Just so we’re all on the same page here…. 😉  this isn’t necessarily about singing, but some of that may pop up from time to time. This is about fun and sharing some of the things that I have found great pleasure in recently. Music, books; I’m not placing any limitations on it.

This page is still relevant, but I have to admit, it’s much easier to update my Amazon page so you’ll find more recent and cooler stuff there. Please feel free to hang out here and read some of my thoughts on these items-or blast off for fast easy info and access to here:

Jeff Rolka’s Amazon Page

Richard Miller – Singing Instruction Books

I am not sure why I didn’t think about posting this here sooner. I refer to Richard Miller’s books frequently in my live events. The problem is that most of them are out of print and very, very expensive. These two, however, are available for super cheap in the Kindle format. The Soprano book even has other e formats starting at $9! Even if you don’t own a Kindle you can read it online and take advantage of his insight into singing. I cannot recommend these books highly enough. Click Below:

Training Soprano Voices

Securing Baritone, Bass-Baritone and Bass Voices

Rocketbook Everlast Smart Notebook

Again, this is one of those palm to forehead kind of items that I can’t believe I left off of this page. I use this thing literally every day. Combined with any ‘smart’ device like a tablet or phone the icons allow you to instantly archive and organize your notes. Case in point: the video plans that I write out for YouTube have one icon and my songwriting lyrics have another. When I photograph a page the icon along the bottom of the page sends the PDF directly to where I want each separate item archived. One goes to Google drive, one goes to Dropbox. I can even set an icon to immediately send an email to an address of my choosing. Best part – with a lightly damp cloth you wipe it all clean and use it again and again. Gone are the days of my stacks of spiral bound notebooks (though I admit, I do miss them.) Click Below:

Rocketbook Everlast Notebook

Hario Mini Mill Slim Plus

This is one of those ‘off topic’ items; if coffee can be considered off topic! Many of you know that I really enjoy my morning cup of coffee. I enjoy my late morning and afternoon cups too! I started grinding my own coffee while in England because there’s a certain conspicuous lack of good coffee there. Sorry, England, you’ve come a long way but there’s still some distance to go. Anyway, I started using one of these and there is simply no going back. I don’t even buy fancy beans, just bog standard Italian Roast from Berkeley Bowl, the market that we go to, and I would take my cup of coffee over any I’ve had in any shop. It all began with this hand grinder. Takes a few extra minutes each morning, but well worth it. Click Below:

Hario Mini Mill Slim Plus

Audio Technica Pro 70 Lavalier Mic

I recently published a video on vocal health tips and mentioned that if possible, using an external mic can really help you manage your vocal volume while teaching or talking a lot online. The Audio Technica Pro 70 has been my choice for a lavalier mic for years and continues to do a fantastic job with both spoken and sung recording or live sessions. The price on this is fairly middle of the road when it comes to a professional microphone; come to think of it, the price is kind of low for a professional mic. I use it with a soft limiter (available in my Apogee Duet software) so that I can keep the gain reasonably high for when I’m speaking while avoiding clipping when I sing an example. This mic connects via an XLR cable and requires either phantom power or two batteries in the pack to power it. I love this mic for the even frequency response and inconspicuous profile.  Please note: this is NOT a USB mic, so you will need some type of interface in order to plug it into your computer. While there are many to choose from, I would suggest either: Apogee One or if you need at least two inputs Apogee Duet Click Below:

Audio Technica Pro 70

The Structure of Singing – Richard Miller

In my live events or if you’ve sent an email to me you’ve heard me reference Richard Miller. His teaching redefined how I thought about singing and the teaching of singing and his books are in my opinion a necessary addition to any student of the voice’s library. Unfortunately, most have gone out of print and the prices have gone through the roof. The Structure of Singing is somewhat of a catch-all book for Miller. In it he details many of the technical requirements of the modern vocalist and dozens of best practices for us. Like his other books he teaches us not only what to do but also what to look out for in order to diagnose problems before they become too firmly entrenched as habits. It’s a bit expensive, but worth every penny. Click Below:

The Structure of Singing

A Metronome

If you don’t know what a metronome is, that’s even more reason to get one. At the risk of sounding too old school, I want to highly recommend that you get one that is not an app on a smartphone. It is far too easy to be distracted with the phones other features during our precious practice time. A separate metronome as a stand-alone device won’t cause those problems. There are certainly more expensive options available, but for this low a cost most of us can save up and justify the expense for our artistic development. The Korg below even has a tuner on it!

Click Below:

Korg TM50BK

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

I know this is old. It’s been around for fifteen years. Never mind where fifteen years went, the music on this has so many inspiring qualities. The rhythm and way that The Flaming Lips integrate melody into the texture. The colors of the instruments as well, seem to match so nicely the subject matter that Wayne Coyne is singing about. All of that, and my hear breaks a little more every time I listen to ‘Do You Realize.’ Click Below:

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

One of the first things you notice in listening to these recordings is the quality of sound. Recording technology was different during at the time of many of these tracks and as such, we get a very different kind of sound. I am particularly fond of drums recorded during the period from the early sixties until the late seventies. The Glyn Johns technique is often used and it creates a very distinct and tight sounding rhythm section that I absolutely love. Click Below:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Ready Player One

I just read this book. Once I started, it took two days and one of those days I stayed up until 4am because I just couldn’t put it down. Having grown up in the 80’s, this was a tour de force of nostalgia for the changes that I was surrounded with during those delicate teen years. I might actually go back and read it all over again….Click Below:

Ready Player One

Ultimate Survival Technologies FlexWare Sink

If you’re car camping in the winter, having some warm water for your dishes is crucial. Here’s a low cost item to get the job done!….Click Below:

Ultimate Survival Technologies FlexWare Sink

Lorde – Green Light

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a break up song. Thing about this tune though, the narrator clearly indicates a desire but inability to move on while conveying a position of strength. Makes me feel a bit verklempt…Click Below:

Lorde – Green Light

  • natnest

    I got to say, I simply love Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots! (particularly part one, it’s such a fun album and song)
    And I agree with Westernwebster above, it was an impressive sequel, something that doesn’t happen very often

  • westernwebster

    Regarding Guardians of the Galaxy 2: They were a surprise success based on the gripping soundtrack of the first film. I was not expecting much out of the second film, because I felt they were limited by the era the music is from. There’s only SO MUCH good music from that era, and once it’s mined out – then we’re listening to weaker choices.

    I was pleasantly surprised that the music was as good as it was. I was REALLY impressed with the opening scene, because of the Juxtaposition of Groots innocence and joyous dancing against the imminent danger nearby. The action and the fight scene we all saw in the trailer was no spoiler, because it was of little consequence as the music and dancing took the spotlight.

    For once Hollywood impressed me with a sequel. 😀

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