Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Making the Cut: Brock University

Deborah Linton was on hand to outline some of the features of the 4 year BMus program at Brock University. Here are some of the highlights of the program as presented:
  1. Location, location, location! Located in the lovely Niagara Peninsula, Brock University is surrounded by verdant fields filled with grapes, peaches and apple orchards. Niagara Falls is minutes away plus wine tastings, Shaw Festival Theatre and Fort George. The added bonus is that it is also only an hour from Toronto!
  2. Brock University Department of Music is small with individualized attention. Faculty know students by name. They offer a 4 year Honours BMus, BA with Honours in Music, and BAs with music as a major or minor (see their website for details!). The translation? The program is flexible and tailor-made to your needs and interests.
  3. Brock has its own Faculty of Education which makes the transition into the BEd program seamless.
  4. The Music Department is part of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts which includes drama and art which means a wide range of artist possibilities for courses.
  5. They have recently been given a large endowment which will see new facilities, 6 new concert halls including a 1000 seat theatre and tonnes of scholarship money!
  6. There are many opportunities to perform with opera excerpts, weekly master classes, and joint productions with the theatre department.
  7. Courses included 1 hour weekly lessons, Diction and Pedagogy.

Making the Cut: The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music

Jennifer Tung and Donna Sherman represented The Glenn Gould School from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Here are some of the highlights of their program as presented:
  1. The GG offers a 4 year BMus degree and a 2 year Diploma
  2. They offer 90 minute lessons (These lessons can be split 60/30 voice and piano if needed or you can purchase extra lesson time on another instrument)
  3. Performance opportunities include Master Classes with international singers. Last season was Ruth Falcon of Mannes College in NYC and Canadian baritone John Fanning; this season includes Frederica Von Stade.
  4. They have 3 performance facilities including the brand new Koener Hall . Additionally their space has been newly renovated with new rehearsal and teaching spaces added.
  5. They will help make you the musician you need to be to have a career as a singer! They feed into the COC Ensemble and have a working relationship with Opera Atelier.
  6. This is a conservatory-style education where incoming grades are not weighed as heavily as they would be at a university.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Making the Cut: Tips on Winning the Post-Secondary Audition

For those of you who regularly follow this blog, you will have noticed a big push to attended the recent Ontario NATS event titled "Making the Cut: An informational seminar for high-school students wanting more information about universities and colleges in Ontario".

Yesterday was the big day organized by Ontario NATS VP of Special Projects, baritone Todd Wieczorek . This event was a well executed and informative afternoon that offered a great deal of advice to future voice majors, their parents and the teachers that prepare them for the auditions!

I will take this week to review the information that was presented by each of the 8 schools in attendance and post the questions and answers posed to the panel by the moderator (Todd) and the floor.

The following schools were in attendance (in order of presentation):
  1. The Glenn Gould School, Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto
  2. Department of Music, Brock University, St. Catherine's
  3. School of Music, University of Ottawa, Ottawa
  4. Don Wright Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario, London
  5. Faculty of Music, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo
  6. Department of Music, York University, Toronto
  7. Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, Toronto
  8. Department of Music, Cambrian College, Sudbury

Finally, please note that the information is based on the notes I took and should not be taken as gospel. If you have any questions, please contact the school directly for answers! I will provide contact information for each school.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Making the Cut - THIS WEEKEND!

Just a reminder to all students looking to apply to post secondary schools in Voice. Making the Cut is this Sunday! Check out my previous post here.

Hope to meet you there!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Planning for a Year of Successful Singing

Getting the Most Out of Your Lessons #4

Right now we are all in the throes of scheduling lessons, looking at academic, audition and exam requirements, selecting repertoire and of course learning and perfecting our technique. I know my overwhelm button will be pushed if I don't plan as much as possible NOW for my students!

Some suggestions for a year of successful singing:

  1. Compile a list of your exams and auditions with deadlines, audition/exam dates and repertoire requirements;

  2. Work backwards from the performance date setting goals of where you want to be with learning and memorizing and rehearsing with your accompanist;

  3. Share these dates with your teacher and accompanist and talk about how to achieve these goals;

  4. If you need to do recordings, book them early so you have time for editing and don't have to send your materials by overnight courier (WAY more expensive!);

  5. Write/enter all your goals into your day timer/outlook with reminders.

Now you can relax and just get the work done! Planning now can save time and money later and do a lot to help you be a sane and happy singer!

