Talking Bach with Steve Staruch
For the video series Conversations with the Bach Society of Minnesota I sat down with Minnesota Public Radio host, violist, and all-round cool dude Steve Staruch to talk about the drama in Bach's oratorios, churches without bathrooms, and roadtrips to Bethlehem.
Making Music in the Holidays
The holidays are a feast for the senses—you might not think so, given the sensorial overload that it usually is—but if you stop and think about it, the smells of cookies and meals cooked especially for a large gathering (or a small one), the sight of a Christmas tree, the mood that can be created with just a few candles and dimmed lights.
3 Tips for Not Crying While You're Singing
Or How Not to Cry at a Wedding. Or a Funeral.
Or at the End of Mahler's 2nd Symphony
Singing is an emotional venture. Listening to singing can be wrenching when you're emotional and it hits you right there--and it can be even harder when you're doing the singing. So imagine you're singing at an emotionally charged event like a wedding or maybe a funeral, or someone close to you has just passed away and you're on to sing Mahler's 2nd Symphony (known as the "Resurrection Symphony").
An excerpt fro…
How Many Languages Do Singers Need to Speak? Part 2
In Part 1 you discovered just how skilled at foreign languages singers need to become. It takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of time to pronounce a foreign language accurately or to learn to speak it. One element is vitally important:
The meaning of the words and their expression is of utmost importantce in any performance, whether it's a concert with thousands in the audience or a nighttime lullaby for one little child.
This is a vastly different performance philosophy than the…
How Many Languages Do Singers Need to Speak? Part 1
Singers really only need to speak one language, however the reality is that they need to be able to pronounce at least a half-dozen and should learn to speak as many as possible. Even if it's just your basic greetings and vocabulary.
This is not to say, however, that singers should stress themselves out about learning multiple foreign languages. Too many singers stress themselves out about their language skills being not "good enough," as it's easy to forget how much time and practice it take…
The Pug Under the Piano Bench
My wonderful, first voice teacher, Nancy Burman, loves animals. Every animal they have ever owned, whether cat, dog, or hamster, has enjoyed an entertaining atmospher e, copious amounts of love from Nancy's numerous voice students and their own family. The Burmans' animals live the good life!
When I was in high school the Burmans had a pug named Betsy. Betsy was one of the happiest little dogs I've ever seen. She'd wave her little tail and greet you at the door every week. She loved to sit unde…
Cook Up Your Resonance: Drop the chicken!
Few people have informed my singing the way Julia Child did.
Here in the Midwest, we don't speak with much resonance. Out East, moreso. But where I come from in Wisconsin, we lock our jaws, freeze our lips, sink the sound to the back of our throats, and cut off all signs of resonance. It's a vast tundra of non-resonant speaking and lack of pronunciation.
This is not helpful when you're learning Classical singing.
It's like only having months-old frozen hamburger in your freezer when …
A Job for a Singer
Finding a day job that supports you financially with the flexibility you require for a singing career is tough. Add the basic need of quality of life (e.g. eating decent food, being able to stay out of debt, and havi reasonable health care options) and it seems almost impossible. But it's not. And you might even find a job that's fun and leaves you with enough energy in the evening to practice and enjoy your free time.
1. Calculate: Find out how much you will be paid, figure out what it will cos…
"Sing something for me--RIGHT NOW!"
People really do say this to singers. It's SO ODD! It's like saying "You're an accountant? Do my taxes. NOW!" Or saying to a landscape architect, "Landscape my property. NOW!" Who likes to be put on the spot like that?
Who puts people on the spot like that, anyway?
Here are a few answers I've heard, ranging from downright sassy to politely diplomatic. Because I honestly don't know what the most appropriate response is, but maybe different demands can be answered with different responses.
"My high school choir director told me I couldn\u2019t sing, but my kids love it when I sing to them. Should I take voice lessons?"
I can barely express HOW OFTEN I have heard this from adult voice students. People have come to lessons fearful and practically trembling because they so badly want to sing and someone once told them they couldn’t or they shouldn’t. For these students, it’s a particularly meaningful journey as we explore their voice and their musical creativity together.
As a music teacher, as a voice teacher, as an advocate for the arts, it’s baffling to me that so many people have this experience in th…