This past month has been crazy busy, and then I ended up with a bad week of a-fib, preventing me from working. I'm ok for now, with studies ongoing. I'm very gratified by the number of people who commented about my health on FB and by the love expressed!
My obstreperous, angelic grandson slipped in a swim lesson, baking his cheek on the side of the pool. His first black eye!
We passed my husband's one-year anniversary of the last day of radiation for throat cancer on St Patrick's Day. One down!
SOVT exercises are apparently just as good for a cool-down after singing intensely, as they are for warmups. Use a straw, zzzz, or sss !
Our May Spring Fling recital is fast approaching in Denver. It will be nice to get out of the already warm climate...94 degrees mid-March in Phoenix area! Come see us if you are in the Denver area!
Love is a GOOD thing! It is what keeps us going, I believe. So love often and well and let those you care for KNOW it!
My student, Astrid, won 2nd place in the Cal-West NATS Regional Student Classical Auditions for 14-15-year-old women, and will be posting videos online for the national competition! So proud of her! She has just selected three songs for next year--in Hungarian, Russian, and English--all the toughest songs I showed her! Juilliard is on her wish list and she's working hard in that direction.
The Parent-Tot dance class is going well--my grandson loves the noise his tap shoes make, and is trying to learn to be patient and stand in line for his turn to leap across the floor. :)
Can't believe I'm saying this, but our family's health is better all around! Fingers crossed that it stays that way!
Wow! Time flew by! It has been a busy but happy holiday, and now all of the decorations have been packed away until next December. Here are great wishes to you for a fabulous 2017!
We have the Cal-West NATS Student Auditions coming up on the 14th, so lots of last-minute polishing to do on our songs here in Arizona. All of the Denver students are already working on new songs for their May recital, and we will start on new works locally after we get through the auditions.
I've been on antibiotics for the wheezing in my lungs, second round, and it seems to be working. After the first round, I thought that I was cured, but it came back, so whatever it is, is pretty tenacious! I'm looking forward to doing some of my own recording again, soon.
My talented grandson has, at the age of 3, thrown his first pot and painted it. He will have to work hard to catch up with his sculptor mom, though! He and I will soon be attending a Parent-Tot dance class, complete with tap and ballet shoes...been a few years for me!
I feel optimistic again, as long as I ignore politics...so I will continue to do so!
Good news is that my husband's recent PET scan is still cancer-free! We are both recovering still from the lung issues, but progressing.
My students were fabulous in the November in Denver recital and the dinner out afterwards was great fun! We missed one student who was quite ill, and another who sang only two of his songs from illness.
My grandson had his third birthday party and all went well. No melt-downs! Lots of fun!
My AZ students sang in the local NATS MT Auditions--another one ill--and several are preparing for Cal-West Regionals in January.
We are starting an AZ monthly group voice class (something I always did in Denver) in which we will first explore new ideas to solve performance anxiety, learning styles, sight-reading, and performing for each other. If we have time left, we will play some theory games! Looking forward to it on Dec 17!
Ready for Christmas--all presents bought and sent as needed, a long letter written for catchup with friends, plane tickets for hubby to CO to visit elder daughter. Just need to do some wrapping, now. Have a great holiday!
Can't wait! Flying into Denver on the 4th, rehearsal and performances by my Denver students on the 5th, visiting with old friends and music colleagues through the 9th!
Illness is still stalking us, as my adorable grandson passed on a virus from his daycare. Coughing turned into bronchitis and pneumonia and the resultant medications for us. Have to wonder if there is something environmental causing all of these sensitivities to lung issues here--off-gases from flooring, fungus in the soil, intense pollen count--what?
The VSNATS Music Theatre Student Auditions are coming up mid-month. My Phoenix students have been preparing to do their best. Now we just hope that the scheduling works for them! When these events take place on a Friday, there are always school conflicts to worry about.
