Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, It's Back to School We Go

     What does a new school year mean to you?  You may be a student, teacher, staff person, parent/caregiver, or a once-upon-a-time student.  Unless you're like one of the Seven Dwarfs and living deep in the forest, there is no way to not notice the buzz in the air when a new school year rolls around.

     My kids are both out of school now, but we all recall the excitement and happy energy of many a first-day-back.  From my own childhood, I have only one clear memory of a first day of school.  It was the year my family moved from California to Argentina for my dad's sabbatical year.  At age 11, I, along with my brother and sister were deposited by our mom at our new school where not a single soul spoke English.  It was "sink-or-swim", and we all eventually got the hang of things, including wearing the all-white uniforms.                                                                                  
Looking a lot like this one, ours were called "guardapolvos" (dust guards) and resembled lab coats  

        This week, my friend Maggie reflected on her daughter's starting senior year of high school: "Today is the last first day of school. Carrie zoomed out the door but the sweet smell of her shampoo and excitement are still in the air."  Wherever you are, I wish you happy new beginnings.

Just for fun, watch those seven famous little men on this vintage Disney clip. "Heigh-ho!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Moving together builds bonds from the time we learn to walk

      "To live is to dance; to dance is to live".  Sounds good.  Considering myself a dancer for most of my life---folk, jazz, musical theater----I've recently joined a line dancing group, to tunes like "Marie Claire Waltz", "Zydeco Lady" and "North of Heaven".  Dancing and music.  Joy.

  From an article by Wade Hemsworth , we find that all this dancing and movement with music also has wonderful social benefits for children and their caregivers:  "...When we sing, clap, bounce or dance in time to music with our babies, these shared experiences of synchronous movement help form social bonds between us and our babies.
     ....Moving together to music with others encourages the development of altruistic helping behavior among those in a social group.  ....Music is an important part of day care and kindergarten curriculums because it helps to build a co-operative social climate."
Read more

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Healing Power of Your Voice

     Your voice.  It's an expression of you, your beliefs, your talents; it reflects your whole life experience.  Speaking or singing, your voice matters, and can bring you joy and creative expression.  There are many helpful hints and techniques for making the most of your voice and keeping it in healthy, youthful condition.                                                      
     Click the following link to an insightful post from CD Baby (all genres----if you don't know about CD Baby yet, visit their website---they have much to offer!)
     From" DIY CD Baby": 7 excellent reasons for singing---no matter what you think of your voice

     Will you try some of these techniques?  It's worth it, I assure you.  And please, share your experience here?



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Not Shaking Hands----A Musician's Quest to Avoid Stress

     There are so many social norms that make our lives pleasant and courteous.  Holding the door for someone right behind us, slowing down to let another driver enter the lane, murmuring a "bless you" when someone sneezes, and any number of other acts of kindness and compassion.

     But I shrink from the custom of hand-shaking.  I have become a "non-shaker".  Is it just me?.  When did we (at least in the "western world") all come to buy into the automatic clasping, grasping, clamping, thrusting, squeezing ritual of hand-shaking as a requisite act of politeness?  And why?

      I'm considering evasive techniques to get beyond this custom and, hopefully, to practice other ways to greet each other. . The challenge is to deflect the offered hand with gentle, even apologetic directness:  "I have a tender hand" (holding my right hand protectively away), "I just put on lotion",  "Oh, let's just hug!"   So far, none of these work.  Responses have been "Well, let's shake the Other hand!"; "That's ok!"; and "Oh!  OK!! (hug)"  The majority of us seems to have become so ingrained with the expectation of this social hand-shake requirement, and adamant to complete it, that those of us who balk risk coming across as downright rude.  But with good reason!

     Consider the obvious concern about hygiene. For instance, recently a respected colleague I met  automatically put her hand out, and we shook---and then she told me how sick she was and probably shouldn't have come in to work.   Really?  Eeep.

     But what does this have to do with the music world-----my theme for this blog?  Well, in addition to making reasonable attempts to keep my own hands clean and to stay healthy, there's the interesting phenomenon of "giving a good, firm handshake" which some people---who are otherwise kind and perfectly wonderful----take very seriously.  Have you ever had your hand squeezed too hard?  Painfully? Throbbing long after the "friendly shake"?  I have. Many times.  And I know that for some, this is a matter of pride, a mark of authority and power, a game they play.  No thanks;  for me, it's a matter of avoiding pain, and to not risk being hurt by shaking hands.

     I choose to play instruments, to use my hands for making music and for the countless ways hands express kindness and beauty.  The images below show other ways, respectful and lovely ways, to greet each other:                                                                                       
Please let me know what you think?  How you avoid getting a hurt hand?  Any insights or suggestions?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Flamenco Guy in Granada

     "I want to marry the flamenco guy who was just playing in Plaza Nueva!"  Daughter G is thoroughly enjoying revisiting Granada, Spain.   Her solo trip to Europe begins where our Mother-Daughter trip took place last year: the south of Spain.  She is enamored of this gorgeous, romantic corner of the world, feeling as if she could stay there indefinitely---forever---live there!
Genny leaning into the Alhambra's magic from her rooftop apartment 
     She is an enthusiastic traveler, at ease and in her stride wherever she goes----loves meeting new people, experiencing new places, immersing herself in the language, culture, history of beautiful places.

     Wandering on in the upcoming days and weeks to encounter the next welcoming adventures in new parts of Europe, this intrepid adventurer, just like her mother, will always feel right at home in "GranĂ¡".  Her heart will always embrace the spirited strains of a certain flamenco artist and the music beckoning under a full, blue moon in a much-loved magical place. 
Encantada, encantadora

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our G >>> on her way!

      First thing this morning our daughter, G, boarded a flight to Europe.  Her second; her first solo trip out of the country.  She takes after her mom and her grandma and her aunt in her love of travel.  She's been planning this for months----actually, all her life, it seems.  She's traveling light---carry-on only for four weeks visiting six countries.  Nestled in with her "essentials" is Rick Steves's current Europe guide.
Our G: classy world traveler
      She certainly lives up to the lyrics she inspired as a six-month old >>> .she's "...on the go...on her way!"  Packing a smart phone loaded with favorite tunes, games and apps to accompany her, her plans include revisiting the families she and I stayed with last year, plus meeting new connections including musician friends.

     The "Trip of a Lifetime!"  We're so happy and grateful,  and so proud of her. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Love Your Voice

     Do you love your voice?  Your speaking voice?  I hope so!  Your voice is the natural instrument that you carry with you everywhere you go.  It's an expression of who you are, what you think, and a channel of so much creativity for you.  Vocalizing is made possible by muscles that appreciate exercise and care just like any other muscles in the body.
                                                  Flowers, like your voice, want to express their natural beauty                                                    
     Here is a link to find out more.  It's one of the many informative offerings from ASHA, of which I am an artist/musician coalition member.

     Whether you're a vocal professional or not, I invite you to enjoy these tips and simple exercises.  Give yourself the gift of a smooth, sweet, pleasing, healthy voice!