Time to Practice

Practice makes perfect

 

The Singing Strong studio is running a practice blitz from from Monday 22nd February until Sunday 6th March.

Record your practice sessions and the student with the most time recorded will be showered with prizes! There will also be a 2nd and 3rd place award as well.

Remember you must record your practice sessions on the singing strong website to qualify.  Thank you to those who have already started to do this.

How to get into a good practice routine:

Put it in the diary!

Life is so incredibly busy with so many commitments.  Taking on singing lessons means finding time to practice. I suggest you take a moment to decide when will the best time be for you to practice, put those times in your diary and stick to it.

We are fortunate in some ways to always have our voice with us so we can practice almost anywhere, but setting aside specific times in a designated place where you can be free from distractions and really focus is so important.

Where should I practice?

Have a space where you are comfortable, have all the tools you need and are free of distractions.

Try to find a space where family members wont be interrupted too much, however make other members of your family aware that they need to let you practice.

How long should I practice?

It depends.  If you are serious about making good progress, the more time you put in, the more progress you will make.

Start with at least 10 minutes, 5 times a week when first starting out and then gradually increase this time as necessary. Depending on perfomances and exams, you may need to practice an hour every day.

A good rule of thumb is to practice on the day after your lesson if possible. This reinforces what you have done at your lesson.  Leaving it for a couple of days means you can easily forget what you have worked on.

Log in here to record your practice times:

Newsletter 1 2016

Welcome back to another year of singing!

It has been wonderful greeting students for the new year, hearing about their holiday adventures and seeing their joy at returning to lessons.

For the adult students there has been less about holidays ( unfortunately) but there has certainly be the same enthusiasm as they arrive for lessons.

For students who have been studying with me for a while, it has been great to hear their voices again and realize the progress they have been making vocally. It has been so exciting to hear the way their voices have matured and developed.  For new students it has been exciting starting with them and helping them uncover the voice they have inside them.

A big welcome to all the new students who have started for 2016.  I look forward to working with you on your musical journey!

News from the Studio:

PRACTICE BLITZ!

Students have new repertoire to start working on for 2016.

To get you into a practice routine I am holding a practice blitz for the next two weeks.

The blitz will run from Monday 22nd February until Sunday 6th March .  All you need to do is practice consistently and record your practice times on the singing strong website.  (remember you have to log into your account to fill in the details. If you need help with this please let me know.) You can log in at the bottom of this post.

There will be prizes and surprises for the person who clocks up the most practice hours!

Take some time now to work out times during the week when you can dedicate 15 -20 minutes to practice.  Record this on your calendar and then stick to it!

Student achievements:

Congratulations to all the students who participated in the Summer Pantomime “Aladdin”.  It was  a fun show and  I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I went to see it.

aladdin

Congratulations to Alicia Hooimeyer who played the title role and to Sophia Patikisa who was a gorgeous Jasmine.

 

 

 

 

aladdin2Hollie Gibson was terrific as the dog and there were other fantastic performances from the following students as well:

Ella Brent

Zahra Hanratty

Ella Hill

Paige Horn

Maddison Logue

Britney Nelthorpe

Sebastian Poole

 

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There are numerous students involved in the many productions that will be held during 2016. I will keep you informed as they come up.

Cafe Concert

I have tentatively booked our first term Cafe Concert for Wednesday 16th March from 6.30pm.  Please put this date in your diary.  I understand that some of you will have commitments on this evening, but it would be appreciated if you are able to come and sing, even if you are only able to pop in and out.

I will put out some more information about this event during the week.

 

So let’s get singing!  Have a great week.

Dream!

 

 

Can anyone sing?

boy singing with mic cartoonThe answer is yes.  If you are able to talk then it is possible to sing.

Singing is a skill that can be taught just like any other instrument or any skill actually.

I have worked with many students who wanted to sing but didn’t have the skills. Over time with study and practice these students became very good singers.  These students wanted to be good singers and they put in the time and effort required to get good at it.

I am an ok dancer. I can move in time to the beat and when I take time to go over a dance routine I can learn it reasonably well.  But I will never be a great dancer.  That is because I like dancing, but not enough to want to do it all the time and take the classes to become really good at it.  My daughter loves dancing, goes to classes, practices a lot at home and is becoming really good.