After NATS comes Thanksgiving and my grandson's 3rd birthday. The time has flown so quickly! And then Christmas holidays will be upon us! Slow down! Too fast!
Although we had a great visit to Fort Collins, Colorado at the end of August (PERFECT weather, surrounded by family and pets), the month of September was a tough one--my husband relapsed completely, having to go back to the hospital and get back on heavy meds and O2. It has been discouraging for all to have to start again. They are doing a more extensive hunt for possible causes, but we now know that only 1:100,000 gets this condition. That is why so little is known about it. We call him special. We also leased a new car, making it easier to haul around a wheelchair.
We have been told that 90% of all cases of Valley Fever (a fungus that lives in the dust here and blows around during haboobs) are here in Maricopa County. It could have been the start of his illness. It may also be why I must use an inhaler here.
Upcoming activities promise to make things brighter! My three Phoenix students are prepping for their musical theatre NATS student auditions in November, and my Denver students are prepping for a Nov 5 recital!
We are all energized by the change in the weather. It may sound strange, but 88 degrees feels COOL down here in AZ! And my grandson continues to grow and learn and be more brilliant every day, of course!
Keep singing! Nance
Heat--already 124 on my car thermometer several times. You know that you are starting to get acclimatized when 104 seems cool! But we're still looking forward to a trip to northern Colorado mid-month to visit family and friends and enjoy better weather and vistas!
Health--my husband is improving daily, still slowly, but daily. The most important part is that his sense of humor has returned! He is also connecting with a friend to start an electronics tinkering project. Hooray!
My heart ablation procedure went well--not comfortable afterward, but no major problems. Now we wait to see if it worked.
Humming--As soon as I dragged my eyes open after the procedure, I started doing SOVT exercises for my vocal folds. The healing vibrations that come from humming, buzzing, Zzzz, Vvvv, and raspberries reduces swelling in the folds from any causes.
In this case, it was intubation and I was told they went really slowly and carefully to protect them! ALWAYS explain the importance of your voice to your anesthesiologist before a procedure! Other than a sore throat for a few days and a little swelling at the lower end of my register, I am able to speak and sing. The nurses, incidentally, were both surprised, amused, and delighted that I was singing and did it well after the procedure!
Research should be done on the effects of living in air conditioning for 23 hours a day. (I'm assuming one hour of switching from car to building, taking out the trash, etc.) I know that AC ducts should be vacuumed out at least yearly due to the buildup of dust, animal feces, insect remains, etc., as this can lead to "sick building" syndrome where everyone becomes ill. But what other possible problems can come from this type of existence?
I have been recently told that Arizona is labeled a "sick state". I do not know the veracity of this comment, but I can believe it. The haboobs (massive sand storms) that come during the windy monsoon season (this time of year, when we wish it were rain) also carry Valley Fever if you breathe in the dust. This is incurable, to my knowledge.
All I do know is that we have been ill almost continually for the past two years, ever since we moved here, and in my husband's case, gravely. It could be a function of our ages, but a recent visit to Colorado lifted both our outlooks and energy levels.
Location, location, location?
I have decided that everyone who lives in the middle of AZ where the heat is already triple-digits (temp off the highway was 121 in my car yesterday), should take their "summer" vacation in the winter! Being outside from May-September is not an option here!
My husband's scan looked clear except for one tiny spot! Hooray! More to do to eliminate that one, however.
The trip to FL was fabulous! Lots of good family time, 3 days at the beach at Indian Rocks (S of Clearwater) with nothing to do but float, watch sunsets, look for shells, and listen to the waves--very healing!
Turns out this has been the worst year for allergies, ever, in AZ...and we are recipients of that wonderful endowment...
Fun to give a presentation to the AZ State Music Teachers Association on caring for their voices--vital to a teacher!
Grandson Reece had a great visit to the beach, Harry Potter World, and Disney World the same time we were down there. Got the 4-gen picture! We all enjoyed family reunion/wedding time in Florida, and the humidity was only 60% the entire time!
