Why 2012! Didn’t see you there…

30 01 2012

Disclaimer – I’m not going to make brave promises about updating this more frequently, because clearly I suck at keeping those promises!

Last year I was very pleased with my uni year, and my outside of uni year. In uni, well, I:

  • Met great new friends
  • Got some excellent grades (2 A+s and nothing lower than B+)
  • Improved my singing

Outside of uni, I:

  • Got married
  • Had a honeymoon
  • Got to sing in the chorus of a gorgeous Handel’s Messiah
  • Settled down into my new city

Nearly the start of the new uni year. It’s going to be quite different: a much smaller pool of singers, and a new singing teacher being the main changes. Many of the students were 3rd year or honours, and have now graduated. My singing teacher has moved universities, and so I will be learning from a guy. I think this will be good for me, but interesting as I haven’t had a male singing teacher before.

I also have a new choir and we start rehearsals tonight! I love new choirs! Here is a link to my new choir: http://www.jubilate.org.nz/singers/

My new husband is also pretty great. Many props to him for putting up with his wife swanning around with this crazy idea of being a singer.

What else do I hope to do this year? Well, I’d like…

  • Some solos in the choir, we’ll see how that goes.
  • To get all As in my courses.
  • To do some singing competitions.
  • To get my Grade 8 singing so I can do ATCL next year.
  • Make some more new friends.
  • Visit my sister in Melbourne.
  • Get back up to Wellington a couple of times and have drinkies and catch ups with my new friends and their babies I haven’t even met yet!
  • On second thoughts, I probably shouldn’t go drinking with the babies.

And something to listen to for you. Here is Allegri’s Miserere, a truly beautiful and relaxing piece of music.


End of the year is nigh

19 10 2011

I have just my singing exam to do, and then my first year of this degree will be finished! I’m startled at how short the time seems, but also how much has happened this year.

In terms of things to not do while you are trying to finish your year’s work, if you’d like some free advice, I would suggest:


  • plan a wedding
  • have your parents in law to stay

No that’s it. 🙂 But I wouldn’t change these things either. I’m very excited about my wedding, but I am also wishing I could just focus on my work. But that’s life I guess! And to suppose there will ever be a time when I can just focus on one thing without the rest of my life intruding would be a bit dim on my part.

In terms of academics, I’ve collected mostly As, which I’m proud of. Learned so many new things, which are giving me a much better picture in my head of how music has developed over the years (though obviously, STILL SO MUCH TO LEARN).

My singing is also improving, but at times it feels like one step forward two back. Or maybe two forward, one back. It depends how upbeat I’m feeling… But I just remind myself when I feel down, that the feeling when it is working is SO worth it. I sang at a masterclass last week, and just UGH. I was so annoyed with myself. Nothing worked right, I sounded like a complete mess and I could NOT get it to come right. But I went home, thought about what had happened and tried to put some plans in place so the same thing won’t happen again. (I’m sure I’ll mess up at masterclass again, but just not in that way). I sometimes feel like singing is all about messing up in NEW and EXCITING ways, instead of the same old ways. As long as I make new mistakes, I’m improving. Um, right?

I am really focussing on my back muscles at the moment. The slackers. These are the same ones you engage when you go to sit down on a chair. They were sneakily just lying there, letting my abs do all the work. Now, with them engaged (though I haven’t quite got them to work as well as they should yet) my top notes are much easier.

I have set some goals to really make sure I step up and use all the opportunities we get here though. So here they are, so that you may call me on them, internets:

  • Sing at every masterclass
  • Practice every morning before I start doing anything else.
  • Go to all the student concerts I can, instrumental or vocal (I’ve actually been pretty good at seeing most of them this year)
  • Blog more. Because it really does help me focus, and keeps me honest. Which is weird but good.

I think I’ve also managed to organise a small one or two voice per part chamber group, as part of an ensemble paper for next year. So looking forward to that!

