Musical Monday – Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)

Hello on this incredibly snowy Musical Monday!

I’m getting braver! Here’s a recording of me actually performing the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria in Church for their Jubilee celebration, three nights ago. I got sick a few weeks ago and haven’t quite recovered yet, but now that this celebration is over I can maybe relax and sleep. For a year or so. Or at least until I feel human again. Crappy compromised immune system!

Anyway, this was a “Damn the MS and just do it” situation for me. I had made the commitment, so it didn’t matter how I felt, I just practiced and practiced and then performed, and I’m pretty proud of how it sounds. I wouldn’t want to be in this kind of situation very often, but I proved to myself that… just maybe, I’m more capable than I give myself credit for. Kinda cool!

And yes, it really is snowing at the end of April. It’s been snowing on and off for days. I’d rather have snow than flooding, but I *would* like to see the ground at some point. And, you know, summer and stuff.

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Musical Mondays – Mike Tompkins is My A Cappella Hero!

Mike Tompkins is amazing – he started out as a beat-boxer and now he does multi-layer a cappella tracks like this – his amazing version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

I sent this to my voice teacher, and she pointed out that not only does he sound amazing, but his pitch and tempo are absolutely perfect for each layer that he recorded.

So: my lesson here – don’t layer bad tracks hoping that, blended, no one will notice the errors. Don’t hurry them to just “get it out there” unless there’s a reason to do it. (When I first started blogging, I was told “sloppy success is better than perfect mediocrity” hahaha!) Don’t try to get everything recorded in a single session, your voice won’t like you much after 8 or 9 hours of singing. And most of all, work each layer until you like how it sounds by itself. THEN put everything together and publish it, because THEN you’ll be proud of what you’ve done!

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MUSICAL MONDAY – MS, A CAPPELLA MUSIC, AND YOUR BRAIN

Welcome to Musical Monday! I’ve decided to show a little of what’s possible with A Cappella singing, and why I think it’s an amazing and valid tool for anyone who is interested in developing their voice AND their brain.

First off, here’s an example of a crazy amazing song by a Grammy award winning A Cappella group called the “Swingle Singers.” Notice that even though (obviously) they are ALL amazing singers in their own right, the really important thing here is the vocal blending and harmonization, which makes the whole song a different experience than just a soloist standing up with a microphone. They’re not even using words (although there may be words in a language I don’t know at the very beginning and end?) and it brought tears to my eyes! It’s such a gorgeous arrangement.

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I’ve found an article that explains really well exactly *WHY* A Cappella works as a learning tool – not only does it force you to really think about the melody and the music, but simply LISTENING to it will help develop your ear and help create more of those ever-important neural pathways. Since I have MS, I’m *VERY* interested in anything that helps build more pathways. I want to keep exercising my brain, and I’m hopeful that exercises like this, coming up with new ways of thinking about “normal” things like music (or art or ANYTHING creative) will help to replace some of the pathways that I’ve lost. I really feel like I need to pay more attention to lifelong learning than most other people, so it might as well be with something I honestly enjoy doing. THIS IS WHY HOBBIES ARE SO IMPORTANT!!! Creating anything new can actually change the physical landscape of your brain, especially if you make a HABIT of creating new things. Even just doodling a page a day can help.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ARTICLE ON WHY A CAPPELLA IS AWESOME FOR EAR (AND BRAIN) TRAINING

As always, I’d love to hear your views on anything I’ve talked about here. Just click the “LEAVE A COMMENT” button below!

Hobbies and MS – Musical Monday – The Rose!

I’ve talked before about hobbies and singing in a post called Hobbies, Compromise and MS. I finally decided to upload a recording of me singing something! Not opera though. I’m not brave enough for that yet.

I’ve been playing with Audacity (BEST free music editor out there IMO) and came up with this – it’s all me singing, 14 different layers, and although I know there are a LOT of errors in timing and pitch, I’m still pretty proud of it!

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So there it is, my proof that hobbies don’t need to end with a medical condition, or going on long term disability. Consider taking up a new hobby that suits your current skill-set, since you NEED to find something enjoyable in your life! Or work with something you’ve always been interested in but haven’t had time to experiment with. I finally have time to play with music and harmony! It’s a learning experience – from this I learned I REALLY REALLY need a metronome because I actually sang each part slightly slower than the last, and I did the lyrics last, so by the time I got to them the timing was incredibly WAY off. But I did my best, and I think it sounds pretty good.

Hobbies are really important for your peace of mind. I made the mistake of cutting myself off from my hobbies for a LONG time, and my confidence and self-concept really suffered as a result. Hobbies help keep you rounded as a person, the opposite of “putting all your eggs in one basket” as I had done with work. I needed to rediscover my hobbies just to feel human after my “basket” suddenly disappeared. It took a long time, but I’m starting to feel better, because my hobbies are things I can actually do! Singing is a reminder that I didn’t suddenly stop being a person, with skills and talents, after becoming unable to work.

I’m going to try and post something music-related every Monday. It may be a description of how to make a video like this, or another song, or a cool tutorial. I am also open to suggestions here, just comment below! Yay for Musical Mondays!

Hobbies, Compromise, and MS

I LOVE to sing! I’ve always wanted to take voice lessons, but growing up in a small town meant that opportunity didn’t exist. So now that I live in a city, I’m taking advantage of some of the opportunities here!

I’ve been taking private classical voice lessons for almost two years now, which means I started as an adult after I was diagnosed. I’ve seen too many people say they’re too old or they can’t start something new because they’re sick, but if you don’t start now then when will you? All we have is now!

Anyway, my teacher is amazing and she lets me occasionally take a break from classical to get into pop or random karaoke, which is perfect for keeping me interested and engaged. So far I have 3 songs prepared at roughly performance level, and I’m learning another one right now called “Apres Un Reve” by Gabriel Faure, who I think is one of the most brilliant composers of all time. He’s not very well known, apparently because he wrote “art songs’ (single stand-alone compositions) rather than operas. Here’s an instrumental version of Apres Un Reve performed on violin by Joshua Bell:

 

I just want to point out that you don’t need to be exceedingly mobile to sing. MS doesn’t mean you can’t have hobbies, and it certainly doesn’t mean you should give up the things you love! It just means you’ll get really good at compromise. One of my compromises is that a lot of my voice training involves learning to sound like “healthy me” even when I’m fatigued or battling cold and flu-type symptoms, which I am half the time. I don’t need to sound better than anyone else, I just want to do justice to the songs that I’m singing. I want to be able to sing in a way people can hear the beauty of the song itself, the brilliance of the composition. And maybe one of these days I’ll post video of me singing, and you can let me know if I’ve succeeded!