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"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.

The Sas…

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"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?"

YES!

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…

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Sing for Free—A How-to Guide for Creating a Singing Donation Budget

In 5 Tips for Taking a Gig (or Not!) I brought up this rule of thumb (from Ratgeber Freie) on taking or turning down a gig:

Does it make me happy? Does it make me rich? Or does it make me proud?

There are gigs that definitely won’t make you rich AND they are incredibly valuable. Because it’s inevitable that people will call you up during the year and say, “We don’t have a lot of money, but…” or even “We don’t have any money, would you sing this as a favor?” Sing for free? I think not!

 

B…

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How Much Do Singers Need to Practice?

How much a singer needs to practice truly depends on the person, the project, and the purpose.

 

The Person: Some singers want and need to practice every day, as it's such a strong part of their daily routine, their day would be incomplete without it. There are plenty of musicians who even take their instruments on vacation with them, as they want to keep their muscles in excellent shape. Other singers practice several times a week, and yet other singers practice only when they have a project or…

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How Long Does it Take to Prepare for a Gig or a Concert?

It truly depends on the piece and/or the program. A piece like Mahler's 2nd Symphony is larger and takes more time to 'sink in,' so even though that concert is in May, I've already begun working on it. When learning a new piece of music, whether it's as long as a symphony or as short as Barber's "Sure on this Shining Night," there are several, over-arching steps to piece preparation:

  1. Wood-Shedding. This is the initial get-to-know-you stage, where you play & sing through a piece, look up and wr…

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Are You a Guest Musician, Section Leader, or Ringer? And What is ‘Ringing,’ Anyway?

Let’s work backwards. Ringing is the term we use when a professional singer joins a choir, say a church choir, for a kind of limited engagement. It’s usually one week here, maybe another week down the line, and the main job of the singer is to ‘fill out’ the section. Sometimes solo work is included, but frequently not. A ‘ringer’ (the person who ‘rings’) is really hired to be a strong voice leading a section of the ensemble.

 

In the case of a church choir, a ringer is asked to attend one rehear…

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"Do You Get Nervous?" Stagefright and Performance Anxiety

Yesterday, 3 times in 24 hours came the question "Do you get nervous?"

Stagefright, a/k/a performance anxiety is very real for many musicians and can be debilitating. Rumors circulate about singers' superstitions before shows, some singers get snippy, others get quiet. Everybody has a different reaction before a show, whether it's business-as-usual or prayer & meditation and every singer's pre-show process must be respected.

There have been 3 stages to this in my life.

First was "Excited Nervous…

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Do Soloists Have to Wear Black? A Gown Buying Guide for Gals

The answer is no, soloists do not have to wear black! Here we’re talking about professional soloists who are hired-in from other locations and come in for a special program or a concert on a series. (See my previous blog post “Why Do Musicians Always Wear Black” for ensemble wardrobe topics.)

 

Soloists determine their own wardrobe. For men, the hiring organization chooses tux or tails, cummerbund or not, maybe a vest, and no matter what they are dressed and ready to go in short order. ‘nuff sai…

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Why Do Musicians Always Wear Black?

 
O
A musician’s motto: Black is black is black is black.

Somewhere along the line, black clothing became the standard for performing musicians. It’s easy on the eyes, looks pretty much the same on different fabrics, and looks just fine on almost everyone.

 

Unity

 

An ensemble dressed completely in black looks unified. If they’re all wearing a different color it’s sometimes too much stimulation. If everyone is wearing black, then it’s easier to concentrate on the music they are making a…

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9.11.11 - A High Calling to Service

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. -Mother Teresa

  

 

On September 11, 2001 I don't think anyone thought about what the 10th Anniversary would be like. People I talk with about September 11th don't talk about the 10th Anniversary, they talk about what happened 10 years ago. We remember where we were, what happened, who we knew who was in New York or working in the Pentagon, or even whom we knew who was supposed to have been in the towers that da…

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