So far, so good! My family hasn't been affected by the virus, although several of my students believe they may have had it. They were pretty sick, but before knowing about COVID, so they weren't tested. The best news is that they both recovered and were never ill enough to be hospitalized. I hope that you have been fortunate in this regard!
For another reason, my husband did have to go into the ER, was put into the ICU, and didn't come home for 6 days due to his heart going into tachycardia and his breathing becoming wildly irregular as a result. More tests in the future...
We have decided to delay our recital until Sept 5. Did you know that singers create vaporized air that carries farther than speech? That is why we hear about entire choirs becoming ill. So we will be smart and stay safe!
The good news is that spring is here! I've mowed my lawn once, already, and been edging the walk. We've bought the first of three hanging baskets for our porch, and then will be planting veggies and more flowers in the boxes around our patio. My daughter and daughter-in-law will help with that, as they've lots of expertise after setting up a wonderful urban farm. By the way, my scented rose bush is on its way!
The musical offerings on television are amazing! I love all of the very natural home-made productions that can still move us. And I was delighted to see Annaleigh Ashford singing in the Tribute to Sondheim for his 90th birthday! She played my youngest daughter, Amy, in three productions of Little Women, as well as Cinderella when I was the queen mother of her prince.
Here's hoping that you are still singing, as well!
This has been a whirlwind for us all! Pandemics affect not only our physical health, but also our economic health, and, therefore, our mental and emotional condition. The only consolation is, "This, too, shall pass."
We are overdue, as a species, for an illness that will knock our numbers down in a dramatic way. Before antibiotics, there were pandemics every 200 years that brought the population back into balance with the environment, but, with our great advances in all areas, we have halted that norm and, now, it has returned with a vengeance.
My husband and I are in the extremely vulnerable group of older people with lung and other issues. So it is entirely possible that we will not survive, if we get it. That being said, we are doing everything we are told to stay safe: sequestering at home, wearing masks if we must go out, having groceries delivered (by our elder daughter), cleaning off surfaces of those groceries before bringing them into the house, using alcohol wipes often, washing our hands often, and keeping those hands off our faces.
Because I've been teaching voice lessons online for over 6 years, now, we are already comfortably set up and are functioning as normal, in that area, at least! Our recital in May could be delayed for safety's sake, if the virus hasn't subsided substantially by then.
This is a wish for your continued good health and an affectionate thank-you for everything, should this not turn out well for us! While we are homebound, let's sing our hearts out!
The first thing that I want to buy for our garden is a rose bush that has a strong scent! Have you noticed that most of the cut flowers in shops --except for Easter lilies -- no longer have a smell? Our memories are triggered by sounds, sights, and smells, and one of my favorite memories is of my being a flower girl at the age of 5 for my uncle's wedding and smelling wonderful carnation bouquets for the first time. I've missed them, and the roses my mom used to grow, as those lovely flower scents have been bred out of many for the sake of longer shelf life and larger blooms. They seem so sterile and un-alive without a smell. I want a scent garden!
Another happy trigger is music...I have many choices there, but the one that caught my ear today was The Comedians Suite by Kabalevsky. I first got to know this composition through the Tiny Tots Concerts offered by the then Denver Symphony, when I was The Peppermint Penguin. Three actors were dressed in giant puppet costumes to entertain the children to this music. It was brilliant!
I think that, because we are so bombarded by visual stimuli these days, fewer sights are triggers for my memory, and smells and sounds win. So I will add more lovely smells and sounds to my life!
We've had more adventures with snow and thick ice on the windshield...parking outside does have its disadvantages! But it is so beautiful! It covers the dead grass and bushes and brightens up an otherwise saddening time of year. This past weekend, we had 73 degree weather, and enjoyed sitting out on the porch for lunch, dreaming of being able to get our hands in the soil this coming spring.
February is a time for contemplation, for following through on plans made in January: I have started the pulmonary rehab sessions with Mel and my muscles are aching, but in a good way. My hat class went well and I have more presentations for which to prepare. And, best of all, Mel's meds have changed, so he's feeling better and more able to care for himself, so I am more free to focus on these other things!
