friday fav five – 18 | 3 | 30

friday fav five – 18 | 3 | 30

the saturday edition. because: good friday.

1. favourite YouTube video: NATS Chat: Teaching Very Young Singers with guest, Shannon Coates

I don’t know who this “Shannon Coates” person is but she seems VERY VERY NICE. And she also seems like someone you might want to listen to if you want a primer on how and why to teach very young children. #justsayin


2. favourite podcast episode: Marian Anderson from Stuff You Missed in History Class Classics

So, this is a FASCINATING episode about a fascinating singer. (And if you’re not already listening to this podcast, you may LOVE it if you’re into history, you can stand some pretty intense twang in your hosts’ speaking voices, and you can handle consistent brutalization of “foreign” proper names. I mean, the bruises on my forehead are almost healed from my self-inflicted facepalms during the episode on Giorgio Vasari. (THE “i” IS THERE TO SOFTEN THE “g”. IT DOES NOT PRODUCE A WHOLE OTHER SYLLABLE. STAAAAHP THAT!))

[Luciano will not come when you call him unless you pronounce his name with three syllables, instead of four. (BAHAHAHAH. Who are we kidding? Luciano won’t come no matter what you call him. HE’S A CAT.)]

3. favourite blog post: What Parents Should Say as Their Kids Perform by Tim Elmore

Look, I don’t know Tim Elmore from Adam (which, *I think?* is a way to say that I don’t know him at all. But now that I look at that statement, I’m not so sure … ANYWAY. He has a FREE EBOOK and over 150,000 subscribers (according to the old-timey counter on his website, which couldn’t possibly be manipulated so …), but I pull this blog post out nearly every year around festival and recital time and I email it over to the parents of my younger students to take a look at.  It seems to be pretty, danged anecdotal but -WOW- does it EVER ring true for me.

what about me, hooman? do you love to watch me perform? PERFORM MY MAGICAL SLEEPING TRICK FOR TWENTY HOURS OUT OF EVERY TWENTY-FOUR? BECAUSE I AM AWESOME AT THAT AND YOU DON’T TELL ME THAT I AM AWESOME NEARLY ENOUGH. not that i need you to. i am fully aware of how awesome i am. i am a cat.


4. favourite quirky but effective tool with a funny yet weirdly appropriate name: the Pink Trombone

I know this one is kind of old (I think I first saw it starting to bounce around my inbox and social media feeds about eighteen months ago?), but it came up in my feed this week again so I thought I’d share. I especially love how moving the ‘bump’ in the tongue up and down the vocal tract clearly shows vowel differentiation. YAY FOR WEIRD LITTLE TOOLS THAT HELP TO VISUALIZE THE VOCAL INSTRUMENT!

i’m a weird little cat who might help your students to visualize what singing really really high notes might look like on the outside. unlike most of my species, i am a giver and you’re welcome.


5. favourite* article: How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price

Stupid-dumb jerk of an article about how to not let your phone rule your life.

i am a big, dangerous cat. JUST LIKE YOUR PHONE. or something like that.


Here’s hoping you have a beautiful weekend. And?

You can teach your face off … I can help.


friday fav five – 18 | 3 | 30

friday fav five – 18|3|23


There were a LOT of amazing voice teachery things on The Internets this week; it was haaaarrrrd to pick just five (waaaaahhhh). BUT IT DID THAT JUST FOR YOU. BECAUSE I AM KIND AND FULL OF LOVE FOR YOU. yes. that.

1. favourite blog post: How to Teach Someone to Match Pitch by D. Brian Lee*

If you are an independent voice teacher, chances are HIGH that you have worked with a singer (or two, or four hundred thousand) who does not easily match pitch.** Well, in this blog post, Brian sums up some KEY POINTS to working with uncoordinated singers and you know what? They. Are. The. Boss (the key points. not the uncoordinated singers. although uncoordinated singers are also awesome. just in a different way than key points are.).

i may look like i am staring into your soul and willing you to read brian’s blog post. but what i am really doing is reminding you that it is time for wet food and you are a lazy-butt who needs to get out of bed to feed me that wet food. and, yes, an animal who sleeps twenty out of every twenty-four hours is totally judging you for missing the six AM wet food feeding.

