friday the 13 edition …
WILL THIS BE SPOOKY?! PLEASE TELL ME IT WILL BE SPOOKY.
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.
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.
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.
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
SPOOKY. GIVE ME SPOOOOOKY.
i hate you so much right now.
Happy Friday the 13th everyone!
You can teach your face off … I can help.
*Yes. I know this is a pretty simplified version of how all the things work when we produce sound. And John is aware of it too. Tell you what: YOU GO ON AND EXPLAIN THE ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF VOCAL POWER IN A WAY THAT EVEN PEOPLE WHO WOULDN’T KNOW THEIR THYROARYTENOIDS FROM THEIR CRICOTHYROIDS CAN GRASP … AND YOU DO IT IN LESS THAN SEVENTEEN MINUTES, INCLUDING EXERCISES. AND IF YOU DO THIS THING? *THEN* YOU CAN BE PISSY ABOUT HOW SIMPLIFIED JOHN’S EXPLANATION IS. #ItWasNiceToMeetYouNowGoAway
the saturday edition. because: good friday.
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
[GOOD HEAVENS. The adorableness of the ginger kitten. IT RIVALS THAT OF THIS SHANNON COATES PERSON WHO SEEMS TO LIKE TALKING ABOUT HOW TO WORK WITH VERY YOUNG CHILDREN.]
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.)]
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.
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.
* IF BY “FAVOURITE” YOU MEAN “MOST ANNOYING”
let’s have some nearly-the-end-of-march-break* funness
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.]
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.
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.]
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
that girl was amazing. and i would like to chew on her sneakers. or the laces at least.
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.)
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.
because sometimes it’s just easier to say it than to write it
Seriously though: staring-into-your-very-soul white cat wants you to try using fabric to teach big concepts to little singers.
You can teach your face off … I can help.
ps be sure to bring business cards with you to the fabric store when you go; the last time I picked up a whole bunch of fabric chunks (swathes? swatches? hunks? pieces? I DON’T KNOW), the woman in line behind me asked me why (WHY WOMAN?! WHYYYY?) and when I explained what I was using the fabric for, she asked for my card because she wanted to sign her children up for voice lessons. #unintendedrecruitmentopportunity #whoknew