Keep on singing,
I was unable to include updating this website last month, as my husband's cancer radiation and chemo took a severe toll, much worse AFTER that stopped, as the body tried to deal with the massive tissue kill, burns, toxins, etc. On top of that, we caught the flu because our immune systems were so weakened. HOWEVER, his CT looks good and we will know if he is in remission at the end of May. We are back to being able to exercise regularly, and we have both been seeing an ENT--intubation damages the folds!
My students have been busy performing in shows, both school and public, participating in recitals, and singing well! I can't ask for more! Most of them will continue during the summer, with a few missing some weeks for Broadway performance camps in NYC in July.
I am looking forward to a family wedding and a trip to the beach in Florida--a week for renewal! Triple digit heat has been going on this month, already, in Phoenix. My grandson and his parents will also be meeting his great-grandmother, now 90, still active and healthy. We will take a 4-generation photo while we are there. Fun!
Keep on singing! Nance
Arizona weather right now is in the high 80's -- record-setting heat. So it feels like late April or May here, already! (Worrisome--what does that mean for the summer temps?)
The most important thing about the arrival of Spring is, of course, the inevitable crush of multiple end-of-school-year events: choir concerts, school plays and musicals, studying for exams, graduations, and weddings. All of these events coming close together can put quite a strain on a singer. Be aware of stresses, sing through your your tiny straw often (it not only helps you to warm up, it heals swollen folds through vibrations), wash your hands often, and surround yourself with love and light!
We are finally better from the severe cold hitting multiple states (Colorado friends have been fighting the same one), but it took over a month! My husband is over halfway through his radiation and is doing much better than we expected, for which we are grateful. My students are doing well and auditioning for summer camps on Broadway in NYC, as well as for school and professional musicals. Lots of new music to learn!
Sing on! Nance
Hoo, Boy! Sickness abounds! Not only my family, but my students have contracted virulent colds. Even the nurse at my doc's office has laryngitis. So, what's a singer to do?
Drink as much as you can--at least half your weight in ounces of water. Clear those bugs out! Thin out the mucus! Remove toxins!
If you have a small straw, use it to sing through all day long, not just for warm-ups. The vibrations reduce inflammation!
This is a time to rebuild what was let go. Vit C and B are lost in dealing with stress, so need to be beefed up, particularly. Zinc and magnesium contribute to overall health, with the zinc helping prevent more colds and the magnesium correcting imbalances in the digestive system.
Not in front of a screen of any kind! LED or otherwise, it keeps you awake when you should be getting sleep to rebuild. If you can't sleep, grab an old-fashioned book or magazine to help you drop off.
I wish you and all of us good health! Nance
Isn't that title what we all love most about a new year? We can wash away the old and try something, anything, everything new again.
What will be your new habit? I will be aiming for a longer neck (i.e. better posture, breathing, digestion, attitude, etc.). The way I will do this is to not think of it as a new resolution or RULE, but to think of feeling more proud of myself, of how well I am holding up under difficult circumstances.
I used to have a little vibrating pager that I could wear on my waistband and that would vibrate briefly at whatever interval I set. I used it to remind me not to slump at the piano or the computer or in the car. It doesn't work anymore, so I must now use my mind (or my iPhone!)
I will pretend to be from Downton Abbey! They sat upright, without their backs touching the ornately carved chair backs, according to the Manners program I just watched on PBS.
I will remember how good it feels to stretch for the sky with my arms, and I will leave my ribcage up there! I will do whatever it takes to lengthen my spine and the BACK of my neck as often as I can!
I will be grateful for what I have in life, and show it with my body! I will sing, every day! I hope that you do, too. Nance
If only we can remember the old saw: "The best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley", and can learn to be a willow in a windstorm, rather than an oak, we can deal with most of what life throws at us, including cancer with pneumonia on top!
