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What To Do When Your High Notes Go South

Let’s face it. It’s happened to everyone at some point. Even thinking of high notes can sometimes block the best of singers. We won’t even speak of the worst of singers who seem to specialize in “southern” high notes. Here’s a plot to fix those wayward creatures. 1. Count all the notes in your song. At the very least there will be several hundred. 2. Now count all the high notes. Ah, but before that you will have to determine exactly which notes are the high ones. Once you have found them, mark them in red ink with a big circle. 3. Now hit those notes. Hmmm…that did not work very well did it? But if I practice hitting them enough?……. No? 4. OK.. Try this. Put reminders that the high notes are coming in the next bar. That will give you fair warning! Oh No! You did what?! What’s that big black thing in your throat?           5. It’s better not to anticipate high notes. By now probably you have realised that high notes are better when they are not singled out for special attention. In most cases they are a small part of the whole song. Your brain follows your instructions and your thoughts very well. Sadly, for obvious reasons, some instructions are better not followed. The brain doesn’t know the difference so be careful what you ask it. 6. Treat all your notes as an integral part of the melody and not as things to be singled out. They are much happier that way. Have you ever heard anyone speak and only practice one word of a sentence more than the others? Doubt it....

Preparing a videoconference: Five important steps

[rev_slider slider7] How good are you at running a webinar or video conference? Has your training prepared you for this rapidly growing aspect of business and teaching? Does your preparation include you? Everyone is doing it!  Businesses, teachers of all kinds, doctors, those in the arts, sciences, business and medicine are communicating more and more via some kind of Internet or video conferencing.  If you are one of these people, how much time do you devote to personal preparation not including the notes and slides? Preparing your written materials is only the beginning. If you are good at presentation, you will need to be even better in the video situation.  If you presentation is wordy, highly technical, mediocre or dull, you run the risk of being exceptionally boring in this situation. What can you do to improve? Your energy is what leads and holds the group’s attention. Therefore your preparation and how you conduct yourself is vitally important—and often neglected by devoting excess attention to the text and slides. Ask yourself the following questions: Do you want to be perceived as a leader? Do you command authority? Do you want effective group participation? Preparation is everything.  So say all the experts.  How do you prepare?  Almost everyone spends a huge percentage of their preparation time on ideas, text, deliverables, and visual materials.  However, even the best ideas can fall flat when the presenter has not prepared himself. No sports person walks out for a match without out a complete set of skills that include physical and mental techniques.  Too many presenters are satisfied with only working with the intellectual...

The Evolution and Taming of the Self-Critic

The beginning of the evolution At all times, with no conscious effort on our part, the body and mind are full of activity.  Constant input bombards us from nerves, the sensory organs and our own thoughts.  Fortunately most of this happens on multiple levels outside of our consciousness. Studies on consciousness (See:  The User illusion by Norretranders) tell us that when we try to do things consciously, the process is very slow, because we are interfering with our innate and natural capacity to accomplish the task. Yet interfere we do. We want control with a capital C. Trust gets lost in this process.                         How did we lose the ability to honour both instinct and learned ability at the same time? In our system of education, analytical/critical ability is encouraged as a way of “proving” what we know.  Part of the brain loves that; another part loves seeing the whole instead of the building blocks.  We need both.  However, the critical part has reached a state of bully-hood.  Along with that has come a vocabulary of right vs. wrong, lots of should’s and ought’s and the necessity to self-criticise so that others know that we know we aren’t perfect.  As we continue along this journey and the inner conversation increases, the critical element grows too. It doesn’t take long before we are enveloped in a cloud of our own making. Next our self-critic consumes us.  Arggg! In extreme cases there is a block that makes it difficult to communicate because we need to protect our “interests”.  We can’t get...

Left-brain and Right-brain in Singing

[rev_slider slider7] Peanuts anyone? Apparently the part of the left-brain that contains our language, intellectual information and repeated emotional patterns is no bigger than a peanut.  When I learned this, I had to do a serious rethink of what I valued and how unbalanced my approach to life and learning had become. A bird does not sing because it has an answer.It sings because it has a song Chinese Proverb Almost everything you read, from the Chinese philosophers to modern education, states: “experience is the best teacher”.  Yet for some reason we allow the “peanut” to tell us that this is not so.  It says:  “I must first have the information, then I will decide whether it will work.”  Our systems of education, business, and science have become slave to the very small “peanut”.  First we must prove that others will benefit, produce lots of plans, outlines and paperwork, then we are allowed to offer the experience.  Almost anyone will tell you that they learn the most when they leave school. While what we learn is valuable, it is not nearly so valuable as the first hand experience of doing it.  In sport, the experience usually comes first; then the theory if needed.  Our methods of teaching singing have evolved into theory first and experience second, especially in classical singing.  It’s time to reconsider and provide a better balance of the way we use our knowledge.  ...

Learning to Be at One in Singing

[rev_slider slider7] Endless internal chatter causes performance anxiety.  How do you move from internal chatter to a state of Being at One? The first task is to get the left-brain out of the way. Taking an idea from the great Betty Edwards (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain), “Do things with your music that the Left brain is unable to do”. The left-brain likes repetition, attaching specific vocabulary for purposes of identification and labelling, intellectual activity, repeated emotional patterns and control. The Right brain likes movement, colour, music, imagination and much more. It fosters Being at One, being in the zone and a sense of timelessness and freedom.  Singing and learning your songs in this state change your world of performance forever.  The discomfort of self-analysis (and criticism) disappears and you become lost in a fascinating world of space and energy.  Athletes aspire to this in their performance—so must singers. When learning is a whole energy field experience, you do not have to depend on one tiny part of the brain to do all the work.  Your “field” memory will have multiple experiences upon which to draw. Multiple experiences while learning supply us with a vast reservoir to aid performance. How to you get these experiences?  Use your imagination.  Give it permission to quide your...

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