Sing a Song Part 2

So in the last post, I talked a little about asking yourself the right question when looking for a voice teacher Click here to see that post. As I mentioned, any good teacher can teach you the basic mechanics of singing. Here are a few that are on the top of my list:

  •  Singing needs air in order to do it. Learning how to breath well  is  one of the foundation of singing. Find someone who will teach you to breath naturally and with ease; in a way that will permit you to have good tone and pitch.
  •  Good pitch, in my book is not optional. You may have pipes like Aretha, Beyonce and J-lo all wrapped into one, but if you cannot sing on pitch consistently Streisand, you got a problem! A good teacher will notice any pitch issues and help you find ways to correct them.

I want to digress from my list for a moment and add that  If you are in search for a voice teacher ( or any teacher for that matter),  I am assuming that you want to improve some aspect of your current skills,  i.e you are looking for an outside opinion.  They will help you stretch and build on your talents; but it is not their job to  just tell you how great you are. A good teacher/consultant is delighted with all progress that you make, but they do not stop there, they will keep you accountable to the goals that you have chosen for yourself. Ok, that said, on to…


  •  Rhythm, as in, I got rhythm, I got music. A great sense of rhythm is a lovely and necessary talent to expand. Learn how to count properly and steadily. Does that mean that you have to sing everything straight and boring? No, it means that if you are going to mess with the rhythm of a song, you know what you are doing and can make intentional choices.
  •  Diction- I’m not talking, “the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plains”  diction with the rolling “r’s” and such,  I am talking about learning how to enunciate the words while you are singing.  Trust me, it is better for your audience to concentrate on your stunning performance rather than straining to understand what the heck you just said!

This is a very short list and there are certainly more “basic singing skills” that could be added, but this should help you get started in your search for the right teacher. Good luck!

So I wanna sing…Part 1

Although I am not currently teaching voice, I occasionally get inquiries about voice lessons. I thought that I would take a minute to share some thoughts about how to find the right teacher for you. First, why do you want to take voice lessons? Is your inner critic beating the snot out you and preventing you from enjoying singing? Are you already confident in your skills and just want to clean up some bad habits? Is there a specific problem that you have when sing or perform in front of others that you want to overcome?
Get specific. Get it on paper. Make a list of what you want to improve or the problems that you want to solve through lessons. Take the time to do this , it  will keep you focused while you interview teachers and keep you on task.

If your brand spanking  new to singing any good teacher can give you the basic about the mechanics of singing, What are basic mechanics?
More, next post…

What was that crash? It’s just fall


Does anyone else share my shock that it’s  October? I have nothing personal against October mind you, although I get a little resentful at the sky being grey all of the time and dampness being the status quo. But I  move beyond that and get  a giddy sense of relief when fall makes it appearance. There is something about leaves turning the color of orange justice and pomegranates that makes me feel that all is right with the world.

I do love summer though, she is defiantly my BFF. She is  active, curious, sometime short on attention span and looses all since of time, making the days linger deep into what should be night. She initiates cook outs,  picnics and bike rides. She sparks outdoor theater, sun dresses,  and skinny dipping.  Here in the Northwest when she is adorned with real honest- to- goodness sunshine, she is glorious. I do however in her company, feels compelled to “get things done”; to “take advantage of the weather”. She is so much fun to be around I and feel a little guilty if I am not taking advantage of a non rainy condition. So when I sit and read a book or take a nap in the summer, it is  much like I eating an entire can of  Pringles, it’s  in secret and a little embarrassing.

Now Autumn,  she is a grand dame; a come- as- you are kind of gal. She encourages, snuggling and snuggly clothing. She gives you books to read and peaches to can and new beginnings.  She lavishly  gives the last  gifts of the harvest. Everything from the garden tastes better when it is October. Yakima peaches, oh my love for you. Ever prolific and versatile zucchini, this year you were my bread of choice.  And home grown tomatoes?! No wonder songs have been written about you. I get a little misty when I think that such tenderness will be replaced by  well, hockey pucks. Sigh.

Singing for seniors has been fun and funny, they are an appreciative audience, and honestly, what is not good about that.  Many of the residents  are active mentally and physically,  but there are some that struggle with varying degrees of  dementia which often manifest as a refreshing disregard for social etiquette, causing them to speak plainly and bluntly.  The last time I was there, I brought some instruments, shakers and bells etc for people to play. When I was done with the activity , I saw that a set of bells  had been missed in my clean up and was sitting on the table in front of one of the residents. Teasing, I  went over to the table and said, “D are you hiding my bells?” D looking directly at my chest,  innocently and with the utmost honesty  replied,  “No, when I look at your bells, I just want to ring them”. I paused, held laughter and told him I would see him next week.   He had proclaimed his love to me earlier in the day so this comment was…well was part of his MO.  I do love my life.

It was great to sing at the Royale the last couple of Mondays, I hope to get another show in before the year is up. In November, I start rehearsals with Book-it Theater’s school touring show about Wilma Rudolph. The program takes theater to the schools along the I-5 Corridor. More about that next time.

Til then, be good or least aspire in that direction

I sing the fish electric…

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Blue Fish
Singing a song
Nothing but Blue Fish
All day long

No there is no typo and I am not talking about the heady tome penned by the great American author Dr Seuss ( One Fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish), I am speaking about fish, hard at work making music for the halibut. Sorry, I won’t be doing that agin in this entry although I must confess, I have had a soft spot for the much maligned, ever adolescent pun.

I speak of the talented fish ( with their equally talented human co-creators) who performed at last November’s STRP Festival which showcases new innovations in technology and art in the Netherlands. Faculty members from the Northwestern University introduced their choir of electric fish in an interactive installation where audience members could “play” the fish. The “talent” was made up of 12 different species of electric fish from the Amazon River Basin. These Amazon natives give off a faint electrical field that is translated to sensors. Each fish has a unique energy signature that is assigned a timbre that is then amplified. Each field has a tone, each fish has a song! I haven’t actually heard it and some how I doubt if it will be topping the charts, but I support musical talent whether it has feet, feathers or fins. You can read more about it here.

So why do I have fish on the brain? Last summer, I did an educational video called Somethin’s Fishy for the City of Bellevue. Perhaps not as hip as the above mentioned techno fish, but I like to think that it humbly helped to preserve some fish hides. The focus of the video was how humans’ daily water use and abuse can affect the critters on the land and in the our waters. This experience re-acquainted me with how important our waterways and water friends are. It was a fun project and I recently received the DVD and wanted to share a bit with you.

By the way, Happy New Year to you! I hope that 2011 brings you good fortune, health, creativity and peace!
Until next time

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