All posts by Rebecca

A Terrifying Challenge

I took the chance to challenge myself in the exams as well.  A few months ago I began to lesson swap with the best pianist I know, me teaching him vocal technique and he was teaching me piano.  We had about 3 lessons and he decided to bite the bullet and do a grade. Of course a classical exam would have been pretty easy for him as he’s done all of the Aural and theory many times before.  But he’s like me and likes a challenge.

So he signed up to do the musical theatre exam, and of course didn’t start with a beginners Grade, no he wanted to do Grade 3.  Everything was going fine until my Dad died and I lost the will to practice.  I got really worried as I wasn’t managing to accompany him properly at all as I was in full on grief mode and couldn’t really  take instruction well at all.

When the date for the funeral was finally set it was the day before the exams.  It was clear that I wasn’t ready and we had no idea what sort of state I would be in on the exam day.   I was so worried that my poor playing would let him down.  ‘t asked if the exam could be changed but the lovely exam centre organiser (I’m sure there’s a proper name but I’m not sure what it is), didn’t come back to us with a different time until it was too late.

So psyched myself up for accompanying him for his exam.

As I spent the morning reassuring the candidates for their exams I was really nervous about the accompanying.  I was trying to practice in the little gaps I had between warming them up but really I had no time to prepare myself.  And as my friend was accompanying all of the other singers for their exam before he sat his own he had no time to prepare himself either.

Then we got into the exam room and I realised that, of course, I would be playing a grand piano.  My friend said that he made a deliberate choir not to tell me as he didn’t want me to freak out.  I think that was a good choice.  It felt so loud to play but apparently it’s not that loud.  It felt completely alien.  I always say that as a singer your instrument is in your body so it’s hard to predict it in the way that you can predict a clarinet or some other instrument. I never considered playing a completely alien instrument, in a pressured situation.  It’s scary stuff!

Anyway I made a few glaring mistakes and I don’t plan to start accompanying all of my students yet  but I’m proud to say that we, sorry he, passed, with a good solid merit.  I’m so proud of us both.

Summer 2016

It’s been so long since my last confession, sorry blog, that I thought that I had better just do a brief update.

I entered 15 students  for LCM Musical Theatre Grades and they all did brilliantly.  For almost all of them it was their first singing exam and they all exceeded expectations.  Some find singing really easy and others are almost total beginners so whilst results were varied they all made me so proud.  The results were up to 95% and over a third got in the 90%’s.

The dancers I teach at Jordan School of Dance represented England at the Dance World Cup and England won.  I am so proud to be working with them.  A couple of the singers  I work with, (including Sophie who I have worked with since she was 12), have got into BOA a Performing Arts School in Birmingham.  Not to mention a working with a lovely dancer who was auditioning for the London production of An American In Paris.  He got a part and the show opens in March 2017.

Cantare Choir had it’s best ever concert, accompanied by a full band.  You can see a couple of the songs below.

and here

and lastly here

And on another note I have had a wonderful time doing a clear out. I was inspired by the crazy Maria Kondo and since I started clearing out stuff it’s become a new exciting compulsion.  My head feels a little clearer too.  It’s great.

So Many Brilliant Musicians

I still remember when one of my students came to his lesson really excited.  He told me that he was on a charity single.  It was the first time he had sung in English for anyone but me.  He is a massive name in Punjabi music but never singing in English.  So this was a big deal.

This is the video.

At the time it didn’t get very much publicity as the BBC decided to make their big charity single this.

Which is fair enough of course, but when I watched the single back I was blown away by the brilliant musicians on the originally recorded single.  What a ridiculously amazing group.

(My student is the one on the ladder after 1 Direction).

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IMG_1631 x 4Exciting things are happening with Cantare Choir.

Firstly I set up a website for Cantare Choir.  You can find it at Cantarechoir.com  It would great if you checked it out.

