, we have not yet assigned pianists to lessons. If you'd like to have a pianist at your first lesson, please email Dr. Chris Steele or Carolyn Violi and ask them very nicely if they wouldn't mind coming to your first lesson. Of course, you should send them a PDF of your music ahead of time if they agree to do so, or be sure to get them a hard copy. 

Looking forward to hearing your beautiful voices!

Camilla 11:15-11:45
Jenn 11:45-12:15
Addie 1:15-1:45
Alyse 1:45-2:15
Peyton 2:30-3

Briana 9:45-10:35
Beau 1-1:50

Kristin 11:15-11:45

Beau 9:45-10:35
Madison 1-1:50

Mallory 10:45-11:15
Eric 11:15-12:05

Monday, August 15, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #16: change a habit

We all have habits we'd like to break. It might be negative thinking, or interrupting people, or driving too fast. I'm guilty of all three, plus many more habits I'd like to break. If you spend more than two seconds thinking about it, there are probably a few bad habits you'd like to kick, too.

Pick something easy, or something that should be relatively easy, to give up. Then make a choice to get through one hour, then one day, then one week without it. It won't be as easy as you think...that's why it's a habit.

Try a trick my husband swears by: wear a rubber band as a bracelet. Whenever you catch yourself doing the habit, give it a good snap. If nothing else, it'll jolt you out of the auto-pilot that lets you indulge in that habit in the first place.

Or you can go back to the phrase I use during Constructive Rest: "Is there anything I am doing, consciously or unconsciously, what is unwanted or unneeded?" Boy, that can yield some great fodder for this exercise...especially the "unconsciously" part. Bring it to your awareness, and see if it's something you want to continue.

I'll see you on the other side, hopefully with a few bad habits left behind.

Friday, August 12, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #15: walk it off

Watching the Olympics always makes me think about how we as musicians handle pressure and disappointment. It can feel devastating when we miss a high note, have a memory slip, or tank an audition.

All of us have done it. Let's be honest: it's part of the deal when you're an artist. You WILL fall short occasionally. Sometimes it will be a private kind of struggle in the practice room, and sometimes it will be public and humiliating. It comes with the territory.

If you didn't see it live, I'm sure some of you saw some gruesome footage online after one of the first nights of men's gymnastics. French gymnast Samir Aït Saïd broke his left leg as he attempted a vault landing. He broke his tibia and fibula, and the snap of his bones was heard throughout the arena. To add insult upon injury, the medics dropped the stretcher as they were attempting to load him into the ambulance. This happened in front of millions of TV viewers, after years of training. His Olympic career, after all this work and sacrifice, was over for this year. 

It's probably safe to say that night sucked in proportions more epic than we can imagine.

I say this to put what we do into perspective. Of course we need comfort when things go wrong. Sometimes we feel disillusioned and need to wallow for a bit. Many times, though, I think we just need to get over ourselves and move on.

That might come as a surprise to many of my students, who know that I'm a softie at heart and will be your mommy-in-waiting when needed. But frankly, I think we're too easy on ourselves most of the time. 

Think like an athlete. Bruises happen. Mistakes happen. When you can, it's probably best to just walk it off. In coach lingo, that's what you do when something isn't broken or horribly injured. You don't boo-hoo on the sidelines. You WALK IT OFF. Then, true professionals watch the footage over and over again until they determine what went wrong and figure out how to fix it. They don't cry about it (well, maybe they do, but then they get right back to business). They don't waste any more time.

So, unless you've just snapped your leg in front of God and everybody on international TV, my advice from now on will be to WALK IT OFF. Suck it up. Get back into the practice room.

Learn from your mistakes: that's why they exist. Take the lesson, and get back to work!

For the record: Samir Aït Saïd broke his other leg in the same way on another occasion. He recovered, got back into training, and made it into the Olympics after breaking his leg the first time. Let that be an inspiration and lesson to us all.

