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

Monday, March 12, 2018

Voice Studio Recital Groups

Following are the groups for the Voice Studio Recital, two weeks from last night:


Lauren Tinsley: Verdi, prati
Jonathan Reynolds: Caro mio ben
Patton Lenard: Va per lo mare
Eugena Babb: Sebben, crudele
Alex Drummond: Vittoria, mio core

Michael Giddens: Lay your doubts
Austin Hilbert: Che faro senza Euridice
Eric Campbell: Bob’s Aria

Maurice Nix: Wasserflut
Gabe Knight: Die Forelle
Grace Becher: O kühler Wald

Laurel Floen: Colored Lights
Jenn Palmieri: Lost in the waves
Lilly Bateh: The beauty is
Elizabeth Forman: Fly into the Future

Savannah Faulkner: Fools fall in love
Clara Holmes: With you
Beau Boudreaux: Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
Peyton Overstreet: I could be Jewish for you


Rachel Hancock: Come and trip it
Juanita Pineda: Come again, sweet love
Arthur Beard: Deep River
Briana Auhing: The Crucifixion
Daniel Johnson: Were you there

Sabrina Lewis: Sebben, crudele
Daley Browning: Caro mio ben
Quan Patterson: O del mio dolce ardor

Ashlyn Poe: Das verlassene Mägdlein
Andrew Ellis: Nacht und Träume
Chris Farley: In der Fremde

Farryn Owens: History of wrong guys
Brooke Payne: The Human Heart
Diego Villaneuva: I’ve told every little star
Allie Nichols: A little brains, a little talent

Justine Nelson: When I look at you
Rachel Biggs: I Won't Say I'm in Love
Zachary Lampe: From this moment on
Camilla Almond: Even though

Tiny Change #9: rediscover childhood

It's Spring Break, so it seemed time to lighten things up a bit. This week is my chance to get out my crayons and color. (To be fair, it's actually Catch Up On Work week for me, but I'm trying to build in just a little fun while y'all are at the beach.)

Most of us have a hobby from childhood that makes us happy, calm, or relaxed. Mine is coloring. Luckily, my husband doesn't seem to mind that I'm a kid underneath it all, and has supported my habit by giving me coloring books, markers, and colored pencils. It all started when he got me an enormous set of Crayolas, and I squealed with glee. Thanks to him, I'm pretty much set for life. 

While weeks or months might pass without coloring, when I return to it, there's probably a silly grin on my face. The world looks different after even a short coloring indulgence. I've even found that, if I whip out the crayons and get creative for 15 minutes before practicing, I have a very different practice session. It's hard to describe, but trust me, it's much better.

What's your childhood hobby? This Spring Break, maybe it's time to rediscover it...and reclaim it for a few minutes a day, even during the semester. For this week, go crazy and enjoy it every day.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Tiny Change #8: Keep the Drama on the Stage

Let's be honest: this may not be a small change. We're artists, so we can be dramatic. This is, at times, what fuels our work. But what if it's detracting from your work? 

What if there is so much drama in your life that you find yourself unable to focus on your deadlines? What if you're so busy taking care of everyone else that you can't take care of yourself? What if you're so busy fulfilling everyone else's expectations of being a good boyfriend or good daughter or good uncle or good stand-in therapist that you're not getting your own practicing or schoolwork done?

That's when you know things are out of balance.

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.

You can't be all things to everyone and still be the student who will fulfill his potential. You can't be the artist you were meant to be if, when you go to fish in the pond, it's been overfished. You have to leave something for yourself.

In fact, I'd say you have to tend to your own pond before you tend to someone else's.

This might mean different things to different people. It might mean turning off your phone for an hour and tending to an artistic obligation. It might mean going to the gym for 30 minutes to let off some steam so that you don't blow tomorrow. It might mean being there for a friend who is having her own drama for 30 minutes instead of three hours, so that you don't end up getting sick from sleep deprivation. You know what it'll mean for you.

This might be tough for some of you. Some folks very dear to you might even be angry at you for taking care of yourself instead of taking care of them, especially if they've come to expect you to sacrifice your own wellbeing for theirs.

