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.
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”
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.
listylist the second (are we having fun yet?)
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.
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?]
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.)
[Don’t get me wrong: THERE ARE NO CAT PICTURES IN THE SINGER’S PRACTICE JOURNAL. But there IS space to draw your own. SHE THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING.]
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.
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.)