Musically outside of school, I still have the Messiah to look forward to at the end of the year. I think it will be my last concert with this choir though. They are really good, but a big choir is really no good at all for my voice, I tend to pick up bad habits (not that other people are doing anything terrible, but solo singing is a completely different kind of singing.)  I want to hear the soloists, and I haven’t sung it before, so worth a sing. We got to sing with the NZSO as well last month, how awesome is that?

2011, you have been awesome, and interesting, and there is still TWO WHOLE MONTHS AND A BIT OF YOU TO GO!? Uni, you are messing with my head.

Would you like some music? Of course you would. No vocal today, instead Beethoven’s 3rd movement from his String Quartet in A minor. Bear in mind, this is 2 years before his death, and he was completely deaf when he wrote it. It’s called Heiliger Dangkesang for short which is Hymn of thanks to the godhead. It celebrates recovery from an illness. It is so beautiful it makes me cry, in a good way. Put it on and just chill out for 7 minutes. This is performed by the Takacs quartet.

If I’m honest, Beethoven seriously disrupted my study this year by being so damn amazing. I’d be listening to all my music for history in bits, trying to quickly name the piece/composer/date and then I’d hit a Beethoven piece and have to listen all the way through. And they’re LONG. BACH I’M LOOKING AT YOU TOO. You and your damn Brandenburg.

Singing exam next week, I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m singing:

  • a Vaccai vocal exercise
  • some recit and Come Unto Him from the Messiah (Handel)
  • Un Marito Donne Care ( Mozart)
  • Seit ich ihn gesehen (Schumann)

I don’t know where to start

27 06 2011

Do I apologise for lack of blogging first? or do I come up with some excellent excuses first? (It’s hard to type on my ipad! My fingers are too cold because Christchurch is cold! WordPress sometimes crashes the ipad browser! Those are pretty good right?)
Or do I breeze right on by those and just summarise the first semester?

So far, I have joined a new choir and participated in an awesome concert. The choir – http://www.christchurchcitychoir.co.nz/ and the concert was ‘Missa Gaia’ or Earth Mass. Traditional mass parts (kyrie, agnus dei etc.) set to modern and beautiful music, with a full band, amazing percussion, wolf song, whale song… Trust me it was awesome fun. I also got to sing in a quartet making wolf howling noises, which sounds crazy but was actually very cool. We had a fabulous gospel soloist, a kapa haka group and their amazing soloist… Wish you could have all seen it!

I have also been doing pretty well with my studies, think I am averaging an A across the board, fingers crossed it continues. Obviously first year is easy, but I will pat myself on the back anyway!

Singing lessons are amazing fun as always. MM is an excellent teacher, very encouraging and inspiring. My main problem outside of lessons continues to be performance nerves. Ugh, so horrible. My throat gets all tight, my breathing goes wacky, and I end up producing a sound which is more thirteen year old’s first recital than actual singer. But I will keep putting myself in situations where I have to do it, and fingers crossed it will work itself out. I have come up with a few strategies, like having a proper preparation routine, lots of controlled stomach breathing and bluffing the confidence as I walk into the room!

Christchurch is gorgeous still. Yes, shakey, but still awesome. And freezing. Did I mention freezing? OMG so cold! The water that puddles on top of the garage has frozen this morning! I am on holiday which means singing practice. I have heaps of music to learn. I may get to sing a solo for my choir course (different from the other choir) which is called ‘Schafe Können’

I wonder if that will work. i haven’t blogged from my ipad before. There is a picture of sheep because the English title is ‘sheep may safely graze’

So in short, I aten’t dead, and singing continues to be awesome!

First lesson at uni

3 03 2011

First singing lesson that is, as classes haven’t gone back yet after the earthquake – which was terrifying and each aftershock leaves me full of adrenaline I can’t use!

However, singing lessons have started out at someone’s house (well mansion, as the lady who is letting us use her house is in fact a Lady with a capital ‘L’). I’m going to be learning from Dame MM who is one of NZ’s leading divas, but also seems to be very gracious and down to earth – which is a good start, as I had quite imagined myself quaking in my boots (strappy sandals) before her. I’m determined to take in everything I can, after all, how often will I get this chance?