They will get over it. So will you. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Performance Class March 2

Our performance class will be split on March 2. My students and Prof. Doss's students will be in HRH; Dr. Cho's and Dr. Evans's students will be in the dance studio. This schedule is as follows:

Chris in HRH until 12:50 with KHW
Michael Giddens (twice if time)
Beau Boudreaux
Daley Browning
Ashlyn Poe
Briana Auhing

Richard in Dance Studio until 12:50 with WC and PE (though it sounded like Patrick can’t come)
Clara Holmes
Quan Patterson
Diego Villanueva
Brooke Payne
Savannah Faulkner
Rachel Biggs


Richard in HRH from 12:50-1:10
Jenn Palmieri
Farryn Owens
Peyton Overstreet

Chris in Dance Studio  from 12:50-1:10
Daniel Johnson
Maurice Nix
Andrew Ellis

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Tiny Change #7: 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.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Performance Class 2/23/18

Today we will all be together in Hulsey Recital Hall. Bring your calendars! We have items to discuss.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tiny Change #6: Read

Read, you ask? I read all day; I'm a student. You want me to read more?

No, I suggest you read something different. Read something that feeds your soul even if it's only for 10 minutes a day, preferably first thing in the morning. My stack of reading material is ever-growing. Yours should reflect your own spiritual journey and curiosities.

My husband's dear friend Dave starts his day with a short Bible study. Dave is one of the steadiest, most centered people that I know. Clearly, it does something for him.

My reading in the morning varies. Right now, it's Borysenko's "Fire in the Soul." In the past, it's been everything from Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" to Morinis's "Everyday Holiness" to Medina's "Brain Rules" to various books on meditation. Next on my wish list is "Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life." 

When you start your day reading something that stirs your spirit, not just your brain, it's like setting your compass before setting out to sea. And let's face it, sometimes the waters are pretty choppy.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tiny Change #5: Gauge Your Time

As you know, the Winter Olympics are one of my favorite things, and as expected, I find many correlations to our work. This week, I ask you to consider your time on the ice, as it were.

During the figure skating competition, the commentators discussed the limited time each skater had on the ice, and how each skater spent that limited time. Of course, there was always assessment regarding how the performance during the competition compared with their practice time, and while that was interesting, that's a topic for another post. This one is about how you spend your time in practice.

I found it curious, but not terribly surprising, that the skaters used their time differently. Some skaters spent it running their entire program, and some spent it primarily on the hard jumps. Your choices may depend on the difficulty of your repertoire, and the stage of your vocal development. I would suggest, however, that unless your performance is imminent, your time shouldn't be spent just running your repertoire. Spend your time on the hard jumps. Work the difficult sections over and over, in the manner your teacher suggests, until you work out the kinks and can do them without fail under a variety of circumstances.

We understand that your vocal resources are limited. You have choral obligations, church jobs, and your voice lessons. You'll have to be smart about how you spend the precious minutes you have each day to do your work. Don't waste it just mindlessly running through your songs. Spend time really working your technique, mastering the tough vocalises and taxing passages in your music: those are your triple axels.

Use your time wisely!

Monday, February 5, 2018

12 Tiny Changes #4: UNPLUG

Our change for this week: UNPLUG at night.

By this I mean, turn off your phone or put it on the "Do Not Disturb" setting. This can mean your iPad, laptop, etc....but especially your phone. Even better: do all of that, and set it out of reach so that you're not tempted to check it if you wake up in the middle of the night.

Even better: put it down and don't check it for at least 30-60 minutes before you go to bed.

The light that phones emit tell your brain that it's time to be awake. Using the "warm light" setting in the evening helps, but part of the problem with checking it before you go to bed is that whatever you see gets your brain thinking when your brain needs to be getting ready for sleep.

We will talk more about sleep hygiene in the coming weeks, but for now, keep it simple. For the 9 hours you should be sleeping and getting ready to sleep, put the phone down.

It can wait. Really.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

PLEASE VOTE for SNATS clinicians

Hi folks,

We need to submit a budget request by Friday, 2/9, so please vote on the poll (see right) on what kind of clinician you would like for the fall. You may vote for more than one! If you'd like to elaborate on "Other," please post a comment here and I will publish. If you'd like to elaborate on what voice type you'd like for a singer/teacher, do the same here.