2. favourite apps: Theory Apps from the Royal Conservatory of Music

I mean, FAR BE IT FROM ME to be all up in your face about how awesome the RCM is (oh wait: I may have done this already in the past. A little bit.) buuuuuut: these apps are pretty danged awesome. My young students especially really like them and their parents have fun doing the games with their kids so that’s doubly awesome, #amiright? And? Seeing as learning music terms is pretty-much straight memorization (ugh) my students are LOVING the “Terms” apps because they (#clichealert) MAKE LEARNING (aka straight memorization) FUN!

MAKE MEMORIZING TERMS FUN AGAIN. [If I was any kind of fancy blogger, I would photoshop (or whatever the modern equivalent is (canva?)) the picture on that screen to a list of obscure Italian music terms like, “comodo” (which: commode! BAHAHAHA #IAmTwelve). But I am not that blogger.]

3. favourite article: Why Kids with Executive Functioning Issues Have Trouble Starting Tasks from Understood.Org

Next time you think a student is lazy, or just a terrible, terrible student (I mean, you’ve GIVEN THEM ALL THE THINGS TO SUCCEED AT PRACTICING HOW COULD THEY NOT DO IT?!), consider this.

i am not lazy. i am a cat.

4. favourite FB live: Friday Five Live #37 – Studio Marketing 101 with Sara Campbell at Upbeat Piano Teachers

Yeah yeah yeah … Upbeat PIANO Teachers … I know, I KNOW. But guess what? EVERYTHING SARA TALKS ABOUT IN THIS FB LIVE IS TOTALLY, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT APPLICABLE TO UPBEAT SINGING TEACHERS TOO (see what I did there?). #pinkyswear (Also, Sara may or may not be a singing teacher too. #truestory)

[Guess what, friendternets? THERE ARE NO PICTURES OF UPBEAT CATS ON THE INTERNETS. Go ahead and google that. I’ll be right here waiting. Whole lot of humans looking very happy while holding cats, #amiright? Good golly, do I love me some sardonic, better-than-you, resting-beyotch-faced cats.]

5. favourite YouTube video: Human Body for Kids/Larynx for Kids/Larynx Facts for Kids from Kids Learning Tube

You know, if by “favourite” I actually mean “WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?!?”. (Also: #yourewelcome)***


And on that note, I wish you happy-weekending.

You can teach your face off … I can help.

*This blog post was written nearly EIGHT YEARS AGO. Brian is an early adapter. AND? HE’S WRITTEN A BOOK THAT YOU SHOULD BUY AS SOON AS IT COMES OUT. And in the meantime, you should sign up to get updates from him so you totally know when it comes out. So you can buy it. (Not that I’m telling you what you should do or anything. Except that I really am.)


**If you are an academic teacher, chances are HIGH that you have not worked with a singer who does not easily match pitch. Because: it’s pretty danged tricky / bordering on the MIRACULOUS to get into a university voice programme if you can’t match pitch. #justsayin

*** All y’all can thank my student, Lindsay M for forwarding that little bit of WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW to me.



friday fav five – 18 | 3 | 30

friday fav five – 18|3|16

let’s have some nearly-the-end-of-march-break* funness


1. favourite blog post: The 5-Minute Connection: Teaching the Whole Student by Marisa Gray Atha

Friends, this is a BEAUTIFUL reflection on how and why we teach the whole singer, and includes some practical advice about how to connect with that whole singer in the first five minutes of their lesson.

[I mean, if that blog post didn’t make you want to send flowers to YOUR voice teacher(s), maybe do a quick pulse-check.]

