Tag: students

This Week in Studio Teaching…

A student, singing “Happiness” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown:
Her: (stumbles) flappiness…I mean happiness is…two kinds of ice cream.
Me: Yes. Ice-cream does lead to flappiness. Of my triceps.

A student sees two tied notes, stems down. In the next measure, he sees two tied notes, stems up.
Him: Why is that unibrow upside down here, but not there?
Me: well…it could be that’s not actually a unibrow…

Parent, in an e-mail: ***** wants to audition for Legally Blonde. Can you send me the information and performance dates?
Me, Reply attempt no. 1:
Subject: Blonde Dates
Me: (pauses)…well, that’s going straight to his spam folder…

(the following interaction is non-studio activity, but related nonetheless)

Soprano, singing one of my original compositions on teaching….
Her, singing: but seriously, I SO need to pee, and I’ve got six more freakin’ hours to teach!
(another professional educator, watching) Him: that’s some truth right there.
Me, in my best sassy-black-lady affirmation: you know that’s right mmm-hmmm


Unfortunately, my next post is going to be a bit of a downer, but that’s life. Stay tuned. And remember how you felt after reading this post.

– your Maven

12 Christmas Songs Re-Named by Music Teachers: Have Yourself a *Dairy-Free* Little Christmas

Dairy: every singer’s nemesis. Even more so than the alto who keeps getting all the soprano solos.

Dairy produces phlegm. Phlegm totally cockblocks singers’ vocal mechanisms.

photo 2
brain vomit…

Once it gets all up in there, it’s hard to clear it out without sounding like a diabetic cat at the end of its years…

the struggle is real, kids
the struggle is real, kids


Pavarotti likely wouldn’t have been caught dead with a tub of Fage greek (but he probably would have been able to pronounce it…DICTION).

photo 4
phlegm police…what if that were real?
photo 1
poo = true.
doesn't a body good.
doesn’t a body good.
photo 2
I eat all them all.

It’s a shame that string cheese is so portable and healthy. The ideal snack, really.

Except that it produces DEMON PHLEGM ALL UP IN MY BUSINESS

photo 4
flatulence makes the world go round.

The only way to inoculate one’s self is to just AVOID DAIRY LIKE EBOLA.


Which isn’t that difficult, as it turns out.


In case you missed my other music-related carols that I re-named, here they are:

1. Blocking Around the Christmas Tree
2. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Row Singers
3. O, Christmas Tea ™
4. Jingle Bell Mock(Jury)

May your holidays be dairy-free and bright…

12 Christmas Songs Re-Named by Music Teachers: Jingle Bell Mock-Jury

A few days ago, my college students gave their voice final aka jury aka life-reducer. Juries are kind of like bacon: reducing lives by seven minutes each time.

Where I went to school, if we gave a recital, we had to give a mock jury, which basically consisted of giving your recital in its entirety for all of the voice faculty so they could deem you worthy of performing.

Here’s what it was like:

photo 2
a flippin’ shit circus
photo 5
memorize every piece.

I’d psych myself out all the live-long day. Yoga, tea, beta-blockers, visualization…

photo 2


die Bach die
die Bach die

self-promises that as soon as it was over, I’d indulge my senses.

photo 3
judge-free zone

meanwhile, at the judger’s table…

contrived: kind of like your face.
yeah what of it
yeah what of it
does NOT even care
does NOT even care

Of course, it always ended up being okay…

::poops pants::
::poops pants::

Mock Juries: cruel and unusual punishment.

Also, the compulsory Christmas tree, just to bring it home:

look it's about the holidays.
look it’s about the holidays.


I’ve re-named some other pieces. Here they are:

1. Blocking Around the Christmas Tree
2. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Row Singers
3. O, Christmas Tea™



12 Christmas Songs Re-Named by Musicians: O, Christmas Tea™

Singers go ape-shit over their tea…

photo 1
tea: infinitely better than any stupid, dying sack of prickly needles that are just out to hurt you

I drink a lot this time of year (TEA…and booze), especially since it’s colder and my kids are full of biological germ warfare.

me, minus the sinus clarity and lack of throat anatomy
me on tea.

Here’s why tea is the shit:

photo 3
dawn of man? go with it…it really is THAT GOOD (unlike my ability to photograph those words)
photo 1
also available in: Hug-Inducing

Beware, though…


I take mine with honey and lemon, like any sane vocalist.
Sharing; not caring.

and in case this didn’t have anything to do with Christmas, I went ahead and added a tree:

photo 3
afterthought. It’s whatevs.

Don’t be taking my tea.


How do you take your Christmas Tea ™?


Also, in case you missed it…

Day 1: Blocking Around the Christmas Tree
Day 2: All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front-Row Singers

12 Christmas Songs Re-named by Music Teachers: All I Want For Christmas Is…


Day 2 of 12 Songs Re-Named by Music Teachers.