Please vote no later than 5pm Wednesday.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Performance Class 2.2.18

Dr. Kris's students will meet in the Dance Studio: Dr. Cho's and Prof. Doss's will meet in HRH.

See you then!

Monday, January 29, 2018

12 Tiny Changes #3

Eat breakfast. At this point, just eating breakfast at all may be change enough for some of you.

Remember why it's called break-fast: you are breaking a fast. For most of us, that means we have not eaten anything for 8-10 hours, so blood sugar is very low. Can't concentrate in your morning class? Perhaps it's because you haven't eaten! Getting your blood sugar up to functional levels will help you think more clearly, manage your cravings throughout the day, and prevent the urge to gorge when you finally do eat.

So eat something, preferably soon after you wake up. For now, especially for those of you who usually skip breakfast, it can be anything. Bland is fine if this is new to you. Keep it simple: cereal, a banana, yoghurt, granola bar, or a protein shake.

For those of you who already eat breakfast, try adding or increasing the amount of protein you eat at breakfast. Add a hard-boiled egg or two, or throw in some protein mix to your morning smoothie.

More on breakfast later!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Performance Class

All together in HRH tomorrow. We will review how to sign up to sing in class.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tiny Change #2: BREATHE

I know what you're thinking.

Breathing is not a "tiny change," it's a regular occurrence.

You may think that. But do you actually take a little time, every day, to think about nothing but your breathing?

Try this: as you inhale, think, "I am breathing in." As you exhale, think, "I am breathing out." If that's too complicated, you can simply think "inhale" and "exhale." Using those words as an anchor allows us to focus our attention on one thing--the breath--rather than the myriad of thoughts that buzz through our minds at any given moment. If and when you become aware of thoughts rather than your focus on the breath, gently (this is important! Gently) bring your awareness back to the breath. No need to berate yourself for thinking: it's what our brains do. Be nice to yourself.

It's not easy. You'll find your mind wandering, probably almost immediately. Some days are harder than others. But with practice, especially daily practice, it gets easier. Think of your brain as a puppy: we are simply training it, not spanking it.

And the best part is all of the health benefits: lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, stronger immune system, lower anxiety levels, better short-term memory. Anyone think that might be helpful while you're in college?

Here's a suggestion: try it for ten minutes a day. If that's too much, try five minutes. You can try it first thing in the morning to start your day off in a calm manner, or at the end of the day to wind down, or halfway through your practice session when your mind feels overwhelmed. If you like, listen to an app that has repetitive sounds that are relaxing like ocean waves, rain, etc. I like the Insight Timer app because I can set the timer and use an ambient sound. Try to avoid music, as we tend to listen to it and get involved in it rather than focus on the breath.

Many people feel afterward as if they've taken a refreshing nap.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Third week of class

Read Chapter Two and Three of the Greene book, and journal on your perceptions. If ready and assigned to do so, sing in class and record your performance, as indicated in Chapter Two.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

12 TINY CHANGES (bonus)

While my plan was to get to meditation next week, there is an opportunity I didn't want you to miss if you're interested. We'll call this Tiny Change 1.5.

The Winter Feast for the Soul started yesterday. It is a 40 day meditation practice that you can follow online. There are guided meditations of all sorts: Christian, Sufi, Jewish, totally unguided, and even meditations in German, Italian, and French. If you'd like to explore it, here's the link.

We'll talk more about the wide-ranging benefits of meditation next week, especially with regard to stress reduction. For now, feel free to jump in at the Winter Feast if you like.

Monday, January 15, 2018

12 Tiny Changes, revisited

It's time to revisit the 12 TINY CHANGES series I posted a few years ago. We're not going to attempt to overhaul your lives: that's a losing proposition. But we can all make tiny adjustments without much discomfort, and they slowly become part of our new life habit. Small changes in our thinking and behavior make a big difference over time.

Our first topic is hydration.

Most of us are slightly dehydrated most of of the time. By the time you feel like you need to drink something, you're already dehydrated. Our brains consist of over 85% water, and need to be hydrated to function properly. Hydration affects everything from our coordination to our ability to concentrate...two crucial things in music-making. Water is also necessary for toxin elimination, proper digestion, joint health, and healthy skin and bones. In short, drinking enough water keeps us healthier. In this season of colds and flu, I'll take every extra bit of defense I can get!

