British composer, artist and activist Brian Eno was a founding member of the rock group Roxy Music, and has produced recordings by Talking Heads and U2. Eno's latest album, "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today," is a collaboration with David Byrne.
Hey readers, I found this awesome article written by Brian Eno and had to share...
I believe in singing. I believe in singing together.
A few years ago a friend and I realized that we both loved singing but didn't do much of it. So we started a weekly a capella group with just four members. After a year we started inviting other people to join. We didn't insist on musical experience — in fact some of our members had never sung before. Now the group has ballooned to around 15 or 20 people.
I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.
Well, there are physiological benefits, obviously: You use your lungs in a way that you probably don't for the rest of your day, breathing deeply and openly. And there are psychological benefits, too: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness. And then there are what I would call "civilizational benefits." When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That's one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.
Well here's what we do in an evening: We get some drinks, some snacks, some sheets of lyrics and a strict starting time. We warm up a bit first.
The critical thing turns out to be the choice of songs. The songs that seem to work best are those based around the basic chords of blues and rock and country music. You want songs that are word-rich, but also vowel-rich because it's on the long vowels sounds of a song such as "Bring It On Home To Me" ("You know I'll alwaaaaays be your slaaaaave"), that's where your harmonies really express themselves. And when you get a lot of people singing harmony on a long note like that, it's beautiful.
But singing isn't only about harmonizing pitch like that. It has two other dimensions. The first one is rhythm. It's thrilling when you get the rhythm of something right and you all do a complicated rhythm together: "Oh, when them cotton balls get a-rotten, you can't pick very much cotton." So when 16 or 20 people get that dead right together at a fast tempo that's very impressive. But the other thing that you have to harmonize besides pitch and rhythm is tone. To be able to hit exactly the same vowel sound at a number of different pitches seems unsurprising in concept, but is beautiful when it happens.
So I believe in singing to such an extent that if I were asked to redesign the British educational system, I would start by insisting that group singing become a central part of the daily routine. I believe it builds character and, more than anything else, encourages a taste for co-operation with others. This seems to be about the most important thing a school could do for you.
If you want to check out the original, click here.
Like many, I have read today of Andy Williams passing. Williams will be remembered by myself and many others for his velvet voice. The Associative Press, St. Louis writes:
With a string of gold albums, a hit TV series and the signature “Moon River,” Andy Williams was a voice of the 1960s, although not the ‘60s we usually hear about.
“The old cliche says that if you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t there,” the singer once recalled. “Well, I was there all right, but my memory of them is blurred — not by any drugs I took but by the relentless pace of the schedule I set myself.”
Williams’ plaintive tenor, boyish features and easy demeanor helped him outlast many of the rock stars who had displaced him and such fellow crooners as Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. He remained on the charts into the 1970s, and continued to perform in his 80s at the Moon River Theatre he built in Branson, Mo.
I think the best way to celebrate his life is to watch Andy Williams do what he did best...perform. Here are a few of my favorite songs from the beloved Andy Williams.
a student found and played this "interview" for the class. I couldn't be more thrilled to be "backed up" by the likes of singing legend, Pavarotti!
Regardless of the style of music you sing, you can learn a great deal from this video. I teach students ranging in vocal styles from classical to jazz, musical theatre to pop music, but one thing is constant; healthy singing IS healthy singing.
Please feel free to share your comments on either the technique (maybe it's helped you) or share an experience you have had listening to or seeing the great musical legend, Luciano Pavarotti.
Today I had the honour and pleasure of working with an awesome group of men and their fearless leader (and good friend of mine) Bob Pyper. Three different choruses (Grimsby, Huntsville, and North Bay) have come together despite geographical hardships to help each other have the experience of a lifetime; they will compete together in 3 weeks time at the Ontario District's Barbershop Convention and Competition in Belleville.
So what makes this group so special? Are they an elite group of singers pursuing vocal excellence? Do they have expectations of of winning the gold in Belleville?
The truth is they are average men who LOVE to sing and perform and they are using this as an opportunity to learn, grow, and frankly, have a really great time singing together. What a wonderful way to build community between multiple groups, which on their own, may not have had the membership or even the drive to enter this competition.
In a world where winning seems to be everything (think American Idol, Over The Rainbow, or X Factor), here are a bunch of singers doing it for the love of singing, for the learning that takes place, and for the fraternity and community it builds despite obvious obstacles.
I want to publicly thank the Grimsby, Huntsville, and North Bay Choruses for inviting me today to work with you and hopefully help you grow as singers and performers. Your enthusiasm and willingness to learn made my job a ton of fun. In addition, you taught me the valuable lesson that success is not always about winning. I wish you all the best in the competition and I truly hope you achieve YOUR success!
During the first week of September, I had the opportunity of a lifetime; I traveled with the Toronto Northern Lights to Beijing, China. I love traveling and have had the fortune of teaching and performing across North America, Great Britain, Germany, and Holland but never expected a trip like this to come my way.
