Monday Inspirations and Resources…

 

…from Cate FN Studios I–The Voice Studio

Check out the wildly popular music education channel of Youtube educator Adam Neely called New Horizons in Music. 

It is a unique combination of music education, jazz, popular music, classical music, videoblogging, music theory, jazz composition, philosophy and, well, everything else….

On his video channel he’s got everything neatly organized on the Videos page, so you can scroll through by category and topic. Especially interesting for those focused on developments in music education who might be trying to get their own channel started.  It took Neely 11 years to build the channel, finally committing to it over the past 2.5 years.

There’s a a new book out by Robert Stachen called Sonic Technologies: Popular Music, Digital Culture and the Creative Process.  I am actually quoted as a reference in the bibliography.

And for classical singers and pedagogues, listen to  Michael Fabiano’s 2014 Metropolitan Opera debut in a major role here.

…from Cate FN Studios II–The Art Studio

The inspiration for one of my current works-in-progress was a postcard for a recent choral concert by The City Choir of Washington DC.  Kudos to their graphic/art person!

Inspiration

And here’s the work-in-progress. I call it “ReImagining the MATRIX.” I consider it a sacred thing to reimagine the world and work toward bettering it by bettering ourselves.  The stained glass image fits with this idea.

WorkInProgressAbstract

There are many layers of sculpting medium, paint and chalk overlaid  to look like stained glass.

Here’s a close up–IMG_6704

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Broadway Christmas Songs

This year I have an unusual number of wonderful dancer/singers in my private studio who’ve graduated from college and are making their way in the world.  They’ve asked for help finding repertoire from musicals for the holidays for Christmas gigs.

My first inclination is to say “do your research.” But then I thought that I’d like to know for myself what’s out there, other than the handful of songs I recalled off the top of my head. I tried to include easy tunes that singers can learn quickly but also threw in some things that need more time to put together. Some items have karaoke accompaniments available and some would do better with a live accompanist playing an original arrangement.

Plus, I just found a used CD for 50 cents at a recent joy ride through a Used Book Store and used it as the basis for this list. The producer was Bruce Kimmel and it came out in the 1990’s.

New Deal for Christmas from Annie (Strouse, Charnin) Music starts about :45

Be a Santa from Subways Are for Sleeping  (Styne, Comden, Green)

Christmas Eve from She Loves Me (Bock, Harnick)

Pine Cones and Holly Berries from Here’s Love (Wilson) Paired with It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Also from this musical, That Man Over There

Turkey Lurkey Time from Promises, Promises (Bacharach, David)

Christmas Gifts from A Wonderful Life (Raposo, Harnick)

Hard Candy Christmas from Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Hall)

I Don’t Remember Christmas from Starting Here, Starting Now (Shire, Maltby, Jr.)

We Need a Little Christmas from Mame (Herman) –

Lovers on Christmas Eve from I Love My Wife (Coleman, Stewart)

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas from Meet Me in St. Louis (Martin, Blane)

At Christmas Time and Toys Medley from Song of Norway (Wright, Forrest) This one will need some arranging, but keep it in mind, especially if you are looking for an early legit musical with hymn-like part writing.

Surabaya Santa and Christmas Lullaby from Songs for a New World (Brown)

Please add your suggestions in the comments list.

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Insanely Cool Christmas Cards!

So awhile ago, I stopped sending Christmas cards unless I could craft something that was personal. Signing our names to someone else’s canned words wasn’t something I wanted to do.  So I gave myself time to write Holiday Haikus and sent them to family and extended family.

I have paired some of my holiday haiku with two pieces of my abstract art for two insanely cool Holiday cards, available in sets of 8, 4 each of two designs.

“Jazz Christmas” is on the left. The original Haiku was written for our son.

“The Light Within,” (right)  was created with collage, acrylic paint and and chalk on canvas.  The original Haiku was written for one of my brothers-in-law, who is Jewish.

Here are the original pieces of art:

Original Christmas Jazzand

Light Within Collage

You can purchase these cards on my Etsy site or directly from me if you are the DC area.  These cards also look great in 5 x 7 frames if you want a bit of my abstract art!

All designs and texts are copywritten by me.

