Friday, January 23, 2015

Fun Friday - Flight of the Bumblebee - Canadian Brass

One of the great things about winter is the lack of bugs.  This bug related piece is wonderful when you know you won't actually see one.  Fun!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday - Stompin' Tom Connors - Tillsonburg

Check out how Stompin' Tom handles the heckler.  Although this is a fun song, the work of the tobacco fields was hard.  This is one of Stompin' Tom's tributes to the working people of Canada.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Musical Monday - Classical, Country, Popular ---? Which is Best?

When I was a beginning music teacher in schools, I was certain that "rock" music was of no use whatsoever.  It didn't take me long to realize in studying the rock music genre that it had roots in jazz and rhythm and blues which of course came from folk music in various countries.  I taught a double course on this genre and we all learned so much.  The biggest learning curve was mine in not eschewing any one type of music.  Each genre has something for everyone.

Some choirs choose to sing a specific type of music.  This means that they become rather good at that genre to be sure.  I would think that one would have to be very creative to get people to come to concerts year after year with a single genre.  I know there is a plethora of music out there but I would find it hard to just stay with one as so much fascinates me.

What did I learn from my foray into the rock scene?
1. Variety - As in anything there is music that is well written and some that is rather shoddy in that there might be little of musical interest or challenge.  This isn't a bad thing except if it is all the time.  Did you know that there are rock songs NOT written in 4/4 time?

2. Technology - As we cruised through the rock music listening and singing, we found that the early rock music was distinguished by the simple technology of recording in the early days.  The changes wrought by The Beach Boys, Jimmy Hendrix for instance as well as the changes from analogue to digital etc. have made music recording very different.

3. Crossover - Rock musicians often sing country and country musicians sing rock.  There is "rock-a-billy" style music and popular mixed with them all.  Classical bits find there way into many pieces.  The Beatles were some of the first to use different instruments not used before.

This is but the tip of the iceberg that is musical genres.  As I head off to Nashville for a conference next week, I am excited to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and the RCA recording studio.  I have several opportunities to attend music venues one of which is the Grand Ole Opry at the Rymer.  The older I get the more I realize that there is something to be learned from every piece of music and that we must NEVER use the word "like" when referring to music as it closes our minds to possibilities.  Let's make it our intention to APPRECIATE everything musical that comes our way.

You may surprise yourself and find that there is something really great in a new genre you didn't take time to appreciate before.  If madrigals are your thing, great!  Just be certain to broaden your horizons and listen to it all.  It will bring a new verve to all you do musically.  Really, I know that first hand.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fun Friday - "Les Miserables" Flash Mob

These performers are a great advertisement for their show.  You have to give them credit for being so great under such noisy conditions.  Check out the smiles.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday - The Fray - Be Still

Listen to this while taking the beautiful words.  
Then listen again with your eyes closed.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Musical Monday - To Do Vocal Warm Ups or Not. That Is a Question.

I read, you read.  You studied, I've studied.  We've done it and we haven't.  Vocal warm ups.  Hmm.

I know that warming up vocally is often compared to warming up the muscles.  Well, you will find that some of the experts will argue that warming up can actually be detrimental to top performance.  It can actually tire the muscles so that there isn't enough left to make a stellar performance.  Now, just as there is an argument NOT to warm up there are arguments to the contrary.  Be it ever thus.

1. Warm Up or Use Up - I agree that sometimes if people haven't sung for a while, they need to be careful not to come into a practice or performance and sing top notes at full force.  I have vocal nodes from overuse of my voice as a music teacher and probably incorrect usage as a young person.  I have only about 20 minutes of optimum singing and if I spend 10 of those warming up, then not much remains.  However, I must not overdo the first part of my singing either.  Common sense must prevail.  If no warm up is used, start slowly and use mid-range music to start.

2. Specialty Warm Up - If we are doing a piece with larger intervals, or tricky rhythms etc. then yes I will do warm ups that focus on those new challenges.  If we start to sing without a warm up and the sound is drooping or some are having trouble with staying in tune, then I will revert to some warm up material that places the tone correctly or focuses on breathing properly.  I prefer to use a warm up for a specific purpose when needed.

3. Warm Up for Fun - That is self explanatory.  Fun little songs sung as rounds or partner songs are great for upping the energy and getting voices in tune. Sometimes it is more important to warm up the mood or attitude than the vocal folds.  You can start the practice with one of the choirs favourites and have then start with success and that sparkle that will carry them through the work of learning new challenging work.

The bottom line is that I think we should use discretion with warming up.  Doing something all the time because you have always done it is no more helpful than never trying it at all.  Make sure that your warm up routine is for purpose and that you all understand why you are doing each one.  Don't spend a long time but have a good time doing what is best for all the singers in each situation.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fun Friday - Opera Company of Philadelphia "Toreador" Random Act of Culture - Jan 8, ...

Yes, opera in the food court.  One of my favourites too!!!  Not easy singing with a recording but check out how much the audience is enjoying this "random act of Culture".  One gentleman is whistling along, a mum and her son are dancing and the applause is heart felt!!!