…to another blog.

Long story kind of shorter- I’ve been writing East Coast Girl since late 2009, all about this and that and everything about my family, and while it’s been fun, I feel like it’s time to move on. I’ve tried to do all sorts of niches on this one blog and I think I’ve ended up confusing a lot of my readers over time. Is it a mommy blog? Is it a bargain shopping and coupon blog? Is it a fashion blog? Is she one of those stuffy, preppy types? I also think calling myself a girl at thirty years old is just not cool.

Strange as it may sound, I decided I needed a new blog name to make my fresh new start official. It’ll help me get rid of the mental and emotional baggage I’ve accumulated under the East Coast Girl name, and the amount of frustration I’ve had behind the scenes of trying for three years to acquire the EastCoastGirl.com domain is something I want to leave behind. (If you ever step into the dark corner of the internet of domain auctions, it’s stressful) Also, I’d like to go into an actual niche of writing about music-related (and other artsy stuff that makes me swoon) topics because music is something I have knowledge about. I sing and I majored in music in college. It’s a big part of me in real life.

So! Gone are the days of me pretending I’m Pinterest-perfect and have a ton of lifestyle hacks up my sleeve. (I don’t, I get it from Buzzfeed)

If any part of you is interested in a musician’s personal blog, please join me over at Stone Cold Vox. (Vox is Latin for “voice” and I hope that’s all that’s ever going to go over your head.)

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There are a few things that I look forward to at the beginning of the new performance season. One is the first rehearsal at the beginning of September. I love it because we go insane and sight read the new piece from beginning to end, rarely stopping to correct errors. Our director does it to get a feel for how much work we’ll need to do over the next couple months, but it’s also a nice refresher for the singers who’ve sung it before. It’s fun for me because in the last seven years I’ve probably sight read most of the pieces we’ve done. Sight reading music for some may be the most excruciating thing ever, but I find it wonderfully challenging. I’ve since added a lot of large choral works to my repertoire in these last few years thanks to this chorus.

We’re doing J. S. Bach‘s Christmas Oratorio, by the way.

Fast forward a few weeks. I’ve learned my notes, learned how to pronounce the words (it’s usually a language other than English), and 4 weeks out from our first concert we’re finally starting to put it all together. At this point in the process I’m loving it.

Let me give you a peek into what goes in rehearsals. I sit smack dab in the middle of the soprano section but our seating arrangement presents all of the sections to face the conductor. This allows me to see the alto section directly in front of me, and the Tenor and Bass sections to my left. Can I tell you a secret? I love to watch other people sing. I like to study the characteristics of peoples’ facial expressions when they sing. The way their mouths form around pronunciations of vowels, how they may raise their eyebrows as way of emphasizing the high notes they’re singing, a slight smile as to really paint the happy tone of the music, there’s so much I could learn from another singer in terms of techniques that I could implement for myself. At one my last rehearsals, it was awesome because we were all working together and you can tell how much effort was being put in to make our sound sound good. We were sitting up in our seats, holding our music up, watching the conductor (with a few reminders from him to do so), writing notes in our scores, and just making music. I mean if I was enjoying myself in the soprano section, I hope that the conductor was really being energized by what he was hearing.

Can I tell you another (quite obvious by now) secret? I might actually like the process before the performance more than the actual performance itself. It’s the period of time where you do a lot of the nitty gritty work. The performance is the beautiful, polished, beauty queen contestant but she didn’t get there without a lot of learning, shaping, and molding first.

So yeah, we’re just now starting to polish things up. We’re working on creating phrasing, making sure we’re taking breaths at appropriate spots, saying those closing consonants at the same time, basically paying attention to any and all dynamic and expression marks in the music. Last night we had to repeat a certain passage of music until we got it the way our conductor wants it. If we stumbled over the words which in turn messed up the notes, he had us do it again with using single syllable (“doo doo” or “ha ha” or “loo”) until we “got it”, and then put the text back in. We also began speeding up the music to a tempo that our conductor wants to perform it in. It’s very fast and there’s a lot of sixteenth note runs for each of the voice parts which make it especially challenging. Here’s an example:

Doesn’t it give you anxiety just listening to it? Well, we’re doing it. No turning back! NO REGERTS!

Rehearsal Notes
This is our conductor, Andrew, and our resident voice teacher, Eden, who recorded a video of warm ups you can do yourself.

