friday fav five – 18|05|04

friday fav five – 18|05|04

the free-airport-wifi edition*

1. favourite blog post series: Master Performing by Lisa Chisholm**

Singers with issues around performance anxiety? (I mean, I don’t know any … do you? ahem.) Take a look. (Plus? Canadian content.)

humans and their performance anxiety issues. it’s like they don’t realize they have opposable thumbs or something. if i had opposable thumbs (and if I cared … which I don’t), I WOULD RULE THE WORLD.

2. favourite Instagram video: lungs opening from fisioterapia.hospitalar

So, this is a video showing how a diseased lung (from smoking, I think) inflates versus how a healthy lung inflates. So, you know, GROSS. However, if you can handle the PSAness, it’s also a fantastic teaching tool.  Especially if you keep in mind that the lungs do not inflate on their own (because they’re not a muscle, they’re an organ, #AMIRIGHT?); they inflate because they are attached to the ribs … which open when the intercostal muscles (as in: ‘between the ribs” muscles. #sosciency) engage … which causes the ribs to swing out … and the lungs to open right along with those swinging ribs … because they’re attached to the ribs. (And then the air rushes into the body because there’s this whole pressure vs volume thinggie going on … which has ramifications for inhalations and breathing for singing … which is a WHOLE OTHER POST. DO NOT ENCOURAGE ME TO TALK ABOUT BREATHING FOR SINGING AND HOW TO TEACH IT BECAUSE WE WILL BE HERE FOR HOURS AND NO ONE WANTS THAT. (Also, I’m distilling those hours into a convenient twenty-minute segment in The Vocal Instrument 101 Online Course so there’s that.))

for the LOVE, woman. stay on target.

3. favourite article: How Trauma Can Affect Your Voice with Elisa Monti from Voice Council Magazine

If you’ve been teaching for any length of time, you’ve definitely encountered singers whose vocal production issues seem to stem from something more than physiology. If you’ve never thought about it before, this is a good starter article (with link to a full-on documentary) about the role that the psyche can play in vocal production. (With thanks to the ever-fabulous Liz Jackson-Hearns for the heads up.)

you? are not a psychologist, woman. so you’d darn-well better refer out when necessary. #justsayin


4. favourite YouTube video: NATS Chat “The Hole in the Sky” with John Nix

If you teach operatic tenors? You need to just stop what you’re doing and watch this video. Go on. Do it now. You can thank me later. With (dairy- and nut-free) chocolate.

that’s a lot of bossy right there. #justsayin


5. favourite podcast episode: The “Godfather of Gospel Music” from BBC World Service Witness Podcast

It’s nine minutes long. It’s absolutely fascinating. You’re not going to regret it. #pinkyswear

Until next time,

You can teach your face off … I can help.

* You guys, I have been through three time zones (and had two puke/terror-inducing landings to boot) since Friday. This post was started at the Deer Lake Airport (which? might be*** located in one of the most beautiful areas on the planet, which is where I spent a day adjudicating some really lovely young singers (and a guitarist and violinist) with my colleague, Martha) and was finished while visiting family in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. And it is going to have to tie you the heck over for a few weeks, given that I am on my way to LA next week and in a conference all day Friday (wanna’ come? there’s still room!) so maybe I get a FFF post done and maybe I don’t. It’s MY BLOG so I get to decide these things.

** SHOUT OUT to Stephanie, who brought this blog to my attention … and who may know a thing or two about dealing with performance anxiety. #OneOfTheBravestPerformersIKnow

*** And by “might be”? I mean “TOTALLY, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT IS”. It’s not super-easy to get there but, WOW, is it worth it. GO THERE. (And tell them I sent you. If there’s a critical mass arriving on their doorstep all saying that Shannon sent them, maybe I get a free skiing vacation out of it. (ARE YOU LISTENING NEWFOUNDLAND TOURISM?!?))

friday fav five – 18|04|27

friday fav five – 18|04|27

You guys. April is trying to kill me.*

So, in celebration of APRIL BEING ALMOST OVER, here is the final Friday Fav Five of April: the #freebieftw edition.  Because? There are VOICE TEACHER SMARTIE PANTSES offering FREEBIES ALL OVER THE INTERNETS. And if you want to increase the smartness of your own pants? YOU CAN DO THIS THING FOR FREE.

1. favourite *freebie* facebook lives: Meribeth Dayme

I mean, OF COURSE FaceBook Lives are free. But these FaceBook Lives from Meribeth Dayme? Are like mini-sessions in teaching AWESOMENESS. And did I mention? FREE.

meribeth dayme for free? say what now?