Good luck and keep me posted on your progress!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Right Tools for Your Successful Singing Lesson

Getting the Most Out of Your Lessons #3

In my studio policy, I talk about getting the right tools for success. Here are the highlights:
  1. Recording Equipment: From a laptop with a plugged in mic to a mini iTalk on your iPod, recording your lesson for playback later is an invaluable tool. I know you had to listen to your mistakes but get over it so you can progress faster!
  2. Prep Your Music: Do your homework before bringing a new score to a lesson. That means you have listened to a number of different singers perform it (Youtube, iTunes, etc), written out the text and translated it word for word and poetically, done your International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), and then written the highlights back into your score!
  3. Prep Your Knowledge: Do a little research on your song - who was the composer? When was it written? What else was being written and by whom at that time? What was happening socially, politically, and economically in the world and in Canada? Who is the poet? This may seem obvious but I am constantly amazed that students think they just need to learn notes!
  4. Attitude: Get ready to focus and learn in your lesson. I could go on and on about the time wasted on chatter (I'm also guilty) so will just say, acknowledge how you are today and then get to the business of singing. If you have the kind of relationship with your teacher that you can talk to about your life issues, schedule separate time outside the lesson to go for coffee.
  5. Memorize you Music: Get your song memorized as soon as possible. My studio policy states that the second time you bring a song to a lesson, it must be memorized. The sooner you get a song on its feet, the sooner you can focus on everything else besides the notes!

Feel free to check out my studio policy which is linked to my website and let me know what works in your studio!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sing if you love it!

In a recent interview with Marlene Hall of SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL INTERVIEW, Canadian Mezzo-Soprano Lucia Cervoni is asked:

What advice would you give aspiring singers?

Sing! If you love it and need to do it than just do it. Find a way. It's not the easiest road, but my response to that is what is?! If one has the opportunity to live out their passion in their life, then I say they are one of the luckiest people on this earth (and of course find a great teacher).

Read the complete article.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Opera as real life...this just in from Ottawa

Opera Lyra patrons at The Magic Flute yesterday witnessed how scary opera can be to real life. The Ottawa Citizen reports:

Quick-thinking patrons at Opera Lyra Ottawa’s performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute Monday helped save a distraught woman who climbed over the railing of one of the boxes at the National Arts Centre.

It happened in a matter of seconds and the performance was not interrupted, but about 10 minutes before the end of the opera, shortly after a character in the opera is contemplating suicide, a woman left her seat in the amphitheatre, entered a box close to the stage and started climbing over the railing, about seven metres above the floor, NAC spokesman Carl Martin said. He said patrons near the woman said she seemed to be trying to call out to one of the characters on stage. A patron in the box held the woman, and patrons in the box below grabbed her and lowered her safely into the lower box.

Read the full article.

Warms ups VS. Exercises

Getting the Most out of you Lesson #2

Just like working out at the gym, the voice needs to be "warmed up" or stretched before attempting feats of high art. Many times students will come to a lesson saying "I haven't sung yet today". This is OK for a young singer but once you hit university, you need to take control of your own warming up!

Warm up exercises come in all shapes and sizes but should start out easy - 5 note scales, humming, lip trills, triad work and hissing call act to get the blood flowing to the vocal folds and remind your airflow what to do. I usually find that in 5-10 minutes you can get the voice in a good placement and you are ready to go!

After that, you are ready to do your exercises! These of course, are the bigger, longer, more varied exercises/scales that your teacher guides you through listening for vowel accuracy, timbre, pitch, resonance - basically the nitty-gritty of great sound.

Coming to a lesson without having warmed up decreases the time your teacher can spend doing exercises and repertoire.

Get ready for your lessons mentally and physically - get warmed up by yourself (even if you have to hum in the bathroom between classes!) and you will notice a difference in your progress!

If you have any favourite "warm ups", please share!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2009 Call for Compositions CFMTA Vocal Winner - Maple Dust

American-Canadian Composer Martha Hill Duncan recently won the Vocal Award at 2009 Call for Compositions by the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Association (CFMTA). This song is written for RCM Grade 4 -6 level singer and can be purchased directly from Martha at www.marthahillduncan.com.