Monday, August 8, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #14: Reconsider Time

Every week, I listen to Ted Talks on NPR, usually while I'm at the gym. This week, the theme was our conception of time (you can listen to it here). The portion on physics kind of blew my mind (I love that stuff), the concept of our perception of time shifting as we age made perfect sense, and the rest just got me thinking. Then CBS Sunday Morning had a segment on a 98-year-old guy who is still running races. He started running in his 50s. Humbling! 

Along with my latest favorite book, Pressfield's The War of Art, these broadcasts raised the greatest issue any of us faces: how do we spend the little time we're given? Does it reflect what we truly value? Do we waste it?

It's not always easy. There are many distractions in our world. But there are choices we can make every day that make us feel better about how we honor who we are. There are also choices that affect how our experience on this planet is shaped over time. Here are some of the choices I make, in no particular order:

I read spiritual texts every morning and sometimes in the evening, even for only 10 minutes, to ground myself as a spiritual being. This helps me be a little more patient, which is a struggle for me.

I do strength training so that my bone density is maintained or improved over time. I swim so I feel looser both physically and mentally. I do cardio so that my vascular system is strong and will continue to be strong. This will allow me to do the things I want when I'm older, rather than retiring into an easy chair in front of the TV.

I sing coloratura arias and exercises every day so that I don't lose flexibility in my voice. I do sostenuto work as well, to maintain legato line. I incorporate text into my vocalises as well, so language work isn't separate, but is integrated. All of this will positively affect how I sing when I am 50, 60, 70.

I do constructive rest every day, so that if I mis-use my body while typing, for example, I can get myself back on track. This, too, will affect my posture over the long haul.

I keep track of my calorie intake throughout the day, so that I can adjust if necessary. This might mean adjusting what I have for dinner if I have an indulgent lunch. It might mean that I throw caution to the wind for a day or a two, but I get right back on track after a weekend of naughtiness. This affects everything from how my belly feels today to how my knees will feel in 10 years.

I work on NATS summer workshop stuff in August, so that once the semester gets cranking, I don't feel overwhelmed trying to meet deadlines.

I could go on and on, touching on relationships and other parts of life, but I think you get the idea. 

How do you spend your time? Does it reflect what you really want? Does it point you in the direction of where you want to be in 10, 20, 30 years? Or are you spending time on things that have little or no payback over time?

I, for one, plan to be here for a long time. Women in my family tend to live until their 80s or even mid-90s, so I don't want the last 20 years of that long life to be uncomfortable, miserable, or lonely. And if I were to kick the bucket at age 50, I would hate to think that I wasted any of that precious time.

Friday, August 5, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #13: turn it off

I've posted this one before, back when I did 12 Tiny Changes, but it bears repeating.

Take one day a week to refrain from electronics. No Facebook, no email, no texting (unless it's a loved one texting that they've been in a car wreck and need you desperately) for 24 hours. Maybe even...*gasp* ...don't turn on the news for a day. Really, turn it off. The world won't end, I promise.

It's hard to step away from these things that seem like they demand our attention. The first time I did it, I felt like the way I imagine smokers feel without that daily (or hourly) cigarette. I have to say, though, that once I got through that first painful day, I felt happier. Refreshed. Less anxious.

Our society is very anxious, and I believe that part of the reason are these things that seem to demand our immediate attention. *Ding* there's a text! I must answer it right now! *RING* My phone is ringing! WHO can it be? IT MUST BE IMPORTANT!!!!!!! MUST...ANSWER...NOW!

Actually, it rarely is so important that we must answer it immediately. Most things can wait a minute, and hour, or even a day.

Once you try it, you may never go back. You'll look forward to that day of rest, and your ability to delay gratification will do things for your state of mind.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #12: Planning

So, I'm a Tech Nerd. In some ways.

I used to be devoted to my Franklin Covey planner, then I switched to Google calendar, and did everything online. It was lighter! It was portable! I was hip! (Who am I kidding? I hoped I was hip.) I loved it...or so I thought.

