Sunday, January 29, 2017

Musical Monday - Andre Rieu Amazing Grace - Scottish Style

Andre Rieu has so many creative ideas for presenting music.  This is for our Scottish friends who have just celebrated Robbie Burns Day.  Address the haggis and enjoy this wonderful treat. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Musical Monday - Honey & Lemon for Singers: Fact from Fiction

We have all had those times when we want to sing well but have a scratchy throat.  I have found that a lovely hot cup of tea with honey & lemon really feels great.  However, after about the third cup, I am not wanting any more. Below find lots of detail about what honey and lemon do for you.  Suffice it to say that REAL honey and lemon will not steer you wrong.  Plain water may work just as well.  The bottom line is that you have to try different solutions and find what works for you.  Sometimes, just resting your voice is what is needed.  Read on to see what the expert says. 

“Honey & Lemon: It Heals My Flu or Cold”
This claim has been around for a long time; Egyptian physicians used honey to promote health and Greeks believed in its promotion of virility and longevity.
There is some truth behind these historic preferences.
Honey is high in many nutrients including iron, copper, manganese, silica chlorine, calcium, potassium, sodium , phosphorous, aluminum and magnesium.
The darker the honey the higher the nutrient content.
Lemon has been recognized for its natural disinfectant properties. It contains pectin which acts as a vacuum to help clean out the gut including environmental toxins.
The high potassium content aids in the elimination of these pollutants. Lemon has a high source of vitamin C to help fight infection and, like honey, contains calcium, magnesium and potassium.
The combination of the two intensify the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Lemons contain almost 90% of vitamin C as a whole fruit which helps repel free radicals and protects the healthy cells from becoming cancerous; all promoting healing when your immune system is compromised.

Caution: But is Honey & Lemon Good All the Time?

Research published by Pediatrics Digest concluded that citrus honey improved the cough symptoms during an upper respiratory infection, leading to a better chance at sleep— I’m talking NATURAL citrus honey not "cough drops".
Remember to always be your own judge. We all react differently to remedies so take the information and personalize what may work best for you.
Give it time to kick in as it may not usher an immediate response

So, is honey and lemon THE cure?

In a word: no. Singers need to deal with the root cause, resting during a cold, learning healthier speaking and singing technique.
Of course, hydration is a part of great vocal health – and has rightly been described as the “engine oil” of the voice.
On this score, hot water with honey and lemon is better than alcohol and caffeine based drinks
The thermal effect of the warm liquid will help increase circulation to the affected area and the osmotic effect of the honey will aid in decreasing the swelling of the throat.
But, please, do not underestimate the power of staying hydrated on a regular basis with good ol’ H2O.

“It cleared my throat of mucous so I could sing flawlessly!”

Although a little bit of phlegm may be necessary to lubricate the vocal cords, too much can cause excess vibration.
Here, the combination of warm water and a drop of lemon scores some points.
It can help loosen the buildup of mucous, while the addition of honey can help coat it.
Add a bit of Cheyenne pepper or something spicy to the mix and you can clear up your sinuses to prevent the drip down to your throat.
-Sharon Zarabi

Sharon Zarabi
Sharon Zarabi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Dietitian Nutritionist (RD, CDN) and Certified Personal Fitness Trainer with the International Fitness Professional’s Association (IFPA) and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA.) She is a contributor to The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health (Oxford University Press) and her work can be viewed at

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Musical Monday - Eating for Singing Success

Image result for clipart eatingAs much research as I do about eating and performing, I still come up with general good eating guidelines.  I have included below an article by Sharon Zarabi that was found in Voice Council Magazine.  It truly is the basics of eating well for general good health.
Over the years, I have come up with a number of tips that have helped me and the singers with whom I have worked young and not so young alike.
1. EAT SMART - Eat foods you enjoy but keep the amounts reasonable & at least an hour before a rehearsal or performance.  When you eat, your body uses a lot of energy to digest that food.  You won't have as much energy to sing and you will probably feel uncomfortable.  Keep it light before hand.
  • Spicy foods - for all the reasons above & the fact that you are with others & any digestive discomfort will by passed on.  Pun intended.
  • Milk products - I have stayed away from milk, cheese, ice cream, cream etc. because I find it does make mucus thicker.  Some people will say that it doesn't bother them.  Great.  As a general rule, it is a good one to follow. 
  • Sweets - I find that sweets act much as milk does.  Save the sweets as an afterwards treat. 
Check out these general rules below.  They make sense. 

Do not wait until you are starving to eat

You may be at practice, on the road or have social events that go until wee hours of the night and with socializing comes drinking and foods that are not timed with physical appetites. Keep nuts, low sugar protein bars, and fruit with you at all times. Green apples are my favorites! The pectin (a fiber in the skin of green apples) keeps your belly satisfied. Try to get some calories in every 4-5 hours.

Do not make any food forbidden

The psychology behind avoiding prohibited foods makes them more tempting. If you choose to indulge in a not so healthy treat, do not go overboard, and OWN it. Eat less the next day or be sure to get some calorie burning exercises in to counterbalance the extra energy.

Read your labels

If it is lacking dietary fiber and protein, both of which keep you full, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. It’s a waste of calories and goes straight to the waist line all with still leaving you hungry. This disrupts your body’s understanding of what satisfied actually means. Check for foods that have greater than 3 grams of fiber and more than 5 grams of protein when available. Proteins include fish, chicken, beans, eggs, nuts, soy and meat. Keep canned tuna and low sugar protein bars at hand. This will help you with tip #1.

Drink your water

You need to hydrate those vocals chords and nothing quenches thirst better than pure water. If you get bored of plain water, carry bags of flavored teas with you and seep them in hot water and then add ice cubes for an enhanced flavored beverage without all the added sugar.

Move your body

Get the blood pumping, and muscles building with both cardiovascular and strength training workouts. When in the hotel, take the stairs, before a performance pump yourself up with a set of push-ups; when brushing your teeth work those legs with squats. The little things add up and can change your figure.

Keep a food journal

If weight loss is your goal, it’s good to keep a list of what you eat, when you eat and how you feel. This can help you discern between the foods that actually keep you full and to avoid any foods that may cause gastric distress. The last thing you need when going up on stage is an upset stomach or itchy throat, so keep a log to help you identify those foods may be “eating you up.”

Avoid late night eating

When you eat and recline you are not letting your body digest the food properly. The gastric juices will push back through the esophagus causing heart burn and irritating the throat. Also, if you wait until you are hungry to eat, you will eat more than your stomach can handle and, in the long term, this can lead to GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease). The acid build up will affect voice quality – so, full circle back to tip #1.
Keep these tips in mind to keep you on rockin’ on stage!

Sharon ZarabiSharon Zarabi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Dietitian Nutritionist (RD, CDN) and Certified Personal Fitness Trainer with the International Fitness Professional’s Association (IFPA) and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA.) She is a contributor to The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health (Oxford University Press) and her work can be viewed at

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Musical Monday - The Nutcracker - Very Fun

The Nutcracker Ballet is a holiday favourite but I will bet you have never seen it done like this.  These dancers are very true to the music but oh the moves are such fun.  Happy New Year!!