The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors –

The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors –

During the year I ran, I ran outdoors. That’s one of the reasons I got out of the habit, once winter came. I don’t like running on a treadmill – it feels artificial, like I’m exercising. (I have the same reaction to step aerobics – up tap down tap, up up down down, bla bla bla.) I did it from time to time, but it was easy

But the other reason is that I swear when I run. Because I don’t really enjoy it – I enjoy how I feel afterwards, but running is hard for me. And swearing under my breath while I’m running down the street is one thing – I pass people and maybe they hear me, maybe they don’t (“Did she just say what I think she said?”). But swearing under my breath while I’m running on a treadmill (which I almost typed as a dreadmill – Freudian slip?): people are going to hear me. And they’re going to complain. “That woman has a mouth like a sailor!” And then I’ll be asked to leave.

I’m wondering if I will run again. I’m looking at the snow falling outside and spring just seems so far off.

Maybe 2013 will be the Year I Walk – with the goal of doing either the Susan G. Komen or Avon long distance walks.

Although I think that while running is a more solitary pursuit – and possibly why I was kind of overwhelmed at running in a pack at the Irish Fest 5K – a long distance walk is going to require training partners for it to be something I stick with. And since I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t have any friends in Milwaukee, just acquaintances, it might be something that I can do once I get back to Baltimore (and rebuild my network out there).


It’s not all about the breath…

Breathing is important. There’s no question about that.

But not every vocal issue is resolved by “getting the breath under it,” “singing on the breath,” or “just support more.”
Some things are resonance based, registration based, a question of constriction. 
No, you can’t be resonant if your breath support is inconsistent, whether you are breathy or pressed. 
And registration can depend on that also.
But maybe your breath support is just fine but your tongue is pulled back. Or you’re nasal.  Or your articulation is not as efficient as it could be.  Or maybe you’re carrying up too much weight and not allowing your voice to transition as needed. 
So it could be alignment. Or articulation. Or registration.
And you’re trying so hard to “support support support” that all the other factors are going out the window. 
When I was a very young teacher, that’s all I knew. “Support! That will fix everything.”
Maybe it is support – but maybe you can’t fix it until you fix your alignment, your articulation, your registration issues. Or maybe the key to fixing it is fixing one of those things. 
  • You fix your physical alignment and your breath can flow more easily
  • You fix your retracted tongue and your vocal folds can respond more effectively to your breath energy
  • You find a lighter mechanism and your breath doesn’t have to work as hard.
What I’m saying is that there are many roads to the same destination. The destination is efficient and functional singing. How do we get there? We can’t all take the same road. Maybe you need to take the scenic route. Maybe the shortest path between two points, if that works for you. 
Jeanie LoVetri says sometimes we have to wait for the bus. Maybe it’s a direct route, maybe non-stop. 

The Year I Ran – an explanation of this blog and how it came to be

In the last year or so, I’ve referred to my training for the Irish Fest 5K as part of “The year I ran.” I’ve never been someone to run willingly. I’ve run for the bus, I’ve run for a plane, I’ve run for a gym class when assigned to, and every time I’ve hated doing it. And in the latter case, got a C for doing it.

But on Memorial Day, 2010, while Bill and the dogs were out for a walk, I thought to myself, “I’m going to go for a run.” Those words had never entered my head before. I had thought about running and had downloaded a “Couch to 5K” app onto my phone a few weeks earlier. But actually running? I didn’t think I’d ever do it.

It was awful. I walked for five minutes and then broke into the world’s slowest jog. I might call it a “galumph.” It only lasted 60 seconds, and was followed by 90 seconds of walking. And then the pattern was repeated for another 17-1/2 minutes. Of sheer hell.

When I got home, Bill was already back and asked where I had been. I told him I’d gone running and was aiming to do a 5K in August. He laughed. I don’t think he thought I’d do another day, let alone 9 weeks. I wasn’t sure I would, for that matter.

But I did. I never ran particularly fast, I never really enjoyed it all that much while doing it, but I did it. 

I haven’t done it since. Partly due to a bad bout of plantar fasciitis that made running painful, and partly to a lack of motivation that I’d had just a year before. But I liked who I was when I prepared for that race, and I’d like to be that person again.

