Friday, August 30, 2013

Fun Friday - Breathing Underwater - Metric

Th is wonderful Canadian band certainly has learned to breathe properly and with it make a great sound.  What do you think?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Making it Fun to Breathe

Ah, the summer is over and regular practices have begun again.  We had a wonderful pot luck supper and practice on Sunday.  It is informal a fun.  We sit around the living room and sing with friends about.  The couch is not the greatest for proper singing posture so we really have to be careful not to work too long or over exert ourselves.

So why is sitting properly so important?  Well, silly, we have to be able to breathe.  We breathe to sustain life but somehow from our childhood's perfect diaphragmatic breathing, we slip into really bad habits.  We breathe in a very shallow fashion and then wonder why talking makes our throats sore or we can't sing for more than a few minutes.

I have shared in a past post about some breathing exercises which I would encourage you to revisit.  Here are a few more less conventional ideas to get us back into the swing.

1. THINK ABOUT BREATHING - As I sit typing, I am taking in a breath while using the diaphragm muscle just under the rib cage.  In simple terms, just push out the belly and don't let the shoulders rise.  Let the diaphragm pull down the lungs to allow them to expand and fill with air.  Then talk normally but see how long you can sustain the words with lots of inflection without running out of air.

2. SING INSTEAD OF TALKING - Anyone who knows me has often heard me turn a conversation into a song.  If someone says a key word that reminds me of a song, I sing it.  I have also been known to take a song or nursery rhyme and change the words to suit the situation.  In other words, I sing the conversation as often as I speak.  Well, you don't have to make up words, just sing something you are thinking.  For instance, sing this paragraph.  Singing will help you with the proper breathing. More singing means better breathing.

3. SING ALONG WITH A FAVOURITE ARTIST - Like #2 above, singing along is an easy way to improve your breathing.  Have fun.  Check out this wee singer.  She is the most enthusiastic Elvis fan I have encountered in a long time.  You can do it too.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Fun Friday - The Farmer is the Man an Industrial Ballad

Harvey dropped by the other day.  He mentioned the song, The Farmer is the Man.  I hadn't heard it but he sang the words and they made me think of the bumper sticker, "Farmers Feed Cities".  As you may know, the Embro Thistle Singers are based in a very rural area.  We will soon be singing at the Embro Fair which is a In today's technological society we still need our farmers to produce the food that feeds us.  Yes they are trying to create "test tube beef" but I doubt anyone will sing a song about it.  Are you writing one as I type?

Pete Seeger, has a way of presenting songs in their true form.  The Smithsonian Folkways created a set of songs about the American industrialization of the 19th century and The Farmer is the Man is included.  It is royalty free for anyone who wants to include it in a concert. 

Here again we see the importance of songs that share our history.  Last week we saw the rock equivalent with the Lovin' Spoonful.  Now, check out these words as you hear Pete Seeger sing. Think about those hard working farmers on your next drive through the countryside as the harvest begins.  The Farmer is the Man!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Hot Time Summer in the City - Lovin' Spoonful

I got a call from a choir member who was cleaning out a cupboard and I was the lucky recipient of some great music books.  Just flipping through brought back many wonderful memories.

As the summer starts to wind down, the music we listen to can remind us of days gone by.  Here in our part of the world, it is getting hot again.  In looking up "hot" songs, this Lovin' Spoonful song popped up.  Look at the hair.  Oh my.

Depending on your age, when go onto YouTube or check out your songbooks stored in the piano bench or music cupboard, you can find music from your past.  What fun to remember where you were when you heard that song.

Music has that power to take us back to memories.  Sometimes it makes us laugh and sometimes the tears just flow.  Seldom does a song leave us blank.

So what is the song that brings back memories for you?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fun Friday - Sylvia Tyson Canadian Folk Singer

On Tuesday, we remembered folk music and I hope you have explored some of your favourites.  Have you found some of those dusty books in the closet?

Here Sylvia is talking a little about the day Bob Dylan went electric.  Check out Tuesday's post and see the young Dylan with acoustic guitar.

Here are great memories from Ian and Sylvia.  As you heard in the interview, there were people who used folk music to forward an agenda.  Any hidden meanings?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Folk Songs Never Get Old

As this summer starts to wind down, we keep finding new roads to investigate.  I got a couple of folk song books in a box of books that friends were cleaning out.   It really awakened that love of the genre.  When I started teaching in the late '60's, folk music was popular.  I taught myself to play the guitar so my students would be encouraged to sing along.

There were hootenanny's or sing along time with folk music and of course rock had Woodstock.  My claim to fame was singing in our church choir alongside Sylvia Fricker who shortly thereafter, teamed up with Ian Tyson.  Folk music was sung in the coffee houses and around the campfire.  Did you participate?

What are your memories of folk music.  Here is a memory of Bob Dylan in his very early days.  There are some references to computers, and the cold war.  It is of course the American perspective.  Check out your old song books and records.  See what you think.  The jazzy ending is rather interesting.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fun Friday - Rock Those Rhymes

Now that you have sung those old nursery rhymes and had some good memory moments.  Here are some that ROCK.  Why not?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tonal Tuesday - Sing a New Song

As we explore ways to change our musical thinking this summer, we have focused more on listening. 
How long has it been since you sang nursery rhymes.  London Bridge, Ring Around the Rosie, Jack Spratt Could Eat No Fat are some that come to mind.
A couple of weeks ago, our Oxford County Museum School participated in Down on the Farm day in conjunction with the Ingersoll Cheese Museum.  A piano built right in the town of Ingersoll was donated to the Museum School and it was my privilege to play a few of those fun songs while we lead the children and parents in singing.  We realized that the younger children really didn't know these songs so common to our younger days.

So I suggest you get cracking and find some nursery rhymes to sing.  There are tons of these available on YouTube which is great.  However, make certain you are really singing.  This one has the words so sing along.