LISTEN: Nicole's Bach Cantata 170 with the SD Symphony

on . Posted in News

In January of this year I sang with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra for the first time. The solo piece I performed was Bach's Cantata 170 Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, which translates roughly to "Pleasurable rest, beloved delight of the soul." The idea of the cantata is welcoming virtue into your heart while recognizing that most people choose to walk all over their neighbor, and ultimately finding a way to live in harmony with these virtues despite what other people are doing.

That is no small task. And neither is this cantata!

 

A New Recording For You!

The SDSO was very generous and provided a recording of this Cantata, which is now available on the Media page of this site. Click here to listen! They are a wonderful organization and the musicians are fantastic! We were able to make beautiful music together and to bring the meaning across to the audience.

 

And One More Recording on its Way!

Ah yes, and the delightful, talented Hannah Lu and I joined forces on the second half of the program for Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, of which I also have a recording. Stay tuned for that one! This picture is of (L to R) soprano Hannah Lu, conductor Delta David Gier, and me. We had a blast!

Highlights of this Year's Concert

One of the fun parts of traveling for work is getting to know a new place. Sioux Falls, South Dakota was a new location and the people there are as friendly as you would imagine. And as snowy as can be in January! This was the view from my hotel room the day after I arrived. Brrr!

Dear Senior Voice Students...7 Words of Wisdom

on . Posted in Teaching

Dear Senior Voice Students,7WordsofWisdom

It's hard every year when you depart. The last concert is so emotional, your last lessons are poignant. I often imagine what you'll think 20 years from now when you think about your voice lessons. Did you learn what you wanted to learn? Did all the music theory sink in deep enough? Do you remember to breathe with your belly?

Here are 7 pieces of what my students would probably call unsolicited advice I give to seniors and any voice student who's going off on a new adventure. I like to call them Words of Wisdom.

1. When you take lessons, you are paying money in exchange for a service, which means that you are the consumer. You are paying the bill, which means your teacher works for you. You might be in a teacher's voice studio, however you are the client, the customer. So if you're happy, keep it up. If you're not happy, start shopping around.

This applies to all areas of life, whether it be lessons, relationships, doctors, etc. Don't ever think you have to keep at something to meet someone else's expectations.

2. Your list of (over-)achievements is long. Life is short. Choose your activities wisely. You will be happy to have time in your calendar when your friend calls, someone in your family falls ill, or for simply having quiet time at home to follow your fancy. You are so worth it.

3. Remember that at the end of the day, there are no schools--they are just buildings; there are no businesses, it's just paper. At the end of the day, all you have are people. So be kind. And spread it far & wide. The world needs more kindness.

Welcome to the new edition of Open Intervals!

on . Posted in News

WelcomeBackMay2016

Welcome back to Open Intervals! It's been a long time since I've blogged regularly and that is simply a reflection of being...stuck.

Long story short:  I used to purchase software on a yearly subscription basis to make my blog look totally awesome. And it did! It posted automatically to Twitter and sent emails whenever I posted a blog post.

Except I don't use Twitter any more. And the price went...up. And I got new email software that could send emails whenever I posted something new on Open Intervals. And I definitely didn't want to keep throwing good money at a blogging software every year when, thanks to continued development by the Joomla team, I could do the same thing in my site...for FREE!

So I hired someone to extract the articles and create the new blog you see here today. It took me a long time to find the right person to do it and he did a spectacular job.

On the right you'll see quite a few differences.

 

Why I Love Singing at Funerals

on . Posted in Singing

WhyILoveSingingatFunerals

I love singing at funerals.

And I don't care if anyone thinks it's weird.

I love singing at funerals.

It's probably the most human and the most humane thing anyone can do, to sing to those who are grieving.

Funerals are for the living.

In a high school a student two years younger than my class died in a tragic accident; it was a horrible event and shocked our small town.The high school choir sang and I was so mad because I didn't want to go--I knew I'd cry through the whole service and I thought that would be so embarrassing. My dad advised me, "Funerals are for the living. They're for the families and for the friends to say good-bye." Although it was difficult, we all made it through the funeral and we were able to transition from the initial shock into some kind of acceptance.

Since funerals are for the living, now when I show up to sing at a funeral, it ultimately leads to the question "How did these folks know the deceased?" Sometimes I get to chat with the visitors, sometimes I sit on the side and am just another human dressed in black. Sometimes the family members all want to introduce themselves and talk about the details of the service and what their parent or sibling or friend would have wanted.

Routine in the Voice Studio

on . Posted in Teaching

Having a general, predictable routine in the voice studio is part of what I call the "culture of a voice studio." When students start taking lessons from you, whether it is your private studio or at a school, they need to learn how your studio functions--Routine in the Voice Studio bluethey want to know what they can predict. Having a general structure to lessons creates a sense of security for you and your students and avoids chaos.

Over this past school year I've implemented a beginning-of-lesson-routine that has helped many students focus and relax when they enter their lessons--they take 3 slow, deep breaths before we do anything else. There are always a few students who try to rush through these breaths, and I have them start over and take slower breaths.

These 3 breaths serve multiple purposes:

1. The student turns off the outside world and turns on to their voice lesson.

2. The student will calm and relax.

3. How the student breathes gets you an idea of where they are that day, breath-wise as well as psychologically and emotionally speaking.