Singers’ Muscle Memory

The latest Flute Talk magazine has an article of interest to singers, because it deals with listening to one’s body to determine if correct tone is being produced.

Author and flutist Jessica Quiñones Discovered this while working with one of her students, who’s aurally challenged.  However, the student could very quickly identify and remember specific body/muscle positions that Quiñones identified as good tone. The student was then able to reproduce them easily. Sorry the article’s not available online.

Jessica Quiñones, by Erfan Arafi (


American Academy of Teachers of Singing

Found an old list of reasons for studying singing several weeks ago from The American Academy of Teachers of Singing.  The organization was formed in 1922, predating  National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) which they organized in 1944.

The offshoot’s become better known than the parent, but the parent is of more interest to yours truly.

Their current list of publications should be of interest to singing students at all levels, parents interested in knowing more before they start their children’s lessons, and professional singers of all levels.  Documents are downloadable PDF files.

(As that old piece is no longer offered, yours truly won’t attach it.  The English phrasing is pre-2011, but the thoughts are sound. Am hoping they’ll revise and reload it.)

Note:  How can I become a member of the Academy?
It is not possible to apply directly to become a member of the American Academy of Teachers of Singing. Membership is exclusively by inner nomination and new members are nominated by current active members only when there is a vacancy. All nominees must have no more than two dissenting votes to become members, and when accepted, membership is for life.


Keith’s UP photos & a Jazz Legend

Selected Works Used Books & Music Store owner
Keith Peterson, from his collection

Selected Works store owner Keith Peterson’s not just a talented author. He had his first one-man photography show last winter in Hyde Park. Check out his latest photos here.*

He doesn’t use Photoshop tricks, folks. It’s centuries of water running over rocks, photographed in sunlight and shadow.

My philosophy with photography, too. Like the old Chiffon margarine commercial said: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

* “UP”, for those non-Midwesterners, stands for “Upper Peninsula” or upper Michigan, a frequent vacation spot. Which reminds me. . .

A former teaching colleague, Bruno Laakko always headed to his family’s retreat on UP as soon as school was over, escaping DC’s summer weather. I was a wet-behind-the-ears vocal teacher, and remember his telling me he’d taught a Finnish clarinetist how to lip up the gliss that starts Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

What he didn’t say was the band was already famous in Finland, but American jazz wasn’t too “American” at that time (1930’s). Laakko changed that.

He-he! Never one to mince words, a favorite phrase was, “Call a spade a steam shovel.” He-hee – quite a character!

Now he’s on Finland’s wiki for his contributions to their musical culture. Also several YouTube recordings. Yours truly never made it to a sauna with him down at the Finish Embassy (modesty forbade!), but hanging out with him was a hoot.

So nice to see the computer world’s continued to honor his place in history.


Autos & the Internet

Having thought a lot about security over the years, we felt it appropriate to remind artists and performers who do their own publicity/marketing there are negatives as well as positives.

A car can give a great sense of freedom.  But there’s a continual price: Passing tests, buying insurance, obeying traffic laws.

The Internet doesn’t have any of that.

Result?  Identity theft, pornography, stalking, hacking, etc. Annually, it costs billions.

Use social media and the Internet, but knowledgeably . . .


Consumer Reports: Complaints on Social Media Get Results!

A recent Consumer Reports magazine sited several instances of individuals tweeting or Facebooking their frustrations with companies failing to resolve, or even address, their complaints.

Yours truly was quite surprised to read CR’s implied suggestion that social media’s sometimes a good way to escalate the problem!

However, it also pointed out that not every company trolls around social media sites looking for any mention of their company.

Ever ponder who’s reading your tweets, and what they’re doing with them??


Music Isn’t an Exercise

Walking along a nice gentrified patch of some blurbs a couple days ago I came across a small courtyard with someone playing classical guitar, gently amplified for the outdoor space. We’re not talking loud, blaring sound, just appropriate for the small outdoor space.  Nice, thought yours truly, walking past.

Immediately came along the Internal Teacher:  Nice, but those running 16th aren’t saying anything.

The effect was not electrifying.
Easier to walk past it all.

With early music transcriptions for classical guitar he could get away with it.
But then he launched into Spanish music.
No.  ¡No-no-no-no absolutamente!

Music is emotion transmitted as sound.
Es-pecially Spanish music!

There was not the slightest arch of sound, like a roller coaster gathering speed slightly on the incline, then rushing downward on the decent.  That’s rubato.

There was no yearning. Even 16 note runs can yearn, stretch, trying for a higher/lower climax than the phrase before.  It’s part of phrasing!

With singers it’s knowing when to breathe. Instrumentalists need to do the same thing because the musical phrases need to breathe.

If classical music’s in trouble today it’s because people aren’t excited by listening to people playing music like exercises!


Writing: Exercise in Listening

Yours truly continually experiences people who have no idea how to listen.  As a musician and writer, that’s painful.  As a human being in today’s world, it can be costly, too.

Consider the computer genius, who called to tell me my half-dead computer had encryption “only used by government for very secret documents.”  As she was describing her company’s recommended product, she should have known it’s recommended because it uses the government’s encryption language.

Big difference.

News and communications scandals abound, possibly because people don’t take the time or make the effort to get the facts.