the free-airport-wifi edition*
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.
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.
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
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
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?!?))
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: postermywall.com
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. Postermywall.com is kind of like canva.com (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.
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.
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.
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.
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 there aren’t enough lists in the world*
Every Friday, you can now expect a -WAIT FOR IT- curated list of the best voice and voice pedagogy things I’ve seen all week. I KNOW, RIGHT?
Let’s get going with the FIRST EVER Friday Favourite** Five (or Fri Fav Five (although … that fourth letter in “five” is driving me kind of crazy … but it looks too weird as Fri Fav Fiv, right? right.) … or FFF …)!
FOR THE LOVE, WOMAN: GET ON WITH IT.
You guys, IF YOU ARE HUMAN, you need to listen to this podcast episode. It’s like a mini Tim Ferris Episode on SINGING. Seriously. If you ignore everything else on this list (I mean, why would you want to? But, you know, IF YOU DO.), please do yourself a favour** and listen to this episode.
someone dressed us like hoomans. may we listen to this podcast? also, GET US OUT OF THESE STUPID COSTUMES. WE ARE NOT YOUR PLAYTHINGS, HOOMAN. WE WILL KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP. unless you offer us treats. then we will hold off on your execution until the treats run out.
Need a little paradigm shift in LESS THAN EIGHT MINUTES? Here you go. (I LOVE her reasoning for not looking anyone directly in the eye when performing.)
i refuse to not stare directly into your eyes. i am a cat and I do not obey hoomans. even hoomans as incomparable as meribeth dayme.
Yeah. It’s a bit of a title, isn’t it? Also, I don’t know Thomas personally so I have no idea if he’s INCOMPARABLE or not (although, given that he’s HUMAN? I BET HE IS.). The gist? If you have a passion project, set aside one hour per day to work on it. Read the article to find out why and for ideas of how other people are doing it.
“passion project”? really? why can’t you be like a CAT? WORK LESS! SLEEP MORE!
No. Seriously. You’re Welcome.
[I searched for “famous cat” on one of my favourite creative commons photo sites. And this came up. I have no idea what it is or what it means. #yourewelcome and #IllSeeYouInMyNightmares]
Looking for a little inspiration to get you through next week’s teaching? Or singing? Look no further.
Have a great week! (OH! And if you haven’t already, you can sign up to get my blog delivered RIGHT TO YOUR INBOX by entering your email address in the little ‘sign up here’ box.)
[Here is a picture of a cute widdow white kitten kissing a cute widdow white puppy. Just to cleanse your palate from that last one. I am nothing if not generous. And also, concerned about whether you are able to sleep tonight.]
You can teach your face off … I can help.
*In my mind? Listiness is next to cleanliness. And we all know what cleanliness is next to. SO BRING ON THE LISTS.
**In Canada, we didn’t drop extra vowels from our words just because they got too cumbersome and unwieldy. NO WE DID NOT. WE ARE LOYAL TO OUR UNNECESSARY VOWELS.