Posted on | October 12, 2013 | No Comments
Term two begins! I have had a great week back to work and due to time restructuring have now opened up Saturdays for lessons. Keep track available times on my availability page, but right now Saturday 9am, 1pm and 2pm are available! So those of you who work Monday to Friday and have been trying to get into lessons, now is your chance!
Also, the End of Year Showcase will be on November 24th at the Metro Arts Theatre and Registration is now open. Make sure you pick up a form at your next lesson!
Posted on | July 24, 2013 | No Comments
I teach lots of growing teenage voices in my studio. Teenagers singers require special care because they are still growing and developing. Female larynxes are considered mature at around 23, male at around 25, so how do you teach a flexible, growing instrument? With care. What are warning signs that a teenage voice may be struggling? I often hear students who mimic adult sounds – they are very clever and may sound strong, but in fact are often placing way too much pressure on their instruments via air pressure, or external musculature (tongue, neck etc). Developing a healthy, balanced teenage voice will lead to a healthy adult voice with longevity. Teenagers who sing with unhealthy mannerisms often develop large problems later on which become extremely difficult to deal with when they are older. They often give up singing because their once flexible voice becomes an inflexible tight, painful instrument. If you have a teenager who sounds like a 30 year old, get a teacher to listen to that voice! They probably have a quite wonderful voice hiding away – but it might sound a little bit different!
Posted on | July 14, 2013 | No Comments
I had a wonderful time in Leipzig, Germany moonlighting as the WorldSkills International Secretariat as the Team Leader for Social Media. It was busy and exhilarating and exhausting, and now- back to teaching! I have rested up, the jetlag is going, and the studio WILL be ready for students tomorrow.
One of the things that I love about WorldSkills is that it rewards excellence in young people who train and hone their skills, and then compete on the world stage. How to explain WorldSkills? It is like the Olympics, with 67 Member Countries / Regions represented by over 1000 Competitors in 46 difference skills, from stonemasonry (my personal favourite) to web design, from bricklaying and hairdressing to floristry and CNC Milling and Turning. It is fascinating, exciting and huge. Very very big. I always find it sad that I spend time explaining this amazing event and organisation to people, because it is relatively unknown, although this is slowly changing. Check it out here.
So I return back to the studio tomorrow focused on my skills and training, ready to help my students become the best singer’s they can possibly be. I am inspired. Amazing things can happen when you practice, when you train correctly, when your technique is excellent. I can’t wait to hear the music again!
Posted on | June 2, 2013 | No Comments
3.30pm Brisbane Arts Theatre
Petrie Terrace, Brisbane
Tickets $14 / $10 / $35 (family) – available at the door.
For the first time I am running a smaller event int he morning for the private school students I teach from Prince of Peace Lutheran College. This Showcase is
11.30am, Brisbane Arts Theatre
Petrie Terrace, Brisbane
Ticket prices as above and available at the door.
Everyone is welcome to attend – look forward to seeing you all at one of the concerts!
Posted on | February 13, 2013 | No Comments
I love “Smash”. If you haven’t seen it, it is a TV show about putting on a Broadway show. From the producer’s, director’s, writer’s, composer’s and actor’s point of view. The first season was about getting a new show about Marilyn Monroe written and staged. I love the acting, with Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Jack Davenport, Katherine McPhee, Megan Hilty and Christian Borle, the show has a magnificent cast. For me, the strength of the show which keeps me coming back is that in each episode there is always one number which vocally takes my breath away. The performers are sensational. “Smash” doesn’t make it pretty. It is hard to be a Musical Theatre performer. Your skills need to be top notch in acting, singing and dancing, and even if you are the best, you can be out of work next week at the drop of a hat (or a lack of funding, or a bad review). If you love theatre, dream of Broadway but live miles away, check it out. You’ll love it!
Posted on | January 31, 2013 | No Comments
I have returned from Europe and am so excited about 2013. My timetable is almost full again, so back to the studio on Monday. One of the benefits of having a big long break is that I have renewed excitement about teaching singing and music.
I visited London (saw some great theatre), Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, Berlin, Leipzig and Stuttgart (for my son – the Mercedes Museum and the Porsche museum live there, and he told me it was “the Louvre for boys”). I had a moment in Florence when I thought “I understand opera”. Not that I understand everything about the technicalities etc, but the art of the singing. How can you not sing when surrounded by such incredible beauty. And Venice – what a crazy place. It is so gorgeous, it feels like a film set. On the train in Germany I listened to Mozart and Bach and they made sense in my soul, like never before. I don’t know why. I have studied classical music as an undergraduate and always loved opera, but this was different. It was like in the movie “The Castle” when the lawyer states that it was the “Mabo of the thing”. The land and the landscape and the people and the history sink into your soul. This is all very poetic, and I am not about to turn around and throw off Contemporary styles, these are what I do and am trained in and love to explore. What this holiday gave me was a fresh vision on why I do what I do. I love music. I love poetry. I love literature. I love the connection soul to soul that happens when art experience is shared, whether painting, singing, writing, dancing. Music moves me. I connect to that part of myself which I often, in the day to day, have to squelch down and tell to be quiet. Some students have seen this, when they perform something in lessons so good that I get goosebumps, or end up in tears. It is not a common thing in beginning to intermediate students. But when it happens, what joy! I hope it happens again for me in performance. I hope it happens for you.
So, that little brain, heart and soul sharing was meant to be an introduction to the fact that lessons begin on Monday 4th February! See you in the studio.