I was a US Air Force "brat", being moved either every year or every third year from the time I was born until I was married. Think of what changes during a move, especially one to a different state or country: Not only is your home entirely different, but the neighborhood, the city, the school systems, the traffic, working conditions, ways to play, the weather--you can be faced with environments that are the complete opposite of what you were used to. And your friends and other support structures are not there, any longer.
So, you start again. No waiting for others to invite you into their lives--you must jump in with both feet, or it will be a lonely year, or three, before your next move. You find out what organizations and cultural opportunities will enhance your life, and you join and go. You smile and introduce yourself to everyone. You ask them about themselves. And you consider this upheaval to be an unexpected gift.
How does this apply to singers? Every venue that you perform in for the first time is a new environment. In a show, all of the other performers and/or crew may be new to you. The directors and other officials may not be those for whom you have worked before. Jump in with both feet, and consider it all a gift!
Because of my husband's illnesses and 17 days in the hospital, we got to know some very caring nurses; we got to know of a hidden health problem; we met some great local doctors, to whom we will continue to go; and we found that "keeping on keeping on" applies in this case even more than normal ones. Always looking forward and remembering that "This, too, shall pass," is a life lesson that we will face over and over has kept us stable, with only brief moments of weakness. We are much loved, and how wonderful to know it and feel it!
The news is that my husband has been diagnosed with throat cancer--never a smoker, but his parents were, and we are of the generation that suffered second-hand smoke everywhere--on planes, in restaurants, etc. It was nearly unavoidable for many years of our lives. We are staying positive and doing many things to improve his immune system before surgery.
What I have experienced may be interesting to you: I have had brain fog, an inability to think and plan and function as efficiently and as focused as normal. This is very unusual for me, and once I realized it was the result of my response to my husband's illness, and going into Flight or Fight Syndrome, I beefed up my stress vitamins--C and B-complex. That has helped a lot.
If you can remember taking a test in school and having a question that you KNOW that you studied for, but couldn't remember the answer until AFTER you turned in the test paper, you know what I've been going through.
Teaching moment: In Flight or Fight Syndrome, a chemical washes over your frontal lobes, preventing you from thinking clearly, as when your body is stressed and wants you to RUN, it does not want you to stop and think about it! That sabre-toothed tiger is really close!
So long-term preparation and practice is important for any potentially stressful situation. You won't even be able to read music, if you are too stressed!
Sing on! Nance
Phew! This month has been a round of doctor visits. Although we feel and look just fine, a few secret issues are making themselves known. If I miss updating this site, please be forgiving! More to come, when things are definitive.
I am so excited about attending the Pan American Vocology Association's first conference this coming weekend in Greensboro, NC, at the University of North Carolina! It will be wonderful to touch base again with the leaders in our field, top researchers and teachers like Ingo Titze, John Nix, and Kitty Vertolini, to mention a few. We will be exploring how to spread the word about this vocation, among many other things. Understanding the science of the voice is SO important for voice teachers!
My grandson continues to amaze us with his verbal acuity! He is a loving boy, as well, and there is nothing better than a baby hug that includes pats on your back! <3
Recitals are coming up quickly, starting with Music in the Mall on Oct 24, and followed by multiple events in November and December! Busy, busy time!
Keep on singing! Nance
In Denver, they are already raking up leaves, I'm told! Here, we still go to the pool no later than 7 am to avoid sunburn (got one last week when we went at 9, in spite of sunscreen), and my AC is on all day. However, there are hopeful signs...even though we still have highs around 104 degrees, in the mornings, we can take walks for a little while. Relief after the second hottest August on record here!
If I seem to discuss the weather a lot, it's because of its impact upon our lifestyle. Due to the heat, no longer are we motivated to be out physically active, to go to the theatre, to attend the symphony. It's discouraging! So we must make the effort and schedule these physical and cultural times, carrying shawls or shirts for the indoor times, removable for the travel times.