Battling asthma to get my voice back into its best shape is my most important goal at this moment. We all have weaknesses in our bodies that can deter or interfere with our favorite form of self-expression (singing), but we can continue to work toward improving the status quo! Here's hoping you have fewer problems!
I hope that you have had a lovely holiday!
And now comes the time to think about INTENTIONS...What is it that you really care about? What do you want most to happen in this coming year? Let your thoughts focus on this, and then let go. Let the universal energy manifest in its own time. Be open to change, and may your dreams come true!
Our December recital was really fun, and using Skype for our long-distance singer worked nicely! We will do it again.
We had an open house on the 28th and really enjoyed those who were able to travel through the new snow!
We have great hopes for better health in 2020, and wish you the same!
Well, no Indian summer this year! We've had a number of snow storms in a row, with sunny days in between...typical of Colorado, the weather isn't predictable. In the past, we would have one big storm in early fall and then nothing more until, maybe, December or January. But it has been beautiful, and I'm used to driving on icy roads. Only had to shovel much one time, and that was a record snowfall (about 14") for a 24-hour-period. My daughter, Chris, came over and helped me dig out the car at the same time as the little snowplow was working in our area, so we cleared the majority out really well.
Our holiday recital and potluck are coming up at the end of this first week of December, and I'm really excited! We will have several alums joining us this time, and will be trying a new thing...long-distance performing! One of my students just moved to Texas, but continues to do Skype lessons with me, so we are going to try to project her image on the big screen for her to be able to participate in the recital with us!
We always have a great time afterward with our potluck, as well!
On Nov 13, I drove my husband to Cheyenne to the VA hospital to have a CT done, with iodine contrast. Imagine our surprise and concern when his throat started closing up right afterwards. They wheeled him straight to the ER next door, pumped him full of Benadryl and used an Epi-Pen on him…he joked that he’d never had 4 nurses ripping his clothes off, before, and that he'd have enjoyed it more, if he were younger! He was stable within 15”, but they decided to keep him overnight to make sure the contrast was completely out of his body. I was shaken, for sure! But he’s ok!
On Nov 2, I drove down from Fort Collins to Rockley’s Music in Denver (they are closing their current store soon!) and arranged the exchange of my baby grand for a spinet on Nov 15. It was sad to say goodbye to that wonderful piano after it being in the family for 70 years! (Mel's grandfather bought it for him when he was 7.) But we must all learn to give up things as we make decisions to downsize as we age. We all hope that it will bring some other family great joy!
Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!
The opera world lost a wonderful star, Jessye Norman, recently, at the age of 74. And a second passing of a wonderful teacher and mentor, Dr Meribeth Dayme, occurred just this past week. Two sad losses...
In our new home, the dust is settling…and we’ve had our first snows! That finished up the garden for the year, so we had lots of leaves to bag, and plants to pull out. We hope for our normal beautiful Colorado Indian Summer for the next few weeks.
Our living spaces are mostly functional. My elder daughter also just built a 4x8 shed for us that we needed to hold things like golf clubs and bikes and other gear. Next on the list: my sewing and craft portion of the second bedroom is not usable, yet.
Recitals and recordings and performances are keeping us busy for the next month, in addition to holiday events! And I am really looking forward to having three of my former students at our December recital in Denver, sharing their talents with us!
Boy! I had no idea how exhausted I would be after this move! when you're a military brat, you think nothing of it, of course, as Mom is doing most of the real work. But, when you are alone responsible for packing, unpacking, etc., it becomes an amazingly hard job! I am thankful for my daughters, Denise and Chris, who both helped a huge amount at each end of the move, and for one of my students, Erin, and her husband Jason for giving up a Saturday to help move the big stuff around (ripping out pantry, removing old fridge, putting new one in, putting pantry back, setting up tv cabinets, etc.)!