Hydration is one of the easiest things to control and (at least for me) one of the easiest things to overlook. So our aim for this week is to drink before we're even thirsty. Since we all live by our phones, go ahead and try an electronic reminder. There are a tons of apps that remind you to drink regularly, and many of them are free. My favorites, for various reasons:

Fitbit (if you wear one)
AppleWatch (OK, I confess: I covet this. One of these days...)
My Fitness Pal (you have to remember to enter info here, but more on this app later)
WaterMinder (I like the reminders on this one)
iHydrate (integrates with Fitbit, Jawbone, & HealthKit; lets you choose other drinks)

My Wellness for Musicians student Emily found an app called FABULOUS. She said it was like having Dr. Kris in her pocket, reminding her to do nice things for herself. (How lovely that's what she hears me reminding her to do!) The app's first suggestion: set a glass of water next to your bed at night, and drink it first thing in the morning. That can at least start you in the right direction.

Here's your one tiny change: get a water app, and use it this week. Don't judge how "well" or "badly" you do, just give it a try and notice how you feel and whether or not it works for you. You might decide to try another app next week. Just observe for now, without judgment.

Drink up! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Second week of class

Hi folks,

As mentioned in lessons and in class today, be sure you read pp. 1-12 of Don Greene's PERFORMANCE SUCCESS and take the survey. Post your reflections on the reading and on the survey in your Google doc. Do this before your lesson next week! If you haven't purchased the book yet, do. You can get it at the UAB bookstore or on Amazon.

Next week's Performance Class will be TUTTI (all together) in Hulsey Recital Hall (HRH): sign up to sing on my door if we have discussed it.

Also, I double checked: AlaNATS is in Mobile in February, but SERNATS is at Auburn this year, March 23-24. Let me know if you'd like to participate in either one, and I'll make it happen! In each case, you should plan on the expense of hiring one of the staff accompanists.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Performance Class Meeting Places

Hi folks,

There is no singing this Friday, so we are meeting our studios separately. Here are the locations:

Dr. Cho: Third floor dance Studio
Prof. Doss: her studio
Dr. Evans: his studio
Dr. Kris: HRH

See you then!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

First week's reading


Since I won't see all of you during this first week of class due to my illness, I want to keep all of you on track.

Be sure you read pp. 1-2 of Don Greene's PERFORMANCE SUCCESS and take the survey. Post your reflections on the reading and on the survey in your Google doc. (If you don't know what that is yet, don't worry: we'll talk about it in your first lesson). Do this before your lesson next week!

If you haven't purchased the book yet, do. You can get it at the UAB bookstore or on Amazon.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Voice lesson schedule


Here is the schedule. In the future, get me your schedules on time, as requested. Please send your PDFs of music to your pianists IMMEDIATELY (csteele@uab.edu or richardbyrd101@gmail.com).

Thanks, and see you soon.

Monday (Dr. Steele)
10:10 Beau
11:10 Briana
12:05 Michael
1:05 Lilly

Tuesday (R = Mr. Byrd; C = Dr. Steele)
10:15 - Jenn  (R)

11:15 - Farryn (R)

1:00 Camilla (R)
1:30 Peyton (R)
2:00 Eric (C)

3:00 Austin (C)
3:30 Ashlyn (C)
4:00 Lauren (C)--no need to bring anything to your first lesson!

Friday (Dr. Steele)
10:00 Daley
10:30 Eugena
11:10-12  Grace 
12:20-1:10 Performance Class: ALL!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Lesson schedule


I am well aware that I said that I'd post the lesson schedule on January 2. That was provided that all of my students sent their schedules by January 1, as requested.

That has not happened. Several of you did not send me your schedules in time.

I am now in New York, running a national workshop. There is no time to chase people down.

Dr. Evans has very generously agreed to finish the schedule with the availability he has for pianists. Stay tuned: things may be up in the air until the first day of classes.

This is a friendly reminder as to why there are deadlines: scheduling affects EVERYONE.

Voice Studio Recital Groups

Following are the groups for the Voice Studio Recital, two weeks from last night: 4pm Lauren Tinsley: Verdi, prati ...