Vocal Pedagogy and Creativity, Part II

Part I in this series was well-received and lays out the groundwork for Part II–

Introduction

In this post, I’ve gone academic on you–just to have a framework to discuss broad topics.  I’ve highlighted three elements that are part of a larger concept that psychologist Benjamin Bloom identified for his learning model widely known as Bloom’s Taxology.

Anyone who wants to teach or to transform information into a useful body of personal wisdom would find his work very interesting. However, you certainly don’t need to consciously know this stuff to have the same outcome. I have operated in the following “mode” most of my life and I am sure many of you do, too.

Bloom identified three “areas” of Learning as:

I.   Cognitive Learning (Mental skills and Knowledge)

II.  Affective (Growth in Feelings and Emotional Areas)

III. Psychomotor (Manual or Physical Skills)

According to Bloom, collecting information and remembering data are considered the beginning, or bottom rung, of Cognitive Learning.

And Creating is the top rung.

And here’s what the Cognitive Domain looks like in Bloom’s pyramid:

bloom-taxonomy

I have observed that many teachers teach from the place of collecting and remembering information, and then maybe have stepped up onto the level of Understanding what it means to them. This is a good start. But as a teacher for others, you need to get to the top 1-3 parts of the pyramid to be truly effective and a “great” teacher.

There is obviously some overlap of all three domains because we each are unique individuals who find our own ways.

For the purposes of this article, I would like to highlight THREE aspects of learning, one from each domain, for you to consider.

Cognitive Domain

1. “Divergent Thinking” means generating multiple ways of taking information and finding new ways to address a topic or find solutions to a problem. This kind of thinking has become a hot topic for the study of brain function in creativity.

Divergent thinking occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing, ‘non-linear’ manner. It does not move from a to b to c. It prefers to zig when everyone else is zagging. It thrives in solitude, uncertainty and the imagination. It makes useful connections among unrelated pieces of information. The manner in which divergent thinking takes place is unique to everyone and everyone has to discover their own ways to develop and allow it.

Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is the ability to apply rules to arrive at a single ‘correct’ solution to a problem, such as an answer to an IQ test question. This process is systematic and linear.  Both styles of thinking are important and meant to work together.

Psychomotor Domain

1. Somatic Re-Education of the Body and establishing the realization that your body carries its own wisdom.

This connection has been severed in the culture in which we live, but has revived among singers, dancers, actors and athletes and physical therapists because our art is the stuff of which this connection is made.  The reason I place such fundamental importance on learning through somatic re-education is that western culture is still imbued with the notion that all worthy learning takes place in the brain and “higher realms.”

Oh my goodness, no. no no no.  I have had to learn, through an unusually severe health history, that the body learns and holds information too, and is meant to take its place as an equal with the brain and heart center. Sometimes the heart needs to heal before the body can heal. Sometimes the body needs to heal before the brain can work well. Somatic Education helps us reestablish how our bodies and minds are meant to function together, and is especially important as we age.

Alexander Technique, Feldenkreis, Yoga, Rolfing, Nutrition etc., and other modalities are all methods of somatic re-education.  But the effect it has on you is directly related to the kind of teaching you receive.

Affective Learning

1. Development of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence can be a natural gift which seems to be more hard-wired in women that in men.  But it can be developed in anyone. It is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. E.I. is now being taught in business schools like Wharton and Case Western Reserve as a necessary tool in what is called “Resonant Leadership.”

Other ways of developing this part of Affective Learning are through counseling and modeling behavior of other emotionally intelligent people.  Time Magazine published a recent article which, at the end of an article on drugs and depression, lists drug-free ways that have all been scientifically proven to have transformative effects on emotions and in handling interpersonal relationships well: Exercise, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Behavioral-Activation Therapy, Mindfulness Training and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

(I totally understand the need for the right drugs in the right doses, monitored by a health care professional. I have suffered from diagnosed clinical depression in which drugs were life-saving and enabled me to function. I eventually was able to move off the drugs through diet that was right for my body and some of the above therapies. This, in no way, is medical advise. JUST INFORMATION!)

Conclusion to a long blog post…

These aspects  of turning information into something useful are true for anyone in any field.  Many life-long learners and some of your favorite teachers are using these steps to teach, even though they may not be consciously aware that Learning Theory has names for the processes.

