How Making Cocktails is like Practicing

When I first met my husband, I wasn’t much of a drinker. In fact, he was horrified on our first date to find that my beer tastes ran to Miller Lite and my wine tastes ran to White Zinfandel (writing that horrifies me as well). It’s amazing we went out on a second date.

Well, all that changed. He was a homebrewer and had worked as a vintner’s apprentice, and taught me all about good quality beers and wines, and I expanded my tastes. He was a good teacher. Perhaps too good.

This is not to say I spend nights dancing on bar tops with a lampshade on my head, yelling “Woo!” as I swig from a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. (At least not often.) But I do enjoy my wine, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed it hitting me harder. And it’s been harder to lose weight. It’s not so much that I eat more when I have a glass or two of wine – it’s just the calories in the glass or two of wine are sticking to me much more than they used to.

Many years ago, I started getting Real Simple magazine, and I have vowed to keep getting the magazine until the day I opened an issue and said, “Huh, nothing new here.” But every month, I find something new, whether it’s a new use for binder clips (you can hold a sponge with them!) or an article a month or so ago on mindful drinking.

As a result, I’ve gotten into making classic and craft cocktails (although supposedly the craft cocktail movement is dead) and I have noticed several things:

  1. It takes longer to make a cocktail than it does to pour a glass of wine.
  2. I sip at it over a longer period than either wine or beer.
  3. I keep the hard liquor and mixers upstairs, so making a second one would involve my going upstairs (if I’m downstairs watching TV) or back in the house (if I’m sitting on the porch) or downstairs (if I’m upstairs reading). This is not to say that I never have a second one, but it’s more unlikely. The wine and beer, on the other hand, are kept in the basement and access is too easy.
  4. I feel greater satisfaction, like I created something all by myself. I seek new recipes to try to see what else is out there.
  5. Consequently, I have less to drink.
  6. I feel more clear-eyed and sleep better.
  7. I’m more productive the next day.
So what lessons can I take from this in my vocal practice?
  1. I need to have all my materials on hand so that I can access them more easily.
  2. When I practice, I need to be cognizant of how everything is working, rather than race through vocalises and pieces without thinking.
  3. I need to keep distractions out of the practice room. Phone on airplane mode or out of the room entirely.
  4. As a result, my improvements will be faster and I’ll try new things.
  5. Consequently, I will practice more.
  6. I will get even better.
  7. I will get even more singing work (which will then keep me from getting other things that I want to do …. see Feast or Famine: Dammit).
I can probably apply these to other kinds of practice, such as strength training or cardio, or yoga practice (assuming I ever do yoga again). But since this is a singing blog, and I strayed pretty far from singing with this topic (note: I can make anything about singing if I try hard enough), I’ll just stick to that.

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

What do you think?