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

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.

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!...