Here is the video recording we did a few weeks ago:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting back into the swing of things....a new year!

Getting the Most out of your Lessons #1

I know some universities started last week but we here at Queens are just getting up and running today. I love looking around at all the excited freshmen getting ready to launch their four year music degrees!

This week I will spend some time talking about how to get the most out of your private voice lessons and your music education in general.

Lets start today with MUSIC SCORES!

Gerrit Theule of the Canadian Opera Blog (not to be confused with the COC Blog) has a great post: Scores! All the Scores You Could Want! Free!. Not every university has a killer library and not everyone can afford to buy all that scores they need so... why not make use of the electronic resources of Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music and others?

If you are looking to buy, you check out Sheet Music Plus for a great selection at even better prices (with cheap shipping to Canada).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Facebook Followers

Calling all Facebook users!

Check out my "widget" for Facebook (to the right)! You can follow me on Facebook - just click the link and VOILA!

Looking forward to seeing your lovely faces on my blog.

5 AM wake up call

This morning our phone rang at 5AM with a wake up call...and no I'm not staying at a hotel! My husband answered the call then proceeded (in a sleepy stupor) to ask the caller a million questions...of course no one could sleep after that. I felt like I had entered into the scene from Marriage of Figaro where the count "finds" Cherubino in the Countess' room but instead Susanna pops out.

Let this send you off on your weekend:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Undergraduate Programs - a Review

For all of you who have requested information on applying to voice programs, here is a quick list of programs I reviewed last year:

Mount Allison University
University of Manitoba
University of British Columbia
Wilfrid Laurier University
Queens University

By no means is this exhaustive - it is obvious I have left out some of the big guns - UofT, McGill, Western - but do not despair! Watch for posts the first week of October after the NATS "Making the Cut" weekend for more reviews!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Canadian Opera More or Less Live?

Canadian singer and comedienne extraordinaire Mary Lou Fallis and her pianist side-kick Peter Tiefenbach have recently released their newest hilarity Mary Lou Fallis & Peter Tiefenbach more of less LIFE at the GOULD.

A review of Mary Lou's past Prima Donna shows plus new works (!) I laughed until I cried - both in the audience last January when it was taped and recently while driving home from Toronto (I don't recommend driving while listening - there should be a warning with this CD!).

The successor to the late, great Anna Russell, Mary Lou and Peter are unstoppable with original tunes like "I've Got Faust Under My Skin" (a combination of Schubert's Gretchen am Spinnrade and the standard I've got you under my skin), "Why isn't Love like it is in the Opera?", "Nebraska!!" (Oklahoma?) and my personal favourite "Bingo Night in Berlin" (sung in the belt-opera style of Kurt Weill).

You can get more information about this CD or booking this show for your event at Dean Artists Management.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Be an audience...Canadian Opera this season

"You have to BE an audience to HAVE an audience".

The Canadian Opera Company
The Royal Conservatory of Music
Calgary Opera
Edmonton Opera
Manitoba Opera
Montreal Opera
Opera Lyra
Pacific Opera Victoria
...and there are so many other concerts, events, galas...let us all know about YOUR event!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Making the Cut - Ontario NATS hosts Post-Secondary Info Session

Now on the NATS Ontario Chapter website:

MAKING THE CUT: a workshop for students who plan to audition for post-secondary music programs

Every two years, NATS Ontario presents this very popular workshop for students and their parents and teachers. A panel of representatives from most of Onatrio's university, college and conservatory music programs will speak about the opportunities they offer and their expectations of preparation and talent in the singers who audition for them.

The event will take place on September 27, 2009 at 2 PM at Unioville High School (201 Town Centre Boulevard, Markham ON The street runs north from Hwy 7, just west of Warden Ave.) The session will be followed by a meet-and-greet time for students to talk to the presenters.

Don't go to your audition without this valuable preparation. You could even meet the person who will hear your audition. There will be a nominal entry fee for students, parents and teachers or coaches who are not NATS members.

Come join us at the end of the month. I hope to be there with the Queens delegates!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Teaching an old dog new tricks...

I have spent the morning on the computer doing all the computer-related things that one does to manage their lives - Blogging, emailing students, sending thank you notes for studio referrals, being in touch with colleagues, uploading a video to my YouTube channel and of course, Facebooking. Finally after looking at the clock and realizing my arms were locked into one position, I decided to head outside with my coffee to enjoy this beautiful Prince Edward County weather!