We aren't FULLY unpacked, as there are a few boxes left that I have not found places for, yet, but we are functioning well. The bedroom is done, the bathroom is done, the kitchen is done, the studio area is set up and already being used for my online students, my husband's office is functional-- although not finished the way he wants it, yet...i.e. we are a go! I will be glad when the remaining pictures are on the walls and curtains are up, and then it will really feel comfortable.
We love it here...have been out on the porch every evening enjoying the cool breezes under a giant ash tree, harvesting the tomatoes the prior owner left behind, and reading a chapter each night from Oz books to my grandson via FaceTime! We're in our final home, and only 400 steps away from my elder daughter's front door, so are quite happy! Now to get involved in the community!
Yikes! Our long-term goal was to return to Colorado as soon as my grandson started Kindergarten, August 7, and it's going to happen! Our addition plans were scrapped when the cost doubled, so we looked around and found a really nice double-wide in a small mobile-home park right across the street from my elder daughter. We made an offer and will do the closing on August 1! Yay! More room, much less cost, still 2" walk from her front door, and a nice little yard under a tree so that we can sit outside and do some gardening, as well. Couldn't ask for more!
But that means I'm frantically packing. I will miss updating for August but will be back in September. Lessons will resume on August 13!
Hot here, 114 degrees, so not a great time to be loading a POD and a truck, and driving north. But needs must!
My trip to Colorado for the recital was absolutely delightful! I was so pleased with everyone's performances, and our potluck afterward made it so much more fun. Thank you to Erin and Jason for hosting us!
Alexa did a really good job of her Senior recital, and her audience gave her many accolades and flowers!
Our summer session starts today, lasting 8 weeks, and then we start up again for fall in August. Everyone has selected his or her songs already and we have begun to memorize words!
Astrid went to two callbacks (in NYC) for the Juilliard Pre-college program, and the judges were very complimentary, so fingers crossed!
We're both doing well, especially now that the allergy season seems to be passing.
I've loved having time at least 3-4 days a week to do yoga again--feeling much more limber and able to notice and release tension more easily. I highly recommend it to everyone! I taught yoga for 10 years, only stopping because of other obligations, and getting back to it is a joy.
Arizona is heading into 100 degree weather, which means we hibernate...sort of the opposite of northern climes. Being outdoors is not much fun, so we make do inside. We took my grandson bowling for the first time this past week, and it was great fun! These days, to make it easier for kids and less injurious, they have a rack to put the ball on and then push it down, plus there are bumpers that prevent any gutter balls! That is a great forward step!
Keep on singing, it's healthy for you!
Recital time! I'm always excited on behalf of my students! They have worked long and hard, and to present the results of this work for others is so satisfying! May 4 at 4 pm will be our Denver recital, and it always warms my heart to be back among my students there. May 19 is Alexa's Senior Recital, something she asked to do, to represent the culmination of her years of study. Kudos to all!
As far as health is concerned, I am delighted to report FORWARD progress, rather than set-backs! Last month's scare was a nosebleed in the back that dripped down, caused by thin skin from Prednisone combined with a blood thinner. Phew! Mel has improved enough to be back to the pool most days and walking without support to and from the car--these are important! More importantly, it gives him hope that there is actually some positive progress.
I'm doing better, as well, being on mostly veggies and fish. The current focus is the Auto-Immune Protocol which lists most of the things I knew I am supposed to avoid, so seems to be a good fit. I have more energy and sleep better when I follow the rules!
Grandson is amazing! At five, he understands multiplication and can do simple problems, and is starting to read. His engineering skills and consequent sculptural skills are well-developed. Now, if I could only get him to stop building Lego "blasters!"
Life is good. Please enjoy yours! We've found that when old folk say that "Life is short", they aren't kidding! So enjoy every moment!
It's already hit the mid-80's in Arizona...have to admit (loudly) that I'm not fond of the heat, here. At least it's dry, but still...120 is not fun, so I'm dreading the quick advance to summer. I shall enjoy the last few days of beautiful weather before hunkering down, staying inside all day--every day. Sigh.
We had a health scare on 3/20â�¦when I woke at 6:30 am, the first thing Mel said to me was, â��Promise me youâ��ll do the show this afternoon, no matter what.â�� WHAT? Turns out that, whenever he cleared his throat, large blood clots came up. So we went to the ER, where they kept him overnight for observation. The clots stopped in the afternoon before I left to do the show (as promised), but we still donâ��t know the exact source. The GI folk said it wasnâ��t his intestinal tract, so we figure it was caused by the blood thinner heâ��s on (and now off). So more appointments to check all of that out during April. At least heâ��s ok, just still too weak.
The Spice of Life performances were great fun, and I've been invited back next year, even if I've moved back to Colorado! We have two more performances at "snow bird" villages and I was also hired by the director to perform for a Women's Club Luncheon mid-April, so this will be a busy month.
May, of course, will be crazy, with two recitals, one in AZ and the other in CO.
Plans for the new addition are moving along, albeit more slowly than we'd like. Still, some progress is better than none!
Keep on singing!
In just a few weeks, Spring will be here--although the temperatures in Arizona are already hovering around 70, I know Colorado is still on the chilly side. We are hoping for good weather and construction to start on our new home, soon!
My student Alexa is now a senior and is planning her May Senior Recital in which she will sing her favorites from years of study, plus some new pieces. Very proud of her!
Grandson is 5 1/4, now, and pressing boundaries--too bright, sometimes! But he shows his ailing grandfather great care, thank goodness!
Grandpapa is improving a bit after 4 months of debilitating neck pain. Now it's back to physical rehabilitation to try to improve his ability to walk and stand more than just a few moments. At least that pain has subsided!
My surgery is becoming a distant memory...no problems. More than I could ask for!
The Colorado contingent is moving quickly toward their recital and all is going really well!
Keep on singing!
I understand that the Winter Solstice was a time of rejoicing for early peoples because it was the shortest day of the year, and the following days would gradually become longer and the nights shorter. It is the harbinger of change, moving toward the light! So, it makes perfect sense that this time of year becomes a celebration of new life and renewal.
As my husband and I face the waning years of our lives, with waning health to match, it behooves us to remember that we have yet another spring to seeâ�¦
There is a beautiful song by John Duke called Loveliest of Trees in which the words by A.E. Housman carry us to a cherry tree in early spring, still â��hung with snow.â�� He reminds us that there is beauty all around us, at all times, and not to forget that of our â��three score years and tenâ��, only a few are left. â��And since to look at things in bloom, fifty springs are little roomâ�� we should go NOW to enjoy the beauties of nature, even when they are not in full blossom.
Happy New Year!
Health happens...I have Stage 0 breast cancer, noninvasive, so nothing to be alarmed about, with minor surgery mid-month, and possibly no radiation, just a pill for 5 years. And then the docs found that my poor husband has damage to his heart from all of the prescriptions he is on for his lungs...angiogram coming up. And he has neck pain from degenerative disc disease that we are also dealing with. So we've been spending a lot of time in doctors' offices and with physical therapists for the last three months!
My grandson has just turned 5 and is very independent these days, so his need of me is growing less. The move back to Colorado in August 2019 is still in the planning stages!
I'm enjoying my new student who is a guitarist and country-western song writer. He is an avid learner, records everything I say for frequent review, and practices a lot. What a delight to introduce someone new to this wonderful field. And my longer-term students are all working hard toward our spring recitals, especially my young high school senior! She just won an Honorable Mention at the Arizona District NATS Student Auditions, for which she is justly proud!
I wish everyone a very happy, and HEALTHY, holiday!
All are settled in--Reece in preschool, vocal students back from vacations, planning done for recitals, healing nearly done from cataract surgeries. My husband's health is stable, as is mine, and now we are going to try the regimen recommended by The Plant Paradox. Weight as we age is always an issue, causing other problems, so anything we can do to improve is beneficial!
New student on board, adult male, with a nice tenor and easy falsetto. He is fascinated with all of the pedagogy (actually sought me out for this information) and it is always such a joy to teach those who want to learn! I'm having great fun!
More books from the library on building tiny house/casita/m-in-law apartments onto existing home. Mel is focusing on coming up with a plan to suit the city, my elder daughter and her spouse, and us, so that's fun for him!
Local EVMTA members are creating a voice syllabus for the state of AZ, and I'm on that committee. This will give our students more opportunities to grow and perform!
All is well (even though still triple-digits here in AZ)
My cataract surgeries have been going well, with no complications, so far. One down, one to go on August 9.
Then my teaching contract year begins on August 14! I've been prepping my student book with each students' music, and I FINALLY finished the last little bit of desk organizing (after changing rooms and things got stacked and buried). It feels great!
I have also begun a "moving plan" to follow for the next year. It looks now (although "there's many a slip twixt the lip and the cup") that we will be moving back to Colorado the week before the August beginning of the 2019-2020 contract year. MUCH to do to downsize before then. And there's still much design work to be done on the tiny house! Construction approvals, financing, etc.
My grandson starts preschool tomorrow...I'm going along to support my daughter, as she expects to be weepy...no more baby, no more toddler, but now a pre-schooler! He, on the other hand, is very excited and expects to have a great time!
I'm looking forward to welcoming my students back and to all of the wonderful singing!
Oh, my! So many things have happened since I last wrote here. My heart ablation procedure at the end of March went well, and I'm currently off all meds! The remaining "Spice of Life" concert in April was fun and we recorded it. I will try to get it up for viewing soon. May brought my spring trip to Denver for our recital there, which was very enjoyable.
While we were there, we also visited the new home my elder daughter is buying and scoped out the location for the tiny house we will be building on the back of that lot--we're moving back to Colorado in September of 2019. My grandson starts Pre-K next month, and will be in Kindergarten by then, not needing my daycare any longer. We will miss him, but he will be a busy boy! In the meantime, we have a lot of discarding to do to downsize that much!
After lots of prep, on May 31, I gave my presentation on The Art of Russian Song in front of the Arizona State Music Teachers Association and multiple Russian-speaking guests. I also sang three songs at the banquet in the evening, and apparently, I pronounced everything correctly! I was complimented by many of them, so that was a relief!
My husband's infusions have been helping him, so there is less pressure on me as the caregiver. I'm really, REALLY grateful for how well he is doing. He also had cataract surgeries, and mine are coming up in a few weeks--should make reading music much easier!
We bought a new alternate-height desk, which I love, and I have been spending some of my time off from teaching by reorganizing and tossing things out of my music/office space. Have to be ready for the new school year, soon! Can't believe school starts here on August 6! I remember the days when we didn't go back until after Labor Day, but we also didn't end until the end of June. Times change!
Looking forward to new experiences when we start back up on August 14!
It's interesting to me that we continue to use Daylight Savings Time in most states, but not here in Arizona (causes some hassles adjusting my Skype lesson schedules). Actually, in the summer here, no one WANTS more daylight! It's too darn hot!
Unfortunately, I have discovered that stress must be added to the list of my a-fib triggers (sugar, alcohol, caffeine, hot spices). And since stress at this point in my life is difficult to avoid (see below), my doc wants me to have another heart ablation procedure before the end of the month. At least it is a very quick recovery with only two bandaids. The hard part is lying still on my back for 8 hours after the procedure is over!
Melâ��s latest diagnosis means that things are speeding up and the docs are using more extreme treatments to counteract his immune system attacking his body. He is on large doses of immunotherapy drugs, infused bi-weekly. He is breathing more easily, and is more positive in outlook as a result, but muscle weakness is a side affect of both the disease and the drugs. However, therapy emphasizes exercising! Vicious cycle, but we are still striving for his improved health.
No more competitions that I am attending through June-- just teaching a hat class, performing in the Spice of Life (Chandler's senior variety show at the Arts Center), hosting two recitals, and giving a presentation for the ASMTA Conference. It's enough! Keep on singing!
Playing catch-up again!
In December, in addition to birthdays and holidays, we had many more medical visits than we expected as the Lung Institute here started digging deeper into my husband's very unusual lung issues. It turns out to be very rare (1 in 100,000) and very severe. The prognosis is a maximum of 5 years, and it could be less. My brain accepts the cycle of life, but my heart is screaming, "No!" We are, however, practical...we will keep up the good fight as long as we can.
My grandson is now four, probably addicted to his Zombie game on the iPad, counting, and identifying letters and simple words. Before we blink again, he will be in school!
My students are competing almost constantly--Las Vegas and Salt Lake City in January, Tucson next weekend, and probably Boston in May. It has been a whirlwind! I'm very proud of them!
Today we were informed that our hospital infusion visits were going to be doubled to every two weeks...so I will try to stay current, but, if not, that's why.
Our Denver Recital went really well (in spite of my a-fib), the celebration of my elder daughter's second marriage was fabulous, visiting DAMTA and other dear friends fulfilling, and having a small snow storm in the middle of the glorious Denver Indian Summer so welcome! The photo above is of my former home street (Adams) in Denver.
Travel done for a little while, we are now preparing for the Phoenix NATS Students Music Theatre/CCM Auditions on Nov 4 & 5, Thanksgiving, my grandson's 4th birthday, the Phoenix recital on Dec 2, the Christmas and New Year holidays, the MTNA SW Division Competition Jan 5-7 in Las Vegas, and the Cal-Western NATS Regional Student Auditions the following weekend!
IF--oops, I meant AFTER I survive all of that, we will settle down to learn new music and prepare for two May recitals in Denver and Phoenix. All of the holidays and competitions will be over (unless a student goes on to nationals) and we will all sigh in both relief and reminiscence...
Back on track for the school/contract year: Health is good, CPAP machine is on order (so hope to get more good sleep), husband in therapy for lungs (not improving yet), students back and working, grandson back in classes (art, cooking, gymnastics, hip-hop dance), and it's still hot enough to use our complex's pool in the mornings!
My Denver students have their Fall Fling recital coming up on Oct 7, and we are dashing forward to get ready--a month earlier than normal this year. One fun thing my student Erin and I are doing is a medley of songs that start with "Some"---Somewhere, My Love; Somewhere, Out There; Somewhere Over the Rainbow; etc. We found seven songs, altogether, and are inviting the audience to sing along on Over the Rainbow as a closing number.
Then Mel and I will travel to Fort Collins, CO, to attend a small celebration (they eloped last November) of the wedding of our daughter Chris (now busy with graduate school and her teaching) and Dr Jordan (she's been busy finishing her veterinary internship).
Back home to do a few last-minute lessons and rehearsals with Phoenix students who are performing in the NATS Music Theatre/CCM Student Auditions on Nov 4. Back to Colorado for another celebration party given by Jordan's mother, and then our Phoenix recital will be on Dec. 2 in my home.
Deep breathe! Drop those shoulders! And keep on singing!
My! The time rushes by faster and faster! We had water damage from the adjoining unit, had office packed out, rebuild done, etc. --a long-term mess! Now trying to collect from that unit's insurance. In the process, we took the opportunity to switch the uses of three rooms around (my studio = Mel's office, living room = my studio, Mel's office = tv room and storage). The shuffling is nearly done, and my computers are back up and running, so I'm playing catch-up since April!
On top of that, I had a sleep study in May that threw me back into a severe a-fib for a day, but the good news is that I've had zero heart issues since! The key was eliminating all caffeine and obvious strong sugar sources. We've also started using a Bemer electromagnetic mat to increase blood circulation to the capillaries and it seems to be working quite well!
Grandson is obstreperous! Trying to convince him that copying others' bad behavior is NOT a good thing. Children up to age 5 are just sponges and have no judgmental brain activity. Monkey see, monkey do!
However, he is also experimenting with my small keyboard--turning on rhythms and pushing buttons for chords, playing a few other notes in improvisation mode. Fun to hear!
Summer lessons are now done; rates changed in June. August tuitions already received, new student on board. Off we go into another school year (which starts July 31 in many schools in Phoenix!)
Cheers, and keep singing! Nance
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, banging 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 Otolaryngology 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!