Then we had our second social.  Our first one was a karaoke evening at Christmas which was lots of fun.  This was one  was even more special as our very own Choir Secretary, Gill,  was the Chief Questionneer.  We had the quiz last night at the Bull’s Head and I ha

I’ve taken a few photos.  Our team had a brilliant time and were very happy with our one from last position at the end.

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On top of it being a brilliantly fun night  we raised some really important money towards paying the band for our next concert.

IMG_1628 - x 4I may have mentioned the next concert, but I am aware that I’m not very efficient at blogging so I may not have.  It’s on 13 June at the Stirchley Working Men’s Social Club and it’s looking really good.  We will have a full band, with keys, drums, bass and guitar (with a featured dobro, aka bottle-neck slide guitar).  Our songs range from Stuck in the Middle With You, to The Air That I Breathe, to Stevie Wonder and loads of other songs.

So it would be great if you wanted to check out our new website.  Feel free to like the choir on facebook Cantare on Facebook or like my teaching/performing page on facebook Facebook Rebecca Schwarz Page

IMG_1629 x 4If you would like to be added to the mailing list to hear about Cantare events drop me an email on either Cantarechoir2011@gmail.com or rebeccasingingteacher@gmail.com

I hope to hear from you or see you soon.

Wonderful Concert at Shenley Academy on 24 January 2016

IMAG1797I hope to write something longer about this, hopefully with some videos embedded but for now I want to say how wonderfully all of my singers did in the Vocalist Concert on 24 January 2016 at Shenley Academy.

It was a really varied programme, ranging from Musical Hall, The Seekers, Adele and Schubert with all sorts in between.

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The venue at Shenley Academy was beautiful. Their technician had set up the lighting beautifully, with cold, neutral and warm lighting states.

There was a lovely grand piano that Iain Jackson, our brilliant pianist enjoyed playing, a Roland electric piano and all mod cons.    I look forward to sharing some photos and videos with you very soon.

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Audio Sorted

I am so happy that I have sorted out my audio on here that I wanted to do a little blog.  I am so chuffed.  It has taken hours and hours of time but thanks to a lovely bloke called Greg at A Small Orange, who host this site, I have sorted out the problem.

So Choirs now have a page where they can listen to my recordings that I do to help them and sheet music.  I’m so, so glad.  And now I can go to sleep.  Then maybe tomorrow I will get around to watching the video of my show to start sorting out a promo for getting more gigs with that.

Sleep well all.

If you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right

I’m listening to The Life Scientific on Radio 4.  They are talking to a Genetic Psychologist who has concluded that intelligence is at least half, if not two thirds inherited.  The nurture section is a very, very small part of how intelligence develops.

It got me thinking.  It’s true everybody finds certain things easier. It’s double edged sword.  Yes some things are easier for some people but also if you believe you can do a thing then you approach it with an attitude of play.  If you think you can’t then you approach it with fear.

I had better relate this to singing, because I could really go on.

I have seen naturally phenomenal singers who can’t be bothered to practice, or simply have no interest in being better.  They just don’t practice.  They will not put themselves out there to perform and don’t do their homework exercises, the targeting practice I have set for them.

On the other hand I have seen singers who really struggle, with free tone or being in tune but who believe in the process and  trust me.  They learn so well and make brilliant and incredibly fast progress.

One student very much followed the principle of my previous blog, put in the work and the body will learn.  This student was very musical but he couldn’t sing high at all.  He worked out that he needed to get stronger in his body so he could belt higher.  He worked up to a G and then a B.  He just kept trying things and being positive. I remember when I told him to try to whine and he was very dubious.  However he emailed me a day or so after the lesson to tell me I was right and that it did indeed work.

Inspirational.  To learn and keep learning.  To be positive.

If you have a natural aptitude things are easier.  The steps are easier and each stage is so much more impressive.  But if you just treat every step as a part of the process to get where you want to go, even if the genetics are not in your favour then you will get there.

Is it different academically?  Maybe you are either good or not?  But maybe it’s not.  Maybe we just hold up academia as something that is special.  But isn’t it just another set of skills?  Eventually in academia you usually specialise to one particular field.  If you can get that concept then you can do it.

