Tag Archives: Education

Sunday salon


Interesting article in today’s Washington Post about birthing new plays & associated issues.

Artist Georgia O’Keeffe

“Nobody sees a flower, really — it is so small — we haven’t time, and to see takes time…”

Learning to sing also takes time.

Scroll down in the Wiki article for online examples of her works.

PBS’s American Masters series

Reviewed an old VHS copy of Juilliard lately.

Excellent, but not yet available on DVD.


Singers’ Muscle Memory

The latest Flute Talk magazine has an article of interest to singers, because it deals with listening to one’s body to determine if correct tone is being produced.

Author and flutist Jessica Quiñones Discovered this while working with one of her students, who’s aurally challenged.  However, the student could very quickly identify and remember specific body/muscle positions that Quiñones identified as good tone. The student was then able to reproduce them easily. Sorry the article’s not available online.

Jessica Quiñones, by Erfan Arafi (violarts.com)


American Academy of Teachers of Singing

Found an old list of reasons for studying singing several weeks ago from The American Academy of Teachers of Singing.  The organization was formed in 1922, predating  National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) which they organized in 1944.

The offshoot’s become better known than the parent, but the parent is of more interest to yours truly.

Their current list of publications should be of interest to singing students at all levels, parents interested in knowing more before they start their children’s lessons, and professional singers of all levels.  Documents are downloadable PDF files.

(As that old piece is no longer offered, yours truly won’t attach it.  The English phrasing is pre-2011, but the thoughts are sound. Am hoping they’ll revise and reload it.)

Note:  How can I become a member of the Academy?
It is not possible to apply directly to become a member of the American Academy of Teachers of Singing. Membership is exclusively by inner nomination and new members are nominated by current active members only when there is a vacancy. All nominees must have no more than two dissenting votes to become members, and when accepted, membership is for life.


Granados and The Pianola

Photo credit: Detail of (The White) Duchess of Alba, Goya, 1795

The Pianola Institute’s site has extensive information about the pianola’s various forms, and those differences are crucial to musicians when listening to pianola recordings.

Depending on the type used, you might be listening to a modern technician-pianola expert interpreting what a composer recorded during the original recording session.

Yours truly wanted to get as close to the genius of Granados as possible.

Remember, Granados was originally known as a piano virtuoso, like Liszt.  When dealing with that stature, it would seem unfair to expect a pianola expert to also be a virtuoso.

Here is a wonderful example of one type of pianola, sent by cara amiga and colleague, soprano Rut Jiménez Guerrero, of Málaga, Spain.

Yours truly immediately noticed all the moving around the technician does, and the closeup of his hands manipulating something below the keys.  What was he doing? When listening, yours truly’s musical sensibilities were screaming, Would Granados have done that?  Or that?  Or that??

Going back to The Pianola Institute’s site, the Duo-Art version seemed closer to what yours truly wanted to hear, but they didn’t mention Granados as having recorded for it.  Then, this excellent example of how a pianola works came to light.

Hopefully it explains why the hunt continued.

The Reproducing Piano and Welte-Mignon

First, here’s this page for reference, to explain what seems to be the action used in the previous example.  Scroll down to the very bottom if you don’t have time/interest in reading everything – to “Stencil Recording Piano, Aeloian Company,” etc.

Here’s a very lengthy and sometimes quite technical history and explanation of the Welte-Mignon version of a reproducing piano, which seemed to be the best version of Granados.

Now, onward to find a recorded example of Maestro Granados . . .


Feeding One’s Soul, Mae West, & Dudamel

Why is it so difficult to feed one’s soul?  Julia Cameron speaks about this extremely important point at great length and makes it a weekly must in her book, The Artist’s Way.

Stick with your nose to the grindstone and never look up.  Where’s the inspiration in that?, she points out. Sounds more like martyrdom, and it’s self-martyrdom because it’s self-induced.

It’s bad enough the rest of the world constantly throws dirt into whatever art you pursue.  Don’t do it to yourselves!  And for heaven’s sake, get away from anyone who does it to you!  A toxic attitude will block or murder one’s positive impulses.

Consider Mae West.  In her 1935 movie Goin’ to Town, she astounds the viewer by singing the end of Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix( from Samson & Dalilah) “in delectable French” with tenor Vladimir Bykoff.  Mae West and opera??

The lady had class.  She had style.  She also knew exactly what she was doing as actor/writer/director/producer on Broadway and Hollywood.

To watch her fingering locks of Samson’s long curly wig while singing is priceless. So are her warmup arpeggios.

Many people feel the arts should and can uplift the human race, as in “music hath charms to sooth the savage breast.”  I think there’s a great deal to be said in that sense.

Did you know that an entire country in South America has embraced classical orchestra training as the way to lift their country’s economy, and they’ve been at it for 30-odd years?   How’s it working out?

60 Minutes did a review lately and thought things were going just swell.  A rising star of the program, Gustavo Dudamel,  just got hired by the L.A. Phil.  He’s a product of that program.

CLASSICAL music, as in strings and harps and stuff?  Yes!  It’s amazing to see the footage of the poverty in South American city slums, then see and hear classical music everywhere in those slums.   It changes the people.

Why?  How?

It lifts people up.  Above where they are.  To a higher level.  It gives them dreams, and discipline to reach them.  Then they’re no longer in the slums.

When mental self-image changes, the physical environment can change, too. Ms. West knew that decades ago.