Category Archives: music

professional development information for performing artists & interested others

Wisdom from Martha Graham

“I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer.  It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way.  Sometimes it is not pleasant.  Sometimes it is fearful.  But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

“No artist is pleased.

“There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.

“There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

Martha Graham

People in the arts understand these two quotes perfectly because we live them as an innate part of our artistic gift and resultant way of life.

Not so for the rest of the world, with talents and gifs in other areas.

Why not?

Can’t the research scientist feel just as driven?

Can’t a teacher or business owner feel similar “divine dissatisfaction?”


Singers: How to handle your performing mentality

Power Performance for Singers

Emmons & Thomas

Most performers are subject to pre- and/or -post-performance syndrome in varying degrees.  Performers may experience different levels of either or both, depending on what, when or for whom they’re performing.  This situation isn’t limited to singers.  Athletes (which singers should be) are very conscious of it.  Ever heard of sports psychology?  This is it, applied to singers.

It works.

It can be unsettling to hear sharp comments from a performer, or have them say something totally out of context, or not understand something you try to tell them, or act as if they didn’t hear what you said, or answer a completely different question from the one you asked.

Remember, they’re in the middle of a chemical, physical and mental state that has them totally focused on another time, place and activity – their performance –  not you.  Most non-performers can’t begin to imagine the kind of concentration a performer takes for granted.

Some people either don’t know this, don’t understand it, or want to take advantage of it (generally for their own benefit).  However, it is not an excuse for outright rudeness or abusive behavior!

Makes teaching or coaching quite challenging, and always interesting.

Everyone has performance moments in their lives.

Consider the bride/groom, speaker at a funeral or memorial service, or reader in church services.  They’re performing publicly, generally with no previous experience whatsoever, nor any knowledge of how to handle themselves, the situation, or their thoughts about any of it.

No wonder they’re nervous!


W. Stephen Smith’s “The Naked Voice”

The Naked Voice, from

Not a novel, but a quite serious book on considering the whole singer instead of just their vocal folds.  Smith’s students include Joyce DiDonato and Christine Brewer.  He taught at Juilliard, but beginning in 2011 will be teaching at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

From a favored dictionary, Noah Webster wrote:

NAKED, a. Open, discovered, to strip.

Not covered; bare … open; exposed …

Plain; evident; undisguised…

“The secret in singing

lies between the vibration in the singer’s voice

and the throb in the hearer’s heart.”

Kahlil Gibran

What green means

In the news somewhere lately:  Research indicates that trees help reduce stress in the workplace and speed recovery of hospital patients.

Police officers believe that trees and landscaping can instill community pride and help cool tempers that sometimes erupt during long, hot summers.

Got green?