But I love to sing.  I have had lots of lessons and performed quite a lot and I have developed skills I need to be a good singer.

I will never be great at violin because I don’t have an interest in playing it. I would like to learn cello though.

I love to teach but I would be pretty useless as a nurse as it is something I don’t want to do.

They say it takes around 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.  I think that this is pretty close.  If you were to ask anyone who is an expert at something, they would probably tell you these sorts of hours.  They would be working on their craft every day over a long period of time.

Learning how to sing well is like any instrument.  You can’t expect to become a concert pianist with a weeks worth of practice.

When you look at the lives of some of the famous singers who are really good at their craft –  you would discover that most have been singing since they were young children. They sing all day every day, listening to music and singing along, they probably go to voice lessons and are involved in any performance opportunity they can.

If you would like to be able to sing reasonably well, in tune, yes you can learn.  You probably don’t need to spend 10,000 hours.  Maybe 100 hours would be a great start.

How good you get depends on how much you want it. How much is your desire?  Are you willing to do what it takes to get really good?

 

Here is a video of  Jessie J at 15. You can tell she has been working on her craft for many years already.

Another video of a young Jessie J

A more recent live acoustic performance.

 

Dream!

How to get back into a practice routine

boy singingIt’s the beginning of 2016 and you haven’t practiced any singing since before Christmas.  Does that sound like you? I am a little bit guilty of this too.  The Christmas season was so busy for me I hardly had any time for anything else. It was a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends and I did sing heaps of Christmas carols, but most things like practice got put aside.  Now with the new year we find ourselves back into more of a routine, but finding the motivation to get back into practice can be a bit challenging.
You might want to start by sitting down and writing out a couple of goals for your singing this next couple of months.  My goal at the moment is to come up with a list of ten songs I would like to start learning as I need to build up my repertoire for performance and auditions.
However, it is important that I don’t start singing all these 10 songs straight away. Over this week all I am trying to do is get my voice back in shape.  I need to do my vocal “push ups”. Just like the rest of our body, if we don’t exercise consistently, things get out of shape.  My vocal chords and the surrounding muscles need to get a good work out.
I need to do this slowly, a bit to start with and then lengthen my sessions later on in the week.
So to start I will just do some light warm ups.  Sirens, bubbling lips, humming etc.. through my vocal range. Then some exercises to extend my vocal range and work on my resonance and then get into learning songs.
Starting with 15 –  20 minutes and then gradually increase this time over the week.
Just like the rest of your body,  if you go out and exercise full on straight away, you will most likely be very sore the next day or may even do some damage.  Your voice is the same.  Go slowly and gradually build up your strength and stamina.
Here are a couple of exercises to get you started:

Breathing:

 

5 note scale on ah:

 

practice makes perfect

 

Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year to everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful time of celebration at Christmas and New Year. For me it was a wonderful time with family and a chance to wind down a little after a very busy year.  As we begin 2016 there are thoughts about new year resolutions and goals set for the coming year.  I am sure that many of us have finished up with voice classes for the year and have not sung a note since the last Christmas carol at Christmas Eve.  That’s almost two weeks ago!

Just like an athlete, as soon as we stop using our voice we start to lose condition.  Singing is an every day activity if we want to be at our best. If you haven’t sung since Christmas, I suggest you get back into practice asap.  Otherwise all the technique, strength and condition will begin to be lost.

I am offering a one week Summer Singing Intensive next week,  Monday 11th Jan through to Friday 15th Jan.  This is an opportunity to focus on getting your voice back into shape. With daily hour sessions, your voice will get the workout it needs to get back into shape.

Sessions are available one on one either in person or on line.
Please note that sessions are booked at the same time each day for the five days.

Normally this sort of tuition would cost $350 but I am offering this once off opportunity for $250. That’s $100 discount.

If you would like to take advantage of this special offer  CLICK HERE to book your time.

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Seasonal allergies and Singing

sneezingSpring has sprung!  Anyway it has for us in Australia.  And with it all the pollens, grass etc  that brings on hayfever.  This is never good for singers as the post nasal drip that occurs directly affects the vocal chords.