Are there any Vocal Pedagogy graduate programs out there including Bloom’s theories in the coursework? The steps can be cultivated and are incredibly rewarding. Those EUREKA moments and connections are the stuff of ecstasy!

Life is about experiencing ALL the aspects of learning, not just running around devouring and acquiring new information and others’ ideas. And don’t panic. You have Time to realize learning is life long and no one is ever finished.  I started teaching music when I was 13 years old, had my first paid singing gig at 18, and am now 61. It sure did not happen all at once and is on-going.

Please like, comment or share this post if you found it useful. Thank you for being here!

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Also check out this video by Sir Ken Robinson

 

Vocal Pedagogy and Creativity, Part I

I once had 4 voice lessons with an expensive and well-known singer who had sung opera many years in Europe. After returning to the States, she developed a method of voice teaching based on 15 years of her personal research into voice science.

I sought her help after seeing an ENT (supposedly he worked with singers) who completely missed the fact that I was developing bi-lateral vocal fold paralysis. (!) Neither the teacher or the ENT helped me at all and both sets of information were actually harmful both physically and psychologically. GRRRRRR

So here were two learned professionals, WHO COULD NOT SEE or HEAR THE PERSON IN FRONT OF THEM. Did they need more information so they could have helped me? NO. What they both needed was to get outside of the information they had collected and turn it into something useful.

One of the main differences between intelligence and creativity is that the creative person has the ability to draw connections among bits of information and imagine various paths and outcomes. And this is the missing ingredient with many voice teachers who run around collecting information, certifications and degrees by the boat-load.

Read How to Make Connections Like a Creative Genius.

These are all valid ways to learn and perhaps start to assimilate experience, but one vital thing we are not taught in our school systems, academia and general culture is how to turn information and book learning into something useful. Has it occurred to you that the information presented in the learning environment is just an INTRODUCTION to understanding? Just the tip of the iceberg?

Information, by itself, is not the stuff that enables you to be effective.

Chances are good that you are getting information from someone who is also consuming information without turning it into their own Experience. When you teach, you are teaching who you are as well as whatever it is you teach. So inability to turn information into something useful is passed on in your manner of working. Rather a vicious circle.

The transformative and alchemical process to turn information into a creative experience requires time, self-acceptance, effort, and in many cases, more money. And this inner process is different for everyone.  It has its own time-table to follow and does not give a hoot about you being productive, “an expert,” and a reliable cog in society.

A personal note from my own voice studio: I work with voice teachers who are certified in 2 or 3  methods of vocal pedagogy. They are good teachers and wonderful human beings who at some level, feel that a few lessons going over the exercises that they learned in the certifications will turn them into the singers they want to be or help them with their students. So when they have not reached where they want to go after 4-6 lessons, or even 6 months, they stop. I understand. It is expensive and time-consuming. And who has the time to practice, experiment, observe, and at the same time learn how to ALLOW the process of the slow change of muscle fibers and neurological connections? And do this year after year after year? After year?

Yet, that is exactly the kind of creative process necessary, whether you do it yourself or reach out for guidance, to transform learning into useful experience.

Information continually changes, BUT SO DO OUR BODIES and EMOTIONS. Especially for women because of our life cycles and hormonal effects on the voice. But it is true for men, too, and for anyone who has survived physical or mental health crisis. If you are coping with a chronic issue that doctors can not solve, it is doubly true. It is a constant creative act to experience, assimilate and present information to others.  What you learned as a 21-year-old will no longer serve you at 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70+

Guess what. Life is continually about transformation into something new until it is time to transform again.

THIS IS THE SECRET THAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT. We are taught that having a magic degree or certification or studying with that Broadway star can lead to wisdom and effectiveness.  While learning is a wonderful experience, having a personal value system that allows you to assimilate the new process is something that I have observed many teachers do not have.

Finding your own creative path is never easy in a culture that says it values creativity but does not value the time, solitude and continuous experimentation to develop a creative thing or thought and turn it into experience. As far as singing and teaching singing goes, you are more apt to do this if your personal values match up with these commitments.

I just finished watching the tv series “Genius” about the life and work of Albert Einstein, produced by Ron Howard. I recommend this series as a way to illustrate my point.