2. favourite FB live: How to Handle Rejection with Joyce DiDonato

I. can’t. even. with how great this FB Live is**. Send it to your students, even if they’re not classical singers and don’t know who Joyce DiDonato is (maybe include a link to her website so they get the picture? I mean, she’s kind of like the Idina Menzel of the opera world, #amiright?***).  If you don’t have twenty minutes, just listen for the first twelve (although, I DARE YOU TO RESIST WATCHING THE REST OF THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS THAT VIDEO).

look, if you didn’t want to learn how to handle rejection, you should have adopted a dog. those slobbery beasts  have no standards whatsoever. they’re so gross.

3. favourite article: The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About by Christopher Reddy

I know, I know: CURSE.  Really? It’s not like your invitation to the ball was dropped in the woods by the horse-back riding messenger on their way to deliver it to you so you show up at the ball and curse ALL THE TEACHERS IN THE WORLD and DOOM THEM TO ETERNAL(ish) SLEEP ON THE EVE OF THE PRINCESS’S SIXTEENTH BIRTHDAY, right? Just ignore the clickbait title and get right to the article. (You know, if you want to know how you’re cursed.)

[Also? There’s a Friday the 13th in April. RELEVANT. THAT IS SO RELEVANT. If you want relevant stuff, write your own blog.]

4. favourite YouTube video: Angelica Hale Singing Girl On Fire on America’s Got Talent ****

Okay. I get cranky when young children sing things they shouldn’t sing and try to sound like adults while doing it. I think we all know that about me by now.THIS? Is not that. Let me count the ways this is not that:

  • appropriate rep (oh man, do I LOVE me some girl-power tunes)
  • sounds like a kid
  • even vibrancy
  • beautiful tuning (for pop singing. don’t you classical singers get all up in my face about the tuning – THAT IS SOME FANTASTIC POP TUNING RIGHT THERE)
  • no evidence of developing tension patterns

YAAASSSS. #thefuturelooksbright

that girl was amazing. and i would like to chew on her sneakers. or the laces at least.

5. favourite webinar: 2018 Fall Voice Webinar Series #1 – Tremors and Quakes: Involuntary Movement Disorders of the Larynx with Mark S. Courey

This is a LOT OF SCIENCY MEDICAL STUFF … but if you’re into that? You’re gonna’ love geeking out on this. (Thanks to Cate Frazier-Neely for the heads up!)

Have a great week and …

You can teach your face off … I can help!

*It’s Friday of the March Break (aka Spring Break, aka a week off school at the end of the winter that a lot of people take advantage of to go somewhere warm or to go skiing but that we are using to renovate our house. We are not fun people.) here in Ontario, Canada.

**#trueconfession: I’m kind of a little bit in FULL ON LOVE with Joyce DiDonato. She seems like a very fun person.

***I have absolutely no idea who to compare Joyce DiDonato to in the CCM world. Like, zero. (Clearly, I am not a fun person.)

**** Yes. I am aware that this video is from, like 2017. I just saw it for the first time this week. I think people have stopped sending me videos of kids singing for fear of how grumpy I am, in general, about this kind of thing. (Because: not a fun person, obviously.)

Teaching (VERY) Young Children – a cheat sheet*

Teaching (VERY) Young Children – a cheat sheet*

CAVEAT:  if you don’t want to teach very young children, THAT’S SUPER-FINE BY ME. You just don’t get to judge those of us who choose to do so. mmmkay? (Also, this particular blog post may not be the one for you. And? If you happen to be of the opinion that teaching young children to sing is somehow detrimental or unhealthy, please take a look at this 2003 position paper by the American Academy of Teachers of Singing. thankyouverymuchokaybye)

And if you’re considering teaching very young children, here are a few things to get you started. Or maybe to give you some new ideas. You know, if you’ve been teaching children for a long time anyway.  Which many of you have. Because: HELLO IDEAL CLIENT FOR MANY INDEPENDENT VOICE TEACHERS.