Then I found myself setting five reminders on my phone, especially for non-regular events, just so I wouldn't forget anything. Then I would try three times to enter something, and realize my thumb had hit the wrong day, then have to try again. (I'm clumsy that way.) Then I had a mortifying experience: I showed up one day late to a very important presentation.

To say I freaked is a bit of an understatement. To say I had a niggling suspicion that it was electronics, not paper, that had failed me...well, that would be fair.

It all worked out in the end, thanks to some incredibly kind and understanding people and a reasonably flexible schedule. But I had what is called down here a "come to Jesus" moment.

Electronic calendar-keeping was NOT working for me.

There are many studies that show that writing is different than typing when it comes to retention, especially note-taking. Here's an article from Scientific American, and here's one from NPR. Here's an article about calendars in particular. My husband, an editor, insisted that the problem was that I hadn't written it down...and I hadn't printed the calendar before noting my date and time. He spends his whole day on the computer, but he knows that he must print something if he's going to catch every typo when he reads it.

I gulped, and ordered another paper calendar from Amazon. It was only $30. But it was big (8 1/2 x 11"! How was I going to manage?!). And antiquated. And old-school.

And I LOVE it. Love   LOVE   L-O-V-E   it.

Sitting down for only a few minutes a day to write what I'm going to do is totally different. It's hard to describe, but I'm getting more done. Because it's written, I've made a contract with myself regarding what I'm going to actually do that day, that week, that month. And my days are packed, because I'm so motivated to fulfill that contract.

So whatever you do for the school year, or however you divide your life into units, I simply offer this: Pick a planner. Use it. Most importantly, be sure your planner works for you: that you not only like it, but you feel like it helps you.

So, I'm not going back! Google, you're great for so many things, but a paper calendar is my anchor.

Monday, August 1, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #11: add protein to breakfast

We talked about eating breakfast every day, and not to worry about WHAT you ate. Just eat breakfast, I said. Now let's go the next step: let's make it even better.

Try something with protein as part of your breakfast every day. You could add hardboiled egg(s), some sort of meat (turkey sausage, for example), a cereal that has protein (Kashi's Go Lean is delicious), or a protein shake. Every day, I start with a protein shake made with LeanOne mix, a half cup of frozen blueberries, 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk, and chia seeds. I add an ice cube or two to make it nice and cold. 

Try one of these--or something different, if you have a better idea for adding protein--and see how your mood, energy, and general wellbeing changes in the morning. I find my moods are more level if I have some protein, rather than simple carbs which result later in a sugar crash.

Give it a try!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #10: Monitor Self-Talk

How do you talk to yourself?

No, I'm not referring to the kind of self-talk that makes people you pass on the street wonder if you're nuts. Most of us don't talk out loud to ourselves (though, occasionally, there's nothing wrong with that). I'm referring to the constant monologue inside your head.

When you mess up, what do you say to yourself? When you're about to try something new, what do you say to yourself? When you look in the mirror, what do you say to yourself?

My guess is, many of us say things to ourselves that we would never utter to someone else.

This is incredibly damaging. We demoralize ourselves when we do this. (I have to note: my finger just hit two keys at once, and the word came out "demortalize." I actually think that's true, too: we take away a piece of our humanity when we speak cruelly to ourselves. We are all imperfect: it's part of being human.)

For a few days, just note what you say to yourself when you're feeling vulnerable, scared, or anxious. Would you talk to your best friend that way? Then why in the world would you talk to yourself like that? Our self-esteem is a fragile thing. We must be our own best friends. What would you say to your best friend when she's feeling scared about trying something new? It would probably be something along the following lines: "C'mon, you can do it. It won't be perfect the first time, and that's okay. Just give it a try!" What would happen if, over time, you had that kind of response to yourself? You'd probably feel less demoralized, and less demortalized. (I made a new word. Pretty neat. It'll probably come up in future posts.)