Posted on | November 30, 2012 | No Comments
I have had an amazing week in lessons listening to students as they prepare for their concert performances this Sunday. There is nothing like a concert to motivate singers to practice. Come along! The concert starts at 2.30pm Brisbane Arts Theatre, Petrie Terrace. Tickets are $15 / $10 and family is $25. The students have been preparing well, and I am so impressed with some of them – I love it when they sing, and my only response is “fantastic – you are ready” . That has been the case for a number of students this week, and it is such a joy to hear wonderful singing. Now we need good health, and an enthusiastic audience, so come along and join us for a great afternoon.
Posted on | September 9, 2012 | No Comments
When we want to get fit we start at the gym, or walk, or run, or play team sports. It is fun and it has the benefit of being good for you. When we want to stay fit, we continue doing the stuff we love, whether swimming, riding, gym-ing, walking running, dancing, whatever it is that works. Then there are athletes who train daily, have a routine, an eating programme, it affects their whole loves because it is their job.
This is the same for any job – it does change you – even if it changes you sleeping habits (must get up at …. to get the bus) or eating habits (lunch is at this time).
I teach people who want to learn to sing. They practice, but not everyday. They fit it in. And that is ok, because they do not want to be professional, they just want to get their voices fitter. Then I teach those who want their voice to be consistently fit. They practice consistently – everyday, or 6 out of 7. They might alter their diet a little to ensure that what they are eating has no negative impact on their body, their instrument. They may even visit an ENT to ensure their vocal folds are healthy and that they are doing everything possible to give their voices the best chance. Then there are the professionals I teach. They warm up and cool down, they do vocal technique exercises daily. They spend a dedicated time on their voice and it’s training. They are working new songs into their voices until the technical aspects of the song are automatic. They work on interpretation, think for themselves and return to lessons with something fresh for me to hear, or to ask for very specific help on this word, that leap, this phrase. They might come to lessons for a short period of time to get a fresh set of ears to listen and check what they are doing. Or they come weekly,a s part of their professional training and ongoing development.
I don’t really mind what type of singer someone is. I talk to those who want to be professional about the attitude and practices required, and some will step over from fit to athlete, and some might make it on luck (although this is unlikely). The students who just want to be a bit fitter are a pleasure to teach as well, they know what their own expectations are, and if this should change over time, we notice and adjust. They are also a pleasure to teach because singing is fun. They will stick at the concept of practice because they gradually feel the voice going from wanting to be fit to fit. One student is not more valuable than another, because all reasons for singing, to me, are completely valid and worthwhile. However, I do think it is important to know what your expectations are of your voice, and then what is required, of you (not me – the teacher) for your voice to respond to those expectations.
Everyday I teach I do my scales. I am preparing for a fundraising concert performance so everyday I am training – the songs into my voice, considering my interpretation, questioning how I have seen the lyrics in the past, looking for something fresh and true. I am a teacher first and foremost, but I will always love to sing and so, I sing. Where am I? Fitness or athlete? Most of the year at a very high fitness level. There is a big range, flexibility, strength, and power. I do not perform so regularly to require athletic performance, but when it is required (like now!) I go into training and I love the feeling of athleticism returning to my voice.
Posted on | August 4, 2012 | No Comments
After being ill for well over a week, I am back to work on Monday and pretty excited about it. My last post was a little bit cranky, and I realised I write basically the same post around once a year when I get sick. However, I am well again and looking forward to getting back into the studio – it feels a little unloved and empty …. needs some music! All my current time slots are full and I am looking forward to some professional development next weekend when the ANATS Qld Chapter host Anne Peckham. I find that these events are great not only for my ongoing learning but to socialise with my fellow singing teachers. Voice teaching can be a solitary profession (well, there is someone else in the room, but you don’t usually get to go and have a morning tea coffee break with a colleague unless you teach in a tertiary institution) and it is great to catch up with friends and meet new teachers, and learn from those with more experience. It often gives me that little enthusiastic boost I need to stay motivated and focused for the second half of the year.
Posted on | July 31, 2012 | No Comments
I am recovering from a nasty virus at the moment. I could have picked it up anywhere. Shopping. Walking. Anywhere. However, teaching over 40 students a week, many of whom come when they are unwell but recovering, or just coming down with something, because they don’t want to miss a lesson, I am guessing that it was a student who infected me. That is the way it is. That student did not want to miss a lesson, but I have now cancelled about 25 lessons. 25 students who have missed their lesson, and I have missed out on my livelihood. There are things I can do to stay healthy. I can look after my health and take vitamins. I can exercise and get regular sleep. But when it comes down to it, I am sick. This happens at least once a year, so it is not unexpected, even with a flu shot (I don’t think it is the flu). I cannot teach when I am sick. Apart from being unwell and not in the best shape to teach, I refuse to possibly infect my students.
So when you are sick, and your teacher tells you to stay away, stay away (in the nicest possible way). There is a new Kate Miller Heidke song which has a lyric something like: if one more person coughs on me I will punch them in the face. I am not a violent person, but I do understand the sentiment – although maybe I would not be so forceful in expressing it. July and August are generally the sick season in Brisbane. Take care, wrap up, stay healthy so you can stay singing! If you are sick, rest. Don’t sing until the coughing has stopped. Do some gentle lip rolls and scales to gradually bring your voice back into the shape it was before you were sick. Remember that coughing is potentially damaging to your vocal folds, causing swelling. If you sing on unwell vocal folds you may create some new and bad habits (requiring more force to begin the vocal fold vibration when singing). Your body is your instrument. Take care and take your doctor’s advice about rest and recovery.