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

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The Where, When and Whether of Marking

Road marksRichard Miller, in his book “Solutions for Singers”, gives this good definition of marking: “Sparing the voice during rehearsal through reducing dynamic levels; indicating certain pitches rather than singing them fully.”

While the purpose of marking is to save the voice, particularly when directors are placing high demands on a singer, or a singer is “out of voice” (due to illness, oversinging, etc.), many teachers and singers claim that it hurts more than it helps. Still, I have yet to meet a professional singer that does not mark from time to time, and have met many an amateur who could benefit from marking techniques. Continue reading

The Practice of Practicing

© Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons License

Few musical topics bring back so many traumatic flashbacks to the general populace as this one. Practice is one of those things we can never seem to do enough of. Even if you love singing, you might have abandoned practicing altogether, relying on your latent musical talent to get you through.

Actually, the latent-music-talent thing worked for me until my school’s orchestra program in the 9th grade instituted take home practice records which your parents had to sign off on. Continue reading