My hat-making has been on hiatus since our move here, but this month I will be showing the local chapter of the Association of Sewing & Design Professionals how to make fascinators. It will be fun to see what they come up with!
My 20-month-old grandson said, when his mom opened the refrigerator door: "I see my milk in there." Mom promptly dropped her teeth! He is learning so quickly! His sign language class and art class have been good, but I'm looking forward to a gymnastics baby class for him. He practices running a lot, but needs more challenges.
My travel plans to the Pan American Vocology Association symposium are set for October, as is my trip to Denver for a recital in November. NATS Auditions and other performances abound here in November, and my students continue to audition everywhere, making scheduling fun! A returning student from South Dakota has joined my online studio, as well. So, busy and happy!
When we are growing up, we model our behavior upon those adults around us. If no one plays an instrument or sings in our home or in friends' homes, are we likely to think that is something that we could do as an adult? Probably not.
There is much evidence that children of musicians will also become musicians as adults. Stephen Sondheim is a good example: he grew up with people like Leonard Bernstein visiting his home often. And as an adult, he finally worked with him, writing the lyrics to West Side Story!
My older cousin plays three instruments and composes both poetry and songs (in addition to his former day job as a botanist), and his grandson now plays saxophone in six different groups while attending college. My own parents both played piano and sang well, leading me to want to learn to do the same things.
Does one have to be a musician to raise musical children? Not if the parent(s) made a distinct effort to expose those children to those who make their livings as musicians. My grandson is now learning the names and sounds of all of the instruments of the orchestra, and has real instruments to play on, both here, at home, and at a family friend's home. Will he be musical? We will make every effort to make that true, for not only is making music something that fills our free or working time with joy, the extreme changes and improvements to the brain are well documented, making math, science, and language arts all easier and stronger.
Do what you can to insure EVERY child becomes a musician!
Enough said! When my car thermometer read 127 degrees Fahrenheit coming off the road, I decided to stop checking! It's frightening what could happen if the electricity went off! We swim every morning before 7 am to avoid the sun burning down on us. It's 88 degrees at 6 am here!
My grandson at 19 months can work the penny whistle I bought for him, rather well! He is also able to sing the standard minor third interval that all babies learn first...mostly when he calls "Mommmmeeee" or "Naaaanaaaah". It has a regular beat, as well, taking 4 counts for each syllable. :)
A surprising number of students have continued lessons through the summer, and I have enjoyed attending local events with them as stars! And I am exceptionally proud of my former student, Pablo, who has completed his masters degree in vocal performance and is singing in many operas around Colorado!
All is well. Cheers! Nance
I mentioned earlier that everything closes up tight here for the next three months. What I didn't mention was the alternative to being outdoors: going to the malls and to the movies! We've seen more movies in one year here in Arizona than we saw in Denver for at least ten!
Our spring recital on May 17 went very well! My Denver students were all trying out a safe belt sound, for audition purposes in musicals. They had fun, but it was a pleasure when they also sang in their legitimate voices. They carry better and have a rounder and richer quality, certainly! Having the skill to go back and forth between these techniques is, however, more and more important these days.
Another AZ student has found me, due to a recommendation from a current student. At this rate, I will have no more free time! Ah, well! I have determined that I will stick to my established hours to avoid overwork. It does neither the teacher nor the student any good if that occurs!
In my other teaching, my grandson's word list hit 210, plus 2 and 3-word phrases, and now compound nouns! Keeping him challenged at only 1 1/2 is becoming a challenge for us, as well! But fun!
May 2 was the official first day of triple digit heat in the Phoenix East Valley. Our AC has been on for a month now. We are getting used to doing any outdoor exercise and visits to the park and even the pool as early as possible, and then locking up tight. Four months of the year, it is better to stay indoors...a bit difficult for a Colorado hiker and nature lover to handle sometimes!