If you missed day 1, check it out here.

Here’s my take on another fine classic,

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front-Row Singers

(or, if you’re a strategic seat-assigner, these may be your back-row singers…)

mystery magnets not included...
mystery magnets not included…


Here’s a rundown on Front Row Singers…


gender representation: observed.
gender representation: observed. Eyebrow action: unshakable.
photo 1
pretty much says it all…
photo 2
wizard-fiend: the new “bomb.com.”

They drink water like it’s going out of style…

cool people will get this.
cool people will get this.


….and then there’s me.

pencil, octavo, wacky hair part. Check.
pencil, octavo, wacky hair part. Check.


and then…

There’s everyone else.

I drew one person. Then I got tired. So I decided all they deserved were question marks.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…(also, try to imagine another chair that says “brings soda / coffee to rehearsal.” Because I was tired).

photo 3 photo 1 photo 3 photo 2 photo 2

Also, there’s this.

just in case you weren't sure what this was.
just in case you weren’t sure what this was.

Because I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person (or it was early in the morning…whatever), I decided not to draw the keys. 88 is too much of anything. Unless it’s dollars.


What do you love about YOUR two front (or back)-row singers?


12 Christmas Songs Re-Named by Musicians: Blocking Around the Christmas Tree

It’s here! The twelve days of Christmas! We are now officially on the other side of summer, the season that trumps all seasons. The days will soon be getting longer, and all we have to do is get through the same six months that just passed before it’s back to BBQs and fun in the sun! (although, regrettably, the weather will get much worse before it gets better, which always makes the next several months seem ridiculously longer than the time that just passed…I’m trying to be a glass-half-full gal, OK?)

To celebrate, I’ve been having way too much fun with my dry-erase markers, and not even in a sneak-one-too-many-sniffs kind of way. I’ve been using them to animate an idea I had back in August when I started this blog, an idea that’s been festering on my google-doc-blog-list for three months (from the girl who can’t even make it home after fresh groceries without nibbling something).

For the next twelve days, I will provide for you twelve Christmas Songs that I have dutifully re-named to correspond with the trials and tribulations of music teachers, performers, and composers (annotations included).

Enjoy Day 1…

Blocking Around the Christmas Tree

don’t be mistaken: the angelic light flares are not manifestations of Jesus

If you’ve ever had to direct a musical, here’s a slightly critical representation of what actually happens during blocking rehearsals:

There’s these people….

This guy:

what's going on?
what’s going on?

the perpetual fear that a light will come crashing down on your head….

photo 3…strange gaps of space that usually get filled with props, bodies, choreography, or farts…

photo 1

Giant, bizarre sets…

that you cry over during strike...
that you cry over during strike…


and…oh, yeah. The director.

the truth hurts
the truth hurts


…that, if their head isn’t spinning off into another universe, is usually chirping commands such as these:



….that pretty much sums up Blocking Around the Christmas Tree.

photo 3
so much dry erase…::smiles dreamily::


What does your blocking involve?

This Week’s Appropriate Hashtags (#TeachingSituations)

1. I have two low-lying dachshunds who like to pretend they need outside under the guise of false poophood, but really all they do is dig holes and hunt moles (successfully….think on that for a bit), which results in these oddish, muddy dirt-mittens that come apart on my floors. When they re-enter the house, they bring with them half the leaves and twiggy crap from the yard, creating a serious second carpet situation in my den. Because I’m cool and have no control issues, I have vacuumed nearly every day for the past month. #dirtydachshunds

2. Busted out my “cat removal spray” (water in a spray bottle…totally harmless) because my cat is a whiny little fiend. I have now instilled in him an irrational fear of smallish spray bottles. Every time I use air freshener or clean the counters, he darts out of the room like hellfire and then takes his revenge on me later by attacking my students with his tuna/dead-body-breath. #businessasusual #morningbreath4life

3. Showed a vocalist how to “sing outside the box” in All I Want for Christmas is You, thus immortalizing the great Mariah Carey, QoD (Queen of Divas). Told her to rely less heavily on the notes on the page (mere suggestions, after all). Diva-Finger-Waving / fake-ear-mic-holding ensued. #soulsista #choirgirlproblems 

4. Seriously considered teaching in my pajamas because it’s the last full week of lessons before Christmas break. Let’s be honest….”I don’t give a crap” mode is slowly entrenching on everyone’s way of life and will be in full swing by this time next week. Instead, I begrudgingly upgraded to my fat jeans and a less-ratty sweater and resigned myself to declaring this week pajama week next year. #goodenoughforjazz.

5. Told a student that I only shower every other day and wash my hair every three days because it’s better for my hair and skin, but sometimes it’s a struggle not to look homeless. #toomuchinformation #dryshampoo4eva

That’s me.