2. favourite *freebie* bloggish-thinggie: David Jones

Look, David Jones posts these bloggish-thinggies to FaceBook on the semi-regular. And all you have to do to read them? Is join his FaceBook page. It is just THAT EASY to get SEMI-REGULAR input from DAVID JONES.  Also? FREE.

david jones? now you’re just gratuitously name dropping, human.


3. favourite *freebie* YouTube channel: SingWise with Karyn O’Connor

Again, yes, OF COURSE YouTube is free. Just click ‘Subscribe’ and tonnes of singing-teachery goodness will be delivered to your inbox in video form. Yes. You read that correctly: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ. Aaaand? FREE.

we are all looking the same way because there is a screen with karyn’s youtube channel playing on repeat play over there and we are enthralled. we do not understand anything she is saying. but we don’t care because we are cats. and moving pictures enthrall us.


4. favourite *freebie* newsletter:

YES. Newsletters are also usually free. But this particular free one? HAS SO MUCH GOOD INFORMATION IN IT YOU’RE GOING TO BE BLOWN AWAY BY ITS AWESOMENESS. So go on over and click ‘Join the Newsletter’.

the level of name droppery in this one post is extreme. even for YOU, human.


5. favourite *freebie* podcast: Every Sing with Nancy Bos


i don’t actually know what a podcast is but i DO know that i love that woman’s voice. BRING ON THE PODCAST-THINGGIE, HUMAN. I NEED TO HEAR MORE NANCY BOS IN MY LIFE.

Go on … join, subscribe, sign up, get in on the FREEBIES. It’s the least you can do to help me make it through April alive.*

And until then,

You can teach your face off … I can help.**

* Click here for live (FREE) footage of me trying to get through April.

** I’m aware that this sentence may not make sense. But I am so close to dead (BECAUSE: APRIL) that I am not able to correct it.

*** In May. I can help in May. Or maybe June (because May is going to try to pick up where April left off). But I can DEFINITELY HELP BEFORE SUMMER. And by “definitely”, I mean “probably”. MOST PROBABLY.

ps ALL of my favourite FREEBIES come from folks who are throwing free content out there because they want you to get to know them and trust them so that you will invest in their paid content. And you know what? If you love their free content? You’re probably gonna’ wanna’ go on and invest in their product. Because you can bet that their product is even more awesome than their free content and TOTALLY WORTH THE INVESTMENT. #justsayin

friday fav five – 18|04|20

friday fav five – 18|04|20

I’ve spent a LOT of time listening to and evaluating singers this week. Because: FESTIVAL TIME. And this post is cutting it pretty darned close to the wire (I mean, it’s still Friday in Vancouver so, you know, SUE ME). I have heard A Path to the Moon* about a million times in the last four days so I feel I AM ENTITLED TO A LITTLE BIT OF LEEWAY FROM YOU.

you are a very whiny human. and that’s coming from a cat so …

1. favourite independent voice studio tool:

If you’re an independent voice teacher? You’ve made a poster or two in your life. Or four hundred thousand. You know, give or take. is kind of like (which, incidentally, I just discovered a few months ago (thank you SECO friends) and virtually LOST MY MIND when I did. Because: SO EASY AND NOW I REGRET THE LIFE DECISIONS THAT LEAD ME TO FIDDLING AROUND WITH GOOGLE THINGS AND WASTING HALF OF MY LIFE MAKING CUTE POSTERS TO ADVERTISE ALL THE THINGS WHEN I COULD HAVE BEEN USING CANVA AND GOING TO BED A LOT SOONER), but better. So, #yourewelcome.  (And thank you Patti for the heads up!)

you’ve missed a lot of sleep, human. you are not smart. you would be smarter if you got more sleep. and you would know to use handy programmes that save you time so that you can sleep more. and presumably get smarter. too bad about that.


2. favourite educational FaceBook video: scoping 101 from A TEMPO Voice Center

Singing Voice Specialist, Kristie Knickerbocker demonstrates how a scope works, ON HER VERY OWN SELF. #happyworldvoiceday

humans are so weird. why are humans so weird?


3. favourite unintentionally educational YouTube video: Okurrr – Kris Jenner

The student of one of my friends? Taught herself how to tongue trill by watching this video. Yes. YOU HEARD ME.

did i hear you though? because i could swear you just said that a KRIS JENNER video was useful.


4. favourite voice initiative: The Phoenix Project for the Ageless Singer

New initiative from Total Vocal Freedom with the purpose of supporting and empowering female singers over the age of 50 that are concerned about the longevity and quality of their singing voice in the second half of their life.

