Tag: teaching

Remembering the Tie

A few weeks ago, one of my students called the musical tie symbol a “unibrow.”

The prodigal student returns…

Me (pointing to tie): remember this? What’s this called again?
Him: I think I called it a unibrow.
Me: yes, but that’s not what it’s called. It’s a… :::starts pantomiming the tying of a bowtie:::
Him: String? Knot?….Chokehold?

…said the TWELVE YEAR OLD.

:::shakes head:::

Yes. The ever-prevelant musical chokehold, ladies and gents.

choking notes since the dawn of music


Fifty Shades of Grey fans, unite (outside of this blog because I’m not one of them).



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

Teach is back

I’m not dead. But I am two weeks away from a creative showcase that’s been almost a year in the making. Some fellow composers, performers, and a playwright (and even I) have all created brand-new musical and dramatic material and we’re gonna do some proverbial stuff-strutting very soon. The throes of event assemblage are not always pretty, though. Here are things I’ve done recently in preparation:

  • Put in, at minimum, two hours of fake vagina-examining. *
  • I penned a musical theater song about a tyrannical school principal in no less than ninety minutes. It just came out of me like…poop. Like toxic, sarcastic, relief-ridden poop. How it possibly could have been that easy, I’ll never know… ::shrugs, smirks::
  • Recited no fewer than three spells a day to avoid catching this wretched ebola-flu-sickness that is circulating mid-Missouri. People close to me have had it. Considered walking around with a mask in public. I’m not there yet, though.
  • “Baptized” this suspiciously secular song and performed it in a church service. It’s all about what you make of it, right?
  • I got back into hooping because it’s pretty, my knees give me significantly less flack, and all that makes me feel 2% less like a blithering ogre.
  • I lost five pounds (see above). WERK.
  • Decided to attempt some professional theater auditions this season. WHAT.
  • Designed a personal webpage because we are all our own self-marketers and I’m a little vain.
  • Failed to login to this very site because simple captcha math confuses me. Leave me alone.

All this is to say I’ve been keeping busy and things are solid.

– Your Merry Maven




*I’m playing a gynecologist in a ten-minute play.

14 New Year’s Lessons from Relaxor the Rocker-Recliner

Things I did not know when I last blogged:

1. That my last post for 2014 would be a comic about singers’ issues with dairy. Dairy. The true meaning of Christmas.

2. That for Christmas, I would receive a brand-spakin’ new leather rocker/recliner that would engulf me with its enchanting, merry comfort-making and rich smells of maturity and wisdom.

3. That my new leather rocker/recliner would come to be named Relaxor. Relaxor the Rocker-Recliner. I tried to name it something girlier and classy, like Stella, but my scooter is already named that and my husband said he would never sit on a Stella.

3. That I would proceed to develop an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship with Relaxor. One in which I would spend a disproportionate amount of time ignoring my household animals and sometimes my own hygiene.

4. That Relaxor generally comes before my fitbit, my other Christmas present.

5. That, in an effort to counteract my new one-sided relationship with a chair, I would venture outside and come to find that I can actually run again, after nearly eight months on the mend from a stupidly self-induced run with patella tendonitis / patella femoral pain (pun intended).

6. That after said run, I would cry. Actually physically sob with overwhelming gratefulness for my health, mobility, and for patience, which I didn’t even know the meaning of before having a bodily injury.

7. That I would resolve to better appreciate the pain-free life I have created, and my ever-challenging-yet-flexible schedule that has allowed me the gift of time; time to practice the art of patience and healing.

8. That I would then remember the wise words of an acquaintance with whom I had a lively, intricate, four-hour discussion over Christmas break. She observed that I am a different person from the person she met three years ago, who would allow the systematic breakdown of her body for a disillusioned sake of discipline and validation, and that I might actually push myself too hard in everything I do, even in things that are supposed to be fun hobbies, like hooping and this blog. Because if I don’t…I’m flawed.

9. That I would come to understand myself a little better through the things I do, and recognize that it’s equally as flawed to push myself too hard in my musical endeavors, in my teaching, writing, performing, and practice.

10. That the very art of practice involves days for rest, reflection, recuperation…and relaxation.

11. That professionalism shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of balance, and if that means shelving the remaining seven of my “12 Christmas Songs Re-named by Music Teachers,” then so be it. Even the president takes vacations, yo.

12. That, after allowing myself a romantic getaway with an inanimate object, Relaxor would get me all riled up about new ways to challenge myself in 2015…ways I will not list here just yet because seeing them makes them freakishly real, and I’m working on taming my inner Lion of Discipline.

13. That I can work on myself and my craft(s) without losing sleep, my sanity, or destroying a body part…and still be the same person. Maybe even a better person.

14…and that feels GREAT.

Relaxor, stop seducing me with your creamy leather and whispers of sweet nothings…


I knew Relaxor would show me the light…


May your household furniture bring you enlighment and joy.

Happy New Year!

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