I and another new voice student had our first lesson together, and we went back to basics, just trying to control our breath and make the right sound. So my exercises for this week are: (let me bore you, but I need to record them somewhere, and why not here!)

  • Hissing tssssssss out through my teeth slowly and controlled three times, ensuring proper release after each one.
  • All on one note – Ngee-eeh-ah-oh-oo
  • Ee up and Ahh down all on one breath: 1-5,5-1, 1-5, 5-1,1-9,9-1, 1-10 with a turn on the end and back down

Other things to remember: chest up, jaw relaxed and open, sniff in the breath through my nose so that the sound is already focused there. Ngee if I’m having trouble getting my sound right.

If it sounds like gobbledegook, don’t worry, I’m sure even musicians would have trouble understanding my shorthand, but I know what I mean which is most important. 🙂 Thanks to my excellent previous teacher I quickly understood all of what I needed to do, which gave me some confidence.

Next lesson is on Thursday next week. I’m picking up the other girl, as we will be sharing lessons for a while – which is fun, and slightly less stressful 🙂

Now, I should probably go eat something as I was too nervous this morning, plus my dearest one called me from Auckland panicking that he didn’t know where his passport was. And thus ensued the great passport hunt of 2011. Eventually successful 🙂






Before you’re perfect…

10 01 2011

I had to sing for someone on Saturday and it was a bit freaky. I have this problem where I want to somehow want to be perfect before I perform for anyone. Which is ridiculous as I’m never going to be perfect, and I will never get better unless I perform for people! Has anyone else had this issue? Not just with performing but with maybe sharing your work?  Techniques for overcoming it? Suggestions?

Oh boy, I keep getting fabulous links to things that I want to share! For everyone who has had a bad audition. 12 Bad Auditions: (there’s a wee bit of swearing at the end).

Jenny Neale, Ryan Murray, Jen Mintzer, Michael Diliberto, Shanna Lesniak and Ariela Morgenstern perform “12 Bad Auditions” at “Exposed: The Songs of Andrew Byrne.” The concert took place on Sunday, October 5th at 8PM at the Zipper Theater. (lyrics by Andrew Byrne and Mark Blankenship)

I can relate to a few of these.


Quick post…

7 01 2011

If you haven’t seen this yet, have a watch! Alfie Boe (awesome tenor) singing Nessun Dorma in Matt Lucas’ (Little Britain) kitchen. Makes me smile and squee and wish (not for the first time) I was a tenor. Damn awesome tenor arias.

OOH and as Jenni has pointed out the singing part is MUCH LOUDER than the talky intro, so turn it down or your ears will fall off 🙂

Welcome 2011

5 01 2011

Back for my first singing lesson of the year today – fortunately both my teacher and I remembered! I am going to miss my singing teacher – she was the one who got me to from the point of quiet mousey singer to someone who is now going to study singing, and in just three years 🙂 Check out her website for info on her teaching, and also upcoming performances.

Today we worked on a new piece: ‘There’s none to soothe’, a British folksong arranged by Benjamin Britten. As always, Britten does beautiful and simple arrangements which make a traditional and repetitive folk song into something very sweet, moving and interesting to listen to.

Here is the song, performed beautifully by Josephine Goddard:

The key for me in this song is keeping it all very connected and legato.

Then we worked a bit on a musical theatre piece, ‘I’m leaving you’ by Ira Gasman. Not very well known, and I can’t find video of someone singing it. The thing for me to think about is being  a bit more ‘speaky’ in my lower register and not being afraid to make my sound  a bit more ‘ugly’. Not ugly as in eww but as in getting a bit more emotion and guts into the sound, so it’s not just a pretty noise. I find it difficult!

In our lesson we talked about someone who was fabulous at bringing emotion, a natural speaking rhythm, and also a beautiful sound together in her performances, so I’m going to leave you with one of her songs. Here’s ‘Cry me a river’ by Barbra Streisand. *LOVE HER* And doesn’t she look gorgeous here??

Moving to Christchurch in February, to start school! Exciting times ahead!


au revoir Wellington!

