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

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): 

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!...