Yes. I stole that copy directly from their website. And yes. That’s the copy I included when I sent the information about the Phoenix Project to all of the women in my studio who might benefit from joining it. Which was about thirty seconds before I realized that I AM VERY CLOSE TO BEING THEIR TARGET MARKET. SAY WHAAAAAAT NOW?!?

you thought, perhaps, you weren’t aging with the rest of us, human? that you somehow escaped the inevitable? you clearly need more sleep. you are growing not smarter by the second.

5. favourite YouTube Live Hangout: Dr. Dan hangs out live with Michelle Markwart Deveaux

If you have an hour or so to watch some cool voice teachery discussion unfold (and you weren’t able to watch it live because it happened at, like, MIDNIGHT YOUR TIME**)? This is well worth your time.

do not do this thing, human. we have been over this: YOU NEED YOUR SLEEP.

Here’s to sleeping and slowing down the inevitable decline into not-smartness. And as always:

You can teach your face off … I can help.

* Don’t get me wrong: I love me some A Path to the Moon. I just, you know, heard it a LOT this week. And you know what? You need to create ever-more energized K-sounds as you follow the composer’s crescendo marking on the chorus and allow that energy to build to create the crescendo. That’s right: those K-sounds? ARE A GIFT and will help you to avoid pushing or over-pressurizing to sing the crescendo. Also? You need to develop some subtext for those long chunks when you aren’t singing and make me believe that you have a reason to sing the next bit of text. AND? ASSIGN AN EMOTION TO EACH DYNAMIC MARKING ALREADY. THIS WILL HELP YOU TO EXECUTE THE DYNAMICS IN AN ENGAGED WAY AND ENHANCE YOUR PERFORMANCE. I HAVE HEARD THIS SONG A LOT AND I PROMISE YOU IT WILL HELP. #IPINKYSWEARIT

** Guess how I know what time Dr. Dan’s Lives are in my time? Because I am hanging out live with Dr. Dan in a few weeks and before I agreed to do so? I checked to make sure I wasn’t committing to trying to be interesting and witty at, like, three in the morning. That’s not good for anyone. Least of all someone who clearly isn’t getting enough sleep in the first place.

friday fav five – 18 | 04 | 13

friday fav five – 18 | 04 | 13

friday the 13 edition …



1. favourite podcast episode: Singing with More Power by John Henny

You know what’s spooky? How clear John Henny’s breakdown of the concept of power (and resonance) in the singing voice is.* SO SPOOKY.

your definition of spooky is pretty different from mine, human.

2. favourite freebie threefer: March Freebie Friday from Full Voice Music

Yes. I am aware that this sucker is from last month. It says it RIGHT IN THE TITLE. But my March was a little hectic and I’m JUST NOW getting around to listening to the podcast about Movement in the Voice Lesson (free thing the first), reading the blog post by Christin Coffee Rondeau (free thing the second), and cutting out those CUTE LITTLE MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM GAME THINGGIES to add to my Songbird Warm Up Jar (free thing the third). SO SUE ME.

not even close to spooky. also: i am extremely handsome.

3. favourite tool: adjective list of personality descriptors (thank you google search / internets)

This is a handy dandy list of 100 adjectives you can use in your performance classes (or, you know, when you are helping students prepare for performances however you do it. Because, as we’ve covered previously dear voice teacher? YOU DO YOU.). Just print out a few of these handy dandy sheets for the performance class attendees and invite them to use it as a prompt to write down every adjective that seems relevant to each performance they see. Then discuss. (GENIUS, RIGHT? Well, it wasn’t my idea; it was my mentor, Lorna MacDonald’s idea. AND I STOLE IT FROM HER. BECAUSE I KNOW A GOOD IDEA WHEN I SEE IT, FOLKS.)

#Protip: this tool can be particularly useful in performance classes with singers who are singing in languages that the performance class attendees (or, you know, the singers themselves. ahem) do not understand.

OH! And here’s a simplified version you can use with littles from Sunflower Storytime. #yourewelcome

you. are. bad. at. spooky.


4. favourite YouTube video: MRT-Aufnahmen von Michael Volle bei „Lied an den Abendstern“

Pretty much every singer in my studio who is over the age of sixteen has seen this video. Because: LOOK AT THE TONGUE & PHARYNX INTERACTION. #mindblown


5. favourite SPOOKY video: Moscow Nights Tongue Singing Choir

i hate you so much right now.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

You can teach your face off … I can help.


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|16

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.)

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