Sometimes it seems almost impossible for singers to perform at their best during this time of year, however there are a number of solutions that can be considered to ease the problem.

 

There is some good advice from the Osborne head and neck institute you can read at this link:

Tips for a healthy and powerful voice

Or you might like to watch the video below that I found on you tube (with thanks to Mark Baxter):

 

 

Wanting to work with Mary to achieve the voice you have always dreamed of?

Mary has in person and online lessons.

Click here to register your details and Mary will contact you to see if she might be able to help.

The Art of the Quick Change

The Tony awards were held this week and and one of the performances included a medley of songs from The King and I that is currently being staged on broadway.
Kelli O’Hara who plays Anna in the show had to do a 47 second quick change during the performance. The video of it is below.
This brought back happy memories from last year when I performed the role of Carlotta in “Phantom of the Opera”. In Act One I actually did a quick change on stage!  Full costume change including a wig change in less than 30 seconds!  In the second Act I had a quick change from the Masquerade scene to the next office scene. I had just under 1 1/2 minutes to do a full costume change, similar to Kelli. I had to get out of a ball gown, change all jewellery which included removing a tiara and then putting on another hat, earings, then put on a gown and a huge red coat with a gorgeous fur collar (fake of course).  Being a vocalist can include so many challenges, like quick costume changes. You have to do all this at lightening speed and then continue on as if it were all a breeze.  It’s all a part of the fun of music theatre. Just love it!

The power of “Yet”

Music and singing requires accuracy and skill to be the best at your game.
More often than not we fall short of this and usually give up. Too often I hear from my students “I can’t do it, it’s too difficult”.
And they stop. They stop trying, stop persisting and then fail to make progress.

I like to use the words “not yet” all the time.
I have learned from years of experience, that when faced with something difficult it is important to remind ourselves that it will take time to master it.
With our ‘instant’ society we tend to believe that if I don’t get it straight away then it will not happen.
Working with children I sadly see this all the time.
By constantly reminding them that it is ok to have a go and get it wrong, and try again and again if you need to, they start to realize that if they persist eventually they will get it.

If you are studying anything and finding you are getting nowhere, it may be because you have hit a road block and instead of saying not yet have not bothered to look for a way around it and given up.

Tell yourself that “I haven’t  learned  ________________  yet!”  That little word makes such a difference to your end result.

Einstein-Persist

It’s Eisteddfod time

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Eisteddfods are a great opportunity to use as motivation to learn repertoire, improve your skills and practice performing.

Eisteddfods date back to the 12th century in Wales.

Eisteddfods are competitions that involve testing individuals for singing, dancing, acting and musicianship. The Royal South Street Eisteddfod in Ballarat has been running since 1891.  The Sydney Eisteddfod commenced in 1933 and offers some 400 events across all Performing Arts, catering to 30,000 performers annually. Modern equivalents in Australia are competitions reserved for schoolchildren, though many have open sections where anyone (including professionals) may participate and compete. Typically, a prize may be a scholarship to pursue a further career. Many young Australian actors and dancers participate regularly in the various competitions scheduled throughout the year.

The main Eisteddfods in our local community are:

The Sale Eisteddfod                          (entries have already closed)

The West Gippsland Eisteddfod    (entries close 7th June)

The Latrobe Valley Eisteddfod      (entries close 30th June

The Yarram Eisteddfod                   (entries close 1st June)

 

Please note there are costs involved such as entry fees, purchasing sheet music, paying for rehearsals with pianists. There are also rewards such as a sense of achievement, prizes that include cash, and feedback from the adjudicator (the person judging the performances)

If you would like to know more about entering an Eisteddfod or would like singing lessons to help you better when performing in things like Eisteddfods  click here and send me a message. Would be happy to help.

 

For a list of Eisteddfods and festivals in Victoria click here.

 

I have a limited number of places available for in person or on line lessons. To enquire about singing lessons click here.

 

 

What’s one thing to remember to ease performance anxiety?

With a cafe concert fast approaching, I thought it valuable to discuss performance anxiety.
It is always nerve wracking to get up and perform, I have been doing it for years and I still get nervous.
In the video below I talk about one thing you can do to help with those nerves.  It sounds a bit obvious but we often forget to do this.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions.