Quote of the Week "Christmas is forever, not for..."

"Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself..."
~Norman Wesley Brooks,
"Let Every Day Be Christmas," 1976


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

~Author Unknown


Quote of the Week "May Peace be your gift..."

"May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!"
~Author Unknown

Happy Chanukah!

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah and the Jewish festival of lights. I am not Jewish and have never celebrated Chanukah but if I did I would definitely enjoy the extra time with family around the dinner table and the lighting of the menorah. As a Christian I have a deep respect for the Jewish people and their culture. It has helped to form many of my Christian traditions. Here's my favorite Chanukah song, enjoy!

The Chanukah Song


Quote of the Week "He who has not...."

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."

~Roy L. Smith



O Magnum Mysterium

O Magnum Mysterium has become a regular on high school choral music repertoire lists across the country and rightfully so. It is quite beautiful in its deceptive simplicity. Morten Lauridsen composed this version of the original responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas and has given it a timeless quality even though it is quite contemporary. I can't wait to perform this one again. Enjoy this recording from the Chorus Paulinus on May 27, 2001 @ The Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo, California. I have included the Latin and English texts so right for this advent season below.

Latin text

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

English translation

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.


Quote of the Week "Let us remember..."

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."
~Theodore Roosevelt


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy turkey day to you! I hope you are preparing to share in a thanksgiving meal with your friends and family. I know I can't wait to eat my homemade pumpkin pie. It makes me want to never eat store bought again it's that good.

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
~Author Unknown

My favorite Thanksgiving Song


Beethoven's 5th Symphony

Beethoven's 5th Symphony is one of the most well known symphonies in all the world. Throughout the work is the famous motif of short, short, short, long. Check out Wikipedia's Symphony No. 5 page for a great breakdown of the many parts of this great work and to study the full score check out Indiana University's School of Music, Music Library. Today's clip is the piano arrangement that was made by Franz Liszt. Enjoy and happy practicing!


Quote of the Week "So once in every year..."

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song

In thankfulness of heart.

~Arthur Guiterman,
The First Thanksgiving


Beethoven's 9th Symphony

Completed in 1824, Symphony No. 9 was the last symphony of then deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. The 9th Symphony incorporates a well known German poem by poet, Friedrich Schiller entitled, 'Ode to Joy.' This is the first time that a composer used soloists and chorus in a symphonic work and gave them as much musical importance as the orchestra it self. At the time of its creation it was unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. For information about the 9th Symphony of Beethoven check out Wikipedia.

I had the pleasure of singing the last movement of the 9th Symphony while studying at the University of Kansas. It is quite a demanding piece and we didn't have much time to learn the German but it was a memorable experience. Several of my students in the studio have been studying the Ode to Joy melody in their piano studies. It has become a classic especially since it was arranged for hymn singing and given an English sacred text. I hope you will enjoy these excerpts.

Excerpts from Beethoven's 9th Symphony


Quote of the Week "For each new morning..."

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Mongolian Overtone Singer & Past Life Melodies

I learned to overtone sing in high school while learning a song called, "Past Life Melodies. It has a haunting, earthy sound that I haven't heard anywhere since. The overtones are created by manipulating your mouth and in this case using an 'er' sound on a single pitch. You will have to ask me to do it for you sometime. It's pretty neat. This recording of "Past Life Melodies" comes from an all male a cappella group called Chanticleer based out of San Francisco, California. I saw them in concert several years ago in Lawrence, KS and was amazed at their flexibility and musicality. They are a must see if they come to your area.

I haven't heard overtone singing for some time so I was glad to come across this video by a Mongolian overtone singer. The addition of instruments adds a nice texture. Enjoy!


Imago Dei: Friends of Christianity and the Arts and the Transfiguration Vocal Ensemble

The Transfiguration Vocal Ensemble of Imago Dei: Friends of Christianity and the Arts is a professional vocal ensemble with members from the Kansas City area. The group's mission is to model and teach music in churches and the community. Membership in the ensemble requires a strong commitment to Christianity, the arts and your colleagues in the group. The core of the performance season runs from September through May, with several performances throughout the year including worship services, concerts, dinner entertainment, retreats and workshops.

I am happy to announce that I have taken the position of director of this ensemble. We have been working together for the past couple months and I look forward to many great performances. Our first concert will be in December and information is at the end of this post. We are looking for additional venues to share our music. If you or anyone you know might be interested we would love to hear from you. Email us at vocal@imagodeiarts.org.

Songs of the Christmas Season
First Annual Holiday Concert
Friday, December 5th, 2008

7:00 pm
One Spirit United Methodist Church

th & Blue Ridge Blvd. Kansas City, MO 64138

Join us as we create a new Kansas City holiday tradition. Celebrate the Advent and Christmas season with the Transfiguration Vocal Ensemble as we share some of our favorite holiday songs and carols.

$12.50 general admission
Tickets are available at the Imago Dei Arts Center.
Discounts for groups of 10 or more are available.
Call 913.233.0266 for reservations
Tickets also available at the door.

For scheduling or booking information for the Transfiguration Vocal Ensemble please email us at vocal@imagodeiarts.org.


Create Your Own I Am Statement

I wrote an I Am poem at a writing workshop in junior high school ages ago. I am not sure I took it very seriously at the time considering that it was only a simple writing exercise, but now that I am older I am revisiting creating I Am poems. I Am statements are strong statements of purpose and creation that can help give direction to who you are right now and your goals for the future. I was excited to find this I Am poem creator. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and the poem is formatted for you (see mine below) These poems should grow and change as we do and can be recreated as many times as you want. Who are you aspiring to be? Make sure to share your creations in the comments of this post. I would love to see them. Here's an additional format you can explore. Just fill in the blanks.

I am:
I think:
I know:
I have:
I wish:
I hate:
I miss:
I fear:
I hear:
I smell:
I crave:
I search:
I wonder:
I regret:
I love:
I ache:
I am not:
I believe:
I dance:
I sing:
I cry:
I fight:
I win:
I lose:
I never:
I always:
I confuse:
I listen:
I can usually be found:
I am scared:
I need:
I am happy about:
I imagine:

Here's my recent I Am creation. Enjoy!

I Am

I am a musician and teacher
I wonder about being truly secure
I hear God's small voice keeping me focused on my purpose
I see out from behind my director's stand
I want so many things
I am a musician and teacher

I pretend to be calm and pulled together when I am stressed and tired
I feel my life growing and changing
I touch simplicity
I worry about my family
I cry about loss
I am a musician and teacher

I understand that I can be the grandest version of the greatest vision I have ever had of myself
I say I am grateful
I dream about not worrying about money
I try to better myself every day
I hope for recognition and true success
I am a musician and teacher


Quote of the Week "A thankful heart..."

"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues."


The Ever Expanding World of Music Tech

I have seen so many cool projects in the field of music technology recently that I have decided to make it a regular addition to my blog. I wish I was an inventor but I am not so I will stick to teaching and interpreting music and leave the music tech inventions to the professionals. This week's music tech offerings come from the MAKE: Blog which hails from the people of MAKE Magazine. Their current magazine is all about DIY music and is on newsstands right now. These people blow my mind. How do they think up some of this stuff?

Making Music with Your Iris

Each person's iris is unique almost like your fingerprint. So, why not make music with it? This guy has built a computer program to read your iris and create music based on what it sees in your particular eye. He says at the end of the video that he apologizes about the quality and limit of the musical sounds he had available but I was still amazed at what the program was accomplishing and didn't really notice. Overall a great result.

Ocarina on your iPhone
I don't have an iPhone, but if I did this would be a cool addition. My husband has purchased two ocarinas in the last couple years at Kansas City's Renaissance Festival and is starting to make music with them now. It's such a neat sound. This program takes that to a whole new level while using the sensitivity of iPhone technology. This thing not only picks up on touch manipulation but also your breath. For a second there I thought the guy in the video clip was just blowing for the heck of it but no, I was wrong. It actually plays like a real ocarina would. Just amazing.


Quote of the Week "If the only prayer..."

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was,
"thank you," that would suffice."

~Meister Eckhart


Quote of the Week "Follow your Bliss."

“Follow your bliss.”
- Joseph Campbell


Quote of the Week "Opera is..."

"Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings."
~Robert Benchley

Raytown/Kansas City Community Taize Worship

For the past few months, I have had the privilege of working with several local churches in my community to coordinate regular Taize community worship for our area. I was a part of a similar group in Lawrence, Kansas and had truly missed this kind of worship. We will meet the fourth Sunday of every month at 6:00 pm with musician practice starting at 5:15 pm. During the Advent and Lenten seasons we will meet weekly on Sundays. This schedule will begin, October 26th at One Spirit United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. I am thrilled to have One Spirit be our first host church.

Worshiping in the spirit of Taize is truly meant to be an ecumenical worship experience that promotes and fosters peace, reconciliation and love with all Christians. For more information about Taize community worship in Raytown/Kansas City check the Elliott Music Studio website
or email us at raytownkccommunitytaize@gmail.com.

Elliott Music - Articles on Taize
Taize Music
Taize Community Worship
Traveling on Overgrown Path

Other links about Taize

Brother Rodger in Memoriam
United States Taize Community Website
Choose to Love: Book Review and Recommendation
Taize on Wikipedia
Gia Music - Taize Community Page
The Taize Network for Travelers to Taize


Quote of the Week "I worry that..."

"I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else."
~Lily Tomlin


It's Wedding Season: Making Memorable Music Choices

The wedding season is in full swing and I have had quite a few inquiries with questions relating to music for weddings in the past few months. The music choices people make can say so much about a couple. Your personal taste should be considered as well as the appropriateness of your selection for your ceremony or reception.

Selecting music for your ceremony
Many officiants and churches have strict rules that govern what types of music can be included in your ceremony and where. Talk with your officiant or wedding consultant if your church has one to find out the rules in your situation. Some churches don't even have a policy. Most ceremonies will include the basic selections of processional music that plays during the seating of the family, the bridal party's processional, the bride's walk down the aisle and the recessional at the end. Additional selections can be made to include solos or congregational hymns.

You want your selections to fit the style of your wedding and the message that you are trying to convey. Choose classical music for your ceremony if you are more traditional. If you and your groom are jazz lovers find some soothing jazz to walk down the aisle to. My husband and I had an Asian inspired wedding so we chose to use recorded meditation music for our processional music and a singing bowl for silent prayer.

Selecting Reception music
Here is where you can have some fun. Your first big choice will be the song you will have your first dance to. My husband requested that somewhere I sing at our wedding so I chose our reception. After I finished singing a friend of ours continued to play our song on the piano while we danced to it. It was a very special moment.

If you can afford a DJ or music group to come in and be your musical entertainment make sure you are clear about your likes and dislikes from the beginning and put as much as you can in writing. Create a must play list of songs that you can't live without. If you in a low budget situation like we were create a play list from your own collection or from friends and family and have someone at your reception man your computer connected to a speaker system. There are many play list ideas out there on the net to get you started. Check out sites like weddingchannel.com or theknot.com

Some of my favorites
Here is a list of some of my favorite selections for ceremonies and receptions. I would love hear what some of yours favorites. Don't forget to share your comments!

"You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You" -Russ Morgan, Larry Stock and James Cavanaugh
"Time in a Bottle" -Jim Croce
"From This Moment On" -Shania Twain and R.J. Lange
"Come Rain or Come Shine" -Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen
"This Can't be Love" -Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers
"That's All" -Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes ( I sang this one at my own wedding reception)
"Beautiful In My Eyes" (Joshua Kadison)
"She's Got A Way" (Billy Joel)
"Someone To Watch Over Me" (Sting)
"A Little Dream Of Me" (Louis Armstrong)
"I've Got The World On A String" (Bing Crosby)
"Isn't It Romantic" (Mel Tormé)
"It Had To Be You" (Tony Bennett or Ray Anthony)"
'S Wonderful" (Benny Goodman & His Orchestra)
As Time Goes By" (from Casablanca)
"At Last" (Etta James)
"Our Love Is Here To Stay" (Billie Holiday)
"The Best Is Yet To Come" (Frank Sinatra)
"I Get A Kick Out Of You" (Frank Sinatra)
"In My Life" (The Beatles)
"Nobody Does It Better" (Carly Simon)
"You're Just Too Good To Be True" (Lauryn Hill)
"She" (Elvis Costello)
"L-O-V-E" (Nat King Cole or Natalie Cole)


Classical Chicken Muppets Style

I just couldn't resist sharing another Muppets clip two weeks in a row. This one brought a smile to my face. Enjoy!


Optimists Creed

I promise myself
To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet.
To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of
others as I am about my own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the
greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile
to every living creature I meet.
To give so much time to improving myself that I
have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on my side,
so long as I am true to the best that is in my.

By Christian D. Larson
Modified by The Secret 2007


Ode to Joy

Seeing this video has reminded me how much I miss watching the Muppets. One of my favorite characters besides the Swedish Chef is Becker. He could say so much with just, "meep, meep meep meep. Meep meep." Enjoy Becker's rendition of Ode to Joy!

Do you have a favorite Muppets character or sketch?



The Choral Public Domain Library or ChoralWiki as its also called, began in 1998 and is now one of the world's largest free sheet music websites. You can use this collection to find music scores, song texts, translations and composer information on thousands of pieces in the public domain. If you are like me and work with music organizations with limited music budgets this website will be an instant friend.

My current project has involved me spending hours on ChoralWiki looking for Christmas carols in the public domain. I plan to put together a concert of Christmas carol favorites for this holiday season and to make a CD for distribution for next year. If you only use public domain music for your recordings you don't have to pay additional copyright fees. This will be my first major CD project with a very small budget and I can use all the help financially I can get. I have realized after going through this site that the majority of the arrangements I have come across are of good quality. It does vary though, depending on the contributor. You do have to be willing to dig around and wait for outside websites to load to find the gems out there. Some scores also come with midi files or mp3's so you can listen as you practice. The quality of these recordings are not always the best. It's kinda hit or miss with that feature.

Knowing how to use the search function on ChoralWiki is essential to finding the music you are looking for. You can search by any combination of title, composer, era, genre, or language in the main page. You can also search in the score subcategory listings by voicing, accompaniment, secular and sacred music, and musical eras.

And don't think just because its public domain it has to be old and stale music that nobody is really interested in. Many new composers are choosing to share their music with the world through the use of the Creative Commons License which gives you the user the right to copy, use and record as you see fit.

So, the next time you are in need of a new piece of music to study and enjoy try the Choral Public Domain Library. I know in these hard economic times your wallet will thank you. Please share and let me know what great pieces you find.


Quote of the Week "The singer has..."

"The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside."
~Rabindranath Tagore


Quote of the Week "A good teacher..."

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others."
~Author Unknown


One Woman Band

I just had to share this clip this week. This lady has some amazing coordination and I just love this song. It might even motivate me to get to the gym this weekend. Enjoy!


Quote of the Week "The dream begins..."

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth." "
~Dan Rather


Traveling On An Overgrown Path

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the blog On An Overgrown Path this week. I stumbled upon this United Kingdom music blog site while doing Taize music research recently. I am excited by the variety of topics on music from all over the world and the many podcasts available. Two posts caught my eye that I thought I would share with you. The first one, is The Music of Taize. This post shares with us the history behind the church of reconciliation at Taize where prayer is held three times a day and the music of Jacques Berthier that has helped to make the Taize community worship well known throughout the world. The second post of interest is There is a Green Hill Far Away Called Taize. I am dying to travel to Taize and see this magnificent place. Until I do I live vicariously through the people who have. This article contains gorgeous photographs of the various sites located at Taize and the many people who take pilgrimage there and talks about what it means to be there and share in this amazing community. Enjoy!

Quote of the Week "Doubt is a pain..."

"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother."
~Kahlil Gibran


Quote of the Week "Take a music bath..."

"Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes


Music Selections with Meaning

Music can evoke so many emotions and memories for people. You can trace my life's time line with the songs that I have sung. I can remember certain key times in my life by the songs that were on the radio or in my tape or CD player. Making music selections with meaning during times of sorrow can be difficult but essential for celebrating the people we love. I could go into a long list of hymns and songs that would be appropriate for a funeral or celebration of life service but I will leave that for another time. I thought I would share just two of the songs that have recently touched me while thinking about loss and working with families in their time of grief. Enjoy!

"Angel" -Sarah McLachlan

This song has been playing in my head this morning so I had to find it on YouTube. Whenever I think of Katie Mika I am reminded of this song and how magical it was in our lives when it came out on the radio. Katie and I would sing spontaneous harmony parts and all time would stop in the car until that song was done. In the spring of 2001 I lost my singing partner in a car accident. She will be forever missed.

"I Can Only Imagine" -Miller/Bryson/Cochran/Graul/Kipley/Scheuchzer/Shaffer

This song is fantastic! I recently was asked to sing at a celebration of life service for a long time member of our church that had been away for the past couple years. I so wish that I had had the opportunity to meet the man we were celebrating that evening. It was one of the most moving services. I was asked to sing "I Can Only Imagine". I learned it in a week with the help of this video on YouTube and I have been changed ever since. The lyrics of this song are perfect for any service really. I can't wait to sing it again.


Training Your Musical Ear

Ear training has come up in several of my lessons in that last couple weeks. Sharpening our ears to better hear intervals, chords and scales is so important. When learning new music it helps sight-reading go so much easier and shows strong musicianship. So, how do we sharpen are ears for listening? We must become familiar with each of the intervals and how they sound harmonically and melodically. Learning how each of the different kinds of scales sound is also essential for strong listening skills and music making whether singing or playing an instrument. Repetition is the key to building and keeping those skills fresh.

Let's start with what's an interval? An interval is the distance between two notes either sung or played on the keyboard. Each interval is given a number, 2nd - 8th or Octave. During music theory class in high school I received a great handout that I continue to reference today about all the intervals in music. Did you know that you can memorize all of the intervals by using famous songs? Check out this list and see how many you know.

Songs for Teaching Intervals




minor 2nd

“Stormy Weather”


“Button Up Your Overcoat”

from Follow Through

(Deslya, Brown, Henderson)

Major 2nd

from The Sound of Music

"Mary Had a Little Lamb"


Minor 3rd

"So Long, Farewell”
from the Sound of Music

"The Star Spangled Banner"


Perfect 4th

"Bridal Chorus"

from Lohengrin


(Folk Song)

Augmented 4th/

Diminished 5th

from West Side Story


4th Theme from The Incredible Flutist


Perfect 5th

"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"



minor 6th

"Go Down, Moses"


Theme from Love Story

Major 6th

"My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean"

"Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen"

minor 7th


from West Side Story

"How Am I to Know?"


Major 7th/

Diminished Octave

“I Love You"


"Back in Your Own Backyard"
(Jolson, Rose, Dreyer)


“Over the Rainbow”

from The Wizard of Oz


“It's D'Lovely

from Red Hot and Blue


I will admit that I didn't know all of these songs at first but they were a good starting point for memorization. Later, I added a few that were more familiar to me and you should do that, too. Personalize the list to include your favorite songs for even easier memorization.

My new favorite way to practice all aspects of ear training is with the many free online ear training websites out there. Here are a few of my favorites.

Web Resources for Ear Training

EarToner EarToner is a program to download that helps you learn all the aspects of ear training. I currently use this one and find it pretty easy to use. Let me know what you think.

Perfect Pitch I wish I had perfect pitch but I don't. Perfect Pitch is a website game for those wanting to test their sense of pitch. There are three levels, easy, medium and hard. Give this one a try for fun!

Ear Plane With the Olympics in full swing I thought we could get in the competitive spirit with ear training. Check out Ear Plane to compete with other musicians around the world in ear training exercises. there is nothing to download. Comment here and tell me how you do.

Good Ear I love the simplicity of this website. The ear trainer on Good Ear is similar to many of the other trainers out there but the site is clear of clutter and easy to move around. I like having choices and a change of pace every now and then so I don't get bored. This is a good one for that.

GNU Solfege GNU Solfege is another one that you have to download but I would highly recommend it especially if you are a singer. It has more bells and whistles than EarToner and includes reading intervals on the staff and gives you time to sing them before the answer is played. I will be downloading this soon.

This list is by no means complete but will get you started practicing ear training at home. Add 5-10 minutes a day of ear training along with your regular practice and I can guarantee you will see results. Happy ear training!


Quote of the Week "Our deepest fear is not..."

"...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

-Marianne Williamson


Healthy Voices

Taking care of one's voice is essential for any singer. Your voice is your instrument and you only get one, so treat it well. Here are a few tips for keeping good vocal health.

Water, Water, Water - Make sure you keep yourself hydrated. Water works to lubricate your vocal cords and protect them from harm. Dryness effects the mucous membranes that cover your cords, causing redness and swelling. Dry air can also dry out your vocal cords. So, if just drinking more water is not helping, try using a vaporizer during the day and even at night.

Reduce Vocal Stress and Misuse - Look at places in your life where you might be overworking your voice. Speaking for long periods of time on the phone in the office with no relief or excessive yelling with friends at your favorite late night hot spot can ware on your vocal cords over time. Throat clearing and coughing also effect the voice negatively when it becomes a habit. Be mindful of how loudly you are speaking and try to keep yourself on the lower end of your volume. If you are vocally taxed, make sure you talk in a low voice but not in a whisper. Whispering doesn't help the voice and can make it worse.

Avoid Vocal Irritants - Smoking and heavy use of alcohol are terrible for your vocal health. They both irritate your vocal and respiratory tract tissue. When you inhale heated smoke it is extremely drying to the tissue and nicotine works to constrict the blood vessels, reducing the overall blood flow. If you hang out in smoky places and you add excessive talking to that mix this can be extremely harmful to your voice. Alcohol can be dehydrating and cause engorgement of blood vessels in the throat as well. This doesn't mean that you can't go out and have a good time. It just means you have to be conscious of your surroundings and choose places that will limit your smoke exposure. Make sure that you read the side effects of any drugs you may be taking and ask your doctor about the possible side effects and how they may relate to your music performance.

Use Vocal Rest and Pace Yourself- There will be times when your rehearsal and performance schedule will be taxing on your voice. This happened to me quite frequently in college around the holidays. Don't forget to take vocal rest whenever you can. I know its hard not to talk to your friends when you are off stage but if you don't give your cords time to rest in the in between times you will regret it and your performance will suffer. Make a game of vocal rest and learn some hand signs or bring a pad of paper with you where ever you go. In this day and age with cell phones and texting being so popular it shouldn't be too hard not to use your voice every once in awhile. Pace yourself as you rehearse and make sure you are mindful of the frequency, intensity and duration of your rehearsal. Do your most vocally challenging pieces during the middle of your rehearsal when you are warmed-up but not worn out.

Don't Forget to Warm-up & Sing in Your Voice Range- Warming-up the voice helps the singer to take stock of their instrument and see how its performing that day. Warming-up can also enhance performance and may help prevent vocal injury. All good vocal warm-ups should include exercises in relaxation and breathing. The warm-up should be completed before each performance and rehearsal time and should be tailored to the vocal demands of the given production. Make sure you sing pieces that are in your vocal range and that you can sing comfortably. Straining yourself can have negative effects over time.

Don't get Sick - Now I know that's easier said than done but believe me take some preventative measures when you can to ensure that you stay healthy for as long as you can. Staying in good health means making sure you eat a balanced diet, exercising and getting enough sleep. If you do feel yourself coming down with a cold, make sure you hydrate and get lots of rest. Avoid coughing as much as possible. If you are congested try a warm drink like tea or my favorite hot chocolate. That helps to open things up a little and may help calm any irritation in your throat that can cause you to cough.

For more information about how the voice works and your vocal health check out The National Center for Voice and Speech website.

Quote of the Week "Every time you don't..."

"Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness."

~Shakti Gawain


Chant Renewed

The monks of Heiligenkreuz Abbey in Austria are reviving the almost lost art of Gregorian chant singing and posting their videos on YouTube. Choosing to share those videos landed them a record deal. Amazingly their new album is doing extremely well on the European charts and is now arriving in America. On NPR Music, Father Karl Wallner talked to host Andrea Seabrook about balancing pop stardom with the religious life. You can hear that interview at YouTube Monks Storm European Pop Charts : NPR Music I have also included the video I found on YouTube that tells you more about this fascinating community. It doesn't surprise me that this type of music is receiving such a resurgence in popularity. I have always enjoyed singing in this style. It has so many layers. Listening to chant has helped bring more peace into my life as well. Enjoy!



Winner Parent's Picks 2008!

I am proud to announce that the Elliott Music Studio was selected as Kansas City's 2008 Parents' Pick for Best Artsy Class for Big Kids as part of Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect's First Annual Parents' Picks Awards. Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect , the online resource for parenting advice and community, asked parents to pick the best service in their local communities via the 2008 Parents' Picks Awards.

The ParentsConnect's First Annual Parents Picks Awards identified the best family-oriented places and resources in 52 major U.S. cities. Categories included Best Kids' Museum, Best Toy Store, Best Playground/Park, Best Green Space, and many more. Users, real parents, voted for nominees online from May 19 to June 30, 2008. On July 15, 2008, the ParentsConnect.com site published the Parents' Picks winners. All Parents' Picks businesses were nominated based on recommendations from ParentsConnect.com local city editors who live and work in the cities they cover, in conjunction with ParentsConnect users' feedback. Users' votes and rankings ultimately determined which venues are selected as winners in their respective categories.

Featuring the tagline "We're not perfect, we're parents," Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect strives to celebrate the reality of parenthood and makes parent's lives easier. Geared towards parents with kids of all ages, from newborns to teens, the site offers unique features like the ParentsConnect Local city guide (formally GoCityKids.com) for family activities; personalized profiles that help parents connect with each other; a digital multimedia scrapbook; daily tips for all ages and stages; expert parenting advice; a weekly meal-planner for quick and healthy meals; and celebrity-guest editorials. Each age-related section on the site provides users with daily content to help them through both large and small parenting challenges.

Thank you so much for all the time you spent casting votes for the Elliott Music Studio. We are so honored to be nominated and honored to have won. Check out our listing at ParentsConnect.com and leave a review or rating and while you're there don't forget to sign up for their local newsletter. It definately keeps me informed about all the neat happenings going on in my city for kids.

The Singer's Link

Visit The Singer Link

The Singer Link is a unique community start-up welcoming singers and choral directors no matter what age, experience level, musical preference, or geographic location. This is a unique opportunity to help form the music community you have always wanted to be apart of. I couldn't wait to sign up.

The Singer Link has plans to offer...

-Updated musical news and stories
-Easy access to the products you need
-Concert and tour information
-Ability to view and post photos and videos of concerts, people, etc.
-Special offers on products and services
-Ability to search and connect with people just like you!

Please feel free to check out what The Singer Link has to offer and please don't be afraid to tell them what you think! Check out my personal page. See you on the Singer's Link!


Quote of the Week

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."

~Scott Adams


Quote of the Week

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
~Judy Garland


Elliott Music Studio Update

Things have been quite busy for me at the Elliott Music Studio for the last couple weeks. So, I thought I would give you an update on my current projects.

Private Piano and Voice instruction has grown steadily this summer. We currently have 8 enrolled and attending weekly lessons. My voice students are working on music literacy & sight-reading skills, preparing for musical auditions for this falls' high school musicals and preparing for American Idol auditions this August. I am working with several awesome young people on beginning piano skills and we are having a blast. I am excited about all the new and innovative ways I have learned to help get the word out to our community about the awesome things we are doing at the Elliott Music Studio. I am certain that we will double our enrollment this fall. Our first studio recital is also in the works for this fall. Look for more information about that soon.

Classroom Music for Little Mozarts is a fun curriculum designed for 4, 5 & 6 year olds that are interested in learning piano but aren't sure if they are ready. This class requires no pianos or books to buy. Over the course of the 10-week session a story unfolds with Beethoven Bear and Mozart Mouse as we share music together. When I first heard of this idea I was thrilled. I have missed sharing music with parents and their children in a classroom setting and see this program as a way to do just that. I have spent the last week putting together a proposal for space rental at a local church. I plan to start offering these classes for families this October.

I have had the opportunity to get to know the Musikgarten program in the past couple months. I am passionate about giving families the opportunity to share music with their children at any age. So many studies show that the sooner we share music with are children the better. Musikgarten is a comprehensive music program that offers programs from birth to age 9. I am also excited that Musikgarten offers a Christian based music class for toddlers and preschools that I know my church would be interested in looking into. I am researching the qualifications for certification in this wonderful program. I plan to take classes next summer.

I am so excited to announce that I will be taking my final class for United Methodist Church Lay Musician Certification. I sent the paperwork in before the July 4th holiday. I will be taking United Methodist Studies in Doctrine to fulfill my United Methodist Studies requirement. Once that is complete, I have an application process that includes recommendation letters, an essay, and an application followed by interviews. I cannot wait to get this all accomplished. I started this process in 2001 and had no idea it would take this long. It doesn't have to, but I have enjoyed the fact that it's a flexible program of study. You now have 10 years to complete the process without having to start over. I am confident that next June, during United Methodist Church Annual Conference, I will be receiving my certificate.

Have you heard of Squidoo? I hadn't until today. You should check this site out. You can create pages which they call lenses for just about anything. They just ask that your lens be about a specific thing or idea that you are passionate enough about to write about it. Now I have a new Elliott Music Studio Squidoo lens page to share with the world. Check it out at http://www.squidoo.com/elliottmusicstudio. I can't wait to add more lenses to my list.

My goal has been to perform somewhere at least once a month as a soloist and I have reached that goal so far by sharing special music at church this summer. Well, I think that about covers it. Each week brings more opportunities and musical surprises. I will start this one with being a soloist at church tomorrow morning.


Quote of the Week

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

~Pablo Picasso


Quote of the Week

"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally."

~David Frost


Beach Party VBS

I haven't written anything new for the past couple weeks because I have been spending most of my time organizing One Spirit United Methodist Church's summer vacation bible school. Beach Party was a blast as we surfed through the scriptures this past week. Each day we left with better beach be-attitudes than when we arrived. We heard the story of Gideon and how he learned to be obedient to God. We met Mephisobeth and learned how important it is to be kind to others. On Wednesday, we heard the parable of the unforgiving servant and how it's important to be forgiving. Later, we heard the story of a woman healed who showed us how to be bold in our faith. Finally, we met Thomas and learned that truly believing is seeing. Each night Sandy Surfer helped us learn some cool on land surfing moves so we can ride the wave of God's love.

This year was the first year in a long time that I wasn't also directing the music. I got to enjoy learning the songs and motions right along with the kids. It was a lot of fun. We sang songs like 'Beach Party', 'Beach Be-Attitudes', 'Surfin' Through the Scriptures', 'In the Son', 'I Will Believe', and 'Sha-zaam!' I made sure we shared music with our smallest surfers. My daughter learned some new dance moves that she now shares with us during our daily dance time. She also learned some surfin' lingo and can now shout cowabunga and Sha-zaam. To get in the mood to write this article I turned on some of the tunes for inspiration. It became necessary to have a dance break. This year's music was a real hit with everyone, including all the kids.


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