It can be a hard to habit to break, to be fair. I've been working on it for about 25 years, and am starting to make some progress. It's one I commit to revisiting, too.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #9: go small

I love chocolate. And ice cream. And other things that I probably shouldn't like as much as I do.

Until fairly recently, limiting the size of those treats wasn't an option. If I was going to have ice cream, I'd have three scoops. Or two scoops with hot fudge AND caramel. What was the point of having a small serving? If you're going to be bad, go all out: that was my motto.

What I've discovered is that a few bites of whatever I'm craving is plenty to satiate me. I keep a bag of mini York peppermint patties in the fridge, and have one after dinner. Or I have a half cup of Breyer's ice cream. BTW, that's one serving, I was horrified to discover! After a few bites of those lovelies, I'm satisfied. It's a treat, and I don't feel gross afterward. Who knew?

Give it a try. Cheating a little bit each day won't kill anyone, and won't pack on the pounds the way regular (or even intermittent) gorging will. That way, you won't feel deprived, either.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #8: do not disturb

It's a lovely function on your mobile phone: "do not disturb." Do you actually use it?

I use it every time I go into a session here at the NATS conference. To be honest, I'd be mortified if my phone rang during Renée Fleming's master classes.

But do you use it every night when you go to bed? A colleague relayed a story to me: it seems her grandson asked her not to text early in the morning because it woke him up. Her response was, why is your phone on when you're sleeping?

I have to side with my colleague on this one. Phones need to be turned off when you sleep, so that you can sleep without interruption. Just about anything can wait a few hours. We know from numerous studies that having 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep is crucial. It's also important to have the self-control to be able to do without it for that amount of time, in my opinion.

So turn it off and sleep well, friends!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wellness Resources: NATS National Convention 2016

This list, while long, will continue to grow. Feel free to comment and post your favorites, and I'll include them.

Here is the link.

And here is a fabulous testimonial from a friend regarding one of the apps I mentioned:

I don't usually post much on Facebook except to comment on other's posts. However, this week I tried something new for me. I started tracking my calorie and exercise on MYFITNESSPAL this week as I travelled Tallahassee FL, Mobile AL, Biloxi, and Gulfport MS. I love seafood and am a sucker for fast food in order to move on quickly and get to my next appointments. Many of the hotels I stay in have breakfast provided. I often try to get my money's worth and then some! I found that I consumed 1600 of my 2100 allowable calories for breakfast one morning. What a shock!! Didn't seem like that much but the biscuits and gravy eggs sausage yogurt orange juice coffee do add up! So with that awakening I have tried all week to eat more reasonalbly and account for all food that I eat good or bad. I also was able to exercise every day during the week sometimes morning and everning. I ate at one of my favorite restaraunts on the Gulf coast, Half Shell Oyster House(halfshelloysterhouse.com with 8 locations), 3 times. Great food and atmosphere with a Cajun flair! But i limited myselt to a bowl of their fabulous seafood gumbo and a salad each time. I somehow found the will power to forego their fantastic bread pudding!! When I arrived home for the weekend, I weighed in. I was surprised to see I had lost 2.5 pounds this week and still had an enjoyable time. I guess the old saying "You can't manage what you don't measure" is very true. I am 6 days into a new pattern and hope to continure without stumbling too often going forward in order to lose a substantial amount of weight this fall I hope each time I see you in the future, you see "less" of me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

20 Tiny Changes #7: Read First

This change may actually feel enormous.

Before you check Facebook or email or anything else, read. Read something uplifting first thing in the morning, before inundating yourself with the news or social media. Let your mind absorb something with substance before the demands of the day start trickling through your computer or smartphone. 

See how your frame of mind changes when you feed it with something good first. See how the lens through which you see the world is altered.

Final performance class

We will all meet together in HRH today. If Mr. Byrd or Dr. Mosteller is playing for you in lieu of Dr. Steele, be sure they have your music!...