clearly, i am an ideal cat. however, i am not an ideal cat for every hooman on the planet. because: so fluffy. AND THAT IS OKAY. it is okay to say: I DO NOT WANT A FLUFFY CAT BECAUSE I DO NOT LIKE CLEANING DUST BUNNIES THE SIZE OF TEXAS OUT FROM UNDER MY BED EVERY DAY. AND ALSO: HAIRBALLS. I DO NOT LIKE HAIRBALLS. this does not mean that you get to tell people who DO seem to enjoy cleaning dust bunnies the size of texas out from under their bed every day that they are doing pet ownership wrong. even if they also appear to enjoy cleaning up hairballs. EVEN THEN.

thing the first: resources & curriculum

Look. If you want resources? You should really just stop reading this right now and go over to The Full Voice website. (I know, I KNOW: who tells their blog readers to stop reading? hello …? hellooooo? I’ll just keep going for anyone who may come back. Because: I’m a giver.)  You’re going to find FREE resources over there (you know, if you haven’t already), including downloadables, webinars, a podcast series, and – THE BE-ALL AND END-ALL: a curriculum.

You know. That thing that piano teachers have about a million to choose from? YEAH. THAT. A curriculum that will help you guide your students through learning to read music, learning ear training, learning rhythm training, learning sight singing, tonic sol-fa, etc., etc., ET CETERA. Order the entire teacher package and get a discount. You will not be disappointed. PINKYSWEAR.

what’s this i see? you came back? it was the promise of more cat pictures, wasn’t it? i thought so.

thing the second: community

Guess what? There is an online FaceBook Group (that was started by Nikki Loney (yes … she’s one of The Full Voice people. and, yes … she’s pretty freaking committed to teaching young singers AND to making sure everyone else who wants to has ALL THE THINGS THEY NEED TO DO SO WELL) and Dana Lentini) that is just for people who teach singing to young people. You can ask ANY OLD QUESTION you want (well, maybe not ANY OLD QUESTION … keeping your questions relevant to teaching young singers will most likely NOT result in you getting kicked out of the group so … there’s that) and chances are HIGH you’re going to get some great answers to your question. It’s a super-supportive community for YOU, oh teacher of young singers, and it is called: Voice Teachers for Young Singers. (Because, OF COURSE IT IS.) Go ahead and join up; tell ’em I sent ya’.

we’re the black-tabby-cat-group. see how our name perfectly reflects who we are? we are very smart cats for naming ourselves that.

thing the third: repertoire choices

Okay, so … choosing repertoire for young singers can be tricky. I GET IT (and I also know it’s easy to not do it well) so here are two options options to help:

The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Syllabus:  It’s online. It’s free. It’s downloadable. It’s searchable. It’s been around for, like, a hundred years (ie it’s been tested by teachers for a long time). It’s updated every decade or so (the next one is scheduled to come out in 2019).  AND? There’s TONNES OF CANADIAN CONTENT (y’all know I’m Canadian, right? Check out Donna Rhodenizer‘s stuff especially. It’s kind of the bomb.). What could be better?

Weeelllll … there are perhaps a few things that could be better. Given that the RCM Syllabus tends not to include contemporary music theatre repertoire (and by “tends not to”, I mean “absolutely does not”), or any CCM (that’s Contemporary Commercial Music, not Contemporary Christian Music. Although, the RCM Syllabus doesn’t include any Contemporary Christian Music, either, come to think of it …), you might want to beef up your repertoire choice resources with something like Nate Plummer’s Musical Theatre Repertoire Guide for Kids. I mean, when someone takes the time to organize over three-hundred songs into twelve lists with titles like: “Golden Age for Girls Under 12”? YOU INVEST IN THAT. Because it’s going to make the choosing-repertoire-for-young-singers part of your teaching life SO MUCH EASIER. YES. YES IT IS.