 

You can work the muscle, follow the process.  Can we be good at anything we set our minds to?

Let Your Body Do It and Get the Mind Out of the Way.

After my run this morning I was inspired to write a blog.  I didn’t have any time to type it up so I dictated it.  I was feeling inspired so I have typed it out as I said it into my phone, between panting and being out of breath.

When I say, “I’m really not a runner” other new runners often say they’re also new to running.  They  say they’ve not run since school and I say “I have never exercised in my life.  I’ve never, ever done that. I’ve never, ever believed I could exercise.”  They really don’t get it.

It made me think about people who think they can’t sing. It made me think about the mindset and how you can really, really believe you can’t do something and how the body learns.  The body learns because the body is actually more conclusive than the mind.  I don’t know if it’s stronger but it’s more conclusive.  So the body proves you can.

I just ran 30 minutes.  It was slow.  I wouldn’t be bragging about it if I was considering myself a runner.  But I don’t consider myself a runner, I consider myself a total non-exerciser.  So I’m very proud of myself because I just did 30 minutes of running.  That’s absolutely phenomenal.

The first time somebody who has had maybe 20, 30, 50 years believing they can’t sing, or, possibly even more debilitating, believing they used to be able to sing and now they are too old and it’s too late for them to start or whatever. It’s the same thing.  It’s the same thing.

I suppose when somebody turns up for a singing lesson they’ve taken that step, that they might be able to do it.  But they have to change their mindset a bit.  I still don’t believe I can run.  I still believe it’s a miracle every time I get out of the door. But I do it.  You have to do it.

You can pass a lot of responsibility to the teacher  but if you don’t do the work it won’t make any difference what you do in lessons for an hour, or half an hour a week, it won’t work.  You’ve got to do the practice in between.  It’s the muscle memory work. It’s the training and that’s why I’m making myself go out running.

That made me think about the whole role of the teacher. The role of the teacher being to understand which steps are the right steps to do and keep it just beyond manageable.  And to give motivation that it is worth taking those steps.

So I had to run 15 minutes, walk one minute and run another 15 today.  It was really, really difficult.  It was really difficult. But I did it because I knew that if I didn’t do it I would be absolutely stuffed when they do whatever they do with us on Sunday.  Apparently on Sunday we are going to cover 5k without stopping.  Which I find quite unbelievable if I’m honest.  Completely unbelievable.  However I will do what they tell me, I will do the best I can.  I may not be perfect but I will do the best I can and I will manage it.  I may be exhausted for the rest of the day but I will do it.

Because it’s about your body learning what it can do and your mind getting out of the way.

New Show coming on up

I am doing a new show in Autumn and thought you might be interested in knowing more about it.   This is the official blurb…

Rebecca Schwarz, singerThese Women’s Words

In her new show Rebecca Schwarz explores some of the issues that affect women, taken from women she chats with on the school run and at the pub to world famous leaders like Victoria Wood and Josie Lawrence. An eclectic mix of songs, including her debut of original material, and moving or funny stories make up a night that will be sure to entertain.

Comments on Rebecca’s previous shows include:-

“Marvellous. The most entertaining show I’ve been to in years, and I’m not even a new mother! The lyrics & delivery were as good as Victoria Wood at her best”

“I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry

“Any woman who can keep my husband amused and entertained all evening must be good!!”

There is a show at the Artrix Studio in Bromsgrove on Saturday 26 September, tickets are £10 from me and £12 from the venue.

However as lots of people said they wanted to see the show but they can’t make that date/venue.  So I’m doing a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sell tickets to a show in Kings Heath on Thursday 8 October.   If 44 people buy tickets at £10 each then the show will happen and if not no-one’s money is taken.

So if you would like me to do These Women’s Words at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath on a Thursday night in October (specifically 8 October 2015) then you have till 9pm on Friday 22 May to get your tickets.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/73925013/rebecca-schwarz-these-womens-words

I hope to see you there.