But first I need to figure out just who I was in the Year I Ran. And how can I be that person again? Do I need to be that person? Or did she serve the purpose she was intended to serve for that year?

This is why I’m “here,” writing this blog. I have an idea of why it happened and I’m wondering if it will happen again. Or if it can be translated to something else that I need to do.

It’s a grand n̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ day for singing!!!

Tomorrow, February 17, will be my penultimate studio recital. It is the pre-WSMA recital, although in this case, we are also featuring performers preparing for musical auditions, the Auditions Plus/Classical Singer audition, and the Greendale Community Theatre production of Les Miserables.

There are 19 people performing tomorrow – we are opening with Rodgers’ “It’s a grand night for singing” (but it’s only 2:30, hence the title) and closing with Gershwin’s “My cousin in Milwaukee.” Both will be sung by my two youngest students. In between, we will hear from five boys (the most I’ve had for a number of years, which is how I can tell the economy is getting better – boys are taking lessons again!) and 12 other girls. The repertoire will range from musical theater to operetta to opera, and we’ll even do a little bit of ensemble work as a preview of the final recital, which will be held on May 12.

The recital will be held at 2:30pm at St. John’s on the Lake. Admission is free.

Speaking of the final recital, I’ll need to know by 2/28 who is participating. I plan to coordinate the program during my break (3/1-3/10) and distribute music the week of 3/11.

Toi toi toi everyone. (I never say “break a leg,” especially this time of year – there’s ice out there!)

My Lenten Resolution/Your Lenten Challenge

I grew up Catholic, but with a non-Catholic mother. And although she had to swear that she would raise her children Catholic when she married my very Catholic father, she found ways to get around that. The whole idea of Lenten sacrifice was something that she really couldn’t wrap her head around. She never sacrificed anything if it didn’t suit her or if she couldn’t use it to make herself look good (I know that sounds harsh, but I’m being honest). No meat on Fridays? She didn’t like fish and her attitude was, “God doesn’t want us to go hungry.” Same thing for fasting – perhaps it was having lived through depression and war, but the idea of going without food by choice was anathema to her. 

So giving up things was not something I was raised with. I don’t recall my dad participating in that either (then again, Mom did all the cooking and dad didn’t like fish or vegetables any more than she did, so if he didn’t want to starve, he had to eat what she put in front of him).
In the years since my childhood, I’ve made a concerted effort to give things up. If not for religious reasons, at least to try to break habits for a limited time which would hopefully become long-term. Or to lose weight. Or to be more productive. I’ve given up french fries, I’ve given up Bejeweled, I’ve given up fast food – and it’s always a short-term fix.
So this year, I’m going to try to establish some new habits instead.
  1. I’m going to practice every day. Mindfully and with purpose. My plan is to put together my audition repertoire for my return to Baltimore – to include operetta, opera, oratorio, musical theater and cabaret. I’ve already started that. It’s hard to practice when you have 40 students between two schools (home and Stritch), but I have to do it. Even if I don’t have time to practice a bunch of songs at one sitting, at least I can vocalize and do something.
  2. I’m going to write. This doesn’t mean 40 days of blogs. I don’t know what I’m going to write, but I’m going to write something. I have an article to write for the Journal of Singing on the process of leaving a successful voice studio behind and re-establishing my studio in a new city. (Actually, two articles – one in a year from now to document my progress.) I want to get into the practice of regular writing. Before I wanted to be a singer, I wanted to be a writer. 
What I’m not going to do is give up Bejeweled or french fries or fast food or vow to exercise every day. I’m going to keep up with my wheat elimination program, following the principles of the book Wheat Belly, because it seems to make me feel better. And I’m going to continue to try to eat at home and not spend money eating out – but I’m doing that anyway. I’ll try to keep up those things because they’re working for me. 
What singing goals can you set for yourself for the next 40 days? Here are some suggestions:
  1. Practice mindfully. Every day. (You can have Sundays off.)
  2. Learn the International Phonetic Alphabet to help you with your foreign language singing.
  3. Look into a summer training program. First Stage? Some music camp?
  4. Sing in a different language.
  5. Improve your piano skills so you can learn music faster.
  6. Listen to some singers in a different genre than you usually listen to.
  7. Audition for a show!
Maybe God doesn’t want me to starve, but He does want me to sing. Of that I’m sure.