Now normally Iwould sit at the front of my house but today, I took my chair over to the deck that served as a "stage" for our annual outdoor concert this summer (Lakestock '09) and sat there instead. What a difference a new view can make! The lake out front looked different, I got new ideas for my gardens (I should really cut the grass!) and then I started to think singing.

It got me thinking that we can get stuck repeating old patterns and wondering why nothing changes. The same goes with developing and managing vocal technique and repertoire. Yesterday I had a lesson with my mentor Mary Lou Fallis in Toronto. She kept saying to me "think the pitch BEFORE you sing". "But I am" I thought...but really, I was breathing, setting a vowel then pitching it. No wonder the onsets were out of balance! Once I started to make that realization, things started to fall into place.

So back to my deck today...I decided to start singing right out there in the sunshine with the breeze blowing the flag and the fishermen going by. A new space, a new idea and voila, some new sounds. Added to that, the lack of feedback when you sing outside, made it a real kinaesthetic singing sensation and took me to a different place where I could assess things and get NEW and DIFFERENT results.

The point? Find a new space, get a new set of ears (teacher, coach, friend), try something new and you might be surprised by the results. You know what they say about old dogs....prove them wrong! And NOW is the time to do it!

NATS Partners with Classical Singer Magazine and YAP Tracker

This just in from NATS:

NATS Board of Directors has entered into new partnership agreements that provide increased benefits to EVERY ACTIVE NATS member starting this fall. With these new partnerships alone the value of NATS membership is nearly doubled. Would you like a FREE subscription to Classical Singer Magazine valued at $53 per year? How about a 15% discount on a subscription to YAP Tracker, the leading Young Artist Program and Competition service? Both of these are now important benefits of NATS membership....

As we all try to stay abreast of the latest trends in voice research, teaching methods, and the real world skills our students need to succeed, we believe NATS, Classical Singer, and YAP Tracker provide a unique set of important resources for all teachers of singing.

I agree that this is an important value-added service from NATS. Looks like they are trying to expand their membership and are open to new ideas!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Time to check deadlines...competitions, scholarships and more!

I am currently in the process of making a list of application deadlines of scholarships and competitions for my students (and some for me - like the NATS Intern Program - more on that later!). Here are a few that have come to my attention this week:

Opera Nuova

Designed for Canadian Singers, who are of advanced standing with considerable
previous training, this intensive program is a must for singers who wish to focus on development technique while simultaneously working on their performance skills.
These comprehensive programs provide instruction in creative process, acting, movement, Alexander technique, diction, language and vocal interpretation taught by distinguished faculty who are experts in their field. Our guest teachers, who are internationally recognized artists, give daily mini-master classes, public forum master classes and private voice lessons.

Opera Nuova offers both a 4-week and a 6-week program for singers and a 5-week program for collaborative pianists.
Deadline: October 25 (Received by)

Young Singers Foundation
Our Vision The Young Singers Foundation feels a well-rounded education for our young people should include music. Without the opportunity to participate in music programs, youngsters are deprived of unique opportunities to develop their creativity, to learn self-discipline and team work, to increase their sense of self-worth, and to learn to live in a global society.

Created by Sweet Adelines International in 1992, the Young Singers Foundation offers $2000 scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in universities both in the US and Canada.
Deadline: February 15

Both of these opportunities came to me through YAP Tracker. If you don't already have it....GET IT! It is the most comprehensive listing of Young Artist Programs and Competitions out there. (Email me for a $5 discount too!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another First Day of School!

The yellow school bus at the end of our driveway this morning at 7:15 was a sure sign that school is back in session and we are no longer on vacation!

This is my favourite time of year because of cool weather (jeans and sweater time!), fresh starts and new students....and new blog postings!

In preparation for starting a new teaching "season", I invested in new already-sharpened pencils and....a web service to manage my studio. Music Teachers Helper is a web-based service that provides you with the tools to create invoices, send automatic email reminders, track expenses, post studio activities and much more! I am just learning how to optimize this service so check out my own site as it changes and morphs into a lean, mean studio manager machine! As I continue to work with this program, I will keep you posted on how it is working out for me.
Happy "back to school"!

From the voice of....