20 11 2010

I’m sure you know already, as  I just had to facebook it, but I will  be moving to Christchurch in February! In Christchurch I am going to start a MusB – Bachelor of Music (I just love how they put the Mus in front of the B!) in singing!

This was the audition that Dame Malvina Major was at. In fact everyone involved with the audition seemed incredibly composed and wildly skilful (making me feel somewhat inadequate) including my pianist. I only got to sing two songs, due to time constraints, so I sang ‘Quella Fiamma’ and ‘Widmung’. I was a bit gutted to miss out ‘Sure on this Shining Night’ but under pressure, if I was going to screw up any of my audition pieces, it was that one! So I went with the first two.

I’ve spent all morning trying to figure out what courses I have to take, and what courses I want to take – unfortunately a couple I wanted to do aren’t available this year (Chamber choir! Sadness!) but I will be doing a 45 minute singing lesson, two hours of choir, some keyboard (not sure if I’m doing the basic keyboard, or more advanced course – have asked what would be more appropriate). And then of course, music theory, European music history, and then some other things! It’s all very confusing. I hope I’m smart enough to actually enrol, let alone get the degree…


And then today had my last Cantoris concert for the year (and I guess for a few years!) The theme was Shakespeare, and as always, our MD picked some fabulous music.

My favourite piece: Orpheus with his Lute by William Shuman:

And another lovely one but very sad: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day by Robert Applebaum. He dedicated it to his daughter who he lost while she was in her 20s to a heart condition. Beautiful piece, and gives a new twist to the words of probably one of the most well known sonnets.

I would LOVE to link these for you, but I can’t find them. If you can log onto Naxos (allow me to pimp it again – if you have a wellington library card log on from the library website) search for them and have a listen.

Meantime, have a listen to a fun one: Double Double toil and trouble! Jaakko Mantyjarvi. He’s Finnish and gave us no end of trouble trying to learn his pieces. But done right (and…well we tried?) they are sooo cooooool!

I Aten’t Dead

7 11 2010

Really truly, I promise, I aten’t dead. However, life changes, and life in general (and wussiness I do admit) have kept me blogless for a bit.

I do promise I have been singing – auditioning even! I have auditioned in front of Dame Malvina Major and Margaret Medlyn! One unsuccessfully, and the other…well I don’t know yet!

Next year will be exciting because I am moving cities (regardless of how a certain audition goes) and I will need to find for myself a new singing teacher, choir, and theatre company!

So stay tuned peeps. 2010 has been a bit huge in terms of life changing and 2011 should also be awesome (change is good!)

I should note that much of the reason that I am prompted to keep blogging is because of my other creative friends who are persisting with their endeavours, and posting about it! You are awesome, and you jogged me into thinking about why I started posting in the first place. Creativity is communication. Without it, there’s no point me even singing.

Back soon, with actual content! Mwah!! xxxxx Why not have a listen to the late, incredibly great Dame Joan Sutherland sing the doll song from ‘Tales of Hoffmann’ (Offenbach).

Turn it up. Be amazed.

Panto and Choir update

12 07 2010


Well life has been very busy, with panto rehearsals and choir, plus of course the normal run of life, and trying to fit all the bits of my life together so there is time for everything!!

Panto opens this week, if you have kids, or know kids, they might like it! Tuesday 2pm, Wednesday 2pm, Thursday 11 and 2, Friday 11 and 2!

DOOR SALES - JULY 13TH TO 16TH Click for more details

Will I be exhausted? Yes. Yes indeedy. I’m playing the beautiful princess Maya. I get to sing some songs, act like a ditz and generally overact up a storm, panto-style! It’s great fun! 🙂

After this week, back to focusing on Fledermaus rehearsals, plus I think I will be auditioning for music school one more time. I have to try right? Rhetorical question. I do have to try. 

Also my choir’s second concert of the year is on on the 7th of August.  Check out the shiny new Cantoris website!  The concert should be lovely, and in St Andrews which is a gorgeous venue.

Feeling a bit flaily like there is too much to think about, but I will gradually organise it all into some kind of coherency. Toodles!