Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tiny Change #8: commit

We all know how it feels when a friend or significant other can't commit. They make promises they don't keep, plan for lunch dates that are always canceled, don't follow through when they say they will. After a few (or a few dozen) times, most of us get tired of that and stop asking, stop trusting, stop believing. The friendship or love affair cools, and we move on.

But how about the promises you make to yourself? 

Most of us make promises to ourselves that we don't keep. It erodes our self-esteem, our very sense of self, our belief that we'll ever be trustworthy even to ourselves.

This week, make a promise to yourself that you will keep, no matter what. Even better, do something small each day. See how differently you feel about your own trustworthiness.

It can be tiny. It can be something as seemingly unimportant as deciding what time you're going to go to bed, and doing it. Or refraining from eating something naughty, just for today. Or (God forbid) practicing 10 minutes longer today than you did yesterday. Or not responding to that nasty roommate when normally you would. Or not speeding on the way to school. You get the idea.

See how you feel after a week of keeping your word to the most important person in your life: YOU.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two great journal examples

Two great journal examples this week follow. They are very different, but I think everyone in the studio can learn from them and model theirs after either Beau's or Kristin's. I'd like to note that both of these journals are written by FRESHMEN...upperclassmen, you can ALL learn from their thoroughness!

Kristin's journal is very task-oriented and useful. Her lesson reflected all of the things she worked on throughout the week.

  • still working on releasing the control enough to add some of the vibrancy to the notes and trying not to position the notes so far back in the throat, remembering the sound id for others not me
  • trying to keep myself from showing the pulse with my body whether its hand or knees or whatever part want to keep time
  • recitative got a lot easier when I stopped worrying so much about the timing of the phrases and got the tricky notes
  • feeling much better slowly and will definitely be using this next lesson as a stress relief because i have so much stress this week that I just need a break
  • working on the rhythm of the “then shall the lame man” phrase and remembering sing starts on the same note as the shall
  • trying to make the consonants sound ridiculous
  • still difficult to do everything at once but its getting easier
  • working on the breath at the very end to not feel like a break but still give me time to get enough air to finish out the phrase
  • again the recording shows how weak some of the consonants are when I’m not overly trying to do them
  • worked on breaths being longer in some spaces, still trying to not do the catch breaths in some cases

Beau's is more narrative. I also appreciate his awareness of how alignment not only improves his singing, but his state of mind in everyday life.

Thanks to some dedication and repetition, I’m able to project and enunciate more on All Through The Night. This cold/allergy business certainly has not helped matters (I’m still a bit stuffy and congested), but my condition has definitely improved since last week, thanks to rest and allergy medicine. The only real problem I’ve had with the piece is the fact that I keep forgetting the second verse, though the trusted ‘walking and talking’ technique seems to have corrected that. As for adjusting my posture to a more ‘purposeful’ one, in choir and everyday life, I have noticed some apparent changes. In choir, I’m able to produce a better tone, as well as take in a significantly greater amount of air and use it more efficiently. Outside of music, it has subconsciously benefitted my confidence, as well as making me feel ‘taller’ and ‘bigger’ in general. I definitely think of it as a more purposeful posture, similar to a stance one might assume when playing a sport. As for the third installment in my repertory trilogy, I have admittedly had some difficulty deciding on an Italian piece; I may need some guidance with the search/decision process.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Self-talk, continued

You can psyche yourself up, or you can tear yourself down. It's a simple choice.

First, let's be honest: if you haven't done the work, there's no point in saying to yourself, "You'll be great! You're so awesome, you really didn't need to practice," because you'd just be lying to yourself. In your heart of hearts, you'll know it's not true.

On the flip side, if you've practiced, if you've really taken the time to prepare, you know you're ready. So why waste your energy telling yourself you won't do well? Here's where tearing yourself down or comparing yourself to someone else or predicting (usually falsely) what someone else will think is a huge waste of your spirit.

So if you're ready, and you have something coming up (a recital, a biology exam, a marathon), remind yourself of that readiness. Repeat to yourself in a calming voice, "I've done the work. I'm ready. I've worked hard to prepare. Now is just the time to reveal my hard work."

It's really that simple. It may not be easy, but it's simple. So get out of your own way!

Julie Simson comes to UAB

SNATS at UAB and USGA sponsors guest clinician Julie Simson for a master class and voice lessons on Friday, October 24. The master class will be held in Hulsey Recital Hall 12:20-1:10. Learn more about Julie's distinguished singing and teaching career here.

While the singers will be chosen from UAB music majors currently enrolled in voice, all UAB students and faculty are welcome to attend. Spread the word!

Sponsored by SNATS at UAB and USGA.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tiny Change #7: self-talk

How do you talk to yourself?

Be honest. We all talk to ourselves, whether it's aloud or just inside our heads.

What does your inner voice say? Is it some version of the following?

"I hope I don't mess up."
"My singing really sucks."
"Why bother? S/he is a better singer anyway."
"I'm not an expressive singer at all."
"I get really nervous about performing."
"I don't feel like practicing today. It doesn't make any difference anyway."

Or is it more like these examples?

"I'm looking forward to singing a solid performance today."
"I have some work to do, but I still have something to offer RIGHT NOW."
"S/he inspires me to get into the practice room. What a role model!"
"I'm learning to take more expressive risks when I sing."
"Feeling butterflies is normal: I need some adrenaline to do my best."
"Showing up every day, no matter how I feel, is how I make progress over the long haul."

Thinking is habitual. Many of us believe our thoughts are out of our control, but they are actually completely within our sphere of influence. We can improve our thought patterns with practice. Just like anything else, being constructive with our thinking takes awareness and work.

This week, each time you have a negative thought about your artistry or progress, pause that thought and replace it with something more constructive...even if you don't quite believe it yet. You'll improve each time you do it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

THIS FRIDAY: Exercise with Eric

At long last: an exercise class for singers (or any musician who breathes!) with my guru, Eric Agee, sponsored by USGA and SNATS at UAB. Wear your workout wear and sneakers to performance class if you like: this week is a freebie for performance dress. I'll have protein bars on hand to get you through the class if you don't have time to eat. We'll meet at 1:15 in the dance room, Hulsey 3rd floor. Everyone is welcome.

Get ready...he's awesome!

Staying well

Our tiny change this week is just to stay well. Seems like the creeping crud is going around. Here are some basics for remaining healthy:

Get enough sleep. I know I harp on it, but really...you need to sleep to keep your immune system in fighting form. Take a nap if you're feeling exhausted.

Eat well. Try to stay away from simple carbs and sugars when you're stressed. Yes, I know that's what we all crave when we're feeling under the gun, but the blood sugar spike and crash they induce only makes things worse.

Wash your hands often, or carry hand sanitizer with you and use it. Always wash after using the restroom, blowing your nose, or handling a menu at a restaurant (this is where hand sanitizer comes in handy).

If you're right handed, open doors with your left hand. You'll be less likely to touch your face with your non-dominant hand, which picks up germs from things like door handles. Silly, but effective!