will these e-books make your teaching life easier? YES THEY WILL HOOMAN. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

thing the fourth: cultivating appropriate expectations & teaching methods

So, we all know intuitively that a six-year-old is not the same as a sixteen-year-old. But do we know how those differences may change our expectations for that six-year-old or our way of teaching that six-year-old? Because when we teach very young singers, we’re not just teaching little adults. Or, you know, small teenagers, are we? (The correct answer here, in case you’re wondering, is NO. NO, Shannon, we are not.) There are some really wonderful texts out there now that talk through child anatomy and physiology and how that anatomy and physiology (ie the actual vocal instrument) affects our expectations for what children can do. Jenevora Williams’s Teaching Singing to Children and Young Adults is a GREAT resource both for understanding the young vocal instrument and for getting ideas of how to implement that information in your daily teaching. I know, I KNOW: it’s a DVD + Book Combo. Do you even have a DVD player right now? Fear not: she’s written a BUNCH of fantastic articles that don’t require possibly outdated equipment to read. Try THIS ONE for a start.

the more you know, right hooman? you want to know what i wish i knew before i put these glasses on? THAT THEY WERE GOING TO MAKE MY EYES ALL SQUISHY. i wish i’d known that.


SO. There you have it. Four things to get you started (or to inspire you further!) on your path to teaching very young children to sing. Unless you don’t want to teach very young children to sing. Which, as we have already discussed, is TOTES FINE. YOU DO YOU AND ALL THAT JAZZ.

You can teach your face off … I can help.

*I thought about calling this post a ‘resource list’. But that doesn’t rhyme. Also: REBELLIOUS.

friday fav five – 18 | 3 | 30

friday fav five – 18|3|9

listylist the second (are we having fun yet?)


1. Favourite Blog Post: Actually, Your Mindset Doesn’t Matter by Michelle Markwart Deveaux

Think you’re up to choosing the red pill? GO ON THEN. DO THE THING.

go ahead and try to give me a pill, hooman. go ahead and try.

2. Favourite YouTube Series: “Singing Teachers Answer” with Karyn O’Connor

I mean, THERE ARE A LOT OF COOL THINGS ON THE INTERNETS THESE DAYS, but THIS SERIES? Is rocking my world. And I’ve only seen the first installment. WHAT? (Also, I may or may not have a little sumthin sumthin to say on one or two or four of these installments. #truestory) Subscribe to the series HERE.

[When someone takes the time to herd a whole bunch of incredible singing teachers into one video series? YOU GET ON BOARD WITH THAT. #amiright?]

3. Favourite Teaching Tool: The Singer’s Practice Journal by Nancy Bos

It’s inexpensive. It’s handy. It’s well-designed. It’s one-of-a-kind. It’s satisfyingly attractive. And? It just may be YOUR new favourite thing to gift to your students. (I bought one for all of my teen singers; the adults are on their own.)



4. Favourite Article: Lost Art of Bending Over – How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines by Michaeleen Doucleff

You need to not let the title of this article throw you off. DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY IT; THIS IS ABOUT YOUR SPINAL HEALTH. And I am seriously considering making the ‘How-To Table Bend’ exercise part of every one of my students’ daily warm ups … which they will write out in the space that is VERY CONVENIENTLY PROVIDED IN THEIR SINGER’S PRACTICE JOURNALS. (See what I did there?)

when i’m stretching, you look away hooman. LOOK. AH. WAY.



5. Favourite DIY Health & Hygiene Tool: How to Make a Steam Inhaler Jar from One Good Thing by Jillee

Haven’t quite scraped together the cash to buy a fancy-schmancy steamer yet? (Or, you know, asked for one for Christmas from your in-laws like I may or may not have done last year? #suchanerd #imintopracticalgifts) Well … don’t worry about it. For occasional steaming purposes, this sucker works like a charm. #pinkyswear

go ahead and try to clear my sinuses hooman. go ahead and try.

Happy Friday everyone!

You can teach your face off … I can help.

ps I inserted this post script to point out that I didn’t have any asterisks or post scripts in this post. #ICANDOITIFITRY (Probably those ALL CAPS aren’t going anywhere though.)

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