And here’s the KICKER–our personal values are shaped by our culture, religious traditions and the hive mind. What is required to live creatively and turn information into a body of deep personal experience?

I am not talking about work experience. I am talking about a deeper knowing that often comes from our deepest, most vulnerable places.

In Part II, I’ll outline some of the counter-culture elements that are needed to walk this particular path.  A good book to read, in the meantime, is The Courage to Teach, by Parker Palmer.

Please comment, like, share or subscribe if this post interests you!

“Transformation” abstract study by Cate Frazier-Neely

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“Designer” Designs from Paper Scraps

When I first read “The Diary of Anne Frank” as a tween, the part that most tugged at my heartstrings, (besides the whole book…) was that she wrote her diary on scraps of paper. My 11-year old self became acutely aware that I had limitless access to as many sheets of paper, notebooks and journals as I could possibly want.  And ever since then, I’ve saved scraps of paper for reuse, way before recycling came to be the norm.

This habit takes the form of saving all scraps of water color paper, cheap drawing paper, cardboard, bristol board, multi-media paper, lined paper, paper cut from other art projects, blank newsprint, paper used for packing, old envelopes— you get it.

(a little further down in this post, you will come to a blank section which I can not clear–there must be a bug in WordPress’ program–just scroll a little further and the rest of the post appears. grrr. sorry.)

So for those times in the art studio where I really can’t get it together to do anything that seems productive, I pull out the scrap paper box and paw through it. Here is a  4″ x 8″ scrap that seems to have been used for several gelli ghost prints, (second pulls off of a print plate,) blotting up ink sprays and wiping off paint left on a brush or palate.

TurningScrapsintoCollagePapers1

I often use High Flow Acrylic Paint, which has a thin, transparent consistency, to turn scraps into collage papers.  On this day I wanted to mix a green not available in my paints, so here’s what I chose:

TurningScrapsintoCollagePapersII

And here’s the mixed green. So pretty!

IIIWhereEreYouWalkCoolShades...

I love how the high flow consistency actually highlights all the marks and unifies the scrap. This is what the above scrap paper looks like after “beautifying” it:

CoolShadesScrap

Then I pulled out a few more scraps, inspired to doodle away the time left in the art room.

OtherscrapsandscrapboxEversinceAnneFrankDiaryscribbledonscraps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also like to “carve” organic shapes into craft foam (usually by using a pencil) and then use the carved foam and paint to create collage papers.

Foamstamperthing

Here’s some more finished collage scraps where I’ve used the foam stamps and high flow acrylics.FInal Collage BitsThen the scraps get organized by color into boxes and I use them in my abstract collages. While I have not yet used the above scraps to make something, I have a “Tiny Art” series which uses other scraps on 4 x 4 birch panels and usually are made in sets. Each set seems to tell a story after I complete them.  This set is called Immaculate Conception:

Immaculate Conception Four PanelsHere’s a set of abstract 4 x 4 panels called “Blue Lemons”

To take a look at other “Tiny Art” sets and singles for sale on my Etsy site, click HERE. Where could you enjoy some Tiny Abstract Art made from “designer” scraps?

17917298_10212401238364681_8024420063126075041_o (1)

(“Dizzy Rose” can be seen while sitting on the Porcelain Throne in our powder room….)

If you enjoyed this post, please comment, like, share or subscribe! Thank you for being here and reading.

 

 

Quilted Treasures and Loving Measures

This Voicing the Craft post was inspired by a fantastic crazy quilt designed and made by Katherine Pinard that now hangs in the music studio’s waiting room. Dozens of odd shapes symbolize the ways we have become fragmented as a society and as individuals, but in piecing them together skillfully, she made them come together to make something whole. Katherine is working some powerful magic through imagination and skill.

Katherine'squilt

About 4 years ago I commissioned Mindy Carlson to create a series of 4 quilted pieces representing the four seasons, specifically to hang inside our front entry and up the stairs to our home’s second floor.  This wall stayed bare for the first 16 years we were in the house. I didn’t want the usual family photos lining the stairs, so after I got to know Mindy and her work, I asked her if she wanted to try this commission.  Each panel is pieced together masterfully to create a whole panel-of-fabric look.

mindy'squilts

But these quilts point to a larger set of values, one that permeates the history and genealogy of many women around the world throughout time.  Women’s stories are told through crafting useful items, through creative journaling about feelings and the events of the day, through sharing stories of children’s ages and stages as well as life’s hormonal changes.  It is all the passing on of women’s wisdom through stories and art.