Resources for singers
Cyberbass is a great resource for any choral singer trying to learn notes in a major classical work. It’s only midi sounds in a Quicktime player, but you can hear all parts together or individual parts according to what voice part you sing. It’s very helpful if you don’t have access to a keyboard to bang out the notes for yourself.

Hey! Thanks for reading. I’m going to post updates and behind the scenes stuff throughout the season. If you like this peek into the life of a music nerd, holla at a sista!

I feel like I am pushing my limit by posting these photos of the Arboretum at Connecticut College at the end of October. Better late than never! While I am embracing sweater weather I’m remembering when the summer had those perfectly warm days. One of those days happened on a day I was working at the art museum back in August. I decided to take a stroll at the Arboretum on my lunch break and snapped a few photos of the lush, green grounds. These photos only cover a portion of the area near the entrance, as there is a botanical garden and other nice trails to walk down if you happen to visit this place.

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It’s a beautiful space. I’ve watched plays here put on by the Flock Theatre, sat by the water for some quiet reflection, and took Aiden for walks here when he was younger without the stress of making sure we don’t get in the way of fast walkers.

Thanks to the people at Google Maps, you can now take a virtual tour!

Arboretum at Connecticut College
830 Williams Street
New London, CT 06320

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to have a lot of my day set to a soundtrack or at the very least a group of bands & songs to get obsessed with over a period of time until I start to crave something new. Here’s what I’ve been liking lately:

Also, I really loved this video of a father breakdancing with his kid. Too adorable.

Have a good weekend, friends! I’ll see you next week.

Overtone singing

Quoting Wikipedia (this isn’t a college essay, get off my back), “overtone singing” is “a type of singing in which the singer manipulates the resonances (or formants) created as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out of the lips to produce a melody. This resonant tuning allows the singer to create apparently more than one pitch at the same time (the fundamental and a selected overtone), while in effect still generating a single fundamental frequency with his/her vocal folds.” In simple terms, one creates a melody and harmony at the same time coming from the same sound source. I first learned about this in a college music history class and up until now I’ve only been familiar with a style of throat singing being done primarily by Tibetan Monks. This video of singer Anna-Maria Hefele shows her doing polyphonic overtone singing, where you can hear her singing two lines of music in harmony. It’s weird but kind of cool.

Rockapella is still a thing

Photo &copy Ross Leung
Photo by Ross Leung

Do you remember the theme song to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? It was sung by a vocal group called Rockapella. Almost 20 years later and here they are with a new rotation of members but still bringing a great sound to the stage for audiences of all ages. I’m kind of excited to mention that they’ll be performing a show at Kent Hall in Westerly this Saturday, October 18th! The ticket prices are affordable and they’re bound to put on a great show. If you or anyone you know will be in southern Rhode Island that weekend, let them know.

Bottle Boys

I have no idea where I found this clip, but please enjoy the Bottle Boys performing their own beer bottle rendition of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean.

Voice Lessons with Kristen Bell

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I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen Frozen. I think Aiden saw it at a friend’s house once. Me, I have no clue what it’s about. I found out that Kristen is one of the voices who also sings in the movie. I’ve heard her voice-over work on Gossip Girl, and I’m late in becoming a fan of Veronica Mars, but I’ve seen numerous talk show interviews with her and I’ve loved her for the last few years already. (her story about a pet sloth was adorable) Here’s an interview on The Chalkboard blog with Kristen in which she shares some of her favorite Frozen lines and a couple singing tips. [image via The Chalkboard]

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I used to write a letter to Aiden every month when he was a baby. If you want to read them (or what’s left after I accidentally screwed something up and lost a lot of the posts along the way) you can read the archives here. When Aiden turned three I wanted to do something different than the letters but I never came up with a good idea. So, this is it. Hope you enjoy the read and I’ll try to write them as frequently as I can.

You guys, I’m a mother of a four and a half year old human being. This is insane! My little guy is a fully functioning person. He knows what he likes and doesn’t like, he knows what foods are the bomb and where they come from, he has preferences on so many things that I can’t just give him something to eat and expect him to start shoveling it in his mouth. Everything presented to him needs examination and approval for his consumption. This is wonderful and stressful all at the same time.

Aiden is very inquisitive. He asks so many questions like what a word means, or why something works a certain way, or why some people act the way they do. I like his curiosty because most of the time I’m able to explain the concept in a way he’d understand. Unless he asks me how magnets work, which I uh, had to ask Google for help. A lot of information you tell him he retains and it’s so impressive when he can regurgitate that information like he’s known it for years.

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