Five Secrets of Great Dressers

Did I say dressers? I meant singers! Oh well; since I already mentioned it in the title, this week I’ll address both singing AND fashion, and hopefully tie them together in some meaningful ways.

Those of you who know me know that in preparation for our move to Milan, I’ve been applying myself to learning the rules and caprices of fashion, partly from necessity but mostly out of an interest which has been augmented by my sudden proximity to a public library (unlike in library-less Thailand, where I was forced to haunt quiet corners of bookshops to read for free, before being discovered and discreetly admonished). I’m sure I’ll be able to expound on the topic much more after spending some time in Italy, which is, perhaps by no coincidence, the traditional heart of both opera and fashion design, but for now, I must admit that there is a lot to be learned from such frivolously-titled books as “How to Look Fab” and “The Secrets of Style” and the glossy magazines that inspired them. A lot of the advice is sensible and practical, and some of it makes me wish I had read them long ago.

Here are a few of my favorite tips: Continue reading

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Singing in the Summertime

Contemplating nature and each other

Is it just me, or does nothing kills a perfectly good practice routine quicker than an unlimited amount of sunshine and free time?

I’ve spent this past week revisiting my family in my childhood home, free from virtually all obligations, free to spend my hours sitting on the back porch, basking in the mild sunshine, watching Bill the cat chew catnip and Whiskey the pitbull chase bumblebees, without a single concert on the horizon to kick me back into singing gear.

And it’s therein, I think, lies the problem. Even though I dream all year of all the amazing vocal breakthroughs that will take place in the summertime, when I have seemingly infinite time to practice my exercises and learn new songs, somehow it never happens. More often than not I find myself cruising through summer sales at our sleepy local mall, running in circles around the garden, and making creative snacks out of all the random food my parents keep in their fridge. All this when I could be updating my web site and reviewing audition repertoire, not to mention finding an apartment in Milan and learning Italian.

Truth be told, I don’t actually feel that bad about my carefully selected songbooks gathering dust in my suitcase. Continue reading

Sense #5: Taste, and the Hot Cocoa Meditation

Have your cake and sing it too

You can have your cake and sing it too

These past two months we’ve explored singing with all the senses. We started with hearing, perhaps the most obvious one, and the importance of learning to listen with the inner ear, as well as how to love your actual ears. Then, with sight, we talked about using imagery to bring imagination to a song, and similarly, with touch, how to bring life to your voice through movement. We even managed to work in the sense of smell, through some practical aromatherapy for the voice. Now I’ve gone and saved the most challenging sense for last, and that is taste.

Originally I was planning on sharing with you recipes dedicated to great opera singers (Turkey Tetrazzini), and even one crafted by a composer (Tournedos Rossini), but unfortunately the average celebrity’s taste (let alone budget!) does not translate well to the modern home kitchen; that is, unless you regularly buy foie gras, hunt for truffles, or bake a turkey more than once a year.

Instead, let’s consider what taste has to teach us on a simpler, more elemental level. Continue reading