The tour included seeing many of the amazing historical sites Beijing has to offer. Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, The Temple of Heaven and The Great Wall were all a part of this journey Eastward.
One especially magical moment happened at the Temple of Heaven.
The chorus was to gather there in the morning and meet another chorus from the United States who were partnering with us on the show (The Alexandria Harmonizer's). The Toronto Northern Lights arrived a little early and were able to experience the beautiful surroundings of the Temple of Heaven before the "rehearsal" took place. We stepped off the bus and started to hear glorious music...singing in fact. As we slowly walked around the bustling grounds surrounding the old temple, we stumbled upon what seemed like an impromptu choir of mostly seniors bursting with song. We all couldn't help but watch in amazement as a few hundred voices rang out in harmony in this picturesque setting. Every person singing seemed vibrant and full of pure joy.
This experience made me realize how important music and singing are to our quality of life. It brings many of us great joy, inspiration and enlivens our spirit. To quote Berthold Auerbach, "Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
The Complete Singer's hope is to not just be a source of education through lessons, coaching and workshops but also to help create community. We plan on running some free events, such as the one you read above, in our community of Burlington, ON. We'll let you know how the first one goes...probably in our Blog...and hopefully some of you will be inspired to help your community. As always, if you need any help, just ask...we're just an e-mail or phone call away....and please feel free to share similar experiences right here as a comment on our blog...you may help us out with your great ideas!
4 Tips to Dramatically Improve Any Skill Practice does not, in fact, always make perfect. Here's an easy way to make sure all that work pays off.
Picture someone you know who is incredibly talented: an athlete, a musician, a scientist.
You probably wish you had been born with some type of gift, right?
"We are often taught that talent begins with genetic gifts--that the talented are able to effortlessly perform feats the rest of us can only dream about. This is false. Talent begins with brief, powerful encounters that spark motivation by linking your identity to a high-performing person or group. This is called ignition, and it consists of a tiny, world-shifting thought lighting up your unconscious mind:
"I could be them."
That's the introduction to Daniel Coyle's The Little Book of Talent, a cool book filled with 52 easy, proven methods to improve almost any skill. It's a great guide; in just a few minutes you'll think, Oh, wow, several times.
Here's an example. You want to get better at something. At anything. Just going through the practice motions provides little or no results, though, so the key is to make sure you use a method that follows the R.E.P.S. gauge:
R: Reaching and Repeating
S: Strong, Speedy Feedback
Let's take a brief look at each:
Reaching and Repeating: Practice should require you to operate at the edge of your abilities; in short, you have to consistently reach and constantly repeat.
Say you're leading a training session. Should you:
1. Call on one person, ask a question, and have him or her answer it, or
2. Pose the question first, and then randomly choose someone to answer (and maybe even turn the exercise into a game)?
The second is the best approach, because everyone has to reach, every time--even if he or she isn't called on. Call on John from accounting, and I know I don't have to answer the question; I can sit back, check my email, and wait until you eventually call on me. I don't have to reach but--maybe--once.
Always put yourself--or the people you're training--in a position to reach, over and over again.
Engagement: Practice must command your attention and make you feel emotionally invested in striving for a goal.
Say you're trying to perfect your slide transitions for a presentation. Should you:
1. Run through the whole presentation 10 times, or
2. Try to hit each transition perfectly, without mistakes, three presentations in a row?
Running through your presentation 10 times in a row will feel like death; trying to be perfect three times in a row turns the exercise into a game you care about.
Make sure the outcome of every practice session is something you will care about: You'll try harder and be more engaged, and you'll improve more rapidly.
Purposefulness: Practice must directly connect to the skill you want to build. (Sounds obvious, but often what we practice has little to do with what we need to accomplish.)
Say you feel nervous and intimidated when you have to speak to a group. Should you:
1. Rehearse at home, alone, until you know your material inside out, or
2. Practice speaking to small groups of people in less formal settings, like in a meeting?
Although solo rehearsing certainly helps, the only way to perform well under the pressure of an audience is to actually practice speaking to people. No amount of solo practice will prepare you for the nerves you'll feel when every eye in the room is on you.
Strong, Speedy Feedback: Practice must provide an immediate and consistent flow of accurate information about performance.
Say you're studying for a certification exam. You purchased a sample test guide. Should you:
1. Take a complete test and wait until the next day to see how you did, or
2. Complete a section and immediately grade your answers to see where you went wrong (and right)?
Take the test in chunks. Check your results right away. Immediate feedback is the best feedback; you'll better connect the dots because you're in the flow. Waiting even a day for feedback creates a mental distance and a lack of engagement that are really hard to overcome--which means much of the time you spent trying to learn was wasted.
This blog entry was written by Jeff Haden and can be found here.
Jordan Travis is a voice instructor and performance coach....and oh yeah, he's the Director of The Complete Singer!