My father (1928-2003) loved family genealogy and research, but he collected history in much different ways than I do. He connected through the “begets of begets,” the ownership of land, immigrant ship logs, purchasing slips, birth, marriage and death records and other ledger lines of history.  When Dad was researching in the 1960’s through 1990’s, it was mostly in the days before the Internet, and he had to go to other cities and wade through volumes of records of hand-written and typed accounts. He wrote to countless county offices, libraries, college historians, blueprint offices, military archives, distant relatives and such to collect information.  He collated, labeled and stored photos, packed everything away in boxes and neat notebooks and organized extended family reunions of people who would meet once and never see each other again.  He tracked down a family Bible that had somehow left the family and found it in Florida. The owner graciously mailed it to him, and he began trying to collect funds from family to have it restored and rebound. I think he and mom ended up absorbing over $1,000 in the early 1990’s to restore the family Bible to the Frazier Line. It was money they did not have, but such were his values and he felt a great responsibility to pass on what he knew. He spoke of family names and places to his children and grandchildren with increasing fervor as he got older, wanting someone to carry on the information and take care of what he had discovered.  One brother and I have it all now, and I must admit, as I get older I wonder what will happen to everything if our children and their cousins are not interested in preserving it.

While the first two blog photos were of recent quilt purchases, they also happen to have been made by two very close friends.  I also have dozens of quilted, sewn, knit, cross-stitched and crocheted items from great-aunts on both sides of the family, my grandmother, mother, mother-and sister-in-law, and friends. Here are a few baby blankets that I used with my children, two from my husband’s Aunt Betsy and one from my friend, Kate Huntress-Reeve:

GreatAuntBetsyandKateHR

This next photo is of a crazy quilt that was made for me by women who lived outside of Morgantown, West Virginia, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. I worked one college summer, 1975, at a mission station in those beautiful mountains with of a team of other college-aged men and women. We looked after dozens of children with learning disabilities and cleft palettes who were the result of inbreeding among families. On Sunday mornings I played the out-of-tune piano in the small mountain church, leading hymns, playing preludes and postludes and teaching some of the kids how to play folk tunes after services. (I also had my one and only stint playing guitar and singing in a blue grass band.) At the end of the summer, the families presented me with this awesome quilt, made from knit and wool scraps:

AppalachianCrazyQuilt

After my paternal grandmother passed, my grandfather remarried.  Helene was always very nice to me and we shared the rather odd trait of having studied Latin for four years in high school, she about 1911-1915 and me from 1970-1974. When she passed away, she willed me this woven tapestry quilt, which had been in her family since about 1870.  It was created on a loom and sewn in two pieces.

Helene'sJacobeanQuilt

And the last quilt I’ll post, was a project I designed one day to keep three 5-year old boys (my son and two of his friends) busy when I was caring for them and my 1 year old daughter. Their part of the project lasted about 30 minutes, and mine took several hours….They drew with crayons on muslin squares which I heat-set, then pieced together to form a quilt. Their signatures appear in the bottom right. Originally, this quilt was sent to a young boy who had leukemia, but when he passed, his mother returned it with a photo of it wrapped around him.  The feet and hands in this photo belong to my husband….

Boys'Quilt

Boys'SignatureQuilt

Many of the quilts and hand-made items are stored in the cedar chest that was my maternal grandmother’s. The photo above the chest is one of mine, enlarged and framed.

Grandma'sCedarChest

Many times I have been able to combine my love of crafts, art and women’s history with creating musical programs for the Smithsonian Institution museums in Washington, DC. One such program I wrote and conducted, called “Wrapping Home Around Me,” featured music from the musical Quilters, poems and writings from indigenous crafters and songs about weaving and quilting.

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How do you treasure and pass on family genealogies? I’d love to hear how others are doing this!

(If you found value in this post, please comment, like or share. Thanks for being here!)

Featured image is “Roots,” by Cate Frazier-Neely, acrylic and ink on paper