I’ve been doing live events for a couple months now on YouTube and I wanted to put one here in the event that those of you who primarily use the website hadn’t seen these yet. In short, it’s a question and answer session during which I field questions in the chat window and also take questions that get emailed in to me during the week. Occasionally I also use a question from the comments on YouTube as well.
There are a lot of enjoyable aspects to the live events but perhaps one of the highlights for me is the immediate interaction with you, the singers who watch and listen to the videos. Frequently someone will pop into the chat, ask a question and then go quiet for awhile. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it but after a few experiences with this I realized that people were getting online to get some info, going to test it out and then popping back in to report either their successes or additional questions. As someone who grew up before the internet existed, the notion of how this could be is fascinating and awesome to me.
I always knew that teaching would be an integral part of m performance practice. As the saying goes, we teach best what we most need to learn. I want to be the best singer/musician I can be and that means translating my thoughts and understanding of music into relatable terms that others can understand and benefit from. When I work with clients one on one, I often speak about the lessons as ‘our lessons’ as opposed to ‘their lesson.’ We are all learning together, sharing ideas and helping and receiving help in equal measure.
That is the kind of environment that is being cultivated at the Live Events, and I hope you’ll join us for it.
A friend of mine and lovely songwriter Dave Armo tried to turn me on to David Foster Wallace years ago in recommending the novel, ‘Infinite Jest.’ In true procrastinator fashion I bought the book but never made time to read it. In my defense, I was warned that it was a challenging read and the size alone of the thing is enough to deter even those committed to the adventure. Had I only known, or come across this video before the recommendation I might have gotten to the book sooner.
David Foster Wallace took his own life several years ago, but not before creating a prolific body of work which thankfully includes the commencement address in this video. The struggle to remain present and ‘awake’ throughout our day to day lives is beautifully articulated here. I take great inspiration in the thoughts he posits, particularly in the notion that in giving consideration to opposing or preconceived notions we can enhance our day to day existences. While he doesn’t come out and say this directly in his address, it is my feeling that in a world such as we exist in today; filled with doubts about climate, violence and fear, if we took a moment to consider it would lead us to greater compassion for one another. This in turn would open doors to acceptance, tolerance and love. I don’t think that I’m alone in the notion that that would be a welcome addition to all of our day to day lives.
I have recommended this Tedx talk many times and when I thought about including it here I ended up watching it three times! This talk is of particular importance to us as singers because of the importance of authenticity in our work. When standing on stage, it is very apparent when we’re not committed to the music that we’re singing. Furthermore, that lack of commitment presents additional difficulties in our vocal technique. Our intentions, or lack thereof, are intertwined with our ability to sing well. Our ability to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, empowers our authenticity; what courage that takes when stepping out onto a stage! I use the word stage here to mean any public display, for some it’s Carnegie Hall, for others it’s the family dinner table, both are performances. Ironic that one should wonder why performance anxiety (commonly called stage fright) exists. It would be more accurate to wonder why it doesn’t exist in a given individual given the notion that to provide the authenticity required of us we open our hearts and display our most vulnerable side.
My most popular videos on YouTube are some of the very first warm ups that I did. In these videos I comprehensively cover the five main vowel sounds in English language singing and carefully keep the range in modest areas for each of the main vocal faches. There were originally four, but a mezzo soprano from Brazil requested that I get a warm up specific to her fache, and what better way to satisfy that request than to go back and add to some of my most popular work. If you happen to be of a different vocal range, check out this playlist for the other warm ups for your voice type.
Being understood when we sing is paramount to our success in communicating with our audience. It’s also key to good singing technique! In this video I go through several things to consider when you’re preparing a song. Hard consonants, partially phonating consonants and how they impact our airflow.