I was called by the owner of a music school and asked to mentor two young voice teachers this summer. I am looking forward to that, very much! I love to share my hard-earned knowledge!
Another new student here and a returning student via Skype from Denver have joined my studio in the past few days. It is very gratifying, especially as I am not seeking anyone out. They are finding me. My returning teen complained that she couldn't find anyone who pushed her the way I do! So we had a great first online lesson. Her dad found the Blue Snowball for a microphone, and I can now highly recommend it for Skype lessons!
My toddler grandson is learning "scary quick"! He has well over 160 words and is putting two and three words together, can stack blocks, and has frustration tantrums...all at 17 months, rather than 24! He is a joy to work with and to watch as he selects his tasks and then works at them over and over! Ah, if only older students would push themselves the way he does! :)
Keep singing! Nance
"Why doesn't my heart go dancing"....etc. Are you one of those people who do this? I am GUILTY as charged. Every time someone happens to use a phrase in their conversation that is part of a song I know, out it comes! I used to drive my kids crazy doing that. Now, as adults, they do it, too! (Does that mean I win?)
The yellow trees full of blossoms in my monthly picture above were also FULL of bees this morning on South Mountain in Phoenix. We went on a hike while it was still cool and were amazed at the loud humming coming from these trees! It is time to make honey before the heat kills the blossoms! It is already in the 90's here, and our air-conditioners are running. I do miss the cooler clime of Denver, at times!
I found a wonderful music store in downtown Mesa, yesterday, when we visited Main Street for the Maker's Fair. The early original owners played accordions and traveled around performing, eventually with six accordion-playing children! Music is so important in families--it is something they can do together. I sigh over the loss of cursive writing, long letters and diaries, singing and playing instruments together in the evening...contemporary life is not the same, for certain. I hope that you find some time to do these things, as they still have great value!
Hard to believe the differences between these two locales, only one state apart! We have petunias in full bloom in AZ while they are digging out from multiple big storms in CO. Don't miss that part, just all the rest!
The photo of my daughter Chris and her dance company Louder Than Words Dancetheatre above (this month only) is to remind everyone of the upcoming performances at the Denver School for the Arts in the evenings of March 20 & 21, titled The Adjacent Possible. Don't miss it if you are in that area!
I have a new local student who will be performing starting next fall, and in the meantime, we are prepping for a wonderful recital in Denver on May 17. Several alumni will be joining us for that concert, so we will have lots of fun!
My grandson is talking up a storm, understands nearly everything we say, and is moments away from walking alone. He had to get used to the weight of those big heavy shoes, first! He is healthy and happy and far ahead on everything else, all that matters to us.
My personal story is one of much less stress, both from having my gall bladder out and no more offices in organizations, so the lines between my eyebrows have gone and my health numbers from blood tests are now all normal! Hooray! Now I just need to get back to singing more regularly in local events. I'm moving into the cultural world here slowly, so that those pesky frown lines don't build up again.
Oh, I'd like to point out that the incorrect date formats are not something I add to my posts. They are automatic. I'm likely to get really annoyed if it isn't fixed soon! (Former college English teacher and book editor speaking here).
The surprise to me is this: when I moved all of my pages into the new format of drop-down menus, all of my blogs for the past 5 years were wiped out! So, no history to look at, sorry!
The month of February will be quiet for me here, and in Colorado, as well, as no one has requested to perform at the DAMTA musicale, so far. We are busy preparing for the May recital, and I'm pleased with how everyone is doing! Skype lessons are quite the adventure!
I will be meeting for lunch with Dr. David Lott, the head of the Otolayngology Department of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale on the 24th. I want to find out more about their clinic, speaking engagements, referral system, etc., and David is a very knowledgable and excellent communicator.
I have also just joined the Pan-American Vocology Association (PAVA) at the request of Dr. Ingo Titze, the head of the National Center for Voice and Speech. Like NCVS, PAVA will offer some very interesting symposiums on vocal health that I am looking forward to!